Clearly, the new Republican tradition is to pay homage to Ronald Reagan whenever you have a segue to do so – and even when there’s not. Everyone has forgotten Iran-Contra and those Marines in Lebanon and focused on the fact that he presided over 8 years of relative peace and prosperity and his contribution to our victory in the Cold War. At a debate back for the RNC Chairmanship, Grover Norquist asked the candidates, “Who is your favorite Republican president?” Every one of the six candidates picked Reagan. Poor Lincoln. Even Democrats look back on Reagan and point out – maybe correctly, I don’t know – that Reagan is not conservative enough to win the Republican nomination in 2012.
I found on my Google +1 (come join me there, and Miller & Zois too) a post from someone who worked for Reagan, that looks at what he actually said about tort reform. Apparently, all of his years of public life, Reagan gave only one tort reform speech in his political career in which he specifically said the issue is one for individual states. He never followed up on this speech.
Throughout history, people have used what dead greats believed or would have believed to their political advantage. While I might strongly disagree, you can make a cogent argument for tort reform. Smarter people than me support it. But, arguing tort reform was anything other than a minor issue to Ronald Reagan is just plain wrong.
(Please note: After reading this post, it is important to note – I don’t know anyone who actually claimed Reagan supported tort reform. So in a sense, I’m setting up a straw man. I hate when anyone other than me does that. But the larger point is that tort reformers are not climbing on the backs of the greats of the past. I can’t even find anything on Barry Goldwater and tort reform, for crying out loud).