Adam’s Blog

That’s my thing, keepin’ the faith, baby. –Joe Friday

Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment Not by Ronald Reagan

Posted by Adam Graham on January 30, 2007

People love to cite “Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment” but I learned from Red State, Reagan didn’t write it:

Before it became popularly known as “Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment,” TIME Magazine called it also, “Parkinson’s Law,” for then-chair of the California GOP Gaylord Parkinson, whose notion it was.

It was 1966, and the Republican Party’s previous Presidential candidate, Barry Goldwater, had been trounced two years earlier in part because liberal Republicans tossed an ideological fit and handed the election to LBJ by an embarrassing margin. (The argument is that it would have been closer had the GOP stuck together.)

Parkinson was looking to beat Governor Edmund “Pat” Brown, a Democrat and Moonbeam’s daddy, but he and his party was faced with a tough primary between a conservative, Hollywood actor Ronald Reagan, and a lefty, former San Francisco Mayor George Christopher. (The magazine refers to Christopher as an “equally outspoken champion of Nelson Rockefeller.”) Not wanting a repeat of what happened to Goldwater in ’64, down came Gaylord’s write: “Thou shall not speak ill of any Republican.”

Now, of course, no one cares in 2007 what the late Gaylord Parkinson said (not knowing the outcome of the primary) but the rule holds party discipline together in the fall, so it’s been re-attributed to Reagan. What an interesting revelation.

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