How Today’s Conservative Leaders Betrayed Ronald Reagan


Reprinted from the original Pink Flamingo post from May 29, 2008:


”It is unlikely that the Reagan era will prove to be the historic change
in the direction of America that we have sought.” Edwin J. Feulner Jr., president of the Heritage Foundation,1985.

John McCain and George W. Bush should be honored to be in such august company as Ronald Reagan.  Why?  While Reagan was President, contrary to the lies that are being told today by Richard Viguerie and World Net Daily, Viguerie and fellow conservative leaders Howard Phillips and Paul Weyrich did their very best to undermine and bully him.  Now though, they protray themselves as the pure conservative, and are little more than rabble rousers, shrouding themsleves with non-Republican conservatives who are about as well acquainted with history as Barack Obama.  If they knew the history of the GOP they would understand the PURE conservative is no friend. All these people are out to do is improve their position in the world and nothing more.

Want proof?

To paraphrase a famous saying, the moron who does not know history is doomed to repeat it.  I’m not calling our suicide bomber conservatives morons, but you’re sure as heck acting like it.  What I have below is proven historical record.  The bottom line – you are being manipulated.  Fool me once, shame on you – fool me twice, shame on me!

At the Ramada Inn dinner, the leaders decided to set up a new coalition, the Anti-Appeasement Alliance, which would fight the trend exemplified by the INF treaty but would not attack the President personally. However, in a television interview two days later, Reagan infuriated old allies by declaring that foes of the INF treaty believed war with Moscow was inevitable; and he seemed to excuse Gorbachev’s occupation of Afghanistan by saying that the Soviet leader had inherited the policy.

The next day, Phillips charged that Reagan was ”fronting as a useful idiot for Soviet propaganda.” In the Senate, several longtime Reagan supporters voiced outrage at Reagan. Boomed Malcolm Wallop: ”Almost as offensive as his calling us warmongers was his apology for the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.”

The right-wing alarm grew during the Reagan-Gorbachev summit, which many hard-liners condemned as ”a love-in.” Some right-wing leaders moved quickly to exert grass-roots pressure on the Senate, tapping various networks: the Christian right; the ethnic, anti-Communist right, made up mainly of refugees from places such as Estonia, the Ukraine, Cuba, Korea, and Vietnam; as well as traditional pro-defense groups, such as the Coalition for Peace Through Strength, which fought earlier arms treaties.

In a letter mailed to 110,000 people, John M. Fisher, the 65-year-old chairman of the American Security Council, urged members to barrage the Senate with letters opposing the treaty. Fisher persuaded retired Adm. Thomas Moorer, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and more than 2,000 other retired admirals and generals to sign a petition opposing any arms agreements that ”would lock” the United States ”into strategic or military inferiority” or ”make our allies more vulnerable, like the proposed INF treaty.” Sixty organizations endorsed the petition, Fisher said, including Citizens for Reagan, the Naval Reserve Association, the Assembly of Captive European Nations, the American Federation of Small Business and the National Confederation of Ethnic Groups. A parallel drive to galvanize right-wing protest was mounted by Howard Phillips, the stout, tart-tongued, 46-year-old former political campaign organizer and founder of the Conservative Caucus. Phillips showered 175,000 letters on his caucus members, and mailed audio cassettes of General Rogers’s 30-minute attack on the INF treaty to 5,000 delegates and alternates to the 1984 Republican National Convention.

But Phillips’s knock-out punch will be a full-page ad scheduled to run this month in such conservative-minded newspapers as The Washington Times and New Hampshire’s Manchester Union-Leader. Under the headline, ”Appeasement is as unwise in 1988 as in 1938,” photos of Reagan and Gorbachev are paired with photos of Neville Chamberlain and Hitler, followed by the appeal: ”Help Us Defeat the Reagan-Gorbachev INF Treaty.” Other leaders, such as Daniel L. Casey of the American Conservative Union and Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation, are quietly lobbying Senators. They hope to tie the treaty’s passage to tough conditions on arms control, conventional forces, Afghanistan, or human rights. These conservatives are poised to launch mass campaigns as soon as right-wing leaders inside the Senate decide what conditions to fight for.

”The only way these campaigns work,” said Weyrich, ”is when the inside and outside work together.”…”

Reagan’s Shift to Center Brings Attacks from Right – NY Times, Sun. Jan 25, 1981 – Wait a minute, that’s just a few days after his first inauguration.

“..In its first days in office, the Reagan Administration has found itself under attack from conservative legislators and activists who were among Ronald Reagan’s earliest and most ardent supporters. The attacks focus on two separate but overlapping themes: the naming of ”moderate” and ”impure” Republicans…”

Right Assails Reagan…- Boston Globe – Dec 5, 1987

“WASHINGTON — Congressional conservatives and right-wing activists angrily criticized President Reagan yesterday for saying that opposition to an arms control treaty is based on a belief that war with the Soviet Union is “inevitable.” Some critics accused Reagan of abandoning the conservative movement. Reagan’s summit with Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the Soviet leader, begins on Tuesday. The conservatives criticized the treaty to be signed by the two men…”

How about this one? NYTimes, Dec 20, 1987

“…Conservatives were ”stunned” by these ”dangerous illusions,” wrote Human Events, the conservative weekly, and ever since, a long list of prominent conservatives have been hurling brickbats at the President. But to what effect? ”The consternation is keeping some conservatives from supporting the I.N.F. treaty,” a senior White House aide said. ”They’re afraid that because of all his new rhetoric, there must be something wrong with the treaty.” But this official and many others interviewed say they believe the treaty eliminating intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe is so well-liked by the American people that it will almost certainly be ratified, no matter how many conservatives inveigh against it. Asked how the conservatives’ anger could hurt the Republican Party or the Administration, a White House official who counts himself a new-right conservative thought a long moment. ”It may make it more likely that our convention may be bitter,” he said at last.

Edwin J. Feulner Jr., president of the Heritage Foundation, also paused and finally said, ”Whoever Reagan’s successor is will have a hard time mobilizing these people because Ronald Reagan walked away from them in the end.” But ”there probably will not be costs in the short term,” he acknowledged, because Mr. Reagan, with a year left in office, is not likely to need to galvanize conservative support behind another Supreme Court nominee or deficit-reduction package…”

Conservatives Disappointed with Shift by Reagan NYTimes June 26, 1983

…Ideological conservatives, who provided the core of Ronald Reagan’s support in 1980, have been deeply disappointed with his performance as President, especially what they regard as his growing moderation in advance of the 1984 campaign. The conservatives said in interviews this week that they agreed with most of Mr. Reagan’s goals but felt he had been too timid in fighting for them. As an example, they noted that he was no longer pressing Congress to abolish the Department of Education. Howard Phillips, chairman of the Conservative Caucus, said Mr. Reagan, in adopting a ”nonconfrontational political strategy to mollify the Washington establishment,” seemed to have forgotten the people who ”sustained him in the political wilderness for all those years.”

”President Reagan has not proposed, much less achieved, a balanced budget; has not fundamentally changed the nation’s arms control policies, and has not stopped the buildup of Soviet power in the Western Hemisphere,” Mr. Phillips said. ”The failures are a result of his overarching strategy: articulating policy aspirations that inspire conservative hopes, but then pressing to implement those objectives only to the degree they can be accomplished by consensus. And consensus is impossible to achieve if fundamental change is the goal.’‘ Betrayal of Principles Seen

Joel M. Skousen, executive editor of Conservative Digest, a monthly magazine published by Richard A. Viguerie, the conservative fund-raiser, said that ”Mr. Reagan is now seen as untrustworthy by many conservatives who believe he has betrayed his own principles in an effort to appease his critics” on such domestic issues as education, welfare, the budget and taxes. Ideological conservatives have been expressing similar views for at least a year, but their concerns take on special urgency as the 1984 election approaches. Many conservatives said the President seemed to take their support for granted, on the assumption that they had no place to go and would have to back him if he ran for re-election. The conservatives conceded they were unlikely to support another candidate, but said the more significant question was how hard they would work for Mr. Reagan if he ran. ”If the present trend continues, as we expect, ideological conservatives would withhold their support from the President,” Mr. Skousen said. ”We would not actively campaign for him.”

John D. Lofton Jr., a conservative columnist for The Washington Times who calls himself an ”unreconstructed Reaganite,” said: ”The President lacks the courage of his convictions, which are sound. Conservative activists are the core constituency of the Republican Party. If they sit on their hands in a close contest, Republican candidates for the Presidency, for Congress and for local office would all be in trouble.” Reagan Aide Acknowledges Debt Morton C. Blackwell, a special assistant to the President who serves as his liaison agent with conservative organizations and religious groups, said he often heard such complaints. Insisting that Mr. Reagan did not take them for granted, Mr. Blackwell said, ”Without the support of these conservative groups, we would never have won the nomination or the general election in 1980.” M. Stanton Evans, a syndicated columnist who is former chairman of the American Conservative Union, said the President had been ”illserved by some members of his staff who do not seem to share his commitment to the conservative program on which he ran.” Mr. Evans contended that Mr. Reagan was surrounded by pragmatic advisers who were too willing to compromise. Foremost among these advisers, he said, are James A. Baker 3d, the White House chief of staff, and his deputy, Richard G. Darman, and Kenneth M. Duberstein, assistant to the President for legislative affairs. ”It is very difficult to administer a conservative revolution with people like that as your agents,” Mr. Evans said, ”because they are not conservative revolutionaries but pragmatists.” …

Conservatives should be weary of Reagan because he might betray them! NYTimes, June 14, 1981.

…Though the audience seemed united in its enthusiasm for President Reagan, it was not given instruction on how to support him, but in how to fight off liberals and how to scrutinize the Federal Government for its failings. Indeed Howard Phillips, president of the Conservative Caucus, alerted the group to be wary of ”betrayal” by Mr. Reagan on such matters as arms control policy and making deals to keep categorical grants alive. Criticism of Liberals…”

How about this one from the great William Safire, NYTimes, January 21, 1982

“…President Reagan, the former hard-liner, having turned his State Department over to a crew of waffling accommodationists, probably feels he occupies the middle ground in foreign affairs – and that his old supporters have ”nowhere else to go.” He is profoundly mistaken. The revolt of the hawks is under way, the ranks are swelling with the most surprising volunteers, the search for new leadership has begun, and if Ronald Reagan fails to awake to the hard-liners’ anger at his betrayal, he will discover that he has lost this bedrock constituency….”

The vile and anger that has taken over conservatives today is nothing new.  Back when Reagan was PUTUS, they were at one another’s throats and his.  NYTimes – Nov 24, 1985

“…Knee-jerk conservatives. These are the modern counterparts to the old knee-jerk liberals, who created such embarrassment for the Democratic Party before its death. When their favorite issues arise, knee-jerk conservatives first salivate, then demonstrate, and finally accuse their leaders of double-crossing them. As the defunct knee-jerk liberals once did, the knee-jerk conservatives smell heresy and betrayal on every side, insist that their issues are the only issues that matter for the honor of conservatism, and threaten to blow up the party if they are not given satisfaction. Big issues at the moment: reworking the Constitution to allow school prayer, outlawing abortion.

Let-Reagan-Be-Reagan conservatives. An offshoot of that branch of the knee-jerk conservative bloc that believes President Reagan has double-crossed them, this sect believes that, to the contrary, President Reagan would die on the barricades if necessary for the big knee-jerk issues, if only he could regain control of himself. Unfortunately, the theory goes, control of the President has been seized by White House bureaucrats who refuse to let the President be himself…”

Heritage Foundation supporters feared Reagan would cave to the  USSR. Boston Globe – Dec 3, 1987

…WASHINGTON – It was no accident that brought President Reagan before the conservative Heritage Foundation Monday to deliver a hard-line speech on his agenda for next week’s summit meeting with the Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. Some of his his longest and most ardent conservative supporters have expressed dark thoughts and whispers that Reagan may be about to “cave in” to the Soviets in an effort to achieve a dramatic, long-range agreement to halve the number of long-range nuclear weapons possessed by the superpowers. Despite his repeated denials, these conservative critics charge that Reagan is about to compromise on development of the Strategic Defense Initiative, the proposed space-based missile shield that they portray as the cornerstone in future US nuclear defense capability….”There’s a real feeling among us that we are about to be sold out on arms control the same way it’s happened on budget cuts and taxes,” said James T. Hackett, a former official of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and now a senior scholar at the Heritage Foundation. “While he’s given us his rhetoric about a strong defense, the only actions he’s taken involve compromising or overlooking their violations,” Hackett said. “Betrayal may be too strong a word for what we feel right now, but there is a very strong sense of disillusionment.” Hackett theorized that Reagan might have made a secret deal with Gorbachev in October to persuade the Soviet leader to give up his sudden reluctance to participate in the Washington summit. The terms of the secret deal: Attend the summit and Reagan agrees to bargain on SDI. Under that bargain, Reagan would accept a narrow interpretation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which prohibits deployment in space of defenses resembling SDI, or agree to negotiate on limits on its testing…”

The Reagan Revolution is Dying by Patrick J. Buchanan (who else?)
LA Daily News November 8, 1987

“…Ronald Reagan has always been a movement politician, a podium politician, not some back-room magician like LBJ; he excels on the platform, and before the camera, making the case, with clarity and conviction, for some great cause – be it saving the Panama Canal, or leading the West against the Evil Empire. “Better to lose in a cause that will someday triumph than triumph in a cause that will one day fail,” is a Wilsonian sentiment this president intuitively understands. “Make them feel the heat, and they will see the light,” is among his aphorisms. That is Ronald Reagan’s style….”

NYTimes Jan 22, 1982 Paul Weyrich deserts Reagan

“…Forty-five conservative activists and organization leaders warned President Reagan today that he was allowing ”the abandonment, reversal or blunting” of the policies that got him elected, such as opposition to abortion, lower taxes and a tough line with the Soviet Union. After meeting for most of the day at a Washington hotel, spokesmen for the group repeatedly denounced Administration aides, whom they would not identify, contending that they were subverting Mr. Reagan’s conservative instincts. Howard Phillips, national director of the Conservative Caucus, said these individuals were responsible for what they felt was the Reagan Administration’s mistake of trying to ”woo his adversaries rather than mobilize his supporters.” Paul M. Weyrich, director of the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress, said the ”Administration has been getting the image of not caring about some of the Middle-American voters who elected them.” He contended that ignoring issues like abortion or relations with Taiwan carried a serious political risk, too. ”From a political standpoint, if all the issues in the 1982 election are economic issues, we may well suffer losses that we would not have to suffer,” he said. Cannot Support Reagan Foes The spokesmen conceded that they faced a difficult time because they could not plausibly threaten to support Mr. Reagan’s foes. Mr. Phillips said support of Mr. Reagan and the hope of influencing him was ”our best option, indeed our only option for the time being.”

This Paul Weyrich Jan 10, 2007 article in Human Events, “The Need for Conservative Unity” is laughable considering the way Weyrich treated Ronald Reagan when Reagan was POTUS.  Or, as the Boston Post put it on June 30, 1985, God Save Reagan from His Friends!

“…President Reagan’s best friends were the liberals, and his worst critics were his longtime conservative cheerleaders as the Beirut hostage crisis finally took a turn for the better.With prospects of a deal finally bringing the hostages home, there’s talk of scores to settle later. Along with possible retaliation against the hijackers, there are some domestic political scores to settle, as well. The loudest cries for the Rambo Response came from the right. Never mind the hostages’ lives, never mind the president’s own eloquent explanation that random retaliation against possibly innocent Arabs in Lebanon would make the United States no better than the terrorists themselv es. These folks were riled up, and they wanted us to Do Something! “Jimmy Reagan,” sneered the Wall Street Journal editorial page, as the president it adores on economics tried to be a statesman instead of acting like Sylvester Stallone’s shoot-first-and-grunt-questions-lat er Rambo character. Norman Podhoretz, one of the neo-conservatives who furnished intellectual window-dressing for the New Right, mocks Reagan as “a pitifully crippled hawk” who refuses to “risk life in defense of the national honor.”

Podhoretz speaks for all those who apparently really believed that massive military expenditures and saber-rattling rhetoric would make us rulers of the world. The vitriol with which some of Reagan’s closest supporters now question his conduct shows us that no one is safe from being branded a gutless appeaser when the New Right is in full panic. “While Reaganites fear their leader is being Carterized,” moaned conservatives Rowland Evans and Robert Novak in an alas-and-alack column, “a princip al perpetrator of the transformation is the president himself.”…. The brilliant organizer of the New Right revolution, Paul Weyrich, who first realized the potential of harnessing abortion foes, born-again Christians, critics of the Panama Canal treaty and school-prayer partisans into an effective political force, knows an inflammable issue when he sees one. So he whipped up a New Right claque to fan the flames for harsh retaliation.

“By failing to carry out our threats against terrorists, we have invited more terrorism,” said Weyrich in announcing his umpteenth pressure group, Coalition for Actions Against Terrorism. His first target: Secretary of State George Shultz. Shultz said last fall: “The public must understand before the fact that there is potential for loss of life of some of our fighting men and the loss of life of some innocent people.” But Weyrich and his allies fear Reagan is pussyfooting, now that the nightly news shows our hostages in all their vulnerability. So Weyrich targets Shultz. Reagan is still untouchable; the president is beloved by all the folks whose $10 and $20 checks fuel the New Right’s direct mail operation. The New Right savaged Carter all through the 1980 election campaign, assailing his manhood, his judgment, his nerve. The New Right can’t quite target Reagan with the same vehemence, so Shultz is dragged in as the surrogate weak sister….”

At least today’s conservatives have not stooped to taking out Laura Bush the way they did Nancy Reagan. Do you remember the days when conservatives criticized Nancy Reagan to get to her husband?  Think not?  Boston Globe, March 8, 1987

“…”I’m very concerned,” said New Right leader Weyrich, a frequent White House visitor in recent days. “The position right now seems designed to get an agreement with Moscow. It’s getting a great push from Nancy Reagan so that there can be a Nobel Prize at the end for her husband.” Adds Howard Phillips of the Conservative Caucus, “I think it may be the same game Nixon played back in 1974 at the height of Watergate, using talks with Leonid Brezhnev as a prop to show that he was still an effective president. . . “On this and other foreign and domestic issues, the concern I have is that our options are not going to be presented forcefully . . .” Weyrich is only slightly less gloomy. “In the very short-term, we’re going to know whether conservatives are just window-dressing,” he said. “Howard Baker is saying to everybody and his mother that he wants to really reach out to us. We’ll soon see.” Many White House watchers take the mood of those on the New Right as a clue to which direction Reagan is moving in, which means the signs appear to point toward the middle — recalling Reagan’s moderation and compromises during his second term as governor of California in the early 1970s. Howard Phillips accepts the analogy but adds a warning to all Republicans. “As Reagan drifted to more of a consensus politician, he bought surcease from heavy criticism,” he said. “But in the process he also spent all his time responding to his opponents’ agenda, in effect legitimizing it. Just in case anyone has forgotten, I believe Reagan was succeeded as governor by Jerry Brown.’…”

In the latter years of Reagan’s Presidency, these three men were at the forefront of a campaign to completely undermine not only Reagan but his legacy.  His final years in office were those of constant battle with conservatives who even threatened to nominate someone else in 1984 to run against him.  Fact is, they turned on RWR three days after his first inauguration, as you will see below. Rather pathetically they would wax hot and cold.  During part of 1986 they were supporting him in language reserved for George W. Bush in pre-immigration days.

“…Citizens for America is airing a television commercial that compares Mr. Reagan to Abraham Lincoln, noting that Lincoln was also the subject of much criticism in his day and died ”never to see his nation healed, never to receive the gratitude of his countrymen.” The commercial concludes, ”President Reagan needs our help now and we need his leadership. If you agree, let him know.” So far, the spot has been shown only in Washington, but the group is making it available to its local leaders and hopes to see it aired around the country…”

“…July 29, 1985. Led by Senator Jesse Helms and the Rev. Jerry Falwell, two dozen leading conservatives present the White House with a petition signed by two million citizens who object to ”trusting faithless enemies who never keep their word.” New Right leaders Richard Viguerie and Paul Weyrich begin talking about forming a third party. (Of Reagan’s about-face on the freeze, or what the President calls his ”moratorium,” columnist George Will writes: ”If this conservative President is willing to tolerate huge deficits, embrace Social Security increases and denounce South Africa, why should anyone be surprised that he now thinks more about history than Viguerie, more about peace than Perle?”)…”

A few months earlier, in July of 1985…

On Oct 14, 1983, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that …

‘…President Reagan isn’t doing particularly well among evangelical and born- again Christian voters, according to a new poll that one “new right” leader said yesterday should set off “an alarm bell” at the White House. The poll said Reagan was running only roughly even with Sen. John Glenn of Ohio in a potential 1984 presidential matchup. While Reagan held a substantial lead over former Vice President Walter F. Mondale in the poll…”

And, like George W. Bush, conservatives like Richard Viguerie threatened Reagan in the Miami Herald, on Jan 21, 1984.

“…Conservatives may not back President Reagan for reelection in 1984 unless he reverses what they consider “almost a stampede to the left” in the White House, New Right leaders said Tuesday. “Quick and comprehensive changes” in Reagan’s staff and policies are needed to win back longtime supporters in the conservative wing of the Republican Party, they indicated. Howard Phillips, who heads the Conservative Caucus, and Richard Viguerie…’

And like their criticism of Bush, the Heritage Foundation found that Reagan was not conservative enough for them.  One wonders what Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh would have said of Reagan had they been in power during his presidency. See if you recognize any of these names, all of whom now vocally criticize GWB.  NY Times, Nov 25, 1983.

How about this one?  Conservatives in 1985 thought that George Shultz was too soft on terrorists and a liability to the Administration. Yep, take that one to the bank!  NYTimes, July 28, 1985

“…”Shultz has become a real liability for the President and the Administration with Congress. There is a lot of concern about his tough talk on terrorism but no action. His credibility has been hurt. ”There is also an underlying concern about the whole arms control process and about the kind of agreement we will have with Shultz at the helm,” Mr. Weber said. ”Because he has so pre-empted decision-making on foreign policy, his sins have been transferred to the President.” For rightists reluctant to attack President Reagan personally, Mr. Shultz has become the political lightning rod, replacing James A. Baker 3d, who as White House Chief of Staff in the first Reagan Administration was the prime target of conservative groups. “Secretary of State George P. Shultz has become a target of a new drive by Republican conservatives who accuse him of handling terrorism too gingerly and of being too soft in dealing with the Soviet Union. Three former ambassadors and leaders of several conservative groups have called for his resignation, accusing him of ”undermining President Reagan’s foreign policy.” Next Thursday, several groups, including Moral Majority, the Conservative Caucus, the Conservative Digest and the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress, plan a conference to mount a campaign against Mr. Shultz and the ”the Foreign Service bureaucracy.” 

Richard Viguerie, staunch foe of George W. Bush, was also a foe of Ronald Reagan. NYTimes, Feb 27, 1982

“…But this week, with a full year of the Reagan Presidency behind them, several hundred delegates to the conference were bickering over the ideology of the new Administration, questioning some of the major Cabinet officers installed by the President and audibly suffering over the deficit. The Administration, anticipating some grumbling among the conservative purists, dispatched an impressive list of high executives to the Mayflower Hotel to address the three-day conference, which runs through tomorrow. They included Attorney General William French Smith, who brought the unity message to restive conservatives yesterday. ”It is healthy for us to have differences of opinion on many issues,” he said, ”but let us not loose sight of the basic point upon which we have no disagreement. The Reagan Administration represents our best hope of positive reform during the past two generations. That opportunity must not be lost.” … The Conservative Digest, a magazine edited by Richard A. Viguerie, the conservative fundraiser, today made public results of a poll among conference delegates that gave the President some low marks on specific issues, a B over all for domestic policy and a B minus for foreign policy. Delegates voting in the poll, about half the 350 attending sessions, designated Secretary of State Haig as the President’s worst Cabinet selection and Secretary of the Interior James G. Watt as his best. The Conservative Digest delegate poll gave the President a D on the issue of appointing ”non-Reaganites” to high office and a D-plus on failing to require a formal declaration of default on loans to Poland. His rating was C on balancing the budget and on exercising leadership on social issues. General Support, Some Criticism The organizations sponsoring the conference emphasized continuing conservative support for the President. ”The great majority of Young Americans for Freedom members are extremely supportive of the Administration,” observed Sam Pimm, the group’s executive director. Dan Todd, executive director of the American Conservative Union, said that Reagan critics were ”a small band of naysayers who have nothing to do but stand on the sidelines and boo.’‘…”

Today conservatives worship at the altar of Reagan.  When he was POTUS, he was not considered the top conservative in the country! NY Times – Feb 22, 1982

…In a new survey of conservatives most admired by their fellow conservatives, President Reagan has fallen from first place to third. No. 1 is Rev. Jerry Falwell, leader of the Moral Majority, and and No. 2 William F. Buckley Jr., the writer and television personality. The Conservative Digest survey, made public in Washington yesterday, was an admittedly ”unscientific” one of 1,000 of the publication’s readers, according to John Lofton, the Digest’s editor. Mr. Reagan ranked seventh in the poll before his election, which swung him into the first position some months ago. Mr. Falwell moved to first place this time, from seventh. About the President’s new standing, Mr. Lofton said, ”I think it’s not surprising in this sense. The New Right is made up of leaders and followers who are not Reagan loyalists.” The most admired conservative woman, according to the survey, is Phyllis Schlafly, leader of the forces opposed to passage of the equal rights amendment, with Nancy Reagan in second place. Conservative Digest is published by Richard Viguerie, who has raised millions of dollars for conservative candidates and causes through mail solicitations.”

On January 22, 1982, Richard Viguerie once again threatened Reagan.  This NYTimes piece proves nothing has changed but the name of the Commander and Chief!

“As Ronald Reagan nears his first anniversary as President, some of the most ardent conservative partisans who celebrated his inauguration a year ago with almost parental pride are now so disgruntled that they are getting ready to give him a poor report card at a special anniversary critique later this month. Troubles with the New Right are not new for Mr. Reagan. He encountered disenchantment from that quarter a year ago after his largely mainstream Republican Cabinet and White House staff were unveiled. But those differences were patched up last spring by giving ideological conservatives a bigger share of second-@ and third-level a ppointments. Reassuring them that he had not forgotten their agenda, the President told a conservative conference last March, ”Fellow conservatives, our time is now, our moment has arrived.”

Now the staunch conservatives are again dissatisfied, as the White House privately concedes is perhaps inevitable. The political rumble on the right has returned this month with a new sharpness, marked by frustration over budget deficits, State Department appointments, the Administration’s response to the Polish crisis, its decision on arms sales to Taiwan, Justice Department actions and by growing anxiety that moderate Republicans are squeezing proved Reaganauts, a term proudly used by Reagan loyalists to describe themselves, out of top Administration positions. Taiwan Decision Questioned ”It’s unconscionable for Ronald Reagan to be abandoning Free China,” said Howard Phillips, national director of the Conservative Caucus, in the wake of the Administration’s decision to sell F-5E jets to Taiwan instead of more advanced planes.

”It’s unconscionable for Ronald Reagan to be proposing huge deficits,” he went on. ”If Jimmy Carter were proposing a $162 billion deficit, and that’s what they’re talking about, then we would be rocking the rafters in protest.” Richard A. Viguerie, the direct-mail specialist used by many New Right and conservative groups, is similarly concerned. ”They’ve made a conscious decision,” he said, ”to keep at arm’s length from the organized conservative movement, except for window-dressing appearances like twice a year at conservative conventions. …”

Reagan did not live up to conservative ideals as the NYTimes reported on Jan 25, 1987.

“CONSERVATIVES with a historical bent store among their nightmares the fading of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal after the Democrats’ huge majorities in Congress were cut sharply in a Republican surge in 1938 and the President became preoccupied by foreign policy. As Ronald Reagan prepares for his State of the Union address this week, they have a similar worry about the ”Reagan Revolution.”

With bold new ideas, which were supposed to be the conservatives’ stock in trade, increasingly scarce in the public discourse, the conservative agenda for the final two years of the Reagan Presidency has come down to a holding action, the politics of the bunker: Make sure that taxes are not raised, that the defense buildup continues and that the Iran affair does not get in the way of aid for the Nicaraguan rebels.…Many of these ideas are anathema to traditional conservatives, and few have any chance of enactment. But then, neither do many of the more traditional conservative proposals. These days, many Republican leaders are wary of any program that smacks of ”inflexible ideology,” as Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., the party’s national chairman, characterized it last week. ”Let me put it to you in a nutshell,” Mr. Fahrenkopf told a meeting of the Republican National Committee. ”The Republican Party does not need solutions to problems bound by hard-nosed approaches with little or no concern for people or politics.”

The very length of the unfulfilled wish lists suggests that the Reagan Revolution has accomplished far less than conservatives had hoped and liberals had feared. In brighter days, the challenge of the final years was to institutionalize the Reagan agenda. As Edwin J. Feulner Jr., president of the Heritage Foundation, warned in 1985, if that fails, ”it is unlikely that the Reagan era will prove to be the historic change in the direction of America that we have sought.”

From the New Republic, Feb 24, 1982

“…The conservative hard core thinks that Reagan’s governmental strategy—radical as it seems to liber-als—is disastrously gradualist. Some of its members think that Reagan should have tried to balance the federal budget immediately, in fiscal year 1982, and not wait until 1984. They would have had him do so by chopping even more ruthlessly at social spending, and vetoing anything passed by Congress that did not meet his specifications. Howard Phillips’s Conservative Caucus wants Reagan to “end arms control,” strip “private liberal activist ‘non-profit corporations'” of their federal funding, and “restore the Monroe Doc- trine” by blockading Cuba. It’s clear that Reagan can do practically nothing, short of tearing the country apart, to satisfy some on the right. …Most members of the conservative movement do not go so far as to dream of toppling Reagan. They regard him as a conservative President. But many of them also regard him as a conservative who has been led astray. The right wing has become increasingly vocal, and increasingly critical of the Reagan Administration. On January 21, several dozen conservative leaders met in closed session at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington and issued a lengthy public manifesto expressing “deep concern about the present conduct and future pros- pects of the Administration…”

Howard Phillips denounces Reagan as a closet conservative in the NYTimes, Aug 24, 1984

“…Positions like these would weigh heavily around the neck of many candidates. But not Ronald Reagan’s. It’s hard to see how the public will hold him much accountable for a platform written by others when it doesn’t seem to hold him much accountable for his own blunders and contradictions. The Teflon President has managed so far to slip responsibility even for the deficit, blaming it last night on ”the other side of the aisle.” Mr. Reagan says much to please the dogmatists. Yet they know, and mistrust, his capacity to reach out past them to the center. In the view of Howard Phillips, chairman of the Conservative Caucus, ‘‘The history of the Reagan Administration has been to replace conservative personnel with people who are more liberal.” Richard Viguerie, publisher of Conservative Digest, says the Administration is ”likely to continue to drift” toward the center. These suspicions imply that Ronald Reagan, the man who chose George Bush as his running mate, is a counterfeit conservative and a closet conciliator. And in some ways they’re right. Mr. Reagan can be far more flexible than his right-wing cadres. He was capable of insisting on a three-year tax cut and then, with a show of reluctance, accepting a $100 billion tax increase. He preaches self-reliance and cuts welfare in the cities, but not on the farm. He talks as if dealing with Communists is impossible, but offers weapons to China. These contradictions demonstrate that the core of the Reagan appeal is not his ideological certitude but his positive mental attitude. Ronald Reagan’s optimism knows no limits, not even, in some of his anecdotes, the limits of truth. Last night he took pains to transcend the choice between left and right and asked the voters to choose instead between up and down. ”We are in the midst of a springtime of hope for America,” says the nation’s oldest President. It is he, The Optimist, not the young extremists, who will carry the Republican flag up the next hill.

Howard Phillips, chairman of The Conservative Caucus may claim to worship Reagan today, but while Reagan was POTUS, Phillips was constantly denouncing him.  On Oct 16, 1983, in the NYTimes, Phillips compared Reagan to “Chamberlin”.

“…The American right wing was infuriated. ”The President has adopted the rhetoric of Churchill and the policies of Neville Chamberlain,” fumed Howard Phillips, chairman of the Conservative Caucus. Stung, Mr. Reagan retorted: ”Vengeance isn’t the name of the game.”

On Dec 15, 1987 The Boston Globe reported that Howard Phillips…

“…Americans who heard the chairman of the Conservative Caucus, Howard Phillips, call Reagan “a useful idiot for Soviet propaganda” knew they had strayed into the darker corridors of the conservative cellar. The yelping from Phillips and Richard Viguerie, the direct-mail entrepreneur of the rabid right, can be interpreted as either the symptom of a hallucinatory condition or a calculated political stunt to prevent Reagan’s belated effort at statecraft from discrediting conservative dogma. When the president said right-wingers opposing the INF treaty believe, in their deepest thoughts, that war between the superpowers is inevitable, he expressed an understanding that had to rankle the fanatics who thought they were responsible for placing Reagan in the White House. With an inquisitorial flourish, they excommunicated their erstwhile conservative champion for his heretical statement, uttered on camera, that Gorbachev is different from his predecessors because he does not seek communist domination of the world. The reactionaries’ attacks on Nancy Reagan, chief of staff Howard Baker, Secretary of State George Shultz and Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci were not only displays of bad taste; they also revealed a right-wing demonology.

Phillips wrote in The New York Times that Reagan has fallen under the spell of advisers who “have advanced policies that benefit Armand Hammer and David Rockefeller but hurt America.” In this conspiratorial world view, “summit meetings and so-called arms-control treaties are a cover for the treasonous greed of those who manipulate the administration.”..”

The beauty of all of this is people like Phillips, Weyrich and Viguerie were vocally against some of Reagan’s greatest triumphs, you know the ones – they brought down the USSR.  They officially turned on him in January of 1988 as is seen in this NYTimes Jan 17 article.

“…A sharp split developed over strategy. Howard Phillips, chairman of the Conservative Caucus, and Richard Viguerie, the direct-mail specialist, wanted the conservative movement to break openly with Reagan. Others agreed to fight his policies but argued that it was bad politics to attack the President personally, urging their colleagues to ”Remember N.C.P.A.C.,” the National Conservative Political Action Committee. After the Soviet Union shot down a Korean airliner in 1983, the committee’s chairman at the time, John T. (Terry) Dolan, had attacked President Reagan for not being tougher with Moscow. ”It boomeranged,” said one conservative leader. ”Some people wrote that they’d never give N.C.P.A.C. another dime” because of Dolan’s criticisms.

“….To some, he has sounded an uncertain trumpet, missed golden opportunities, compromised too often and drifted from his conservative moorings. To others, he has changed the direction of Government in a way that Democrats will be hard-pressed to reverse. To still others, he has had a mixed bag of successes and failures. Such are the findings of the Heritage Foundation, a Washington policy group that has been both an occasional critic of and an intellectual resource for the Reagan Administration. In an effort to explore the depth of conservative discontent as well as satisfaction with the President, it recently asked a number of prominent conservative activists, intellectuals, politicians and writers to rate how he was doing. The foundation, which periodically runs such surveys, plans to publish its findings shortly. But foundation sources have provided a preview of what is to come.

What they were unable to provide was what effect, if any, the division in conservative ranks might have on Mr. Reagan’s re-election chances. For a number of the doubters, provided the dissatisfaction is not too deep, Mr. Reagan could still be the only acceptable candidate. Not Enough ‘Reaganauts’…John T. Dolan, chairman of the National Conservative Political Action Committee, contended that the tax cut would be the only real historic achievement of Mr. Reagan’s Presidency. ”I expected more to happen,” said this disappointed conservative activist. ”There has been no major defense buildup beyond what Carter would have done. There has been no spending cut. There has been no turnover of control to the states. There has been no effort to dismantle the Washing bureaucratic elitist establishment.’

M. Stanton Evans, a newspaper columnist, is no less disappointed. ”This has been essentially another Ford Administration,” he said in his critique. ”It has been business as usual, not much different from any other Republican administration of our lifetime. It has been an Administration populated by corporate executive types.” Everyone knows, he added, that ”people used to the decorum of the boardroom back off from controversy.”

Representative Newt Gingrich, Republican of Georgia, saw Mr. Reagan as ”the only coherent revolutionary in an Administration of accommodationist advisers.” His chief criticism: ”The Administration has had no capacity to launch strategic offenses on behalf of Reagan’s vision.” After Mr. Reagan won his tax and budget cuts in the spring of 1981, Mr. Gingrich added, someone in the White House should have been asking, ”What do we do to keep up momentum?” Instead, he said, Mr. Reagan returned from California in August to a ”vacuum of activity” and a new political agenda that had been set by Democrats. ”Political debate was once again totally enmeshed in the rhetoric and values of the liberal welfare state,” Mr. Gingrich said. Waste in Spending Cited Howard Phillips, national director of the Conservative Caucus and one of Mr. Reagan’s earliest and sharpest critics, asserted: ”Reagan is just the sort of nice fellow I’d like to have as a neighbor, but he defers too quickly to anyone in a three-piece suit.”…Cal Thomas, vice president of communications for Moral Majority, credited the President for transforming public thinking on Government spending, but faulted him for his leadership on the abortion issue. ”If we balance the budget and we still keep murdering a million and a half babies every year, there’s no way we can say we’re better off than we were four years ago,” said Mr. Thomas. Paul M. Weyrich, executive director of the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress, said Mr. Reagan’s eagerness to avoid political confrontations with Congress robbed him of victories that he might have had. Sadly, Mr. Weyrich wrote, ”The radical surgery that was required in Washington was not performed. Ronald Reagan made a pledge not to touch entitlement programs, and that’s one of the few pledges he has kept absolutely.”…”