About a year ago, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) actually said something insightful when he noted that Ronald Reagan “would have a hard time getting elected as a Republican today.”

This week on Fox News, Mike Huckabee told host Bill Hemmer the same thing.

HUCKABEE: Ronald Reagan would have a very difficult, if not impossible, time being nominated in this atmosphere of the Republican Party.

HEMMER: How come?

HUCKABEE: Because he raises taxes as governor, he made deals with Democrats, he compromised on things in order to move the ball down the field. As president, he gave amnesty to 7 million illegal immigrants. There were many things that would have been anathema.

Some of this is self-serving — Huckabee raised taxes as governor and struck deals with Democrats, too — but I’m glad he made the comments anyway.

As governor, Reagan increased spending, raised taxes, helped create the nation’s first state-based emissions standards, signed an abortion-rights bill, supported unions, and expanded the nation’s largest state-based Medicaid program (socialized medicine).

Reagan “would have a very difficult” time getting nominated as a Republican today”? Reagan would have a hard time not getting laughed off the Republican stage today.

I’ll leave it to GOP officials and activists to ponder what that says about the state of the Republican Party in 2011.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.