President Ronald Wilson Reagan
But Ronald Prescott Reagan told WND yesterday he knew Ronald Reagan, too, and Sarah Palin, he insisted, is no Ronald Reagan.
The two brothers – talk radio hosts who live at opposite ends of the political spectrum – reflect the sharp divide across the nation over John McCain’s running mate. Echoing the polarized reactions to President Reagan during his two terms in the 1980s, it’s hard to remain indifferent to the hockey mom from Wasilla, whose meteoric political rise has taken her from the PTA to the governorship to a national ticket at the age of 44. Either you love her, it seems, or she epitomizes what’s wrong with America.
WND met the youngest son of President Reagan, a self-described political “progressive,” awaiting a flight to Seattle following the GOP convention in St. Paul, Minn.
Ron Reagan, 50, told WND he cannot speak for his father, who died in 2004, but doubts the 40th president would approve of Palin if he were alive and well today.
“Sarah Palin,” he said, “has nothing in common with my father, a two-term governor of the largest state in the union, a man who had been in public life for decades, someone who had written, thought and spoke for decades about foreign policy issues, domestic policy issues, and on and on and on.”
But many introduced to Palin this week say she excites them like Ronald Reagan did.
“I think they ought to start using their brain, instead of viscera,” Ron Jr. said in reaction.
Isn’t the excitement, however, simply over a charismatic candidate for national office who espouses conservative values and ideas without apology and already has successfully put them into practice?
“That may excite them,” Ron Jr. said. “But many of those values are hypocritical and dishonest, and, frankly, scary.”
Creationism is one of the scary beliefs Palin advocates, he said.
“It doesn’t bother some people, I know, but, frankly, somebody like that has no idea what kind of planet we live on – literally has no idea what the planet is all about,” Ron Jr. said.
“It’s such a profoundly anti-intellectual, anti-science stance,” he asserted. “I don’t see how you can hold high office and believe something like that.”
Some critics have charged Palin opposes the teaching of evolution in public schools and would mandate teaching creationism. But she has kept a pledge from her 2006 campaign for governor to not press for creation-based alternatives or seek creation advocates for the school board.
Asked what his mother, Nancy Reagan, thinks about Palin, Ron Jr. said he cannot speak on her behalf. But he related that when he briefly discussed Palin with her this past week on the phone, “she was a bit mystified by the choice.” She previously announced her endorsement of McCain.
Members of the Alaska delegation at the GOP convention (WND photo)
Michael Reagan, in his commentary piece, praises Palin as “a red-blooded American with that rare, God-given ability to rally her dispirited fellow Republicans and take up the daunting task of leading them – and all her fellow Americans – on a pilgrimage to that shining city on the hill my father envisioned as our nation’s real destination.”
The elder brother, whose adoptive mother was the late actress Jane Wyman, says he’s been trying to convince his fellow conservatives they have been wasting their time looking for a new Ronald Reagan to emerge. But no more.
“I insisted that we’d never see his like again because he was one of a kind. I was wrong. Wednesday night I watched the Republican National Convention on television and there, before my very eyes, I saw my Dad reborn; only this time he’s a she. And what a she!”
Ron Jr., who debuts a show Monday on the left-leaning Air America talk radio network, was asked his overall impression of the GOP convention.
“It’s a little depressing to me, because I think, you know, John Edwards was right in the sense about the two Americas,” he said. “But, you know, it’s not just liberal and conservative, rich and poor, it’s rational, and as Rachel Maddow, my colleague on Air America, put it, post-rational.”
John McCain and Sarah Palin after the Republican presidential candidate’s acceptance speech Thursday night in St. Paul, Minn. (WND photo)
McCain’s selection of Palin was “post-rational,” he said, “one of the most irresponsible choices I have ever seen a presidential candidate make.”
“It’s clearly a tactical, political decision,” he said. “It has absolutely nothing to do with governance. The woman is clearly unqualified to be where she is right now.”
Ron Jr. said it was “right around puberty” when he began to realize he didn’t agree with his father on many issues.
“There were some issues we did (agree on), of course,” he said. “I thought standing up to the Soviet Union was a good idea. A totalitarian government, and who likes that? Tell them the truth. You know, want to call them an evil empire? Go ahead, stick it to ’em, get up in their grill a little bit. You don’t want to take it to a military level, but speak the truth, speak the truth at heart.”
On the other hand, he said, there was “vehement” disagreement over the environment and some social issues.
“We’d discuss it all the time over dinner,” he said. “We’d have some good old arguments about it – always civil, but, nevertheless, spirited.”
‘Our homespun values’
Meanhile, in the “other America,” brother Michael suggests elitism is blinding many critics to Palin’s “stunning record of achievement,” taking on and beating Alaska’s corrupt establishment and bringing reform to “every level of government she served on her way up the ladder.”
“Like Ronald Reagan, Sarah Palin is one of us,” he writes. “She knows how most of us live because that’s the way she lives. She shares our homespun values and our beliefs, and she glories in her status as a small-town woman who put her shoulder to the wheel and made life better for her neighbors.”
Palin is obviously “unintimidated by the savage onslaught to which the left-leaning media had subjected her,” says Michael Reagan.
In a few words, Wednesday night, he says, “she managed to rip the mask from the faces of her Democratic rivals and reveal them for what they are — a pair of old-fashioned liberals making promises that cannot be kept without bankrupting the nation and reducing most Americans to the status of mendicants begging for their daily bread at the feet of an all-powerful government.”
“Her astonishing rise up from the grass-roots, her total lack of self-importance, and her ordinary American values and modest lifestyle reveal her to be the kind of hard-working, optimistic, ordinary American who made this country the greatest, most powerful nation on the face of the earth,” he writes.
Michael Reagan concludes: “Welcome back, Dad, even if you’re wearing a dress and bearing children this time around.”