By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Rosebud redux

Citizen Charles Foster Kane has returned to the blog wars after a long absence, and he’s immediately going after Gregg Jackson for an approving reference to “evangelical Christian field hands who bring in the harvest.”

Anyway, I scanned through Jackson’s column and was equally amused at Jackson’s reference to Mitt Romney as “by far the most left wing GOP presidential candidate in American history.”

Obviously Jackson is referring to the moderate, pre- presidential- campaign version of Romney. Even so, it’s not difficult for a sentient being to think of any number of Republican presidential candidates over the years who have been well to Romney’s left — even the Romney of 1994 or 2002. How about — well, gee, Rudy Giuliani? Remember him? Pro-choice, pro-gay rights, nice and soft on illegal immigration; you get the picture. And if I remember correctly, his presidential campaign wasn’t all that long ago.

In 1980, an obscure Republican congressman named John Anderson challenged Ronald Reagan for the nomination. He became such a liberal darling that, when he ran as an independent that fall, he helped Reagan by pulling votes away from the Democratic incumbent, Jimmy Carter.

Are you paying attention, Gregg? Get this: Mitt Romney wasn’t even the most left-wing GOP presidential candidate in American history named Romney. That would have been his father, George, who ran in 1968 and who was a true progressive. Mitt even said his father marched with Martin Luther King Jr. He didn’t, but he could have.

The early front-runner in 1964 was Nelson Rockefeller, so liberal at that stage of his career that many observers thought he should become a Democrat.

Or how about Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 and ’56? Alas, the divisive cultural issues of today were not on the table in the 1950s. But Ike stifled the Republican Party’s nascent right wing, consolidated the New Deal, enforced federally ordered school desegregation and warned against the power of the “military-industrial complex.”

Anyway, I come not to bury Gregg Jackson, which is ridiculously easy to do, but to praise Citizen Chuck on his return.

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  1. Howard Owens

    What about Nixon and imposing wage and price controls?

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Richard Nixon … the last liberal president! Absolutely. He really got the ball rolling with the EPA, too.

  3. Megan Marshak

    “Nelson Rockefeller, so liberal at that stage of his career that many observers thought he should become a Democrat.” You mean he wasn’t?

  4. Peter Porcupine

    Sen. Everett Dirksen, who wrote the Civil Rights Act. Mayor John Lindsay of NYC. Sen. Chuck Percy, who created the first program for home ownership for low income people.All of these were Presidential candidates. Of course, their names and deeds have been buried, as they do not fit the ‘Democrat Good, Republican Evil’ meme subscribed to my broadcast and newpaper organizations.Perhaps that is why Mr. Jackson can display such ignorance – he’s probably never heard of them.

  5. Charles Foster Kane

    Well, as I always say those who don’t learn history are doomed to repeat Gregg Jackson. I think part of the problem stems from the fact that since WWII, only Ronald Reagan apparently qualifies as a true national conservative hero. When your knowledge of conservatism begins and ends with Reagan, that doesn’t leave much room for nuance and god forbid you should learn about anyone else who might have run for President as a Republican.I don’t think, as Peter Porcupine does, that the people he mentions have been forgotten because of “Democrat Good, Republican Evil”, it’s because those men had a rational approach to problems and came up with solutions unpopular with today’s conservatives. In other words,today’s Republican party has no use for that wing of the party and its legacy. The big tent of the Republican party used to have a three ring circus. Now it can only send in the clowns.

  6. Anonymous

    Lindsay ran as a Democrat in 1972. And Percy and Dirksen never really mounted presidential campaigns, although they may have thought about it at some point.Bob in Peabody

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