A couple of years ago, when I wrote the book "Tear Down This Myth" about Ronald Reagan, I noted that a lot of the conservatives who today venerate the Gipper today were highly critical of him when he was president -- especially over the idea that he was racing to "appease" Mikhail Gorbachev and the Soviet Union. I mentioned that one of those critics was a young firebrand in the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich.
Here's some more about that:
The best examples come from a famous floor statement Gingrich made on March 21, 1986. This was right in the middle of the fight over funding for the Nicaraguan contras; the money had been cut off by Congress in 1985, though Reagan got $100 million for this cause in 1986. Here is Gingrich: “Measured against the scale and momentum of the Soviet empire’s challenge, the Reagan administration has failed, is failing, and without a dramatic change in strategy will continue to fail. . . . President Reagan is clearly failing.” Why? This was due partly to “his administration’s weak policies, which are inadequate and will ultimately fail”; partly to CIA, State, and Defense, which “have no strategies to defeat the empire.” But of course “the burden of this failure frankly must be placed first on President Reagan.” Our efforts against the Communists in the Third World were “pathetically incompetent,” so those anti-Communist members of Congress who questioned the $100 million Reagan sought for the Nicaraguan “contra” rebels “are fundamentally right.” Such was Gingrich’s faith in President Reagan that in 1985, he called Reagan’s meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev “the most dangerous summit for the West since Adolf Hitler met with Neville Chamberlain in 1938 in Munich.”
So of course flash forward 25 years, and now Gingrich is running for president as the only "Reagan Republican" in the race. But that's a myth -- much like the myth of Reagan himself. The bogus version of Reagan that Gingrich would replicate as 45th president would way more militaristic and way more uncompromising, especially on busting the federal budget, than the real Reagan ever would have been, and those of us in the reality-based world would be left holding the bag.
UPDATE: Looks like I'm inadvertantly on the same page with Matt Drudge...and Mitt Romney on this one. How did this happen?