“Reagan said that he needs pressure from the Right,” Ed told us.
Reagan knew (Ed explained) that the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the three major TV networks would batter away with their criticism, consistently pounding him with liberal criticism. Without countervailing pressure from the opposite side of the political spectrum, he reasoned, there would be a natural tendency to drift toward the liberal perspective; the squeaky wheel would be greased. Reagan wanted conservatives to neutralize that leftward pressure, and in the process to keep his administration faithful to its conservative principles.
Reagan wanted constructive criticism. He knew that he could not satisfy every conservative hope, but he wanted us to keep pushing for more. A canny politician, he knew that if he could deliver 75% of what we demanded, and we complained about the missing 25%, his policies would appear more moderate, more acceptable to the general public.
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