Book Review: Killing Reagan

KillingReaganby Timothy Lane10/23/15
Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard continue their Killing series with this look at the lives of Ronald Reagan and (to a much lesser extent) his would-be assassin, John Hinckley. He starts with Reagan’s death, proceeds to his election in 1980 (with a primary focus on his debate with Jimmy Carter), and then looks at Reagan’s long Hollywood career.

Reagan was becoming an important actor when Japan upset his plans (as it did for so many people). An Army reservist despite his poor vision, Reagan spent the war doing propaganda and educational movies and such. (At one point, he sent photographer David Conover to take pictures of the women at a nearby war plant — one of whom turned out to be the winsome young Norma Jean Dougherty.)

For various reasons, Reagan’s movie career foundered after the war; he wasn’t offered a spot in the sequel to Bedtime for Bonzo, for example, despite its good sales. After a brief stint on stage in Las Vegas (not Reagan’s kind of town), he went into TV, hosting (and sometimes starring in) GE Theater. He also made appearances all around the country for GE, which incubated the conservatism that was a natural for a staunch opponent of Communist influence in the entertainment industries (though, like so many younger people, he briefly flirted with them in 1938).

Reagan’s conservatism cost him his job with GE (he believed that this happened because Bobby Kennedy threatened the company with the loss of any federal business), though he would host Death Valley Days for a while. But he really became more involved in politics, finally switching openly to the GOP and campaigning for Republican candidates. Included in this was his famous speech, “A Time for Choosing”, that goosed last-minute fundraising for Goldwater in 1964 and jumpstarted Reagan’s political career (and influenced many people toward the right — including me, an LBJ supporter before I heard it).

From there, Reagan went on to win election as governor and best Bobby Kennedy in a televised debate, though he and Nancy were already being influenced by astrologers. Having campaigned for Richard Nixon in 1960,1968, and 1972, Reagan was on the list of possible candidates to replace Spiro Agnew as VP when the latter was forced to resign because of his corruption as a Maryland office-holder (which was normal behavior in that state). But Nixon didn’t like Reagan, partly out of envy (no doubt over Reagan’s popularity — nothing ever came easy for Nixon, and he really resented those for whom anything did). Nor did Gerald Ford consider him. Republican leaders tended to consider Reagan a lightweight due to his acting background — unlike Margaret Thatcher. She and Reagan hit it off immediately.

Meanwhile, John Hinckley grew older. Born (aptly) in a sanitarium in Ardmore, Oklahoma, Hinckley was a normal, well-liked boy, active in sports and other activities — until his growing schizophrenia gradually turned him into a loner, friendless and disconnected from society. He obsessed over Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver (though not, sadly, in The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane), and then joined the Nazis — who kicked him out as too radical. Eventually he decided to kill Carter to impress Foster — and when Carter lost before Hinckley could hit him, he switched targets — though until the last he was variously considering shooting Teddy Kennedy (to join up with Oswald and Sirhan), kill himself in front of Jodie Foster, open fire on a session of Congress, or shoot Reagan.

Reagan followed up his gubernatorial terms with a form of punditry, but it wasn’t long before he decided to challenge Ford for the presidency. (Nancy Reagan, his closest adviser, was especially eager to rise to the top. The authors discuss her influence on Reagan — not always good; she lacked his winning personality.) That effort failed, but his proven popularity made him the favorite for 1980, and he eventually won the primary and then the general election.

The authors present the movements of both Reagan and Hinckley on the day of the assassination attempt. Hinckley chose to use explosive bullets with his cheap pistol in order to maximize the damage. But he remained hesitant, failing to shoot on Reagan’s entry to the hotel where he was making a speech. It was also raining, so Hinckley decided to limit his waiting time. Unfortunately, Reagan and entourage exited before the wait was up. Also unfortunately, the reporters shouting out their questions made a nice distraction — no one was paying attention to a possible assassin. He got off all 6 shots, hitting Reagan (by a ricochet) with the last (James Brady was hit with the first, and a policeman and a Secret Service agent were also hit) — just 1.7 seconds after he started shooting..

Agent Jerry Parr (who had been inspired to join the Secret Service by a 1939 Reagan movie) shoved Reagan into the limousine and — when it became clear Reagan was hurt, either from a bullet or being shoved in — had him taken to the hospital. Close to death (partly from the borken rib and damaged lung, partly from heavy internal bleeding), Reagan was operated on by a team of doctors as a distraught Nancy Reagan (who had been at a luncheon) joined him. Meanwhile, the Soviets were moving forces into position for a possible attack — though in the end they did nothing, perhaps because of Alexander Haig’s confident (if legally incorrect) assertion of authority.

Since Reagan wasn’t actually killed (unlike the subjects of the other books in this series), a third of the book covers his life afterward. He was much weakened by his injuries physically, and probably also mentally, though he did recover well enough to hide this weakness in public( except for a few lapses, such as the first presidential debate in 1984). Two of his fellow victims were even worse off and had to retire (though none died, despite an incorrect report that James Brady had). Interestingly, all four were of Irish descent (no surprise that Bill O’Reilly would point that out).

Meanwhile, John Hinckley was acquitted on grounds of insanity (a dubious verdict despite his schizophrenia), and has been at Saint Elizabeth’s (a mental hospital, famed for some as the place where Fred Van Ackerman sent dissenters in Come Nineveh, Come Tyre, where he was treated far better than in jail. He remained there as of the writing of the book, but was on the verge of release.

But there was still the question of how tough a leader Reagan really was (the Soviets were especially interested) — until he stood up to the PATCO strike by firing every one of the illegal strikers (and quoted Calvin Coolidge’s comment about the 1919 Boston police strike). On the other hand, Margaret Thatcher was unhappy with his eagerness to negotiate some compromise over the Falklands (she also wasn’t happy when he invaded Grenada without notifying her in advance). In the end, he played a key role in the fall of the Soviet Evil Empire, though it didn’t happen until his successor came in.

Eventually, Reagan was afflicted with Alzheimer’s, which was diagnosed in 1994 but was evident at a party the year before when he gave a nice speech — and then, forgetting he had done so, gave it again. How much effect the trauma of the shooting (and the operation to save his life) affected this cannot be known, but it probably did contribute (as no doubt other incidents, such as a fall from a bucking horse in 1989, did as well). Reading about his later decline is painful, muck like seeing my paternal grandfather at the wake for his wife’s funeral 30 years ago. (I decided not to go back again and see him like that.) It’s a pity that Reagan was unable to be unaware of one wedding anniversary gift — Nancy’s christening of the USS Ronald Reagan in 2001.

Timothy Lane writes from Louisville, Kentucky and publishes the FOSFAX fanzine.
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43 Responses to Book Review: Killing Reagan

  1. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I observed Reagan’s presidency from Asia and Europe and can confirm that the man and country were respected by the rest of the world.

  2. Tom Riehl Tom Riehl says:

    I truncated my military career aspirations during the Carter years. Life was unbearable as he trashed the armed forces. Reagan was a breath of pure oxygen compared to Mr. Peanut ( pace Dunham). Then the advent of the serial philanderer caught me during the beginning of my international business travel phase. I was honestly embarrassed that he was our president, and apologized to many foreign acquaintances for his low brow. How I long for a new president who isn’t one of Satan’s premier acolytes!

    • Ronald J. Ward says:

      Interesting assessment but a bit distant from reality. When you throw in those Satan jabs, it really exposes the fraudulence in your analysis. But, it’s your hand to tip I suppose.

      Carter’s problems really focused around the seizure of hostages of the U. S. embassy staff in Iran. This dominated the news but doesn’t represent his entire presidency. Even though he stepped into record unemployment, outrages interest rates, and a similar oil gouging that we saw in the Bush/Cheney regime, by the end of his term he was able to claim an increase of nearly eight million jobs and a decrease in the budget deficit. This is just another example of Democrats cleaning up Republican failures.

      History will forever be kind to him on how he negotiated the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, his initiation of the the Camp David Accords, the Panama Canal Treaties, and the second round of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II). His advocacy for human rights was commendable as was his boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

      So I really don’t know precisely what it was that you took upon yourself to go around the world apologizing for nor do I appreciate it.

      On a final note, farming is an honorable profession.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Even though he stepped into record unemployment, outrages interest rates, and a similar oil gouging that we saw in the Bush/Cheney regime, by the end of his term he was able to claim an increase of nearly eight million jobs and a decrease in the budget deficit. This is just another example of Democrats cleaning up Republican failures.

        Prime Interest Rate

        The prime rate was 6.25% when Carter took office. It increased to 20% in April 1980. From there it dropped to 15.5% in November 1980. From there it shot up to an all-time high of 21.5% in December of 1980.

        For comparison’s sake, the prime rate was 20% when Reagan took office. It was 6.50% when Clinton took office.

        Clearly Carter did not “step into..outrageous” interest rates. In fact, the opposite is the case. It was during Carter’s term that interest rates soared and reached an all time high.

        Unemployment Rate

        The average for 1976 the year before Carter took office was 7.7%. For 1977 it was 7.1%. In 1978 it was 6.1%, for 1979 it was 5.8% and for Carter’s last year in office, 1980, it was 7.1%.

        Carter did not step into anything like “record” unemployment rates. It is clear from the numbers that the rate improved somewhat for two years under Carter. But by his last year in office, it was back to the same level as it was during his first, i.e. 7.1%.

        Oil prices

        The price of West Texas Intermediate in 1976 was US$12.23/bbl. In 1977 it was US$14.22, in 1978 US$14.55, in 1979 US$25.08 and in 1980 it was US$37.96.

        The major jump in the price of oil actually took place earlier in the 1970s. It was US$3.60/bbl in 1972, US$4.75/bbl in 1973, US$9.35/bbl in 1974 and US$12.21/bbl in 1975. This was brought about by the Arab oil embargo. The rise in oil prices during 1979 and 1980 were largely due to the crisis in Iran which Carter contributed to very significantly.

        Budget Deficit

        In 1976, the year before Carter took office the deficit was $73.7 billion. In 1977 it was $53.7 billion, in 1978 $59.2 billion, in 1979 40.7 billion and in Carter’s last year in office it was $73.8 billion.

        As is well known, at least the first year’s budget of a new president’s term is already developed before he is elected. So Carter does not appear to have made any great headway with the budget deficit as it was higher in his last year than any of the other years of his presidency. And it should be noted that Carter always worked with Democrat majorities in the Legislature.

        Every one of Mr. Ward’s above claims are clearly false. The information I have provided is easily obtainable by checking government stats on the internet.

        Sadly, I can remember Carter’s term and knew Mr. Ward’s assertions were false. Knowing this to be the case, obtaining the exact numbers was simply a matter of formality.

        The high prime rate during Carter’s term sank many, many small businesses, and concentrated business into larger units. For example, the large discount retailers really grew during this time as they could obtain financing that the small operators couldn’t.

        The first oil shock was several years before Carter took office, but he held a great deal of responsibility for the second.

        His “malaise” speech has to be one of the worst presidential speeches in American history. It is not the president to depress the public. It is to inspire them.

        I do not understand why Mr. Ward spreads such faulty information, but since this is clearly the case, one must ask;

        1. Why Mr. Ward makes such spurious and easily disprovable claims?
        2. Given the fact that his claims are false, why should we believe any thing he writes or give him the benefit of the doubt as to his sincerity?

        Surely, if someone wishes to honestly argue a particular point, the use of correct and honest information is the bare minimum which should be expected. How can an argument based on falsehoods be anything but a lie?

        • Ronald J. Ward says:

          Well, if we’re looking at the words of some Kung Fu Zu as indisputable gospel then your accusations of honesty may have merit. But as per the U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Carter started at 7.5 and ended at 7.5, zero change on unemployment rate. But let’s look into the history of presidents.

          Jan 1949 -Jan 1953 start= 4.3 End= 2.9 Change= -1.4 Truman Democrat
          Jan 1953- Jan 1957 2.9 4.2 +1.3 Eisenhower I Republican
          Jan 1957 -Jan 1961 4.2 6.6 +2.4 Eisenhower II Republican
          Jan 1961 -Jan 1965 6.6 4.9 -1.7 JFK/Johnson Democrat
          Jan 1965- Jan 1969 4.9 3.4 -1.5 Johnson Democrat
          Jan 1969 -Jan 1973 3.4 4.9 +1.5 Nixon Republican
          Jan 1973 -Jan 1977 4.9 7.5 +2.6 Nixon/Ford Republican
          Jan 1977- Jan 1981 7.5 7.5 0.0 Carter Democrat
          Jan 1981 -Jan 1985 7.5 7.3 -0.2 Reagan I Republican
          Jan 1985 -Jan 1989 7.3 5.4 -1.9 Reagan II Republican
          Jan 1989- Jan 1993 5.4 7.3 +1.9 Bush, GHW Republican
          Jan 1993 -Jan 1997 7.3 5.3 -2.0 Clinton I Democrat
          Jan 1997- Jan 2001 5.3 4.2 -1.1 Clinton II Democrat
          Jan 2001- Jan 2005 4.2 5.2 +1.0 Bush, GW I Republican
          Jan 2005 -Aug 2008 5.2 6.1 +0.9 Bush, GW II Republican

          That’s 80 years of 13 president, 7 Republicans and 6 Democrats. 6 of the 7 Rs increased unemployment while in office while all 6 Ds either lowered it or stayed the same.

          Aside from the manipulated splashed on paint job of the Reagan years, Democratic presidents in the past 60 years have out performed Republican presidents on job growth by nearly 2 to 1.

          And as far as GDP growth, let’s review some numbers.

          1948-1952 (Harry S. Truman, Democrat), +4.82%
          1953-1960 (Dwight D. Eisenhower, Republican), +3%
          1961-1964 (John F. Kennedy / Lyndon B. Johnson, Democrat), +4.65%
          1965-1968 (Lyndon B. Johnson, Democrat), +5.05%
          1969-1972 (Richard Nixon, Republican), +3%
          1973-1976 (Richard Nixon / Gerald Ford, Republican), +2.6%
          1977-1980 (Jimmy Carter, Democrat), +3.25%
          1981-1988 (Ronald Reagan, Republican), 3.4%
          1989-1992 (George H. W. Bush, Republican), 2.17%
          1993-2000 (Bill Clinton, Democrat), 3.88%
          2001-2008 (George W. Bush, Republican), +2.09%

          And simply to be nice, I’m leaving the successful Obama resurrection of the failed Bush/GOP economy out of these numbers.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            Well, if we’re looking at the words of some Kung Fu Zu as indisputable gospel then your accusations of honesty may have merit. But as per the U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Carter started at 7.5 and ended at 7.5, zero change on unemployment rate.

            Below is a link to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics which show the unemployment rates I cited. I do not know where you got 7.5% for Carter’s first and last years, but even if we were to use your numbers my point still holds and your contention does not. Clearly Carter did not enter office while there were record unemployment rates. And your picayune attempt to divert attention from your false claim i.e. 7.5% i/o 7.1%, is indicative of a weak position on your part.


            Since you cannot deny my responses to your specific claims about Carter, you pull the standard Leftist “bait and switch” by changing the subject to the unemployment rates under other presidents. This is irrelevant to what I wrote.

            Finally, I see you did not respond to any of my other corrections regarding your claims. And I see nothing from you which refutes my accusations regarding honesty. I would be happy to be proven wrong.

            • Ronald J. Ward says:

              I’m on the road today and this evening making it hard to research but did want to respond in a timely manner. I’ll gladly go into that upon my return.

              Looking at raw numbers is not a binary conclusion of what Carter stepped into or what he was to deal with. Surely you recall the Ford economic failure of austerity which brought us “stagnation”.

              Inflation and an uncertain economy left by Ford as I recall, was being fueled by an oil embargo. This was in addition to a country still reeling from the severe recession under Ford.

              In fairness to Gearld Ford, he encountered somewhat of the perfect storm with rising unemployment at a time of rising inflation, and the energy crisis, in addition to the nation’s longer-term economic decline. Most prestigious economists from both sides struggled with the correct path forward. This was also complicated by a rather hostile political environment in the aftermath of the scandalous Nixon/Agnew era.

              So these tough economic times were left to some painful decisions. Carter appointed Fed Chairman Paul Volcker (later to serve under Reagan as well), who increased interest rates that slowed rapid inflation but also threw the economy back into a recession and caused unemployment to rise but ultimately corrected itself by the time Carter left office.

              So yes, Carter’s economic problems were indeed handed to him. Perhaps they weren’t by the same blatant crash and burn spectacular failures of the Bush and Cheney years (which again as history dictates, was handed over to a Democrat to be ridiculed while he cleans up the mess) but he did walk into a mess.

              As far as chastising me for a failure to acknowledge all your talking points and side rhetoric, the fact that you focus solely on the economic issue while avoiding the main argument of foreign policy somewhat tips the hypocrisy scale.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                What KFZ did was to point out that your economic defense of Carter was factually false. Since your foreign policy arguments were basically matters of opinion (and I even agree with one of them), they were not similarly subject to factual refutation. And after he pointed out the falsity of your economic defense of Carter, you proceeded to ignore that and try some distractions.

              • Ronald J. Ward says:

                Timothy, your assessment is noted but considering Kung Fu Zu seems to be a big boy and has a reasonable gift for gab, why he needs a side kick to speak for him is unclear.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                As far as chastising me for a failure to acknowledge all your talking points and side rhetoric, the fact that you focus solely on the economic issue while avoiding the main argument of foreign policy somewhat tips the hypocrisy scale.

                Again, you are being disingenuous. I never had any “talking points”. I simply took the first several specific claims you made, which could be quantified, and showed your claims were false.

                Clearly, you must understand that if you make numerous false claims in your argument, your readers have little incentive to take the rest of your points seriously. Do you think a professor would complement you for getting one point partially correct in a paper otherwise full of incorrect information? No.

                Had your quantifiable claims not been false, I would have been happy to delve further into your piece. I never disagreed that the Iranian Hostage crisis was a huge problem for Carter. I might have even been happy to discuss it, and point out that it was, to a very significant degree, a child whose birth he helped mid-wife. I went to school with a good number of Iranians in the mid 1970’s, so I followed this matter pretty closely.

                In closing, I will point out that nothing in any of your responses has come close to acknowledging your factual mistakes, intended or otherwise. This being the case, I see little point of going on with this discussion.

                For your easy perusal, you can find stats on oil prices at or older records from the St. Louis Fed. The Fed gives more detailed stats as they are on a monthly basis.

                For the federal prime rate you can find the numbers at a WSJ site

                For budget deficits there is a site which starts with

              • Timothy Lane says:

                An interesting take on Iranian students in the latter days of the Shah may have been indicated on the blackboards of classrooms when I attended a “free university” class on science fiction at U of L (it was mostly a weekly meeting of the local science fiction club, FOSFA). There were frequent entries such as “Savak 4, Students 0” — I suspect that a lot of local students didn’t think much of the Iranian students.

              • Ronald J. Ward says:

                Fu, obviously you follow the “stubborn” theme here.

                You claim to have debunked a minute point of my argument (by which you claim to be justification to dismiss all of it in its entirety) yet you come up short.

                As I’ve laid out above, Carter inherited an economy in turmoil, that inflation was skyrocketing and an oil embargo was in place. The only option to raise interest rates was indeed dumped in his lap. He saw an eight million job growth on his watch. He saw a decrease in the budget deficit when you measured it in percentage of the gross national product.

                You claim to have addressed this issue only and free of rhetoric yet chime in with “Carter’s term sank many, many small businesses, and concentrated business into larger units”, assigning blame to him which was already in place. You invoke his “malaise worst presidential speeches in American history” while there’s no connection to this argument. You even go on to blame him for an oil crises already in place.

                You then refer to me as “disingenuous” by pointing out your talking points which you deny.

                Your rather sophomoric trolling seems to be consistent with that of today’s so-called conservatives.

    • David Ray says:

      Gotta love Reagan’s amusement when twice we taught those Libyan jet fighters how to swim.

      Pinkered & Bowden wrote a hilarious song about it.

    • David Ray says:

      Carter just couldn’t resist being an even worse ex-president. He helped give-it-away-now to North Korea like Little Barry is with Iran.
      No wonder both those losers got a Nobel Peace Prize. (Those fools in Norway just can’t help themselves . . . they dole those things out to every America-hating moron they can find.)

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Carter wasn’t bad at first, though I think he always resented losing to Reagan. (There were reports of minor sabotage at the White House, as there were again in 2001. No such acts were reported in 1989, 1993, or 2009. I suspect this is an indication of the militant intolerance of modern liberalism.) But he really seems to have gone bad after the Nixon funeral — no doubt angry that someone he only thought of as corrupt (and never mind how many liberal policies he supported, such as founding the EPA) received such a send-off.

        • David Ray says:

          Don’t forget how the punk went behind Bush41’s back and campaigned to sabatoge the first gulf war.

          I didn’t know about the first time snot-nosed interns trashed the White House. Thanks for the heads-up.
          I do remember how Bush W. left his fellow republicans twisting in the wind over the 2nd trashing.
          Me . . . I wouldv’e prosecuted those weasels.

  3. Timothy Lane says:

    As it happens, the obituaries in The Week include Jerry Parr, the Secret Service agent who saved Reagan’s life. They mentioned his inspiration, and it’s reasonable to wonder if Killing Reagan was one of their sources (and perhaps the reason he was listed — they only did 3 obits).

  4. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:


    Not only did I have Iranian classmates in my undergraduate and MBA studies, I also met a lot of them at the dorm I lived in while studying in Vienna. The guy in the room next to me was an Iranian communist who had fled Iran probably 5 or 10 years before I met him. He was one of those professional students one runs into across Europe.

    In fact, he did little studying and was clearly part of a group of overseas Iranians trying to figure out how to bring down the Shah and introduce the Iranian people to the felicities of Communist Society. The Imams got there before him so he had to stay in Vienna.

    Several years after the ayatollahs took over, he was tortured and murdered. I believe the Austrian police was of the opinion that some good Muslims sent by Khomeini or his henchmen, did the job. My friends in Austria who knew him as well, were in no doubt that this was the case.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    We’re so blessedly lucky to have a loosey-goosey editor here who isn’t too anal. I like free-form reviews. Choose your own format. Still, at the end of the day I’m wondering, Did you like the book? How does it rate?

    I read the free Kindle sample of Killing Patton and was intrigued. I might even buy it. I’ve read another review of this book and it said it took some cheap shots at Reagan. I have yet to read a Reagan biography. D’Souza’s book looks intriguing. But I don’t see if available for Kindle yet, a must for me.

  6. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Your rather sophomoric trolling seems to be consistent with that of today’s so-called conservatives.

    Ron, what are you doing here? What is the point? It feels as if StubbornThings is the wall and you are the can of spray paint. Okay, we get it. You don’t see things through a conservative point of view. But why do you even bother to post here? Are you part of some coordinated liberal Jihad? What?

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Note how the Troll projects Kung Fu Zu as trolling him (a totally ridiculous accusation, since the latter deals in facts rather than personal insults), and claims that disproving his specific factual claims as “disingenuous” and “talking points”. It’s nice of Ward to provide a reminder of the intellectual and moral inferiority of liberals.

    • Ronald J. Ward says:

      Naw Brad, I just enjoy watching babbling rodeo clowns like you and Tim come to the rescue of your loyalist/masters.

      It’s a predictability thing.

    • Ronald J. Ward says:

      And I might add:

      “You don’t see things through a conservative point of view. ”

      It might surprise you but I actually believe and advocate many conservative principles and beliefs as I’m pro-life and pro-gun. I’ve been a business owner and entrepreneur most of my life.

      The reason I refer to today’s so-called conservatives as today’s so-called conservatives is because they are far far from conservatives of prior years. They are certainly not Lincoln conservatives. Eisenhower if running today would be promptly run out of town on a fast train as a left wing socialist from hell and Reagan himself wouldn’t be far behind. Do we want a Herbert Hoover return? Nixon conservatism? Good lord man, GWB conservatives? Goldwater was promptly rejected.

      It’s like the 109th GOP Congress openly admitted when they “spent like drunken soldiers” and let GWB take they economy to its knees: “we lost our way”. And they ain’t found it yet, actually turning to the likes of Rush Limbaugh after 2010 defeat and now looking at the likes of Donald Trump or a batshit crazy brain surgeon who’s coo-coo for coco puffs to lead the greatest country on God’s green earth.

      I just honestly don’t know how to define today’s so-called conservatives or what precisely they stand for.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Eisenhower if running today would be promptly run out of town on a fast train as a left wing socialist from hell and Reagan himself wouldn’t be far behind.

        I’ll grant you that there are many definitions of conservatism….at least various beliefs people hold as conservative, whether they are particularly conservative or not.

        But it’s generally a stale liberal and Establishment Republican talking point to suggest that Reagan or fill-in-the-blank couldn’t possible be liked by conservatives today because today’s conservatives have moved so far right.

        Listen, I do understand that what is considered “normal” has moved left. So all the little fishies swimming around in the cultural fishbowl have a natural inclination to view anyone not “in the mainstream” as “far right and radical…so crankily far right that Reagan could never get elected.”

        The truth is, what passes for conservatism actually has moved leftward. The bizarre fact about liberals such as yourself is that even when you’re winning, there’s this ongoing paranoia that makes you think you’re losing ground. But the, conservatives understand that one of the results of the politics of the left is to leave people alienated and dissatisfied. As they say, it’s a feature, not a bug.

        The culture is moving left. And if a Ronald Reagan couldn’t be elected today, it’s not because right-wingers have moved further right but because the entire culture (even those who think of themselves as conservatives) have moved further left. This is one reason (but not the only reason) we get squishy left-leaners such as Romney and McCain.

        If conservatives were the force they ought to be, it would be Ted Cruz, not Donald Trump, ahead in the polls.

        Anyway, I write this mostly for the benefit of others because, Ron, you just seem too unhinged to have a meaningful conversation with. You are a clear product of the culture…fully politicized. You don’t seem to know how to think but in terms of various stale talking points.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Much of the “Reagan would be denounced as a liberal” trope is based on the (unstated) assumption that no one should learn from experience. Thus, he traded tax increases now (as in the TEFRA bill in 1982) for spending cuts later, which of course never materialized. He did the same thing with amnesty for illegal aliens now in return for border security later in 1986 (Simpson-Mazzoli). Both times, “later” never came.

          Now we know better, which angers liberals, so they pine for those naive sorts who believed they wuld keep their word. Besides, liberals themselves place ideology above reality, so they don’t learn from experience.

        • Ronald J. Ward says:

          You display a rather typical rubber/glue tactic so prevalent of today’s right wing bloggers. It’s folks like Cruz who’s down the middle while those on the left have gone off deep end? Interesting assessment.

          I didn’t see any big change of democrats when GWB and his lapdog Congress crashed the economy. The change of policy seemed to be from you guys, both before and after.

          I’d be interested in hearing precisely what policies Dems have moved on that you speak of and to what degree. It seems to me that on major issues, Dems have been trying to simply hold their own. I don’t recall such an all out assault on labor unions than from the lurch from the right in recent years. Minimum wage increases have gone on for years until the last decade as a demand from the right. Most decisive issues of late have resulted from a right leaning SCOTUS. SSI, Medicare, and Medicade are being more challenged from the right than ever before. An all out protection from taxes for the rich has become the mantra of todays so-called conservatives. Corporate deregulations demands from the right are at an all time high. An insistence of defaulting on our debts have become a new phenomenon of today’s so-called conservatives (lest we concede to demands that they cannot legislate otherwise which again, is a new shift we’re seeing from the right). They’ve taken legislative obstructionism to an entirely new level in recent years.

          Simply put, take a look at the sorry lot that’s running for POTUS.

          So it’s hard to rationalize this shift of the left you speak of when the evidence speaks otherwise.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Ron, I’m not going to address any of your points because your raison d’être seems to be attitudinal (grievance) rather than a genuine interest in politics and culture. And I won’t be your whipping boy.

            I’m just going to give you the same honest advice that I give all participants here: Don’t let politics become your religion. As Rush Limbaugh says, everything may have a political angle to it. (Likely true for many things). But as I say, man is (or should be) a multi-faceted being. We are a spiritual, physical, familial, social, and political being, among other things.

            This is why I have various blogs here. There is one for Science & Tech (which is underused, and there are various devices or tech gadgets I’ve fallen behind in reviewing), Health/Fitness blog, General blog, and a Poetry/Prose blog.

            You are, within some limits, free to howl at the moon if you wish. But that’s not for me. Yes, regarding politics, there are things to be ticked off about. But despite the evil or misguided views of Obama and the Left, I’m not going to let it ruin my life or run my life. I’ll oppose their views and actions. But I will not infuse them with a total power over my life.

            I’ve seen too many people, particularly on the Left, waste away as they’ve made Leftist politics their religion. And it’s a religion of grievance, among other things. It leaves people feeling aggrieved and alienated. But whatever the case may be, to narrow all of life down to a political lens is a waste of human potential. We were made for better things.

            My advice applies not just to you but to all who participate here. By all means, get your panties in a bunch when some corrupt or power-mad politician threatens our way of life or just plain decency. We should oppose abominations such as open borders, abortion, and reckless borrowing and spending.

            Even so, there is truth to the idea of “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” But the forgotten other half of that is “and to God what is God’s.” Making an idol of politics is not the way to go.

            Many of the issues you talk about are important. But you use them as battering rams. There is no way to have an honest discussion with you. So I do advise you to part from the exclusively political way of looking at things. A laundry list of Leftist talking points makes for a poor liturgy.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              An interesting point I’ve seen in various surveys is that even though liberals are basically getting what they want and conservatives aren’t, the conservatives are happier. Partly this is because politics isn’t as important to the conservatives’ day-to-day lives as it is for liberals, and partly it comes from liberals sense of emotional entitlement — they must get everything they want, or it might as well be nothing.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                Timothy, I read an article over at Evolution News and Views this morning titled “Humans Are More Than Mammals.” It’s a short article worth reading.

                A lot of people, of course, think Christians are creepy. And I’ve met my share of creepy Christians. But the idea of God is not creepy. But the idea of man being no different from a bug is troublesome. I find the secular/materialist view to be creepy. Very creepy.

                Having reduced man to nothing more than an economic creature — one made hyper-conscious of what everyone else has (envy) and infused with guilt over just being — this ideology of the Left and of materialism can’t help but leave many hollow and alienated. No wonder people turn to their politics as a substitute religion. What else is there? The Leftist Wizards of Smart have told everyone that religion is all baloney and that to believe in God is worse than just being delusional, it’s the root of what is wrong with much of the world.

                So one is left ultimately equating oneself with baboons and infusing politics with ideas and emotions it shouldn’t be asked to hold.

                This is one of the reigning paradigms for this site. That doesn’t mean a good rant now and then isn’t in order. But we have to get a grip and have some kind of sense of proportion. And this lack of grip and proportion can happen to people on the Left as well as on the right.

            • Ronald J. Ward says:

              Brad, you have a rather interesting history of addressing my arguments only to tell me you’re not going to address my argument.

              What previsely is up with that?

              Let me guess. You’re not going to address that?

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                Ron, please go elsewhere if you’re going to just be argumentative and opaque. I told you I wasn’t going to address your points, and why. Right now you’re just playing the part of a troll who gets his jollies out of trying to inflict internet pain on people. Well, I’ve been around the block a few times and am not suckered in by your type. I recommend you find somewhere else to air your one-note screed. Please go write your graffiti elsewhere and spread your misery elsewhere. If you want to talk about the book that Timothy reviewed, have at it. But this site isn’t a blank slate for Leftist trolls. I will begin deleting your posts if you persist.

  7. Anniel says:

    One thing I find distressing is the idea of Nancy Reagan being the “ambitious” one and her influence being “not always good.” This much maligned First Lady couldn’t even purchase new china for the White House without screeches of protest, and Heaven forbid that she be part of a “kitchen cabinet.” “Conspicuous Consumption” was always the charge. Where is that charge today against the most “conspicuous” consumers of taxpayer funds to ever disgrace the White House?

    I always recall how gracious Nancy Reagan was to everyone, and the love she had for her husband was beautiful.

    • Ronald J. Ward says:

      Interesting point on the screeches about Nancy spending money on china and acting, well, all royal like.

      I mean, and she was a white woman.

      No wonder today’s so-called conservatives scream bloody murder over the First Family taking trips, having nice clothes, and acting, well, all royal like.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Well, she does seem to have been very determined to see her husband rise as high as possible. She also was very unpopular at times, and made a lot of enemies among her husband’s subordinates. But she was also very devoted to him, and recovered a great deal of popularity when she had to deal with his increasing physical infirmities.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      One thing I find distressing is the idea of Nancy Reagan being the “ambitious” one and her influence being “not always good.” This much maligned First Lady couldn’t even purchase new china for the White House without screeches of protest, and Heaven forbid that she be part of a “kitchen cabinet.”

      The press is thoroughly on the Left and has a political agenda. Their politics has become their religion of sorts. To be impartial is beyond most of them. To treat Hillary as they did Sarah Palin is beyond them (although that kind of gutter treatment is wrong for both).

      Having lived in a political family, I can tell you that it really does require a strong partnership between husband and wife to make a go of it. And except where the spouses or family members intrude into politics, they should be left alone unless their behavior is truly relevant. (If a child of a presidential candidate was in prison for rape or arson, that might tell you something about the parents.)

      People assume that because Nancy Reagan was married to Ronald Reagan that she was a conservative. But her focus was her husband. I think had he been thoroughly on the Left, Nancy would have been just as supportive. Her ideology was her husband.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Actually, there are those who note that Reagan became increasingly conservative after marrying Nancy, who had a Republican family background. O’Reilly and Dugard don’t seem to think so, noting his staunch anti-communism as well as his experience as a spokesman for GE. He was also something of an auto-didact (like Goldwater), and learned much from reading conservative writers.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I haven’t read a biography of Nancy Reagan. She might indeed have been very conservative and an influence on Ronald Reagan in that regard. But I have met his son. And, well, I have some sympathy (even if his motives are not straightforward) for Ron when he talks about the many conservatives who aren’t particularly conservative. We have resources here and here in regards to trying to define what conservatism is. But it’s easy for people to wander off the reservation. Michael Reagan, for example, is a thorough Establishment Republican…and a very nice man.

  8. Anniel says:

    There are several news articles about George Will’s take-down of O’Reilly and how far off he is on his “historical” accuracy on the matter of Reagan. has an article about the matter today. Will kind of let O’Reilly hang himself on this one when he appeared face-to-face with O’Reilly.

  9. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Apparently there was a little dust-up between George and Bill on this book.

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