In 1980, that terrible year of stagflation, when Ronald Reagan was gaining the Republican nomination for president, dueling editorials appeared in the Wall Street Journal about “The Battle for Reagan’s Soul.” The first, by that title, came from neo-conservative sage Irving Kristol, who alerted readers that an effort was on by the establishment to capture Reagan. Individuals like Alan Greenspan, one supposes, and other Nixon-Ford leftovers were counseling Reagan not to strive to get everything he wanted. In the interest of a balanced budget and defense buildup, said prudence, he should go easy on tax cuts and even a stringent monetary policy.
Lewis E. Lehrman, the raconteur entrepreneur, piled on with “Stop the Battle for Reagan’s Soul.” Just do it all, Lehrman said, implying cut taxes, strong defense, robust trade, modest safety net, spare regulation—and gold-based money. Lehrman’s logic: if you do it all, you’re likely to get everything. If you do a little, here comes nothing.