Trying to be Reagan without the substance didn't fully succeed with Clinton either because of his self-absorption, manifested in the sex scandals. It is even less likely to succeed with Obama because his big government philosophy is the antithesis of Reaganism. A theme must have more than a melody. It must be in harmony with America. Reagan's was. Obama sings his off-key.
A Google search for Reaganisms finds scores of little phrases that touched principles handed down by previous generations of Americans. These aphorisms were born of Reagan's own experiences with FDR Democrats and the notion that the bigger government gets, the fewer liberties we enjoy.
Here are just three: "We have a deficit, not because the government taxes too little, but because it spends too much"; "Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today's world do not have"; "...there are great advantages to being elected president. The day after I was elected, I had my high school grades classified Top Secret." Self-deprecation and humility rested comfortably on Reagan's broad shoulders.
Reagan didn't promise to do great things for us. He showed us that great things came from within us. Modern Republicans would do well to remind themselves that America's greatness doesn't lie within politicians, but within each of its citizens. That is Reagan's legacy.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Cal Thomas' column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.