Those of us around in 1980 vividly remember the media attack on Reagan. The funniest one, in retrospect, was the charge that Reagan was “just an actor” — this from the same political party that can’t get enough of actors spouting their political opinions about candidates, national security, climate change, etc. We were warned about other things, though: that he was crazy, unstable, stupid, untried, a loose cannon, just a talking head, a decadent man who had divorced his first wife, etc.
Reading that list, does any of it sound familiar to you? We live in a sleazier, bigger, bolder, more degraded internet age, and Trump is a less polished man than Reagan so the attack is more savage and biased, but it’s still the same old, same old.
Reagan also caused a schism in the Republican party, not as severe as the one now, but still pretty darn good. Because he was a populist, he lost the elite Republicans but gained those Democrats who didn’t think Carter’s internationalist policies and lack of faith in America served them well economically or kept them safe.