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Thursday, June 24, 2004

Kerry's "Broadside" Against Reagan

Patrick Healy today writes that Kerry, in a rally yesterday, "challenged the fiscal record of the GOP's favorite optimist, Ronald Reagan -- Kerry's first broadside against the former president since his death June 5." The "broadside" line is in the link to the story from Drudge, but Healy only explains what Kerry said about Reagan in the second half of the article. You have to click to the second page on the Globe site, thanks to their annoying system, though I linked the single-page format since I care more about my readers than Drudge does, apparently--or maybe he doesn't want people to click through. Anyway, here's the remark:

Promising to "restore fiscal sanity" to the federal government, Kerry recalled his support for the Clinton administration's efforts to reduce the deficit, saying, "I was part of that effort in the 1990s that had the courage to do what Ronald Reagan, for all his rhetoric--and God rest his soul, we loved him for his strength in many things--but I don't recall vetoes of major appropriations bills. I recall a lot of talk about deficits; I don't recall balancing the budget. I recall deficits getting larger."

Now, you can debate the substance of this quote and how the history went, but to construe this as some sort of personal attack ("we loved him for his strength") is ludicrous. Steve Schmidt, of course, does just that with his stock quote about how he's so offended: "Kerry's attack on President Reagan is beyond the pale, and will be very troubling to most Americans." Right, because nothing troubles me more than discussions of 1980s and 1990s fiscal policy.

Blogging of the Reagan legacy, the Bush admin seems intent on reviving the Gipper's disparagement of poor people. This story is about the USDA's Eric Bost, who reportedly said food banks were being used more because people might be "taking the easy way out." Ohio members of Congress called for his resignation, so now an Agriculture spokeswoman asserts that some of the qoutes that were originally in the June 6 Columbus Dispatch were "not quite right." This is hard to square, though, with the June 9 Progress Report coverage of this issue. A 44 percent increase in the people going to Ohio's food banks isn't just an administrative mix-up, and the denial of the struggle many Americans face is something I genuinely do find troubling.

UPDATE: NRO's "Kerry Spot" is at least honest about this, writing, "Actually, the words themselves aren't that strong" in taking on Reagan. The Healy story focuses on the Kerry-Bush fight over who is optimistic and who is pessimistic, and Michael Kinsley wrote a good column the other day on why this is foolish.