Query: the “Eleventh Commandment”

Reagan didn’t invent it. Who did? The candidates are Everett Dirksen and California GOP State Party Chairman Gaylord Parkinson.

The GOP love-fest has lots of pundits and reporters quoting “Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment,” which commands “Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.” But a reader of advanced years (i.e., a middle Boomer like me) recalls that the originator of the “commandment” was Everett Dirksen. It does sound like him, doesn’t it? I’m old enough to remember Dirksen, but, like Mr. Gonzales, I cannot recall whether or not I heard him quoted to that effect.

David Wilcox, a former Republican legislator in California, says that Reagan was the original beneficiary of the “commandment,” not its author; on this account, state party chairman Gaylord Parkinson invented it to prevent Reagan’s more-liberal primary opponents from pointing out his fundamental extremism.

Can any reader imporove on Wilcox’s account? It seems certain that Reagan got an early start on his long career of taking credit for the work of others; but was Parkinson inventing, or merely quoting Ol’ Ev?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com