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Schooling Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg and Richard Viguerie
A few days ago conservative columnist and Fox News contributor Jonah Goldberg took me to task for talking about the “civil war” in the Republican Party and suggested that I held Republicans – even Ronald Reagan – to standards of ideological purity impossible for a governing party to meet.

I knew and supported Ronald Reagan; he called me twice during his presidency to thank me for my work rallying grassroots conservatives on behalf of his policies. 

However, and I know this may come as a shock to Jonah or those for whom the conservative movement started somewhere around 1980, Ronald Reagan was a human being, not a saint, who was subject to all the fallibilities, influence and political pressures every other occupant of the White House has endured. 

Despite his towering integrity and commitment to conservative principles, Ronald Reagan did make some choices for which he was justly criticized by his fellow conservatives and he made mistakes, such as trading tax increases for spending cuts that never materialized, that he later acknowledged.

Perhaps Ronald Reagan’s worst mistake was among the first decisions he made as the presumptive Republican nominee – choosing George H.W. Bush as his Vice President. 

Personnel is policy, and conservatives were aghast at the choice of George Bush as Ronald Reagan’s Vice President, and I invite you to ponder for a moment just how much that decision has cost America, the Republican brand and the conservative cause.

We in the conservative movement recognized that by bringing Bush in as his Vice President Reagan brought into his administration the very people who had fought and criticized his policies all during the Republican primaries – anticonservative establishment Republicans, such as James A. Baker III, Richard Darman and Donald Regan. 

As the article "Conservatives Angry With Reagan" cited by Mr. Goldberg documents, conservatives were “disappointed in the initial appointments to the Reagan Cabinet" because we understood that advancing the conservative agenda would be difficult, if not impossible, if the top levels of the federal government were populated with Washington insiders who accepted the progressive Republican view of government.

And I wasn’t alone in urging President Reagan to hold strictly to conservative principles.

The small cadre of principled conservatives in Congress who regularly fought for conservative principles, such as reducing taxes, reining-in spending and cutting welfare was often frustrated when President Reagan would make a deal with the Democrats that undercut what they were trying to do in order to pursue his primary policy goal of rebuilding America’s defenses and defeating the Soviets.

Congressman Jack Kemp, a favorite of movement conservatives, drew Reagan’s ire on a number of occasions and President Reagan even went so far as to privately refer to Kemp as being “unreasonable” when he tried to hold the President’s feet to the fire on economic issues and to fan the flames of the revolution Ronald Reagan had lit.

Your friends will tell you when you are wrong, instead of saying amen to your mistakes. 

One of the most damaging political developments of the Reagan years was the silence of most conservatives, who unlike Jack Kemp and me, kept quiet when the President traded away too much in his pursuit of the defense build-up or refused to expend his political capital on the conservative domestic policy agenda. 

I would note for the record that Democrats have exhibited no such compunction in criticizing Barack Obama – the most liberal President ever elected – when he shows the slightest inclination to compromise with Republicans. As a result Obama has been pushed steadily leftward – movement conservatives should do the same when our friends in government show any inclination to give way on conservative principles.

As for the predictions of civil war within the Republican Party let me suggest to Mr. Goldberg that this civil war has been going on for 101-years and that it began, not with Senator Bob Taft and Governor Tom Dewey or Nelson Rockefeller and Barry Goldwater, but when former President Teddy Roosevelt ran against President William Howard Taft for the Republican presidential nomination in 1912 and made progressive Republicanism – big government Republicanism – the governing philosophy of the Republican establishment.

Of course it is a cinch you are going to lose a fight – let alone a civil war – that you don’t know you are in.

For most of those 101-years the grassroots conservative voters of the Republican Party didn’t realize that the very people they elected to lead them – establishment Republicans like Senate Republican leaders Hugh Scott, Howard Baker, Bob Dole, Trent Lott, Bill Frist and Mitch McConnell and House Republicans such as Gerald Ford, John Rhoades, Bob Michael, Dennis Hastert and John Boehner – were as great an impediment to governing America according to conservative principles as were the Democrats.

The fact that the grassroots limited government constitutional conservatives of the Tea Party awoke and have finally begun to fight big government – no matter who is in charge – is the most important American political development of the 21st Century and it gives me real hope for the future of this great country.

To the extent that back in the 1980s I saw a civil war between big government progressive Republicans and the limited government conservative grassroots, and that I have helped encourage the conservative movement and the Tea Party to finally fight back, I happily plead guilty.

Read Mr. Goldberg's LA Times article about Viguerie here.

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Reagan and his VP PICK

It is a well known fact that THE ESTABLISHMENT REPUBLICANS "They were called the Rockafeller Republicans back then that they ran the purse strings of the Republican Party and "THEY" did not LIKE Ronald Reagan and that Ronald Reagan embarrassed them and "THEY" said that if he did not pick G.H.B. as VP they would not help him win the Presidency. THIS IS FACT JACK . I did feel betrayed when he let 1 million illegals have Amnesty and even I knew back then IT WAS WRONG

Schooling Jonah Goldberg

I've liked Goldberg's book-writing, but Mr. Viguerie knows his stuff. Anyway, I believe so! He has a great grasp of the life and times of the most favorite President in my lifetime. There was a "civil war" going on in the GOP, resentment and resistance to Reagan the Conservative. The GOP wanted Bush the moderate, the people spoke though, they wanted "The Gipper."
It turned out positive for GHW, he was VP under the best President we've seen in modernity. So much so, that GHW rode into the WH on Reagan's coattails.