Idol worship

I liked this column by Charles Krauthammer, offering a corrective to the current gloom in Republican circles about the quality of their presidential field.  The party longs for another Reagan, the column points out. Republicans hoped that Fred Thompson might be that man, but what little they have so far seen of Thompson has changed their minds. All the other candidates are gravely flawed in one way or another, or so the party thinks. The column reminds Republican supporters that Reagan was a dozer, a flip-flopper on abortion, a granter of amnesty to illegal immigrants, and that he appointed Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy to the Supreme Court, whose swing votes "upheld and enshrined Roe v. Wade for the past quarter-century".

The point is not to denigrate Reagan but to bring a little realism to the gauzy idol worship that fuels today's discontent. And to argue that in 2007 we have, by any reasonable historical standard, a fine Republican field: One of the great big-city mayors of the past century; a former governor of extraordinary executive talent; a war hero, highly principled and deeply schooled in national security; and a former senator with impeccable conservative credentials.

The reference to idol worship reminded me of Britain's Conservative Party after Margaret Thatcher. The perpetual disappointment that resulted from holding each new leader to that false standard has been a large part of their problem. On the other hand,  think of the leaders that followed her: John Major, William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Howard, David Cameron. William Hague (I insist) might have been a good prime minister, and I'll reserve judgment about Cameron. But it was not just "gauzy idol worship" that made the others look bad.   

Presented by

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Faces of #BlackLivesMatter

Scenes from a recent protest in New York City

Video

Desegregated, Yet Unequal

A short documentary about the legacy of Boston busing

Video

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life

The Supreme Court justice talks gender equality and marriage.

Video

Social Media: The Video Game

What if the validation of your peers could "level up" your life?

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Business

Just In