LONDON -- Ronald Reagan was hailed as "a great American hero" Monday as his admirers unveiled a 10-foot-tall (3-meter-tall) statue of the former U.S. president near the American embassy in London.
Condoleezza Rice, national security adviser and secretary of state in President George W. Bush's administration, joined British Foreign Secretary William Hague at the morning ceremony in Grosvenor Square.
"Statues bring us to face to face with our heroes long after they are gone," Hague said "Ronald Reagan is without question a great American hero; one of America's finest sons, and a giant of 20th-century history. You may be sure that the people of London will take this statue to their hearts."
Meanwhile, back in the States, where we live every day with a) the actual consequences of Reagan's policies and b) more importantly, the mythologized and much more destructive version of the the Gipper, that oxymoron of a moderate Republican (and area man by way of suburban Radnor) David Brooks says a key element of the Reagan myth is destroying his party...and America, too.
But we can have no confidence that the Republicans will seize this opportunity. That's because the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative.
The members of this movement do not accept the logic of compromise, no matter how sweet the terms. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch in order to cut government by a foot, they will say no. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch to cut government by a yard, they will still say no.
The members of this movement do not accept the legitimacy of scholars and intellectual authorities. A thousand impartial experts may tell them that a default on the debt would have calamitous effects, far worse than raising tax revenues a bit. But the members of this movement refuse to believe it.
The members of this movement have no sense of moral decency.
Reagan certainly cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans but he also raised them on at least 11 occasions -- including regressive taxes like a significant hike in the payroll tax to pay for Social Security and an increase in the federal gas tax; the average blue-collar American paid more in federal taxes (including the payroll tax) at the end of Reagan's presidency than at the beginning. Although the national debt tripled during the Reagan years, his later tax increases did prevent things from getting even worse and set the stage for actions by George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, including raising revenues, that briefly balanced the federal budget and ushered in an era of prosperity in the 1990s.
An era of common sense -- not possible with today's Republicans brainwashed by a false legend of the Reagan era.
David Brooks can see that. Why can't you?