Bill Steigerwald Bill Steigerwald, 2/10/2008 [Archive]

Seeing the Reagan in Obama -- Opinion

Martin Anderson has been watching a certain politician this primary season who reminds him a lot of his former boss.

"He's doing a brilliant job," says the Hoover Institution fellow who served as senior public policy adviser in Ronald Reagan's 1976 and 1980 presidential campaigns.

"He is the only person out there that's talking like Reagan. In terms of his approach, and what he's doing, he's doing exactly what Reagan did and no one notices."

Anderson's not talking about John McCain or Mike Huckabee. He's talking about Barack Obama -- the only Democrat on Earth who can save America from four more torturous years of Clintonism.

Others have spotted resemblances between Sen. Obama's and President Reagan's superior oratorical and communication skills, though they are obviously opposite in style, delivery and message. But Anderson arguably knows the real Reagan better than anyone else alive.

Not only did he travel tens of thousands of miles with him on campaign trails, but since 2001 he's co-authored three books that used thousands of radio commentaries, letters and speeches Reagan wrote to prove that Reagan was never the empty suit he was said to be.

And as for those who still think Reagan was a passive player in the demise of the U.S.S.R., Anderson's current book project will soon show otherwise.

Anderson and his wife Annelise have been given access to classified minutes of more than 330 meetings of the high-powered National Security Council, which met in the 1980s to plot the defeat of the Soviets. Reagan was not only the chairman of those meetings, Anderson said on Super Tuesday, he "made all the decisions, ran the whole shop."

Getting back to Obama, Anderson said his campaign strategy also echoes what candidate Reagan did.

"Obama wants the Democrats but he also wants the people in the middle. He wants the Republicans. This is the reverse of Reagan. Reagan said, 'Look, I want the Republicans, but I'll take the ones in the middle and I want all the Democrats.'

"They're both saying, we are doing this not for the Republican Party or the Democrat Party but the whole country."

Meanwhile, as Obama has been trying to seduce independent and (very) liberal Republicans, the Reagan remnant has obviously failed to find a new hero to save the Republican Party.

The candidate who's said the nicest things about Reagan, Anderson said, is Obama. Obama caught hell from other Democrat candidates for saying Reagan had the vision-thing but even the hard left sees the Reagan in Obama.

Nation magazine writer Christopher Hayes, for example, believes Obama can do for left-liberalism what Reagan did for conservatism -- resurrect it and make it the country's political majority.

Of course, that dream will never happen, because if Obama bests Hillary -- which every American should pray happens -- he'll have to move from the left to the center.

It hardly matters who wins. Except for the war in Iraq, their politics are essentially the same big-government Democrat drivel. Neither President Obama nor President Clinton II could damage America any more than George W. Bush has.

But unlike Hillary -- who thinks she already knows everything and had her fling with Goldwater conservatism as a teen -- there's still hope for Obama to wise up.

After all, Reagan was once a Democrat.

Bill Steigerwald is a columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. E-mail Bill at© Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, All Rights Reserved.

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