The lapdog press has recently made several unintentionally hilarious attempts to portray Barack Obama as the reincarnation of Ronald Reagan. The analogy fails on all counts, and an auctioneer trying to pass off Francis the Talking Mule as Seabiscuit would not provoke a more risible response from a crowd of horse fanciers than the media have succeeded in eliciting from the public with their latest exercise in ludicrous mythologizing.
And yet, Obama does put me in mind of a past Republican president. With his pronounced affection for crony capitalism, his blatant ineptitude and his seeming lack of interest in the day-to-day responsibilities of the job, the current White House occupant reminds me of the late Warren G. Harding (throw into consideration Obama's touchiness and vindictiveness, and you get Harding with the Nixon upgrade). And on the evolutionary scale, Harding is to Reagan as Homo neanderthalensis (or perhaps even Pan troglodytes) is to Homo sapiens.
To take just one example of the chasm that separates the respective visions of Reagan and Obama, let's look at their views on the relationship of the citizen to the state. In Reagan's opinion, the state is the servant of the people - and because it is a sometimes surly, untrustworthy and overly ambitious servant, there is always a need to keep a close eye on it, and count the silverware at the end of every day. This outlook was at the heart of Reagan's policies on taxes, fiscal management and regulation, and a check was thereby maintained on the usurpation of the individual's economic freedom by the bureaucratic hordes. To Reagan, personal freedom was a right that was good in and of itself. His vision, therefore, was liberating, empowering and filled with confidence in the American character and with a deep respect for American traditions.
I submit that you would be hard pressed to find anyone in contemporary American politics who differs more sharply, in so many ways, from Ronald Reagan than Barack Obama, particularly when it comes to the latter's views on the role of the state. For Obama, the state is the source of our bounty, and the private sector is a kind of halfway house for people who have not had the foresight or good luck to land direct employment as government functionaries, but whose general fecklessness nevertheless requires constant monitoring and assistance from the Beltway master race. Obama sees personal freedom not as a right, but as a leasehold from the state - and the contract is shot through with cancellation clauses, unilaterally exercisable by Uncle Landlord. This is a vision of limitations, of walls closing in, of perpetual, soul-destroying dependency. It represents change, to be sure, but only a fool would truly hope for such a society.
No, the tract-scribblers and blow-dried declaimers of the legacy media fell miserably short of the truth during the 2008 election when they depicted Obama as a mental and spiritual quantum high-jumper; to characterize him as Reaganesque, especially given his performance during the first two years of his term, is fatuous and dishonest.