Jon Sanders

Excuse this rushed meeting, but we need to address this situation right away. First, you know the Tea Party has now undeniably had an effect. More importantly, thought, President Barack Obama is no longer to be styled the Messiah. Change we still can't believe has ushered in a new political reality, and we all need a new message.

So make sure you refer to Obama as Reagan.

Yes, yes, I know, just last year we were mocking those teaba -- er, must be respectful, Tea Party rallies -- as ignorant inbred racist reactionary hicks just wanting to return to the discredited old days of Reagan. But that was then. Things are different now.

Not that the days of Reagan aren't discredited -- don't misunderstand! We just can't say that for a while because the character of Reagan is very, very important now to our president. Not his politics, not his vision, and Barack knows not his the idea of government being not the solution to our problems, but the problem. Just his character.

And by his character I mean that aspect of Reagan's leadership style that the president can be said to have. Reagan was, as we all know, a very positive, winsome guy who brought the nation hope and change, and not just in the bumpersticker slogan kind of way. He was an optimist and an idealist, and he was an effective communicator and leader.

He is also revered by millions of voters, despite all we've said for decades. Folks, you can't buy that kind of staying power. And don't forget, Reagan's fans include some who voted for Obama in 2008 when he campaigned on open government, elimination of earmarks, fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, you know, the whole rigmarole. Just between us, they hoped they were voting for Reaganlike change and got Carteresque malaise. Now, you know, they're a significant portion of the Tea Party movement.

Point is, 2012's coming. Obama needs the Reagan magic again. And it'll take two years at least to make it work. Look, if we can get folks to think they're supporting a president like Reagan again, maybe they'll overlook the politics again. Obama now sees himself as like Reagan, and we should, too. He has an optimistic message like Reagan (never mind what it is, one week to the next). He has a winsome style like Reagan (just ask him). He thinks he projects a positive message like Reagan. And like Reagan he's a better communicator than Bush.

It's very important to the president's political future to be seen as Reagan. In fact, he is now referring to himself as the Gipper. Now we all know how his first attempt came close to backfiring. He needs our help.

Because not only did he make a very un-Reaganlike mistake of flubbing a famous movie quote, but also his flub was a little too close to exploding the whole illusion. I mean, "Take one for the Gipper"? Take? There's a big difference between inspiring people to achieve something on their own and just reaching out and taking it, and as much as Obama embodies that difference from Reagan, it'd be good if he didn't remind people about it. That just makes our job harder.

Plus it doesn't help this being the one hundredth anniversary of Reagan's birth. All those snippets folks are getting from talk radio and bloggers of "get government back to within its means" and "lighten our punitive tax burden" and "this last and greatest bastion of freedom" and ugh, that "special interest group that has been too long neglected" and "knows no sectional boundaries, or ethnic and racial divisions," blah blah blah that is "We the People" -- well, realistically, sometimes the contrasts are just too much for us to overcome. But it's our job.

So yes, I know that "Take one for the Gipper" stuff was not helpful at all. People are surprisingly still upset about the Obama administration taking things from them. Usually they've forgotten about political stuff after a while. I mean, Lady Gaga rode an egg to the Grammys and people still want Obamacare repealed? I don't get it.

But that's the situation facing us in 2011. Thank goodness, at least, Obama didn't say "Bend over and take one for the Gipper"! On top of everything else, folks don't need reminding how incensed they are about the TSA, too.


Jon Sanders

Jon Sanders is associate director of research at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, N.C.