Conservative chateratti and internet sites have recently been abuzz with the possibility of Ronald Reagan’s oldest son Michael running for the U.S. Senate against Diane Feinstein next year. That will never happen and here’s why – Nancy Reagan would publicly oppose Michael if he ran.
While you’re reaching for the smelling salts or adult beverage let me assure you that I have this information from exceptionally reliable sources. I spoke to someone possessing a rock-solid long history with members of the family and 24-karat GOP political and Reaganite connections. This source spoke to someone exceptionally close to Nancy, someone with essentially unlimited access to her. The message was loud and clear – Nancy was horrified at the thought of Michael running for U.S. Senate and would “do anything she could” to derail that prospect, even endorse another candidate.
The animosity does not surprise anyone familiar with the long-standing non-relationship between Mrs. Reagan and Michael, her husband’s adopted son, however Nancy’s willingness to go public with her opposition is something of a stunner. Whatever else one might say about Nancy, her number one concern is her husband’s legacy. That she doesn’t think having her husband’s son in the United States Senate would contribute to that legacy says quite a bit about myriad familial topics.
Before conservatives get too irate with her, they might ask themselves a few questions: what has Michael really done to preserve his father’s legacy? Michael is heir to a name that is magic in conservative and Republican circles – a name still warmly remembered by the vast majority of American voters. What has Michael done with that inheritance? Where is the political infrastructure to preserve his father’s “banner of bright, bold colors”. Where is the 527 or post-“Citizens United” “superpac” to boost conservative candidates around the country? I don’t know the answer to those questions…but the fact that the answers do not leap to the forefront ought to soften umbrage that conservatives might otherwise feel toward Nancy. And it might even explain some of Nancy’s concerns about Michael.
Rather than trying to read the pigeon entrails of Reagan inter-familial relations however, Nancy’s decision raises a more important topic for California Republicans – who WILL oppose Senator-for-life Feinstein in 2012? I have two modest suggestions – Dennis Prager or Jim Rogan.
Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host – articulate, conservative and Jewish. He is “Reaganesque” in this sense – he can present hard core conservative beliefs is easily understandable and completely non-threatening sound bites. He would start with at least some name I.D., most particularly in the vital Southern California media markets. He talks for a living, so assuming DiFi’s handlers were actually able to prop her up long enough to participate in a debate, Prager would rip the bark off her.
Former Congressman, now Judge, Jim Rogan would enter the race with instant GOP celebrity status. While Prager is well known in Southern California, Rogan is well known to a broad network of Republican donors and activists nationally who remember that Bill and Hillary Clinton made Rogan’s defeat their number one objective for the 2000 election. (For the memory-challenged, Rogan served as one of the House managers of the Clinton documents of impeachment). Additionally, my source told me that Mrs. Reagan declared that she would be enthusiastic about a Rogan candidacy and a likely pre-primary endorser.
Rogan raised seven million dollars for his 2000 re-election, and while it was all for naught that number is an indication of his national fund-raising potential. He shares with Prager an ability to discuss hard core conservative positions in ways that are not the least bit threatening or off-putting. He also shares with Prager the problem of needing to earn a living – neither are independently wealthy, and both would have to quit their day-jobs upon announcing for the Senate.
That could be overcome with “consulting” jobs if the GOP national money-machine was convinced that either had a real shot to capture this Senate seat. I believe that either of them could, but one of them is going to have to take a first baby step in that direction, or their friends will have to do it for them, and there is little time to spare before filing starts for 2012.
Perhaps unfortunately for her peaceful retirement, even into her 90s, Nancy Reagan’s still powerful presence on the national scene remains in the news, even in odd ways. Just a week or two ago the New York Times published a story feed to them by one of Chris Christie’s cheesier New Jersey managers that she personally pleaded with him to run for President after he gave a speech at the Reagan Library on September 27. The story was not true, and it took nationally syndicated columnist George Will, who is friendly with both Christie and Nancy Reagan, to root out the facts: Nancy likes Chris Christie, but she definitely did not plead with him to run for President and she laughed at the idea when Will asked her about it.
But while she has yet to say anything to the press about it, and at best it is currently good tabloid fodder and cocktail chatter, Nancy Reagan really, really doesn’t want Michael in the Senate. So fans of Dennis Prager and Jim Rogan – start your engines!