Nostalgia Hour at the Club for Growth

Daniel Henninger has one thing right: the Republicans had better start talking about economic growth. But first they have to stop dithering and consorting with buffoons like Rush Limbaugh or threatening to go beyond the cutting edge and get really hip hop.

Then (one hopes) they will join the conversation about growth that’s already underway in many quarters — not just within the Obama administration, but also and especially in the private sector, which, if we are to believe Henninger, is the Republicans’ political bailiwick.

But (please) the public should not have to suffer through more teary-eyed sentiments or television specials about Ronald Reagan. Nor should we be asked to consider Ronald Reagan one of the great economic minds of the 20th century. He was not; and to put Reagan on a par with Milton Friedman or Henry Hazlitt is to misread history and to ignore the difference between political leadership (which Reagan provided) and philosophical range and depth.

What’s more, invoking the ghost of Ronald Reagan and hoping that he offers a way out of the darkness is just bad political strategy, unless of course the Republicans are intent on being the party of — well — sentimental old Republicans. Many young voters (most of whom were Obama voters this time around) were born during Reagan’s second term. To them, I’ll wager, “Ronald Reagan” sounds a bit like “William McKinley” or “Teddy Roosevelt.”

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