All posts by CPS

Trump’s Move to the Left Ensures a Primary Opponent || RealClearPolitics

Trump’s Move to the Left Ensures a Primary Opponent

Ronald Reagan wasn’t Ronald Reagan before Ronald Reagan was Ronald Reagan.

In other words, while he is now revered by many as the first-among-equals Republican president, perhaps even more than Abraham Lincoln is, it wasn’t always so. From the time he burst onto the political scene in 1964 until his passing, Reagan was often derided by the political establishment and no more so than in 1976, when he audaciously took on Gerald Ford for the GOP nomination.

It was a bold move to go head-to-head against an incumbent president from his own party. Not since 1912, when Teddy Roosevelt challenged William Howard Taft, had it been attempted. But it nearly worked. On August 18, 1976, the penultimate day of the Republican convention, Ronald Reagan lost the primary to Ford by a mere 117 delegates, out of more than 2,000 votes cast.  It was the narrowest of margins, though some thought Ford’s win was tainted.

Reagan may have lost the nomination, but he certainly did not lose the hearts of Americans. While Ford went on to lose against Jimmy Carter, Reagan wasted no time in engineering his next run for president, just weeks after the 1976 election, eventually winning by landslides twice in 1980 and 1984. Unlike other primary losers, Reagan was not forgotten after 1976. Quite the contrary.

Ronald Reagan’s and Gerald Ford’s primary fight was rife with accusations, backhanded remarks, and down-right nastiness. The two despised each other by the end, and Nancy Reagan and Betty Ford couldn’t be in the same room with each other.

In the primaries, Reagan went straight after Ford’s inability to lead and inability to govern as chief executive. “I have become increasingly concerned about the course of events in the United States and the world,” he had said in announcing his candidacy in November of 1975. “The free world is crying out for strong American leadership.” He also went after Ford on ideological grounds, most notably U.S.-Soviet relations.

Ford’s short and ultimately forgettable presidency was marked by odd choices that made most conservatives angry and confused. From amnesty for draft dodgers and support for the Equal Rights Amendment to signing the Helsinki Accords, which ceded Eastern Europe to the Soviets, as well as his continued support for the failed policy of détente, Ford’s loyalty to the GOP wasn’t always clear. He was far more moderate than many thought he would or should be as president. As if all this weren’t  bad enough, it came at a time when the Republican Party needed a principled reformer after Richard Nixon’s humiliating and sad exit.

Ford’s association with Nixon’s policies and D.C.-insider resume didn’t sit well in the primaries or the general election. It’s no wonder that Americans later looked to an outsider to clean things up. Enter Reagan, who went on to make history.

The candidate many viewed as the outsider in 2016 was Donald Trump, who proclaimed his intention to drain the political swamp. Things have turned out differently. Unfortunately for conservatives, Trump doesn’t seem to want to follow through, and is more interested in the approval of the liberal media and the art of the deal, good or bad. Trump’s conservatism has always been suspect and now is even more so. It’s been openly thought that he’s always wanted the approval of Manhattan society. Moreover, as Ford’s hold on the American people was ephemeral because he’d never received their votes, Trump’s hold is also weak, as he did not receive a majority of the popular vote in November.

President Trump seems to be heading in the direction of Gerald Ford. He is going leftward by negotiating with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi instead of his own party’s leadership. It was met with great fanfare by the liberal media when he agreed to increase the debt limit. Several days later, he reassured DACA recipients that everything will work out to their favor – at the behest of Nancy Pelosi.

He reversed his position on Afghanistan, in the tradition of “invade the world” neocons. During the campaign, his promise  was to pull all American troops out, the sooner the better. As president, it’s been to send more troops in. Trump has met several times with the Nixon-Ford foreign policy guru, Henry Kissinger. Kissinger was the burr under Reagan’s and conservatives’ saddle. Trump also just announced that taxes on the rich – aka the successful – may go even higher. And more recently, he met again with Schumer and Pelosi to work with them to legalize Dreamers, promising to put off building the border wall until later. That’s two campaign promises reversed in one meeting.

If Donald Trump is destined to becoming the next Gerald Ford, who will be the conservative primary opponent running to his right? What will this mean for 2020? Will someone emerge to go after an unclear, messy, moderate incumbent in the primaries? It would seem so. Conservatives will surely want a hard-hitting and principled candidate who understands classic conservative economics, politics, and the tenets of Federalism.

Conservatives will want an outsider who is unable to be wooed by the insiders, from the left or right.

Is it realistic for someone to challenge the president  in 2020? Trump’s loyal apprentices who will vote for him no matter what – he said as much during the 2016 primaries – but that means little. Ford was an incumbent and nearly lost the nomination in ’76, even though Reagan received more votes in the primaries. Being president does not make you immune. Just ask Harry Truman in 1952. Or LBJ in 1968. A recent poll from early August revealed that over half of Republicans in New Hampshire would, if faced with a John Kasich vs. Trump primary, vote for the Ohio governor. Not even a year into the Trump administration, this is sorely disappointing, especially given that Kasich can come across as an old sourpuss.

Let’s see how 2020 shapes up. One thing seems certain, however: It will shape up quickly.

Craig Shirley is the author of four books about Ronald Reagan, including “Reagan Rising” and “Last Act.” He is also the author of the authorized biography of Newt Gingrich, “Citizen Newt: The Making of a Reagan Conservative,” and is the president of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs. He has lectured at the Reagan Library, is the Visiting Reagan Scholar at Eureka College, and is a member of the Board of Governors of the Reagan Ranch.

Scott Mauer is a research assistant to Reagan biographer Craig Shirley.


Citizen Newt Is Needed Today || American Thinker

Citizen Newt Is Needed Today

Citizen Newt, an authorized biography by Craig Shirley, explores how the legendary speaker of the House rose and influenced American politics and policy. It takes readers on a journey from when Gingrich decided to run for Georgia’s Sixth District to when Republicans gained control of the House in 1994.

Shirley told American Thinker, “You are hard-pressed, in the 230-year history of the American republic, to come up with the name of a political leader who wasn’t president who has had as long-lasting an impact on the national political debate as Newt Gingrich. I also was motivated to write his book because liberals can’t be trusted to record conservative history. They’re interested in pushing an agenda instead of reporting the facts. Of the books that are in my bibliography just about every one of them was written by a liberal, and every one of them was rancid, error-filled, agenda-driven, in every way, shape or form. They were not reporting on the facts of Newt Gingrich. They were reporting on their own personal ideology. But Gingrich burst on the national political scene in the late 70s, and here we are some 30 or 40 years later, and he’s still relevant.”

It is astonishing, after reading this book, to find the overlap between then and now. Many believe that there is a need for a Gingrich clone to tell it like it is and to pass legislation, while taking on the corrupt interests of the media, political consultants, lobbyists, and the establishment. Shirley believes “The problem for Donald Trump is that this Congress is a bunch of do-nothings. It is the static versus the dynamic. Newt took the Republican Party from a minority status to a majority status and accomplished his goal as stated in the ‘Contract With America.’ He got through 9 out of 10 pieces.”

Shirley quotes a 1985 statement by Gingrich, “The biggest division in the Republican Party… is between those who are serious about building a majority party and those who are locked into the mentality of a minority party.” Another quote from his 1979 campaign, where he charged that the Republican Party had not “a competent national leader in his lifetime. The GOP did not need another generation of cautious, prudent, careful, bland, irrelevant, quasi-leaders.” Sound familiar?

When asked about this, Gingrich responded to American Thinker, “It takes enormous leaders to get bills through both the House and the Senate. To accomplish something there is a need to have a leadership who knows what it is doing, communicates to the American people to get their support, and then through the American people gets the support of Congress. A perfect example is when President Trump went to North Dakota with a popular tax cut message. What I would do is build a coalition in every state of everyone who wants a tax cut and ask them to pressure members of both parties.”

In 1984, then-congressman Gingrich declared that the Democrats were obstructionists. He sees the similarities between the behavior then and now, “The fight started by Reagan and sustained by us, is the same fight of Trump today. What happens is they get into Washington surrounded by other Democrats who have this groupthink where they like to be mutually reinforced, a collectivist behavior that never wants to break rank. These people voting against the Trump agenda could be career ending; especially the states where Trump won overwhelmingly like West Virginia, Indiana, North Dakota, and Montana. It appears that they are out of touch with their constituents. The average American repudiates Democratic Party values. I predict in 2018 we will hold our own in the House and pick up 4 to 6 seats in the Senate.”

Because the Democratic Party’s program is based completely on identity politics, it is no wonder that they do not control the state legislatures, state senates, governorships, the House, the Senate, or the White House. Gingrich feels it falls back onto President Obama’s shoulders, “He spent eight years annihilating the Democratic Party where now they only control six state legislatures in the country. Look at how ridiculous the statement was of a candidate running for governor in Maine when he said there are too many white people there. If true, he just repudiated the vast majority of voters there and he blatantly narrowed his appeal and acceptability. This is what goes on in the Democratic Party all the time. They do not realize how weird they have become because the only ones they talk to are themselves.”

In 1981, Gingrich appeared to be ahead of his time when he initiated a resolution to put a statue of Dr. Martin Luther King in the U.S. Capitol. This overwhelmingly passed the House and the Senate. When asked how it relates to what is happening today, Gingrich responded, “If I were African-American I don’t think I would be very happy with a statue of somebody who fought to sustain slavery. I think we should understand the feelings over the very specific issue of the Confederacy, and not consider it offensive if they are to be taken down and put in a museum because they are not being destroyed.”

He became professorlike when he noted, “We wrote an alternate novel about Gettysburg. What many people don’t realize is that Robert E. Lee’s army actually had active slave traitors who went with them and actually captured free independent blacks in the Gettysburg area and took them South to sell into slavery.”

What about the attitude toward Thomas Jefferson and George Washington? “That is completely different. I think we have to remember that it was these men who came up with the concept of a world where people were systematically able to organize the right to govern without a king. They actually created a self-governing system in which individuals could have freedom. They also wrote into the Constitution that provided for abolishing the slave trade in DC, and provided a series of steps that began to move the system away from slavery. I think it takes remarkable ignorance or a willful rejection of the facts not to realize the worth of these historic figures.”

He also thought the discussion about the movie Gone With The Wind is “stupid. It would be a little like dissing William Shakespeare because there are parts of his writings that are anti-Semitic. Both the movie and the writings reflected the world they were part of.”

He thinks conservatives should see the glass half-full by looking at the accomplishments, including the court system moving to the right, the biggest deregulation underway in history, and a real effort toward tax reform. Regarding health care reform, “I believe people do not realize that 49/52 Republicans voted correctly in the Senate. There were sixteen Democratic nos for every Republican yes. We are only focusing on the one, not the 48 Democrats who got a free pass.”

Reading this book, people will feel deja vu. Americans should yearn for the return of Newt Gingrich, because he was someone who got things done and found solutions, someone who put America first.

The author writes for American Thinker. She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.


Calling Reagan a pro-amnesty liberal hero is simply Orwellian || Conservative Review

Calling Reagan a pro-amnesty liberal hero is simply Orwellian


By Craig Shirley and Scott Mauer

Recently, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of DACA — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — which has, in five years’ time, allowed around 800,000 illegal youths to live and work in the United States without ever going through an application process to actually become American citizens. It was a program that President Trump once promised — only to cancel—which had infuriated Democrats as much as anything.

It was never intended to be a permanent solution and President Barack Obama said so, even as he himself was operating outside the Constitution in making his own law, rather than following it.

Still, President Trump had been bombarded on many sides for his decision, until now apparently reversing it. And, as critics continue to assault that original decision, they have picked up a new-old tactic: attack the present by hijacking the past. It’s the classic Orwellian cliché, of rewriting the past to control the future. It’s irresponsible.

This time — and not for the first time — the Left once again is invoking conservative icon and hero Ronald Reagan.

Recently, Michael Reagan tweeted that his father “would not kick the dreamers out of the US. He would find a way to work with Congress and lead.” Maybe. There are those who worked closely with the Gipper who say otherwise. On the other side now is immigration reform activist, liberal businesswoman, and widow of Steve Jobs, Laurene Powell Jobs.

Her company, Emerson Collective, has a new television spot that selectively uses Ronald Reagan’s farewell address, “If there had to be city walls, the walls had doors,” Reagan says in his final address as the president of the United States. “And the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.”

It’s an effective ad that plays at the hearts of conservatives. Unfortunately for Laurene, it’s not quite as cut and dry as she thinks. DACA did not even exist when Reagan was president and it is a canard to suggest otherwise. Put illegals ahead of legal Americans? Reagan would have gagged at something less than fair play. Do we need another shallow rich liberal deliberately rewriting American history?

Everything that Ronald Reagan did was set against the backdrop of the Cold War. By the 1980s, the Soviet Union, specifically, and communism, generally, had been mortal enemies of the United States for nearly 40 years. People born during the Cold War were well into adulthood by the Reagan administration, and for their entire lives, communism was the threat.

It was an entirely different time when an Evil Empire was willing to kill millions in order to achieve world control. That was Reagan’s context. Where the threat of communism was rampant, from Central and South America’s Nicaragua or Panama, to all of Eastern Europe, Reagan opened his rhetoric.

It was 1986 when immigration became an issue at the forefront for the United States, when President Reagan signed the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act. The Cold War was at its peak. He noted that the legislation was not for the sake of votes, or the sake of appeasement. It was for American security.

“Future generations of Americans will be thankful for our efforts to humanely regain control of our borders and thereby preserve the value of one of the most sacred possessions of our people, American citizenship,” he said. Note also that this action was not blanket amnesty. While it offered citizenship to many illegal immigrants, it banned employers from hiring illegal immigrants – a major issue in today’s immigration debate – and set to enforce tighter immigration laws.

In fact, the amnesty portion of the bill, according to Reagan’s attorney general, Ed Meese, was a large thorn in the president’s side.

“There was extensive document fraud and the number of people applying for amnesty far exceeded projections. And there was a failure of political will to enforce new laws against employers. After a brief slowdown, illegal immigration returned to high levels and continued unabated, forming the nucleus of today’s large population of illegal aliens,” Meese wrote in Human Events.

Also, the 1986 Simpson-Mazzoli Act contained heavy penalties and parameters for these illegals to become American citizens, but they were never enforced by the succeeding Bush administration. Again, it must be emphasized that this Act was in the context of the Cold War. The mid-’80s were highly sensitive and tense years for USSR-USA relations; to throw out the illegal immigrants would have immediately been called out by Moscow. “Why are you telling us to free Eastern Europe,” Mikhail Gorbachev and his ilk would’ve accused, “when you throw out people in your own country?” It’s a fair point.

All this being said, Reagan was not what liberals may want — a blanket supporter of illegal immigration. He said in a 1980 GOP debate with George Bush that he opposed illegals just walking into the United States. Reagan said they must “come here legally…pay taxes” (neither of which the illegals have done). He was hardline on the position, even as Ambassador Bush was not, supporting illegal children attending Houston’s public schools, even as Reagan never addressed the issue, choosing instead to focus on fixing Mexico’s rampant corruption.

Granted, Reagan did say during the October 1984 presidential debate with Walter Mondale that he believed “in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and who have lived here even though sometime back they may have entered illegally.” On Reagan’s mind were the tens of thousands of people fleeing communism oppression in Cuba and Nicaragua. Political refugees, not economic refugees.

That was consistent with his philosophy of individual freedom and liberty. However, and it’s a big wrench in the argument, Reagan was for maximum control of the borders. Employers, in his words during the debate, “encouraged the illegal entry into this country … [and] hire them at starvation wages.”

That was the main focus: not only the protection of the exploited, but the protection of American consumers and the economy. This is why he wanted “to join in again when Congress is back at it to get an immigration bill that will give us, once again, control of our borders.” To control the borders was his priority.

In short, just because Reagan was pro-legal immigrant and pro-liberty does not mean he would be pro-DACA. To be pro-legal immigrant does not immediately make one pro-DACA, and it is nothing more than a lie to suggest otherwise. Besides, the immigrants of nearly 40 years ago were different than they are today. Then, they wanted to join American culture, not topple it, as many now are militantly anti-American, lawless, and closer to Antifa than to Apple Pie. Indeed, one-third of DACA takers have committed crimes here in America.

Would Ronald Reagan have supported DACA? Reagan respected the rule of law and the Constitution. The complications of an executive leader effectively inventing legislatively law aside, it’s hard to say. It’s hard to say what a man — whose policies were defined by a very specific time and a very specific context of relations — would say.

In the end, it’s an exercise in the reckless hypothetical, in which the only person who can definitely answer is the man himself. But the evidence is clear Reagan would have put legal Americans ahead of illegal aliens.

Ronald Reagan was pro-individuality. He was also pro-American exceptionalism, and took issue on any threat against that. He was for American security and for the US Constitution, as it is proudly displayed on the wall at the Reagan Library. Would this have included 800,000 illegal immigrants? Doubtful. What we do know is that those who paint Ronald Reagan as a pro-amnesty hero are engaging in Orwellian rewriting of history.

It is irresponsible.

Craig Shirley has been hailed from many quarters as one of the leading Reagan biographers, having written four books and hundreds of articles and given hundreds of lectures about the Gipper. He is the Visiting Reagan Scholar at Eureka College, a member of the board of governors of the Reagan Ranch, and a frequent lecturer at the Reagan Library. Scott Mauer is Craig Shirley’s Research Assistant.


Book Review: Citizen Newt || Washington Times

An honest accounting of a skillful tactician

– – Monday, September 11, 2017



By Craig Shirley

Thomas Nelson Books, $29.99, 544 pages

At a time when our history books and biographies are being revised at warp speed by practitioners of identity politics and a generation of academics fearful of being accused of being politically incorrect and losing their jobs, Craig Shirleystands out as an honest and highly talented biographer who is also a man of conviction.

His four books on Ronald Reagan, written with deep understanding of the man himself as well the principles he personified, have been widely praised by critics both left and right for their honesty and conviction. And “Citizen Newt,” he writes, “is the only factual account of the twenty-year rise of a first-generation Reaganite,” an account, he believes, that’s long overdue.

He quotes the respected Democratic pollster John Zogby: “Operationally, what Bill Buckley was to scholarly conservatism, what Reagan was to the leadership of conservatism, what Antonin Scalia was to the legal arguments of conservatism, Newt Gingrich was to its tactical and legislative and political successes.”

Nancy Reagan, he writes, once commented that Mr. Gingrich played the key role in completing the Reagan Revolution: ”Ronnie turned that torch over to Newt and the Republican members of Congress to keep that dream alive.”

And in the elections of 1994, that’s precisely what they did, in large part by making the election national (with no national candidate) with the “Contract with America,” conceived of and masterminded by Rep. Gingrich. The contract, announced on Sept. 27 on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, “contained ten specific promises that hundreds of Republicans candidates would sign and vow to enact in their first hundred days if they gained control of Capitol Hill.”

Some called it a brilliant stroke. Others, most predictably The New York Times, called the contract a “politically preposterous prospect” and “duplicitous propaganda.”

But as a central part of what some have called the “Gingrich Revolution,” with Mr. Gingrich leading the insurgency, the Democrats lost badly, and for the first time since 1954 — four decades — Republicans won a majority in the House.

“In the narrative of the Republican Party, there have only been a handful of elections that were truly meaningful or that demonstrated a shift in American political history. Without a doubt, the election of 1994 was one of them.”

A variety of factors would contribute to the loss, among them stagnation, Democratic corruption, the personal corruption of the president himself (this was also the year of Whitewater), and even the bizarre and very public failure of his wife to get the extraordinarily complex and cumbersome “Hillarycare,” (the precursor of Obamacare) enacted.

The schematic for Hillarycare was so convoluted, writes Mr. Shirley, that one major newspaper was unable to publish it. But “The Washington Times was more successful and devoted their entire editorial page to the diagram. It terrified people as it laid out, in black and white, dozens of agencies and commissions, bureaus, departments.”

Mr. Shirley notes that “it resembled a diagram of the Stalinist system of government.” And Newt Gingrich called it a “bureaucratic monstrosity German socialism and Italian corporatism.” (As is Obamacare, some might say.)

Of course, Mrs. Clinton’s scheme was not in itself determinative. But it was symptomatic of why the pendulum had swung back. As Mr. Gingrich put it, the intent of Hillarycare was to seize control of the health care system and centralize power in Washington. And for the time, as the 1994 elections demonstrated, people had had enough of big government.

Nor was it just Republicans who felt that way. “Soon, even a liberal president would be telling Congress and the nation, ‘The era of big government is over.’ ” And while there were Reaganites like Newt Gingrich, after the 1994 election serving as speaker of the House, making decisions and guiding legislation in Washington, that would remain the case.

Mr. Gingrich no longer holds office or a governmental position. But he is still active — writing, speaking, advising public figures, among them the current president. In assessing his career and contributions, Mr. Shirley adds his name to a select list of political statesman — among them Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan — “who had an effect on the national debate for more than three decades.”

And that, Mr. Shirley concludes, “in and of itself, makes him an interesting figure, a subject worthy of an honest accounting of his rise to power and subsequent accomplishments.”

In this deeply researched biography, written in strong clear prose with wit and understanding, while never glossing over missteps and mistakes, Craig Shirley has given us that honest accounting.

• John R. Coyne Jr., a former White House speechwriter, is co-author of “Strictly Right: William F. Buckley Jr. and the American Conservative Movement” (Wiley).


Reagan biographer: Trump, like Gipper, ‘tempted to bomb Capitol’ || Washington Examiner

Reagan biographer: Trump, like Gipper, ‘tempted to bomb Capitol’

One of the most interesting relationships in the Trump era has been the president’s embrace of Newt Gingrich. In his book, Understanding Trump, Gingrich gives credit to Trump for being able to break the mold on presidential action, shift positions quickly and speak bluntly, qualities similar to the former House speaker.

And now we’re learning from Reagan biographer Craig Shirley, who just released Citizen Newt, why Trump listens to Gingrich.

“Trump respects Gingrich, I suspect, because he utterly routed the shallow Washington culture” during his years in Congress, said Shirley.

“Gingrich saw part of his mission was to redefine what was important in Washington and like Ronald Reagan, saw the American people as important and the self-absorbed, supercilious, self-aggrandizing corrupt liberal comrades of Washington as mouth breathing sub humans. Reagan once quipped to Gingrich how tempting it would be to bomb the Capitol and there is little doubt Trump agrees with that sentiment,” he added.

A White House insider agreed, and said that Newt’s value to Trump is his outsider’s view and his insider’s success.

“Newt is respected for his viewpoints by Trump and appreciates his outside perspective. Although they sometimes disagree about the right approach, Gingrich and Trump both have one thing in common that the president loves: they took over Washington when no one expected it and turned the town upside down,” said the Trump advisor.

GOP pollster David Winston, a former Gingrich aide, added that Newt always has new ideas and can focus on the big play of the day.

“What’s his value to Trump? He’s been the third-ranking official in the country who is one of the best idea people on the conservative and Republican side. Who wouldn’t want to have conversations with him?” said Winston.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner’s “Washington Secrets” columnist, can be contacted at [email protected]