Ronald Wilson Reagan pictured with his good friend Bob Hope

Ronald Reagan – The Presidential Years Part 3 of 4

I got to see Bob Hope do stand-up comedy in the summer of 1982 in Memphis with my grandfather Hatcher. It was very good. Bob Hope and Ronald Reagan were good friends.

President Reagan and Bob Hope laughing with George Shultz at the Kennedy Center Honors. Washington, DC 12/8/85.

Lee Edwards of the Heritage Foundation wrote an excellent article on Ronald Reagan and the events that transpired during the Reagan administration,  and I wanted to share it with you. Here is the 14th portion:  

With all his many activities and connections, Paul Weyrich should have been a contented man. He was head of Coalitions for America, which through its three divisions — the Kingston Group, the Library Court Group, and the Stanton Group — served as a central forum for nearly 120 different conservative organizations concerned with domestic policy and economics, pro-family issues (particularly abortion) and national defense and international affairs. A frequent participant and sometimes co-chairman in the weekly meetings of the Kingston Group was Congressman Newt Gingrich, who appreciated its political clout.

Weyrich was acknowledged by experts on the Left and the Right as one of the shrewdest politicians in Washington. An AFL-CIO publication grudgingly credited the New Right and Weyrich’s Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress for “a whole passel of persons sitting in the U.S. House and Senate.”[liii]

But Weyrich was concerned that conservatives were still reacting to the Left and not framing their own agenda. “We need more bills like the Family Protection Act,” he said — the omnibus bill setting forth a pro-family agenda including school vouchers and larger tax exemptions for children.[liv] Weyrich drafted the bill which was first introduced by Senator Paul Laxalt of Nevada, President Reagan’s closest friend in the Senate.

More of a pragmatist than Howard Phillips, Weyrich believed that it was important to keep lines open to Congress and the Reagan White House. He became somewhat alarmed at the anti-Republican, populist rhetoric of his old friend and colleague, Viguerie. Certainly the New Right had demonstrated in the 1978 and 1980 congressional elections that it could defeat liberal democrats, but could it build an effective conservative coalition?

By 1986, Weyrich was promoting what he and co-author William S. Lind called “cultural conservatism,” whose philosophical antecedents could be found in Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind and Richard Weaver’s Ideas Have Consequences. But Weyrich saw cultural conservatives as the forgers of a revived conservative movement that embraced “Old Right intellectuals, New Right activists, neoconservative policy analysts, and liberals concerned with civility and serious literature.”[lv]

It was an ambitious concept but fated to fail because it was too ambitious — too many philosophical and cultural questions were left dangling. Its most serious flaw was its neutrality on divine will (which offended Christian conservatives) and on natural law (which bothered many Catholics and other traditional conservatives). And without those important members of the conservative movement, cultural conservatism could have no meaningful political impact. Both Kirk and Weaver, of course, were anything but neutral about the need for a belief in God and an acknowledgement of natural law in politics.

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