Reagan had numerous conservative critics, even in his first term. Richard Viguerie, the New Right’s direct-mail impresario, routinely denounced Reagan’s alleged betrayals of conservative principles. Conservative sociologist Robert Nisbet, one of my intellectual heroes, was bitterly disappointed by the Reagan presidency. By Reagan’s second term, critics on the right were everywhere. It’s not that conservatives stopped loving him, but few thought he walked on water at the time.I've written here several times before about Reagan's "liberal" tendencies. Modern-day Republicans do not so much yearn for the days of Reagan's conservative ways -- in large part because the Gipper would be considered a moderate by today's standards -- as much as they long for his widespread appeal and popularity.
[I]f you listen to the crowd yearning for another Reagan today, you’d never guess that he’d signed a very liberal abortion bill as governor of California (he came to regret it). You’d be shocked to learn how many times he signed on to the Democratic Congress’ hikes on gas, payroll and other taxes during the 1980s.
Reagan also met with Soviet dictators, on the condition that they could live long enough to make it to a summit. Many conservatives worried at the time that Reagan wasn’t nearly hard-line enough on the commies.
Reagan signed an amnesty for illegal immigrants. Today, John McCain’s similar but tougher stance on immigration has all but disqualified him among people looking for another Reagan.
The fact is Reagan was the last Republican beloved by most of the country, something that clearly cannot be said about any prominent politician in the GOP over the last 10+ years.
Indeed, Reagan was not then the conservative of today. I wonder if he would actually want anything to do with the inept, corrupt clowns that now populate his party. Reagan didn't particularly like his own VP, so it's a stretch to believe he would approve of Bush II's embarrassment of a son.