Now here’s a twist: President Barack Obama often refers to former President Ronald Reagan in glowing terms while Republicans seem to be backing away from the man who used to be the symbol of the modern GOP.
The Reagan mystique sure ain’t what it used to be — at least when you listen to some Republican leaders.
Is this a case or reality overriding myth or simply practical politics of discarding a canard that no longer works.
Some Republicans have begun reassessing whether Mr. Reagan today affords the best example as they seek a path back to power. The economic crisis, which Mr. Obama last fall declared a “final verdict” on the anti-government philosophy that George W. Bush and Mr. Reagan shared, has made Reaganism less politically marketable than at any time in a generation.
“I don’t use him publicly as a reference point,” said Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana, a Republican who lately has emerged as a potential national party leader. Mr. Daniels instead has urged fellow Republicans to “let go” of Mr. Reagan as a contemporary symbol.
As Mr. Reagan’s White House political director, Mr. Daniels brings credibility to the discussion. A year ago, when he first proposed that Republicans turn the page he drew sharp criticism from Rush Limbaugh, among others. Now, Mr. Daniels observes, “I think it’s spreading.”