Craig Shirley
After reading the coverage in the Washington Post over the past two weeks of the legacy of Ronald Reagan many Reaganites don't quite recognize the man who drew them into the movement as presented in the venerable paper.

A conservative with whom they worked, and whose legacy--if one checks the facts---was a belief in American Exceptionalism, a central tenant of conservatism and certainly not liberalism, as some at the Post and in popular culture are trying to nonsensically remake make Reagan into.

Even President Obama understands American Exceptionism because he's gone out of his was to trash it, comparing it to Greek Exceptionalism.

The paper has had some very fine reporters and columnists over the years and still does today, but much of the Post's coverage of the Centennial of the 40th president has been harsh and some guest columnists factually challenged shall we say.

To Chris Matthews, Reagan and Tip O'Neill may as well have been frat brothers, if one is to believe a recent piece he wrote for the Post. In fact, O'Neill bashed Reagan often his autobiography, bashed Mrs. Reagan, and said the Gipper's election in 1980 was "sinful."

Bosom Buddies? Not quite.

In a long piece in the Post on February 6, 2011, Dan Balz spent a portion of his time attempting to separate Reagan from conservatism. The requisite quotes from liberals saying conservatives don't understand Reagan and so-called conservatives saying conservatives don't understand Reagan are littered throughout the piece. They must have "grown."

(Balz interviewed this author as well, but for the most part, I drew a contrast between Reaganism and modern Republicanism. I was not quoted on that subject.)

The story seemed to argue that Reagan's philosophy was outdated, out of place in the modern world. "The United States of 2011 is a far different country...and the core policies of Reaganism have lost some of their potency." The words "nostalgia" and "compromise" are used generously throughout the piece. Balz is usually a good political reporter but his story broke no new ground, sticking mostly to conventional liberal nostrums about the Gipper.

In fact, the principles of "maximum freedom consistent with law and order" are relevant today as when Reagan uttered them in 1964.

To Post columnist Eugene Robinson, Reagan was the godfather of the modern Democratic Party! On the other hand, Reagan said in 1980, "I was once a Democrat. I said a lot of foolish things back in those days." Perhaps someday Robinson will become acquainted with this feeling.

Craig Shirley

Craig Shirley is a Reagan biographer, a presidential historian and Chairman of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs. His firm is assisting Scott Walker’s presidential campaign.