CNN’s Anderson Cooper joined Rush Limbaugh’s enemies list last night when on his program he dared to compare Obama’s efforts on reducing nuclear weapons to Ronald Reagan’s. Limbaugh said that nobody watches Anderson Cooper because he doesn’t get that, “Reagan’s name is being taken in vain here.” Reagan has now been officially deified and Republicans are worshiping a false God.
Here is the audio courtesy of Media Matters:
On his program Anderson Cooper said, “His efforts a lot like former president Ronald Reagan, so why are so many Republicans criticizing him?” Limbaugh responded with a dose of revisionist history insanity, “This is why so many people don’t watch Anderson Cooper. His effort is a lot like former president Reagan so why are so many Republicans criticizing, because Reagan’s name is being taken in vain here. There is absolutely no similarity what so ever in Obama and Reagan. This is Carter, and the way he would approach things and did approach things. Obama is simply the second term of Jimmy Carter.”
At this moment, I think it is best to present a little of both Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan on the nuclear arms issue. On April 5, 2009 in Prague, Obama said, “Some argue that the spread of these weapons cannot be stopped, cannot be checked — that we are destined to live in a world where more nations and more people possess the ultimate tools of destruction. Such fatalism is a deadly adversary, for if we believe that the spread of nuclear weapons is inevitable, then in some way we are admitting to ourselves that the use of nuclear weapons is inevitable.”
Obama continued, “Just as we stood for freedom in the 20th century, we must stand together for the right of people everywhere to live free from fear in the 21st century. And as nuclear power — as a nuclear power, as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act. We cannot succeed in this endeavor alone, but we can lead it, we can start it. So today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. I’m not naive. This goal will not be reached quickly — perhaps not in my lifetime. It will take patience and persistence. But now we, too, must ignore the voices who tell us that the world cannot change. We have to insist, “Yes, we can.”
Here is what Reagan said on May 16, 1983, “I can’t believe that this world can go on beyond our generation and on down to succeeding generations with this kind of weapon on both sides poised at each other without someday some fool or some maniac or some accident triggering the kind of war that is the end of the line for all of us. And I just think of what a sigh of relief would go up from everyone on this earth if someday-and this is what I have-my hope, way in the back of my head-is that if we start down the road to reduction, maybe one day in doing that, somebody will say, ‘Why not all the way? Let’s get rid of all these things.'”
Here is President Reagan on May 22, 1984, “Most of the people have been hearing in political dialog from one side, since we’ve been here in the 3 1/2 years, that I somehow have an itchy finger and am going to blow up the world. And that has all been duly reported by so many of you that that is the tone that the people have been getting. And it doesn’t do me any good to tell you that, having seen four wars in my lifetime, I don’t know of anyone, in or out of government that is more determinedly seeking peace than I am. And my goal is the total elimination of nuclear weapons. If we can get those fellows back to the table and get them to start down that road of mutual reduction, then they might find out what common sense it would mean to eliminate them.”
This is what President Reagan said on October 20, 1986, “It is my fervent goal and hope…that we will someday no longer have to rely on nuclear weapons to deter aggression and assure world peace. To that end the United States is now engaged in a serious and sustained effort to negotiate major reductions in levels of offensive nuclear weapons with the ultimate goal of eliminating these weapons from the face of the earth.”
Finally here is what Reagan said on March 25, 1988, “As I have indicated in previous statements to the Congress, my central arms control objective has been to reduce substantially and ultimately to eliminate nuclear weapons and rid the world of the nuclear threat. The prevention of the spread of nuclear explosives to additional countries is an indispensable part of our efforts to meet this objective. I intend to continue my pursuit of this goal with untiring determination and a profound sense of personal commitment.”
By looking at all of the above statements, you can see for yourself that Obama and Reagan do have a lot in common, and Anderson Cooper’s question was beyond reasonable. It isn’t just that people like Limbaugh have warped and deified Reagan. It is also that the right wing refuses to acknowledge that Barack Obama is great deal like Ronald Reagan. Both men maintained personal popularity even when their political standing was down. Even those they are ideologically different, both men have/had leadership and vision, and both men are/were prone to sentimentality about America and its place in the world.
The right wing has been feeding itself the fantasy that Obama is Carter in order to hope that they can defeat Obama in 2012. If people, like Limbaugh were to accept that Obama is like Reagan, then they would have to face the notion of almost certain defeat in 2012. The right has not only distorted the words of Ronald Reagan, but they are also in total denial about the personal popularity and success of Barack Obama. It is no big shock that the journalist, Anderson Cooper, would have the facts on his side against the propagandist, Rush Limbaugh.
All Reagan quotes are courtesy of The Global Security Institute
Reagan image from sodahead.com