“Even Ronald Reagan”?

Yes, I know that GOP Reagan worship is strong, but really — do Republicans now simply assume that Ronald Reagan was the Greatest President Ever? Really?

I ask, because (via Steve Benen) of a new Mitt Romney ad bashing Barack Obama for claiming to be one of the greatest four presidents (which, natch, Obama never said, as Benen points out, but that’s not the point here). The narrator says that Obama’s claim is that he’s better than “George Washington, John F. Kennedy, and even Ronald Reagan” (my emphasis).

Parsing that, it seems that the Romney campaign is asserting, or perhaps assuming, that claiming to be better than Ronald Reagan is a stronger claim than claiming to be better than George Washington. Right? That’s what the “even” is doing there.

Do Republicans really think that Ronald Reagan was a greater president than George Washington? I guess so. What I’m really wondering, however, is whether that ad really was aimed for a general election audience. Does Team Romney really think that anyone outside of partisan Republicans thinks of Reagan as a greater president than Washington?

Granted, it’s just a tiny point about an ad that hardly anyone (I assume) will see. Still, if anyone is looking for hints that Republicans are trapped in a feedback loop, this is the kind of evidence that goes into the pile.

(In case you’re wondering: Lincoln was presumably omitted from the ad because Obama’s original comment mentioned Lincoln, and thus Obama supposedly wasn’t claiming to be greater than him).

[Cross-posted at A plain blog about politics]

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Jonathan Bernstein

Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist who writes about American politics, especially the presidency, Congress, parties, and elections.