Taft (both of them). Not Americans, but Thatcher and Bonar Law. Not a Republican, but Andrew Jackson.And above all, Reagan.
Robert Taft, senior, Republican Senator from Ohio from 1939 until his death in 1953. Senator Taft was a deep student of legislation, he always had all the relevant facts in order before engaging in Senate debates, and he took his committee work very seriously. He personified the opposite of "lazy mendacity". While as a liberal political scientist Bernstein sometimes overstates his case about current Republican lazy mendacity, there definitely is something of this in conservative politicians today. We need a larger number of serious legislators in Congress like Senator Taft.President Reagan, of course, was the master of popularizing conservative ideas among the general electorate, and none of our Republican Presidential nominees from 1988 onward have matched his political marketing skills.President Calvin Coolidge was the master of budget-cutting, and like Senator Taft took a deep interest in the details of agency spending programs. Of course, in the 1920s, the US government was a great deal smaller, and Coolidge could control agency spending much more directly than a President can today. But we need Republican executive leadership from the Court House to the White House to spend time, energy and political capital holding down spending if we are to succeed in the conservative goal of holding total government spending (federal, state, county and local) to about 1/3 of US GDP.
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At The Washington Post
At The American Prospect