Trump is Reagan

Many comparisons are now circulating on the internet comparing Donald Trump to General George S. Patton, to former President Ronald Reagan and many others. In posts earlier this year I compared him to Andrew Jackson and  Theodore Roosevelt.

It was my humble privilege to appear on the speaker’s circuit with Ronald Reagan, talking with him backstage and writing his campaign biography when he ran for president.

The Charity Awards, which I helped organize, was really begun at a dinner in his home in 1979, the week before he announced what would be his successful run for the White House. Here’s my take on Trump as Reagan.

Trump as Reagan:

Both men were once Democrats.

Both men were once in show business.

Both men were divorced.

Their stand on the issues is remarkably similar. Both men are pro Life and in the exact same way. Both men defend the Second Amendment. And both men want to reduce spending and taxes.

Ronald Reagan was hated by the mainstream media. Slate once ran an article with the subtitle, “The Stupidity of Ronald Reagan. And so too, they hate Donald Trump.

You will notice that both Reagan and Trump are very strategic in their thinking, they don’t get into the details.

Both men put American jobs first and that makes them unpopular in other countries like Mexico, China and European countries who want those very jobs.

Most dramatic of all, both men are straight shooters.

For example, Ronald Reagan said he wasn’t so sure that it had been the right thing to withdraw support for the Shah of Iran. This statement caused an uproar and was seen as irresponsible. The whole world was outraged. Especially the American media. What was he doing? He was speaking against the newly formed Democratic Islamic State of Iran.

Donald Trump said we should have a temporary ban on Muslim immigration until we can figure things out.

Both men are unashamed in their support for a stronger and safer America. “Make American Great again,” says Trump.

There are some dramatic differences between the two men. Reagan was humble and self-effacing. He went out of his way to avoid personalizing his issues. But in his own way, using humor, he would always counter punch. Perhaps his greatest moment was when they hit him on the age issue.

General Patton talked trash to the enemy, the way Muhammed Ali baited Sonny Liston and it was very effective. It worked.  It is similar to Trump talking about Isis.

Reagan was sometimes as brash as Patton and Trump. When he was being sworn in as president Iran promptly released the hostages rather than face the consequences.

Machiavelli once said, “It is sometimes a wise thing for a prince to affect madness.” Nixon used that very device to bring the North Vietnamese to the peace table.

General Patton appeared spontaneous in his remarks and it sometimes got him into trouble but in retrospect he was right about the fact that we would one day have to face Russia anyway and if we had been stronger in dealing with them in 1945, we now know, that Hungary, Czechoslovakia and most of the Balkans could have arguably avoided the nightmare of communist rule where hundreds of thousands of people were imprisoned.

The comparisons of Donald Trump to General George S. Patton are the most problematic for the candidate.  I’m not saying that they aren’t true, I just want to point out that Patton couldn’t get elected to anything and couldn’t even keep his job as general – even though he was one of our most tenacious and brilliant commanders. In his army career, Patton’s political skills eventually failed him.

Patton once said, “It is a popular idea that a man is a hero just because he was killed in action. Rather, I think, a man is frequently a fool when he gets killed.” It did not go over very well.

When war hero, Senator John McCain called the thousands of Arizona citizens who had rallied to meet Donald Trump as crazies, Trump shot back, “He was a hero because he was captured. I like people who were not captured.”

Both men have been accused of profanity. Patton said you can’t run an army without profanity.

The one virtue that all of these Trump comparisons have in common is their penchant for strong leadership.  Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, George Patton, Ronald Reagan were all dynamic leaders.

One of George Patton’s most famous quotes declared, “Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.” It is vintage Trump.

If you live long enough, history comes back around.

Published by Doug Wead

Doug Wead is a New York Times bestselling author whose latest book, Game of Thorns, is about the Trump-Clinton 2016 election. He served as an adviser to two American presidents and was a special assistant to the president in the George H.W. Bush White House.

4 thoughts on “Trump is Reagan

    1. Doug, think I have to agree with TheChiefe here, there are only the most vaguely superficial similarities between Trump and Reagan. The only thing that strikes me as *very* similar about the two, is their relative position in the political world: both of them are extremely clever actors (aka good at pretending and great at speaking), as of April in the election year (1980 and 2016 respectively) both of them are more than five points down versus their dem opponent, and last but not least both of them are deeply hated by the establishment-types.

      In Reagan’s case, he was a good actor, yes, but he was also consistently very principled in all his speeches, always emphasizing individual liberty as the foundation of American greatness (“the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism” are words that will never pass Trump’s lips!), always talking specific economic numbers that showed the free enterprise approach is better than the quasi-socialism dems wanted (Trump favors ethanol subsidies if he thinks they will let him win Iowa and favors eminent domain if he thinks it will let him develop a property more cheaply). By contrast with Reagan’s philosophically grounded stances, Trump is merely consistently inconsistent in all his speeches, inevitably appealing to raw emotion, never talking specifics except to promise huge gains.

      In terms of actually winning come November, back in the day Reagan was incredibly able to overcome his polling-deficit versus Carter, nullify the third party threat posed by Anderson, and against all odds unified the party around his campaign by making GHWB his veep. This was possible, because Reagan was a great communicator, and because his run in 1976 had given him the grassroots infrastructure needed to win.

      I will be shocked out of my gourd if Trump unifies the party, flabbergasted beyond belief if Trump suddenly manages to create a grassroots infrastructure from whole cloth where before he has always ignored that work, and literally struck dumb if Trump manages to claw his way back from the polling deficit he suffers against Hillary in *every* single swing state. Trump is behind her by 6% in national polls, but more importantly, behind her by 3% in FL, 4% in OH, and 8% in PA. He’s even behind by 3% in NC, one of the few swing-states Mitt managed to win.

      It should be easy for any repub to win against Hillary: she is one of the most hated potus candidates of all time. But Trump is even more despised, if polls can be believed. It should be easy for any repub to win against Hillary The Second; after eight years of Obama the populace is ready for more change and keep the hope. But Trump is gonna lose, if polls can be believed. Now, it is true that polls cannot always be believed, and it is also true that some extremely gifted politicians are able to turn around their polling in a last minute victory-push, with Reagan being the modern exemplar. But before I will believe that “Trump is Reagan” in the sense that he can overcome the polling-data and win this November, I’ll have to see a lot more evidence than a comparison which says hey, they both were dems *and* they both were on teevee, therefore Trump is just like Reagan! 🙂

      As was pointed out by TheChiefe, stark policy-differences definitely poke a big hole in that balloon. Trump is one of the most nativist politicians on immigration since the 1920s, whereas Reagan was consistently a champion of welcoming immigrants to the land of freedom, even when — make that *especially* when — those immigrants were escaping horrible conditions in draconian foreign nations. Reagan is for free enterprise and getting government out of the way; Trump is for protectionism (“smart” trade not free trade) and more bailouts (merely to different people). I’d love to be wrong, and learn that Trump is secretly a Madisonian constitutionalist at heart. The worst thing about Trump as the nominee for me, is having no real idea what Trump WILL really turn out to be, if against the odds he is elected, beyond a very clever actor.

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