Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Reeves on Reagan

Adrian Wooldridge of The Economist kindly mentions my book on the rise of Reagan in his New York Times Book Review piece on Richard Reeves’ new book, President Reagan: The Triumph of Imagination.

Both the review and Reeves’ book are pretty good. (I read Reeves’ book over the Christmas holidays.) Reeves is an old liberal of the New Deal variety, and though he makes clear he doesn’t agree with Reagan’s ideology, he says he shares Reagan’s attachment to American exceptionalism, which is the key dividing line between right and left today, as most liberals today are uncomfortable with American exceptionalism. It says a lot in favor of Reeves that he has raised his overall estimation of Reagan. In 1979 he wrote in Esquire magazine an article called "Why Reagan Won’t Make It," and then in 1983 he published a book called The Reagan Detour, arguing Reagan was a mere interlude between liberal hegemony in American politics.

I debated Reeves back in 1994 in Santa Barbara, and twitted him about these two publications, but overall I found him enormously likeable and fair-minded, which comes out for the most part in his new and more favorable revision of Reagan.

The page before the Wooldridge review (if you have the dead-tree version of the book review) contains a nasty and unfair hack job of a review of Don Critchlow’s fine book on Phyllis Schlafly. Schlafly ranks up next to Joe McCarthy for the ability to make liberals start frothing at the mouth. Good for Don for getting reviewed in the Times, I suppose, but despite Sam Tanenhaus’s worthy efforts to balance the book review, it still fall short now and then as this review makes clear.

Discussions - 4 Comments

Steve, it’s going to be incredibly difficult for your second volume to be better than the first. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to reading it.

Speaking of American exceptionalism...

At a Christian concert last night, a man named David Nasser gave his testimony. He told of his family’s escape from Iran during the revolution in 1979. Because his father was a military officer, his family needed to escape to survive. In order to do so, they paid off some doctors to say that his mother needed emergency heart surgery for which Iran did not have the technology. They were allowed two-way airline tickets to Switzerland to have to surgery. When they arrived in Switzerland, rather than seeking out a doctor for open heart surgery they sought the American Embassy.

There must be something good about the United States to make this family seek us rather than any other country that could have helped.


Interesting that the Critchlow book was given to a talk-show hostess to review. Doesn’t seem like an appropriate choice for a serious publication like the NYT.

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