You'd think this, from Mother Jones, would be devastating for Rand Paul in the 2016 primaries:
In a variety of campaign appearances that were captured on video, Paul repeatedly compared Reagan unfavorably to Carter on one of Paul's top policy priorities: government spending. When Paul was a surrogate speaker for his father, then-Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), during the elder Paul's 2008 presidential quest, his sales pitch included dumping on Reagan for failing to rein in federal budget deficits. Standing on the back of a truck and addressing the crowd at the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers picnic in July 2007, Rand Paul complained about Reagan and praised his father for having opposed Reagan's budget:That and other Rand Paul attacks on Reagan's spending are in the Mother Jones article, and in the video supercut below. Rand can't possibly survive this in 2016 ... right?
The deficit went through the roof under Reagan. So how long did it take Ron Paul to figure out that the guy he had liked, endorsed, campaigned for, campaigned for him? The very first [Reagan] budget. Ron Paul voted "no" against the very first Reagan budget... Everybody loved this "great" budget. It was a $100 billion in debt. This was three times greater than Jimmy Carter's worst deficit.
Don't be so sure. A lot of the right-wing reaction will undoubtedly resemble this, from Hot Air's Allahpundit:
David Corn and Mother Jones are out with another gotcha piece on Paul this morning citing his (mild) criticism of Reagan in the past for not cutting spending more as president.... Knocking the Gipper for not doing enough to shrink government is Libertarianism 101; even mainstream conservatives who venerate him will grudgingly concede that they wish he'd done better before quickly adding that he did what he could with a liberal Congress. And needless to say, no one's going to stand onstage next to Paul at the 2015 primary debates and rip him for criticizing deficit spending. It’s okay to criticize Reagan as long as you're respectful and as long as you're doing it from the right.So there you have it. You and I can't criticize Ronald Reagan, who was the greatest American of our era and whose cowboy boots we're not fit to polish -- but conservatives can critique him, if they're "respectful" and they're "doing it from the right." So Reagan criticism is sort of like using the N-word -- permitted within the group, but declared utterly taboo by the group if done by others. (Presumably this is because of conservatives' long history of suffering at non-conversatives' hands. Sorry, that was sarcasm.)
Is it true that "no one's going to stand onstage next to Paul at the 2015 primary debates and rip him for criticizing deficit spending"? Hard to say. During the 2012 campaign, his father was criticized for a similar refusal to genuflect before Reagan -- but primarily by Rick Perry, who, in turn, was attacked by Paul the Elder as a 1988 backer of Al Gore (which was back when Perry was still a Democrat):
Paul called Perry "Al Gore's Texas cheerleader" for once working in support of the Democrat. Perry's team, in turn, released Paul's 1987 resignation from the GOP.The elder Paul was worried enough about the criticism that he reached back to his support for Reagan's 1976 presidential campaign and put out this ad:
But Rick Perry, the guy who played the Reagan card against Ron Paul, ran a flop campaign, so I don't think anyone's going to emulate anything he did. For that reason as well as for the fact that Reagan criticism from the right seems acceptable to the right, I think Rand will be allowed to slide on this.