“If there were any way to make compromise work, (the President) is the man who could have done it. He was an expert at the game of manipulating pressure groups – a game that consists of making promises and friends, and keeping the second, but not the first. His skill as a manipulator was the one characteristic that his “public image builders” were selling us at the height of his popularity. If he cold not make it, no amateur can.
The practical efficacy of compromise is the first premise that (the President’s) history should prompt people to check. And, I believe, a great many people are checking it. People, but not Republicans – or, at least, not all of them. Not those who are now pushing an unformed, soft-shelled thing like Romney to succeed where a pro has failed.
What are we left with, now that the consensus has collapsed? Nothing but the open spectacle of a mixed economy’s intellectual and moral bankruptcy, the random wreckage of its naked mechanism, with the screeching of its gears as the only sound in our public silence – the sound of crude, range-of-the-moment demands by pressure groups who have abandoned even the pretense of any political ideals or moral justification.
Sound familiar? Maybe a statement from the Presidential election of 2012? You could certainly be justified in thinking so.
But this was Ayn Rand, in a lecture given at the Ford Hall Forum on April 16, 1967. The President she was speaking of was Lyndon Johnson; the Romney in question was Mitt Romney’s father, George Romney.
But there’s another parallel that is, perhaps, even more telling; earlier in this same speech, Ms. Rand said:
Where is President Johnson’s consensus today? And where, politically, is President Johnson? To descend – in two years, in an era of seeming prosperity, without the push of any obvious national disaster – to descend from the height of a popular landslide to the status of a liability to his own party in the elections of 1966, is a feat that should give pause to anyone concerned with modern politics.
Mark Twain once said that history may not repeat, but it often rhymes. Consider once more the rhyming of Johnson’s Presidency and that of Barack Obama: Johnson’s downfall gave us the price-freezing, paranoid Nixon, the bland place-holder Ford, the inept and hapless Carter and finally, when the nation was sick of mediocrities and buffoons, the truly transformative Ronald Reagan. Barack Obama enjoys none of the advantages Johnson had; we are embroiled in a savage battle against radical Islam, the economy is stagnant due to idiotic fiscal and economic policies, and Barack Obama is probably the most inept President since Andrew Johnson. And there does not appear to be a Reagan waiting in the wings.
Rand also said, in this same speech: “As of this date, Governor Reagan seems to be a promising public figure – I do not know him and cannot speak for the future.”
Where is our next Reagan? Who will bring us the next Morning in America? Who will be the next promising figure in America’s future?
There is a historic rhyme that we’re still all waiting to see.