alien & sedition.
Monday, March 12, 2007
  "Odd Silence" over Reagan Bio

A couple weeks ago I discussed a review of the new biography of Ronald Reagan by John Patrick Diggins - a liberal scholar who nonetheless apparently has a great deal of praise for Reagan as an idealist above all.

So this post by Jonah Goldberg at the Corner caught my eye:
According to Diggins the Gipper disagreed sharply with his neocon advisors (which seems to include all of the strong anti-Communists around him) and the neocons were wrong about just about everything. Some of it strikes me as useful and informed correction but much of it strikes me as tendentious, odd or as ill-advised attempts to find the roots of the Iraq war in the Reagan Administration. I thought to myself: I wonder what Peter Robinson or Steve Hayward or the entire constellation of folks at Commentary and The Weekly Standard have to say about all of this? And, from what I can tell the answer is: absolutely nothing. George Will, Jim Pinkerton and Rich wrote about Diggins's book and that's about it (Will loved it, oddly). Pinkerton takes a shot or two — at the neocons — but basically nobody has pushed back on Diggins' frontal assault on them.
This is maybe a telling interpretation.

Inasmuch as Reagan really believed that "that the only answer to the cold war was to call it off," as Diggins puts it, he was breaking not only with the neocons, but also, of course, with the realists. But setting that aside, and also setting aside Goldberg's own preoccupations, I would suppose that a book like this should touch off rather more discussion on the right, especially in neoconservative circles. Here's a liberal writer declaring Reagan to be one of the greatest presidents in American history - man takes a big bite out of dog - yet also inverting the narrative of how Saint Reagan won the Cold War, arguing that victory came not thanks to American bluster, but thanks to the president's newfound willingness to take risks in talking peace. You'd think all of this would spark some debate amongst conservatives. But, if Goldberg's right, it hasn't. Which is odd.

Anyway, I'll get around to reviewing the book myself, sooner or later.

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