Peggy Noonan Strikes Back at Andrea Mitchell's Claim 'Republicans Are Trying to Appropriate Reagan'

February 6th, 2011 4:54 PM

NBC's Andrea Mitchell on Sunday made the preposterous claim that Republicans are trying to appropriate Ronald Reagan for their own political purposes.

Appearing on "Meet the Press" with Mitchell, former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan struck back and struck back hard (video follows with transcript and commentary):

DAVID GREGORY, HOST: Willie Brown, let's talk about politics. Let's talk about the view of government that is being debated in our country right now. And Ronald Reagan, January 20th, 1981, his inaugural address, pretty much made clear his view of government. Watch this.

(Videotape, January 20, 1981)

PRES. RONALD REAGAN: In this present crisis government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.

(End videotape)

MR. GREGORY: Isn't this the very debate that we are having today in our debate over spending, debate over role of government in this economy?

WILLIE BROWN, FORMER MAYOR SAN FRANCISCO: It is the debate we are having today. But, you know, 1981 was a far cry from when Ronald Reagan actually started in government. It was 1966, 1967. And at that time period, he was not mouthing those kinds of words. Apparently Peggy wasn't writing for him at that time, and therefore he wasn't saying those kinds of words. He really learned about government and the operation of government and what government could or could not do in the eight years that he spent as a governor of the state of California. And they were really incredible learning years for this extraordinary, gifted person. So it doesn't surprise me in 1981 he would be saying the words that we're still living with and trying to address today.

MR. GREGORY: And as much as modern-day conservatives, Andrea Mitchell, may take that sentence from his inaugural as gospel and run on that in their own debates with President Obama in Washington today, indeed Reagan was much more of a pragmatist than he was an ideologue when it came to the major issues.


MR. GREGORY: Taxes, Social Security, and the like.

MS. MITCHELL: I mean, he said, "This is--the sound you hear around my feet is the concrete breaking around my feet," whatever the exact words were. People are trying--Republicans in particular, obviously--trying to appropriate Ronald Reagan for their own political purposes now. But his vision and his ability to work across party lines was so far broader. He stuck to his principles. He was authentic, which is I think one of the reasons why he's so admired after all of these years. But he knew when he needed to compromise, and he did. And he reached out with Democrats, not just the boll weevils who were the conservative Texas Democrats, but with Tip O'Neill and liberal Massachusetts Democrats as well when he needed to get something done with the help the really--the guidance of people like Jim Baker. But the genius of it all was that Ed Meese was there, there were conservatives there, and, and Jim Baker, more moderate Republicans. And it was a bit messy at times, but he had a range of views. And Nancy Reagan bringing even more people in to the--into play.

MR. GREGORY: Would he think the tea party was up...

PEGGY NOONAN, FORMER REAGAN SPEECHWRITER: I got to--whoa, whoa, whoa. Republicans are not, I think, trying to appropriate Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan was a Republican. Conservatives aren't trying to appropriate him. He was a conservative. Willie, he became a public figure in America two years before he was governor in 1964, and he laid out a speech as stern, if not sterner, in its conservatism in which he explained his views on taxes, "Cut them"; his views on the size of government, "Too big, too bullying"; his views on the Soviet Union, "Hold it back, it is expansionist." This was all very clear. As a president, as a governor, he was pragmatic in his operation.

Indeed. NewsBusters shared with readers on Sunday the very speech Noonan was referring to, and it was classic Reagan conservatism making you wonder what Brown and Mitchell were talking about.

Or maybe not.

After all, it is the Left and their media minions in recent months as the 100th anniversary of Reagan's birth approached that have been trying to not only appropriate him by making him look like more of a moderate than he was, but also working to paint the current White House resident in the Gipper's image to assist him in his re-election efforts.

Even worse, all this gushing and fawning from folks like Mitchell go counter to years of media attacks against our 40th President:

After years of bashing Reagan, the press suddenly think the way to get the current White House resident re-elected is by showing esteem for the Gipper while casting him as being very much like Obama.

Fortunately for "Meet the Press" viewers Sunday, Noonan wasn't having any of it.

Neither are we.

Nice job of sticking up for your former boss, Peggy. Brava!