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The Real Reagan
February 6, 2011 11:31 AM   Subscribe

Introducing The Real Reagan. "There is much to appreciate and even like about America's 40th president, and his two terms in office were not without significant achievements. But Ronald Reagan and his presidency are also badly misunderstood. To mark the 100th anniversary of his birth, we are offering what we hope will be a respite from the hagiography that has taken hold elsewhere -- a critical, but fair and respectful, exploration of the real Ronald Reagan." [Via]
posted by homunculus (149 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
"you've seen one tree you've seen them all" R.R.

Asshat
posted by pianomover at 11:42 AM on February 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


THE TREES ARE POISON! - RR
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 11:44 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


This should be a fun series, if handled fairly. "Tear down this wall" was a great line in a sea of bullshit.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:44 AM on February 6, 2011


Recently, for those who may have missed: Ron Reagan Jr. Says Father May Have Had Alzheimer's While President.
posted by hermitosis at 11:45 AM on February 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Suggested reading.
posted by localroger at 11:47 AM on February 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


No shit?

The Accidental Cowboy. He had no idea what was going on. Tragedy to George W. Bush's farce.
posted by fourcheesemac at 11:55 AM on February 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


More suggested reading.
posted by Decani at 11:56 AM on February 6, 2011 [23 favorites]


Yeah, there's no need to be respectful while being critical. Reagan's silence about AIDS is unforgivable.
posted by giraffe at 11:58 AM on February 6, 2011 [31 favorites]


Here's a

.

for all the countless thousands murdered in Central America due to his realpolitik.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:02 PM on February 6, 2011 [44 favorites]


Decani: if I could favorite that 5000 times, I would.
posted by blucevalo at 12:04 PM on February 6, 2011


San Salvador is closer to Houston, Texas, than Houston is to Washington, D.C. Central America is America; it's at our doorstep, and it has become a stage for a bold attempt, by the Soviet Union, Cuba, and Nicaragua, to install Communism by force throughout the hemisphere. - May 9, 1984
posted by Joe Beese at 12:05 PM on February 6, 2011


Reagan is one of those I can not extend moderated understanding to. His tenure marks the inception of so many things that are wrong and stupid and downright dangerous about America today.

Fuck Ronald Reagan and his posturing idiotic tenure and so many Americans for buying into it, even now.
posted by edgeways at 12:08 PM on February 6, 2011 [41 favorites]


Exactly what was/is the fear of communism? So some small country wants to have a communist government; is this really any worse for their people/more dangerous to the world than having a right-wing dictator?

Oh, wait, foreign businesses might be nationalized.
posted by maxwelton at 12:10 PM on February 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


Whenever I think of Ronald Reagan, Tim Kreider's view springs to the fore:

"Ronald Reagan"
posted by uri at 12:11 PM on February 6, 2011 [13 favorites]


The election of Ronald Reagan as President horrified me, and I finally registered to vote.
I've got to thank him for that.

"Ronald Reagan is the prototype of the new mythological American,
a grinning whore who will probably someday be president."
-- Hunter S. Thompson, 1965
posted by the Real Dan at 12:13 PM on February 6, 2011 [32 favorites]


Reagan's silence about AIDS is unforgivable.

"Our murderer is dead. The man who murdered more gay people than anyone in the entire history of the world, is dead. More people than Hitler even. In all the tributes to [Reagan's] passing, as I write this two days after his death, not one that I have seen has mentioned this." - Larry Kramer
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:14 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


One of the cleanest, clearest images of Ronald in his tenure comes from Joan Didion's The Reagan Administration; an essay from her book Political Fictions.

Drop what you're doing and read the essay right now.

for all the countless thousands murdered in Central America due to his realpolitik.

For a window into the folly of Reagan's devotees down south try Salvador.
posted by clarknova at 12:20 PM on February 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


This Real Ronald Reagan (tm), that would be the one who got his start in politics by ratting out all his friends to the HUAC commie witchhunt, right?
posted by localroger at 12:21 PM on February 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Adolf Reagan, huh. Really?
posted by xmutex at 12:25 PM on February 6, 2011


One thing that's true about about Reagan's legacy is that despite the current crop of GOP 2012 "candidates" and their pathetic attempts to piggyback on his legacy for their own political gain, the reality about what he believed and what his administration stood for is far more complicated than the predominant agitprop. Reagan kept his distance from the anti-abortion movement, dropping in to address them by phone conference instead of showing up in person to speak in front of their confabs. In May 1986, Reagan, who famously said that he'd never negotiate with terrorists the way Carter did, sent Robert MacFarlane with a cake with a key baked into the top of it, a set of three silver-plated Colt pistols, and a Bible with a handwritten inscription from Reagan himself to present to representatives of the Ayatollah Khomeini.

Reagan engaged in massive deficit spending, raised taxes, and was enormously unpopular during the 1981-1982 recession and after the Iran-contra allegations surfaced, despite the hagiography that has him as the most popular president in US history.

The Reagan who was president is someone that, if alive and actively involved in politics today, would be scorned, vilified, and cast out of the Republican Party by most of its current leadership and shining lights -- which is in fact what they are trying to do to the few remaining politicians in the party who fit the Reagan mold, such as Richard Lugar, who was the only sitting GOP senator to endorse Obama's START pact and who, not coincidentally, was one of a small group of senators that Reagan picked to advise him on arms control.
posted by blucevalo at 12:30 PM on February 6, 2011 [10 favorites]


His tenure marks the inception of

So, Nixon didn't do it for you? ;-)
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:31 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Reagan was the beginning of the end.
posted by notion at 12:40 PM on February 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Adolf Reagan, huh. Really?

Larry Kramer has his point of view, certainly. It's perhaps no more extreme than the hagiographic attack the Tea Party/GOP have been perpetrating on the United States the last week or so, and at least Kramer's position is informed by watching most of his friends and lovers die in front of him, as a direct consequence of choices made by Saint Ronnie over the course of his two terms that resulted in hundreds of thousands dead and dying.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:41 PM on February 6, 2011 [15 favorites]


Most of what I know about Reagan (that isn't pop culture) I've had to learn as an adult -- I started voting in 1986, and wasn't always that politically aware as a youth.

But I do remember living in West Germany in 1986 as an exchange student, and being utterly shocked at the level of vitriol being directed at Reagan, and by extension the US, and by extension me, because of his SDI policies. The people in Europe along the Iron Curtain really felt like Reagan was playing craps fast and loose with their lives with his posturing about missile defenses being established in countries without popular (or even governmental) support in those countries. Since, you know, they were actually RIGHT THERE, often with fortified borders only a football field wide being all that stood between them and a Red Dawn Rising scenario.

Between Reagan's foreign policy in Europe and his mocking of environmentalism as a mindset, the Germans I encountered really REALLY hated him. Saw him as an over-reaching pretentious know-it-all who had no real world experience with life outside the US and blatant disregard for the welfare of anyone who wasn't a US citizen, and even not many of those.

It was a bit of an eye-opener for an 18 year old to be confronted with, all of a sudden.
posted by hippybear at 12:44 PM on February 6, 2011 [17 favorites]


"Sweethearts"
posted by hydrophonic at 12:46 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Reagan's Cheshire Snarl: written for this occasion by Professor John Dolan.
posted by clarknova at 12:52 PM on February 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


i thought this diary at the great orange satan was evocative:
One weekend afternoon I was in that room struggling with homework due the next Monday. My younger sister was out in the yard playing with a young collie puppy she had gotten for her birthday some weeks before. I then heard her go inside, leaving the puppy out. Not unusually, especially after a Saturday night out with pals, I dozed off, my head cluncked down on my geometry text. A commotion outside woke me up.

There was a great of shouting and screaming outside in the back yard. I couldn't imagine what it was and I went out. I saw a kind of rhumba line being led by the puppy happily romping about, followed by Ronnie who, with a 6' long 2"x4", was taking great swipes at the puppy's head, followed by my sister sobbing and shouting at Ronnie to stop, followed by my father who was trying to get everyone to stop the infernal dance. The puppy had apparently gotten under the fence and had been cavorting around Ronnie's ice plant, doing about as much damage as a 2 MPH breeze could do to the hardy plant.

Regan's mighty swipes, however, were churning the plant up in great clumps of earth and greenery. Had the puppy not been quicker and more agile than Ronnie, its head would have been exploded by the viciously swinging timber which the enraged Reagan was wielding. The aw, shucks facade of the public figure were gone, replaced by a sweating, enraged, snarling, out of control destroyer of any young puppies who had dared tread on the field of his ice plants.
posted by ennui.bz at 12:53 PM on February 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


hippybear, of all the dangerous and stupid things Reagan caused to happen SDI is probably the most dangerous and stupid of all. Had there been any evidence that SDI would really work, it would have almost certainly started a nuclear war, since by the logic of the Cold War neither side could allow the other to establish an effective shield to their deterrent. The Germans, having lived on median of the Cold War since the end of WWII, were particularly aware of this and therefore rather upset about it.
posted by localroger at 12:55 PM on February 6, 2011 [9 favorites]


I think the worst part about Reagan isn't that he was actively malevolent, though he certainly wasn't a very nice person, but rather that he was a doddering old man who did not actually fulfill the office of the presidency, but instead was a convenient figurehead for a rotating group of people who often hated one another. Some of those people were merely ideologues of a variety I disagree with, others were apparently completely insane.

I think his sainthood in the Republican pantheon is more due to the fact that he's the only Republican president from the recent past who wasn't either blatantly evil, or just plain forgettable. Their only other choices were Nixon or Ford. Otherwise they'd have to go back to Eisenhower, and he doesn't really match modern Republican ideals, if they held him up as the shining light of Republicanism they'd have to deal with people quoting his military industrial complex speech at them.

So they ran Reagan through their PR machine. Yes, the choice of Reagan as the supreme potentate of Ultimate Republicanism doesn't make any real sense. But what else were they going to do? Conservative/Republican ideology demands an ultimate authority of some sort, so they must make do with what they have.

As far as Reagan and his presidency go, I think there's nothing there for anyone even vaguely liberal to approve of. He spent America into bankruptcy on the idiot notion that the Soviets would try to match our military spending, something even the CIA at the time recognized they didn't try to do. He ignored the AIDS crisis completely. His Secretary of the Interior once justified his anti-environmental stance on the grounds that Armageddon was coming any day now, so there wasn't any point in preserving the environment.

His towering moment of achievement was invading Grenada.

The best you can say about him, from a liberal standpoint, is that he wasn't a creature of the Anti-Choice movement.

And when you get right down to it, the best you can say about him from a Republican standpoint is that he had good PR.
posted by sotonohito at 12:56 PM on February 6, 2011 [34 favorites]


> The election of Ronald Reagan as President horrified me, and I finally registered to vote.

I was already an anarchist by 1980 and didn't believe in voting, but I cast my last-ever vote that year in what I knew was a futile effort to stop Reagan from becoming president. It appalls me that he is so fondly remembered; in foreign policy he was a bumbler and a butcher, and at home he delivered the final blow to both the working class and the postwar expansion of the US economy, all for the benefit of the tiny percentage of the rich and powerful who supported his candidacy and have been leeching off the rest of us ever since.
posted by languagehat at 12:58 PM on February 6, 2011 [32 favorites]


Another obligatory link.
posted by dhens at 1:05 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


2nding localroger on this book about the Reagan 80s and the crew of double-talking liars and cheats he surrounded himself with. It's organized chronologically and is just a day-by-day collection of news and popcult items that give you plenty of jumping off points if you want to learn more. The cumulative effect is surprisingly effective in presenting what it was like to live under his administration.
posted by mediareport at 1:08 PM on February 6, 2011 [3 favorites]




Man, great minds.

Okay, here's another favorite--Mark Hertsgaard's "On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency."
posted by box at 1:12 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like the part where he declared a national emergency because he was terrified of Nicaragua.

Nicaragua.
posted by notion at 1:20 PM on February 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Liberals really fucked up not demonizing Reagan the way conservatives demonized Carter. The more time passes the more Reagan will be proven to be the worst president in American history. Without Reagan conservatives would have to go back to Lincoln for a role model since Ike and Roosevelt pretty much contradict every they stand for.
posted by any major dude at 1:22 PM on February 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


I've seen a lot of Reagan myth-busting articles this week, and most of them seem to have the goal of reclaiming Reagan from the far right and the tea party by emphasizing issues where he didn't measure up to current standards of conservatism: taxes, spending, abortion, guns, immigration, cap and trade, etc. I'm glad that these things are getting attention. However, I am wary of this creating some generally understood concept of Reagan as a reasonable (if slightly bumbling) moderate, and I want to give Salon props for not sweeping under the table AIDS and Iran-Contra and South Africa and other instances of Reagan being, you know, evil. Everyone in America should read this, especially people my age who weren't around when this stuff actually went down.
posted by naoko at 1:23 PM on February 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Without Reagan, the Republicans have nothing. They've turned their backs on Lincoln, for chrissake! Ike (who won WWII!) would be too moderate! Who are the Republican heroes now? Who?!
posted by SPrintF at 1:31 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


box, that's fantastic that it's getting a new edition. Folks can read the first year's entries at the site. Ah, memories:

1/21/81
At his first Cabinet meeting, President Reagan is asked if the Administration has plans to issue an expected Executive Order on cost-cutting. He shrugs. Then, noticing Budget Director David Stockman nodding emphatically, he adds, "I have a smiling fellow at the end of the table who tells me we do."

3/6/81
President Reagan holds his second press conference – the first in American history for which the order of the questioners has been determined by the President drawing names out of a jellybean jar. Many of the unchosen – among them, reporters from NBC, ABC and AP – boycott the event, and the system is quickly abandoned.

3/20/81
The State Department explains that Alexander Haig was simply expressing "one theory" when he suggested that the four American nuns shot to death in El Salvador might have been killed while trying to "run a roadblock."

11/23/81
President Reagan vetoes a stopgap spending bill, thus forcing the federal government – for the first time in history – to temporarily shut down. Says House Speaker Tip O'Neill, "He knows less about the budget than any president in my lifetime. He can't even carry on a conversation about the budget. It's an absolute and utter disgrace."

11/30/81
President Reagan tells a $2,500-per-ticket GOP fundraiser in Cincinnati about a letter he allegedly received from a blind supporter. "He wrote in Braille," the President claims, "to tell me that if cutting his pension would help get this country back on its feet, he'd like to have me cut his pension." The altruistic soul's identity is never revealed, leaving whoever is so inclined free to believe the story was made up.


The unashamed ignorance (and yeah, Alzheimers from the start, it seems clear; the man simply wasn't there) was breathtaking.
posted by mediareport at 1:47 PM on February 6, 2011 [10 favorites]


The thing his admirers persistently miss about Reagan is that he was, in fact, a fairly competent actor. This is the point Slansky starts The Clothes Have no Emperor on -- an actor is playing the President! Reagan understood from the beginning that his job wasn't to be the President, but to play the President, to put on whatever sort of face his real masters might find most useful and, when necessary, to conceal his own true nature.

Reagan wasn't a very good actor but he was up to the role, and in the end all anybody remembers is the character he played for 8 years. The character Reagan played didn't do crazy stupid evil shit, he was just your lovable grandpa figure who gave sensible advice and told a good joke. His detractors were killjoys like the gossips at E! magazine, reminding you that the actor who plays the loving father on your favorite sitcom actually beats the crap out of his wife regularly and put her in the hospital again last week. Say too much about stuff like that and you'll go deaf from the bleating of "LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU" from people with their hands over their ears who don't want their pretty illusion spoiled.

And that is the ultimate truth about The Great Communicator, that thinking he was ever the President is as misguided as thinking William Shatner is James T. Kirk. Making you think that was his job, and he was pretty good at it, but at the end of the day if there ever was a starship he sure as hell wasn't deciding where it would go.
posted by localroger at 1:48 PM on February 6, 2011 [21 favorites]


His towering moment of achievement was invading Grenada.

That's debatable. I think the pinnacle of his foreign policy was getting 241 Marines and other Americans killed in Lebanon, for nothing at all.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:50 PM on February 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Who are the Republican heroes now?

George Wallace. But they're too chickenshit to come right out and say so.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:54 PM on February 6, 2011 [16 favorites]


Previously on MeFi: Revisionaries — How a group of Texas conservatives is rewriting your kids’ textbooks.

Choice quote: "Then I see how they treat Ronald Reagan—he needs to get credit for saving the world from communism and for the good economy over the last twenty years because he lowered taxes."
posted by defenestration at 2:05 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


People before me have so eloquently said it, that I don't need to. But I'm thinking it, very loudly.

Fuck Reagan.
posted by Splunge at 2:09 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Screw celebrating Reagan - today is my 40th birthday!
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 2:12 PM on February 6, 2011 [14 favorites]




I think the pinnacle of his foreign policy was getting 241 Marines and other Americans killed in Lebanon, for nothing at all.

And then cutting and running! Reagan actually did the things Republicans accuse Democrats of doing, including trading with terrorists in Iran/Contra.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:17 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


All this reminds me of a joke about an earlier republican:
"And what did Santa Claus give Gerald Ford for Christmas?


...


Historical revisionism!"

Neil Hamburger. Hot February Night. Drag City, 2010.
posted by wcfields at 2:19 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Who are the Republican heroes now?

At the debates for chairmanship of the Republican National Committee last month, moderator Grover Norquist asked the five candidates to name their hero other than Ronald Reagan. Their answers were as follows:

Reince Priebus - Abraham Lincoln
Ann Wagner - John Ashcroft
Saul Anuzis - Ludwig von Mises of FreedomWorks
Maria Cino - Margaret Thatcher
Michael Steele - Frederick Douglas

Make of that what you will.
posted by dephlogisticated at 2:24 PM on February 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


he's the only Republican president from the recent past who wasn't either blatantly evil, or just plain forgettable.

Oh no, he was blatantly evil. Don't fall for that folksy stuff for a minute; Reagan was, as far as I'm concerned, about as close to the antichrist as we're ever going to see. I came of age during the Reagan years and I watched as he and his followers destroyed the middle class, forward thinking, secular America of my childhood. Reagan is the reason that a moderate conservative like Obama is viewed as a liberal or a dangerous progressive. Reagan is the reason for the War on Drugs, still destroying American lives at the rate of about a million and a half a year In 2008, 1.5 million Americans were arrested for drug offenses. 500,000 were imprisoned. In the 1980s, while the number of arrests for all crimes was rising 28%, the number of arrests for drug offenses rose 126%.cite Reagan was responsible for so much blatant, unrepentant, straightforward evil - too many instances to enumerate - that nobody should ever forget or, gods forbid, think he was just a charming, senile old man. Even worse, those who followed him have just built on his destructive legacy until we have what we have today, the smoking ruins of the American body politic.
posted by mygothlaundry at 2:29 PM on February 6, 2011 [42 favorites]


Reagan is the reason for the War on Drugs

Actually, I believe that was really Nixon. Reagan just gave it its first catcphrase with legs.
posted by chimaera at 2:33 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, rather than watch the Superbowl, I'm just going to go home, play some Black Flag real loud, put a pot over my head and hit it really hard with a mallet.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:45 PM on February 6, 2011 [12 favorites]


I was a very little kid throughout the 80s (and growing up next door, in Canada), so I only had vague memories of Ronnie and mostly knew him through the parodies of him on SNL. Then, I made it into university, where—especially during grad school—I came into contact with professors who had been in their twenties during the 80s. Their profound vitriol for Reagan puzzled me at first. A lot of early queer theory, in particular, was vehemently hostile to him. In many ways, they were a valuable source of critical counter-history to the hagiography I received through the media. I suspect a lot of folks from my generation will play that role re: GWB in a decade or two…
posted by LMGM at 3:01 PM on February 6, 2011


Haters (raises hand) gonna hate.
posted by Danf at 3:01 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


^This:
Reagan's silence about AIDS is unforgivable.

"Our murderer is dead. The man who murdered more gay people than anyone in the entire history of the world, is dead. More people than Hitler even. In all the tributes to [Reagan's] passing, as I write this two days after his death, not one that I have seen has mentioned this." - Larry Kramer
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:14 PM on February 6
What if this is the REAL big lie -- that Ronald Reagan and the GOP carried out a willful act of neglect, if not biological warfare that resulted in the deaths of more Gay/Bi/IV Drug users than Jews died during the Holocaust?

I have neither the numbers, the means, nor the interest to pursue this research, but it corresponds to a notion I have about 'reality' being just some measured group of events that everyone has agreed to acknowledge and everything else is just a minority opinion that need not be acknoweldged.

What if there were some extremely isolated Pacific Islanders somewhere who read about Reagan and the '80s, and on the basis of their research, they came to the conclusion that Reagan was able to provide the Final Solution for Homosexuality that Hitler was unable to complete?

Just like 9-11.
posted by vhsiv at 3:27 PM on February 6, 2011


The unashamed ignorance (and yeah, Alzheimers from the start, it seems clear; the man simply wasn't there) was breathtaking.

Wow. Is that really what you got? The Obama Administration is only two years old, and I can already beat that entry-for-entry with: "Special Olympics" bowling on The Tonite Show; "stupidly" police officer who arrested Skip Gates invited to "beer summit"; hiring experts "to know whose ass I'm supposed to kick" on 60 Minutes; lauding "the Great Patriotic War" during a dinner with Russian officials"; fumbling around about Zelaya's arrest in Honduras before ultimately recognizing that it was wrong to back him after his arrest; giving the queen an ipod filled with Obama speeches; Treasury Secretary who did not pay hundreds of thousands in taxes; party-crashers at the first state dinner. The embarrassment continues to the present day, with Vice President Biden saying on Charlie Rose that Mubarak is an ally who should not step down, though the rest of the administration would completely change message a day or two later. Lawd, the list could go on and on, even in so young an administration.

I'm a Reagan supporter. I am really amused by the vitriol in this thread, especially from the old-timers (who are the only ones who really have much of a hate-on for Reagan anyway). But it's striking how our standards for competency have been defined downward: Reagan used a jellybean jar to select which reporter got to ask questions at a press conference! And some news organizations boycotted after they felt excluded! Gasp! Too funny. Really.
posted by Slap Factory at 4:05 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


What if this is the REAL big lie -- that Ronald Reagan and the GOP carried out a willful act of neglect, if not biological warfare that resulted in the deaths of more Gay/Bi/IV Drug users than Jews died during the Holocaust?

I have neither the numbers, the means, nor the interest to pursue this research


I don't think anyone, even Larry Kramer, is claiming that more people died of HIV between its appearance and 1987 than the number of Jews who died under Nazi Germany.

To start with, that's not a good comparison.

Based on just a little bit of Google research, it appears that around 100,000 homosexuals were persecuted under Nazi laws, with about half of those actually being sentenced. Of those, somewhere between 5000 and 15000 ended up in concentration camps. How many of THOSE died is difficult to determine.

By the time Reagan phoned his friend Rock Hudson and learned that he was dying of AIDS, the CDC was reporting around 59,500 cases of reported AIDS and HIV infection, and nearly half of those (just under 28,000) were dead.

So, the numbers are difficult to tease out of the fog of history due to problematic accounting under Nazi Germany and the long incubation period of HIV, but I think it's safe to assume that well over 60K people were infected with HIV due to the lack of alarm and public action on behalf of the Reagan administration. And by 1987, 28K were dead. If the numbers about homosexuals sentenced to concentration camps are true, even at the high estimate about twice as many people suffered and died from extreme HIV/AIDS under Reagan than through direct persecution under Hitler.
posted by hippybear at 4:08 PM on February 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


sleep well T-10

Reagan Secret Service Agent Shoots Self in Hip!

Steve McQueens' Motorcycle displayed at Reagan library.
posted by clavdivs at 4:21 PM on February 6, 2011


I am generally loath to link Limbaugh clips for obvious reasons, but I found this one especially revealing.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:21 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


But it's striking how our standards for competency have been defined downward: Reagan used a jellybean jar to select which reporter got to ask questions at a press conference! And some news organizations boycotted after they felt excluded!

Way to cherry-pick. Care to address his record on AIDS, Central America, Iran-Contra or the other issues of great substance that have also been raised in this thread?
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 4:24 PM on February 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


I am really amused by the vitriol in this thread, especially from the old-timers (who are the only ones who really have much of a hate-on for Reagan anyway).

I think the point of this thread is that it shouldn't be only the old-timers who question the current revisionist view of Reagan. That you report that it's ONLY the old-timers who have a "hate-on" for him is only discouraging as the fog of history sweeps across the facts and we're only left with the whitewashed version of events.
posted by hippybear at 4:32 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Their profound vitriol for Reagan puzzled me at first.

The generational difference is probably due to corporate sponsorship over Reagan's legacy, because he symbolizes tax cuts and a booming economy, an idea which is still sold as plausible to the American people from conservatives. What we know today is that borrowing money to pay for political tax cuts is a bad idea called deficit spending.

Here is a list of things I recall about Reagan as a college student:

Reagan was voted into office during the Iran-hostage crisis, where it was rumored that he sent word to the Ayatollahs to hold the hostages until after the election, after which they would be rewarded with spare parts for their aging American aircraft, which they badly needed in their war with Iraq. This would have been high treason if confirmed. We know that the parts were delivered.

The once proud unions supported Reagan in the beginning, and then he stabbed them in the back over and over, including firing all of the air traffic controllers who went on strike.

Reagan brought back the B-1 bomber (formerly canceled by Jimmy Carter, a former nuclear sub captain) at 1-billion dollars apiece, said to fly under the radar while bombing Soviet Russia. The problem is that they were developing the B-2 by then and the B-1 was deemed outmoded. But Reagan was a spokesperson for GE before becoming president, and GE made most of the parts for the B-1 plane.

Reagan ordered the DEA to spray the herbicide paraquat on pot plants south of the border, a move which probably contributes to lung cancer today.

Reagan famously ignored the spread of AIDS as a public health threat, because it would have sullied the mythology he was hyping about America. He often preached that anyone can still get rich in America (and nowhere else), but getting AIDS was far easier it seemed.

Nancy Reagan verbally propped up her husband in public, occasionally whispering things to him to say during press conferences. We didn't know he had Alzheimer's, but we did know that she was deep into astrology at the time and had some control over personnel choices.

Reagan mocked the Navy's plan to build smaller, smarter ships, opting instead to bring back massive battleships to symbolize power, many of them mothballed. This was widely ridiculed. Their massive guns were later used in artillery raids in Lebanon for a show of power on suspected villages, resulting in a counter-strike by a suicide truck bomber, taking out a Marine barracks there with hundreds killed and wounded. [In a separate incident, one of the massive guns on a battleship exploded during a training exercise, killing dozens, and it was blamed on gay sailor suicide-sabotage, who was later exonerated, and it went down as a vicious smear campaign from the highest levels.]

Reagan deregulated the airlines and caused many to suddenly go under. Reagan also deregulated the savings and loan institutions, causing junk bond scandals estimated to cost the government over 250 billion.

Reagan openly supported dictatorial and brutal regimes in South and Central America, always in the name of fighting communism, whether real or not.

To my thinking, Paul Krugman was finally given the Nobel Prize in economics for being brave enough to openly criticize Reagan as the man who caused our entire financial mess over the last generation. It should always be remembered that idealistic conservatism was born with Reagan who popularized it among wage-earners, which cannot be compared to the cynical conservatism of the Eisenhower-Nixon era, who would never have dared to suggest that borrowing money for tax cuts was sound.
posted by Brian B. at 4:35 PM on February 6, 2011 [50 favorites]


I'm a Reagan supporter. I am really amused by the vitriol in this thread, especially from the old-timers (who are the only ones who really have much of a hate-on for Reagan anyway). But it's striking how our standards for competency have been defined downward: Reagan used a jellybean jar to select which reporter got to ask questions at a press conference! And some news organizations boycotted after they felt excluded! Gasp! Too funny. Really.

So are you. Really. Not to mention willfully blind to history, but whatever. Have fun in your fantasy world where, once upon a time, America was a shining city on a hill in which it was always Morning.
posted by blucevalo at 4:37 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just remember: Ronald Wilson Reagan is an anagram for Insane Anglo Warlord. Petty, but amusing.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:42 PM on February 6, 2011 [10 favorites]


Slap Factory, those were just the first from among the freebies. But I notice you avoided Haig's comment about the murdered nuns running a roadblock in favor of the jellybean thing. Those murdered nuns and the Reagan administration reaction to them speaks volumes about what the administration (with the idiot child as its face) was really about.

That you focused on the jellybeans is telling.
posted by mediareport at 4:48 PM on February 6, 2011


This is the hollywood actor, right?
posted by hal_c_on at 4:53 PM on February 6, 2011


Nice list, Brian B. You might add the dropping of the Fairness Doctrine in public broadcasting under Reagan, paving the way for Limbaugh, O'Reilly and the other jolly rightwing "newscasters" on Faux Network. Or, as we might call it, the Ministry of Propaganda for the Republican Party (whether in power or not.).
posted by binturong at 4:55 PM on February 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


Hey, Slap Factory. Are we supposed to taking your writing seriously? Or are you just a troll?

Are you a fiscal conservative? How do you reconcile the fact that Reagan put our economy deeper into debt than any President than Bush II?

Can you justify the massive killings in Central and South America? Remember when Reagan put mines into Mangua harbor - into the harbor of a friendly country? Care to justify that?

Or, you could simply answer any of the other objections raised above... intend to do that?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:12 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't fall for that folksy stuff for a minute; Reagan was, as far as I'm concerned, about as close to the antichrist as we're ever going to see.

It's shit like this that makes anything on this site hard to take seriously.
posted by xmutex at 5:18 PM on February 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


I am generally loath to link Limbaugh clips for obvious reasons, but I found this one especially revealing.

I generally find the caller (Mike Stark, a blogger and activist known for a combative interviewing style - he's not just some random dude calling in) to be an irritating individual, but holy shit, that was fun. He does know how to a) get to the heart of things and b) catch people totally off guard. I bet Rush's screeners got a talking to about that one.
posted by naoko at 5:21 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


xmutex: you're completely free to post reasons why Reagan was a great President.

I think the rest of us understand that "anti-Christ" is a short way of saying, "Responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands, pissed away trillions of dollars, started the huge money transfer from the poor and middle classes to the rich, the architect of our misfortunes of today".
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:22 PM on February 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


I wish I believed in Hell. I sincerely wish I did.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:22 PM on February 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


xmutex: you're completely free to post reasons why Reagan was a great President.

I'm sure you are able to see that there is a sizable difference between "being a great President" and being "as close to the antichrist as we're ever going to see." Surely you don't an argument here, right?
posted by xmutex at 5:24 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


mygothlaundry I must disagree. Not that Reagan was evil, but that he was blatantly evil. He had good PR and he was able to play the part of a well meaning good guy well enough on TV.

Compare to Nixon, who suffered from looking like an evil scumbag, had no TV presence at all, moved like he was a puppet controlled by bug eyed aliens from another dimension, etc. He was blatantly evil. He looked the part of an evil scumbag president, his crimes got broadcast successfully, etc.

Reagan, whatever his actual policies and their effect, came across as a somewhat doddering, but overall nice and friendly guy. It was an act, he's known to have been a vindictive person with a short temper, but he kept that away from the cameras.

And that allows the Republican PR machine to portray him as a near saint who made America Great Again after that nasty Carter Fucked Things Up.

The fact that he allowed the marines to die in Lebanon, that he actually and directly traded arms for hostages, tanked the economy, fucked the middle class for the benefit of the upper class, makes him evil, yes. But he wasn't blatantly evil. You have to actually study and read to see his evils. Nixon's evils, by comparison, are better publicized and he looked the part of being an evil scumbag.
posted by sotonohito at 5:24 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


also:
the old-timers (who are the only ones who really have much of a hate-on for Reagan anyway)

Hi, I'm 26, and I hate Reagan! Nice to meet you.
posted by naoko at 5:24 PM on February 6, 2011 [9 favorites]


Who are the Republican heroes now? Who?!

That faint, echoing voice saying "You betcha!" over and over again? That voice is our DOOM.
posted by JHarris at 5:25 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


1. Many of us perceive that Reagan did terrible things.
2. But he is lionized today as a saint.
3. Thus abusive terms like anti-Christ are used - even though they are not meant literally - because it gets tiresome popping out our huge list of grievance every time we talk about this horrible man.

I doubt anyone here - not even you - believes that the term "anti-Christ" was meant literally. So why are you wasting our time? You and everyone else understands that this term is used simply to express the great and negative emotions we have regarding this profoundly stupid, arrogant and evil man.

If you have something of substance to contribute, please do.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:28 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Surely you don't an argument here, right?

Once you got past reading the article's title, I'm still curious whether you think Larry Kramer has a point of view somewhat informed by his life experience, living on the other end of Reagan's deliberate inattention to a worsening epidemic.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:30 PM on February 6, 2011


Slap Factory: "

I'm a Reagan supporter. I am really amused by the vitriol in this thread, especially from the old-timers (who are the only ones who really have much of a hate-on for Reagan anyway). But it's striking how our standards for competency have been defined downward: Reagan used a jellybean jar to select which reporter got to ask questions at a press conference! And some news organizations boycotted after they felt excluded! Gasp! Too funny. Really
"

I'm an old timer who not only lived through the fiasco that was the Reagan presidency, but was an anti-Reagan activist during the days before, during and after his election. The man was a puppet for the right. His stain is on the country to this day. I liked Nixon more than Ronald Raygun. (There was actually a poster that I purchased and then gave away later on, picturing him as a guy with with futuristic laser guns)

The man was a moron with power.
posted by Splunge at 5:30 PM on February 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm sure you are able to see that there is a sizable difference between "being a great President" and being "as close to the antichrist as we're ever going to see." Surely you don't an argument here, right?

Probably the poster was speaking in context of American Presidents. Personally, I think the GW Bush Administration was responsible for more senseless death abroad, more destruction of basic liberties, and more damage to our economy. But Reagan is the Pappa Bear of uninformed hyperbolists who owe their entire political careers to business men and clueless evangelists. The original sinner, if you will.
posted by notion at 5:34 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought Ronald Reagan had been made into a God by the emperor
posted by robbyrobs at 5:39 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


homunculus: There is much to appreciate and even like about America's 40th president

My favorite thing is that he is fucking dead and I don't have to live on the same planet as that asshole.
posted by paisley henosis at 5:43 PM on February 6, 2011 [11 favorites]


"Reagan was, as far as I'm concerned, about as close to the antichrist as we're ever going to see."

As I recall, much (rather grim) fun was had taunting the fundies whom the Reaganites used as part of their base by pointing out that Ronnie's name proved he was the Antichrist:

Ronald Wilson Reagan - six letters each.

I'm hesitant to say Worst. President. Ever., as the Dubya era saw even deeper depths plumbed, with the evisceration of the Bill of Rights and all the rest that we're still stuck with. Nixon, who held the honour before Ronnie came along, at least wasn't the amiable front man that both Ronnie and Shrub were (though Shrub was by far a worse actor) - he may have tried to appear amiable at times, but his basic asshole-ness generally came through, and he also actually was in charge of things for the most part - no de facto President Cheney behind him. I think the lesson the Rethugs learned after Nixon was always to put a nice thick shiny coat of paint on their bullshit.
posted by Philofacts at 5:44 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am really amused by the vitriol in this thread, especially from the old-timers (who are the only ones who really have much of a hate-on for Reagan anyway). But it's striking how our standards for competency have been defined downward: Reagan used a jellybean jar to select which reporter got to ask questions at a press conference! And some news organizations boycotted after they felt excluded! Gasp! Too funny. Really.

For about 5 years, I worked with a guy who had watched the majority of his village get mowed down by machine guns because the Reagan-sponsored death squads thought that the village was supporting the FMLN. He escaped from hiding, made his way on foot to the Mexico border, and then worked and traveled across Mexico to the US, where he was granted temporary asylum.

Let me repeat that for you -- he had watched his village, including the majority of his family, machine-gunned by Reagan-sponsored death squads.

So for me, yeah, it was something more than the jelly beans.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:55 PM on February 6, 2011 [21 favorites]


Come on! He saved the world's nutmeg supply from the evil clutches of Cuban construction workers!
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 5:55 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is a sad fact that to become a president in the USA is not a democratic process. I'm not sure that any election here is about the facts. The presidential election is about money, the cult of personality and brute force behind the scenes.

There used to be a time where the needs of the people were number one. Maybe that was around the time that we started to get color TVs. Having lived through the assassination of JFK and the election of Obama, I've seen it all.

You know what gave me a bit of insight as a prole? Fear And Loathing On The Campaign Trail by Hunter Thompson.

Read it. Memorize it. You will be enlightened.
posted by Splunge at 5:55 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Re: Worst president ever, can we declare some kind of three-way tie here?
posted by brennen at 6:04 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


^Thanks, hippybear! Yes, I'm lazy, but I suspected that an awful truth might lay behind Kramer's words. Almost 20 years ago, I took those words as typical activist hyperbole, but in the past few years, I've started to wonder if we'd entered some era where atrocities are easily oerlooked, even with 24/7 cable news.

It looks at though we've arrived at that unspeakable place.

All of the sirens are canceling each other out.
posted by vhsiv at 6:05 PM on February 6, 2011


Some clarification about the timeline of AIDS here.

Back in the day, I spent some time with people involved with BlueBoy magazine and people that were gay porn actors. There was a frightening thing out there. It had no name, but it was pretty much considered the "gay disease". There was no, zero, zilch and who gives a fuck interest about it in the medical community. Nobody cared. Not blaming Reagan for it. Just putting the facts here.
posted by Splunge at 6:22 PM on February 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


People keep saying that even as a liberal I should appreciate Reagan. But I keep looking for the good parts and just find more evidence of incompetence at best and atrocities at worst. I mean, people say stuff like "He won the cold war," when it really looks more like we "won" by default by letting the incompetent USSR leadership run the country into the ground. All he did was speed up their decline by convincing them to spend more money on nuclear weapons to match our stash, which I don't think is a good thing. Now Russia has a lot of nuclear weapons sitting around they can ill afford to guard. And not starting a nuclear war is something I kind of expect every president to do. And all that terrible stuff with Nicaragua seems like kind of a barrier of entry to the canonization you see of him in the Tea Party.

Am I missing the forest for the trees, here? Should I just generally zoom out and take in the nice, cowboy-scented ambience of a father-figure who know's what's best for America? Should I just learn to like people for their public personalities and not their actions?

And can someone please make a venn diagram of Bush, Reagan, and Sarah Palin, in terms of policy? I like charts, and I really hope that Sarah Palin isn't exactly the same like she implies she is, preferably in a good way. There's a disturbingly high chance she'll be president at some point, and her platform seems to be built more on persona than policy, a lot like Reagan.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:59 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


The diagram would look something like:

Huge circle named right wing. Bush, Reagan and Palin would be in it. Within that circle would be another circle. It would be labeled idiots. They would all be in it. Then there would be another smaller circle labeled people who could care less if the country goes to shit as long as I have some power.

Any other questions?
posted by Splunge at 7:20 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was still an infant when Reagan took office.

My first memory of the man was his portrayal in Genesis' "Land of Confusion" video. I didn't fully understand what the video was on about, but I gleaned enough to have nightmares about Reagan nuking the planet for several weeks on end.
posted by Hesychia at 7:21 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fear not. We have a new election coming up. Soon we will again "choose" our president. This will be the person that has the "button". And how will we choose the president? By how much money he or she has. By how he or she will color the other candidate as a person that will make us suffer the most. As the person who will kill the old folks. And take our money away.

The winner will be the person that makes us hate the other person more.

We may have a serious issue with both persons, but when you tell me that my parrot will be killed and eaten by the other guy, you got me.

Lyndon Johnson said it best, "Call my opponent a pigfucker"

But boss he isn't.

"I don't care, just make him deny it."
posted by Splunge at 7:36 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


How can you be a Reagan supporter? I mean, what are you supporting? The man is dead, he has no agenda or policies he'd advocating.

In Minnesota, we just ended eight years of a governor who defined himself as a Reagan conservative. We used to have something called The Minnesota Miracle, supported by both conservatives and liberals, that involved intelligent taxing and intelligent spending. Even when times were bad for the rest of the country, we came out ahead.

Now we're looking at a $6 billion deficit, because Pawlenty was a Reagan true believer. Never raise taxes. Slash spending to social services. Give breaks to corporations and millionaires, and somehow that will magically create new jobs and opportunities. It's something Reagan called "trickle down," but Bush41 correctly called "voodoo economics." And so Minnesota is now looking at an unprecedented budget crisis.

And Pawlenty wasn't alone. Our country is filled with true believers who buy the myths of Reagan and know none of the facts, and support an agenda that has proven, again and again, to bankrupt an economy to the benefit of a few already very wealthy.

Perhaps that's what you support. I'd urge you to reconsider, or at least learn some history, before you mock us old timers. Some of us actually remember the eight years of green lawlessness, imbecility, and financial recklessness that actually characterized the Reagan tenure.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:40 PM on February 6, 2011 [15 favorites]


Ah, Ronnie. The first politician I learned to hate.

You always remember the first.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:58 PM on February 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


Ah, Ronnie. The first politician I learned to hate.

You always remember the first.


Age 10. Fifth grade. One of the first (and only) times I ever got in trouble in school, because when the word spread across the playground that Reagan had been shot, I said "good" and the teacher heard me.

Flaming pinko commie liberal from the start...
posted by Lexica at 8:26 PM on February 6, 2011 [12 favorites]


My first crush was Amy Carter. I was about five or so. There's a picture from a trip to Washington where I'm standing outside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, happy as can be because I got to "visit Jimmy and Amy's house".

When Reagan was elected, I got very very angry and vowed never to like him because to me, he was the mean man who kicked Amy out of her house.

Thirty years later and I still think it's a good a reason as any.
posted by Spatch at 8:40 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Reading this thread to here, it is clear that Mr. Reagan occupies the same mythological status on the left as on the right. To the right he's the epitome of conservative values. To the left, he's the epitome of all things evil. Both views are passionately held in spite of facts to the contrary.

What seems to be missing in this thread is the mention of Jimmy Carter. I like Carter, but he was a miserable chief executive. I suspect there are not too many people in this thread who remember 15% home mortgage interest (and CDs that paid just as much.) "Malaise" was an appropriate term for the late 70s U.S.

The economy and foreign policy was an utter disaster under Carter. Reagan changed that and it the contrast to Carter that makes him appear more successful than he actually was.

Sort of like the barely competent Obama looks good in comparison to idiot GWB.
posted by three blind mice at 10:35 PM on February 6, 2011


You take back what you just said about Amy's dad! Take it back!!
posted by Spatch at 10:45 PM on February 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


Both views are passionately held in spite of facts to the contrary

I don't know. People who managed to survive Reagan's murderous rule seem to disagree, on the basis of, well, surviving.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:27 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


The economy and foreign policy was an utter disaster under Carter. Reagan changed that

By training the guys who would become al-Qaeda? Yeah, that was a big win. And if you want to be all "ra-ra, Central American death squads", well, go for your life.
posted by rodgerd at 11:53 PM on February 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


Then there was the destructive Reagan policy on Northern Ireland. I was around to see some if that damage. Some reasonable facsimile of peace had to wait for Clinton's second term. I and my children suffered a lot in the Reagan years. Why could he not have stuck to doing his 'Death Valley Days' show? It wasn't half bad.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 12:14 AM on February 7, 2011


If for no other reason the being the first stepping stone to the eventual Bush I presidency, and therefore Bush II, his legacy is worthy of being pissed on. But this guy, while kicking off the death of middle class with his wonderful trickled down policies, planned to build a space based weapons platform that absolutely no one believed could possibly work, and then claimed to have brought about the downfall of the USSR, even though it had been on the ropes for years. On top of which he was demonstrably senile in his second term. Reagan may not have been evil as much as he was just stupid and surrounded by some filth but he was in no way an admirable leader.
posted by doctor_negative at 12:33 AM on February 7, 2011


> To the left, he's the epitome of all things evil. Both views are passionately held in spite of facts to the contrary.

Citation needed.

We listed many, many, many reasons why he was a deeply evil man. Just baldly saying, "He wasn't" is not a refutation.

In fact, if you read this whole thread, not one person has a single specific good thing to say about him. The vile Republicans on the thread come and make fun of us, but not one of them actually said something good about him, let alone refuting our arguments.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:50 AM on February 7, 2011


The vile Republicans on the thread come and make fun of us, but not one of them actually said something good about him

That's because they can't say openly what they like about him. It would be the same as a sneering toady admitting why he pals around with bullies.

I've linked this before and I'll link it again.
posted by clarknova at 2:11 AM on February 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


clarknova: :-( Your article is disturbing and I sort of wish I hadn't read it. Too fucking close to the truth. (Favorited anyway...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:46 AM on February 7, 2011


I'm a Reagan supporter. I am really amused by the vitriol in this thread, especially from the old-timers (who are the only ones who really have much of a hate-on for Reagan anyway).

Then you should feel ashamed of yourself.

Not that you will. I strongly suspect you will carry on affecting a snooty superiority (and they say liberals are condescending!)
posted by lucien_reeve at 5:39 AM on February 7, 2011


Ah, the Carter "malaise" argument. This is being trotted out as evidence that we libruls deny evidence before our very eyes, as though saying the previous president was worse makes the following president better.

Carter was not worse. The opposition to Carter's policies came not from conservatives -- after all, he favored a lot of policies that conservatives approved of, such as deregulation. As to the economic crisis? He inherited that -- it had started under Ford.

There's a lot of good and a lot of missteps in his four years as president. He also armed the Taliban, as an example of the latter. But he attempted to wean America off its dependence on foreign oil, which Reagan reversed. That was the subject of his "malaise" speech, by the way -- which, by the way, was well-received when he gave it.

But his tenure was defined by the rampant criminality of Reagan's years. During his eight years in office, 138 Reagan officials had been indicted, prosecuted, or investigated. Here is that list.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:51 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


In fact, if you read this whole thread, not one person has a single specific good thing to say about him.

I'll say something good about him: he actually supported tax increases on a number of occasions (including one to keep Social Security running). Not enough to offset the profound damage of his broader policies, of course, but I still think it's worth mentioning. Just imagine what would happen if a Republican president were to try that today. Reagan has been so mythologized by the right that many forget his own record doesn't hold up to current neocon ideology.
posted by dephlogisticated at 6:45 AM on February 7, 2011


Something that you should keep in mind is that if the USSR had believed that SDI was plausible (and let's not mince words, even by the mid twenty-aughts the Pentagon was still having to fake the results to get any), they would have had no choice but to nuke us. Nuclear-armed nations are restrained from using nuclear weapons by the threat of retaliation- anybody who launches a nuke faces nuclear annihilation themselves. By seeking to remove the threat of nuclear weapons against the United States- by working to eliminate the threat of retaliation- Reagan was gambling that the Soviets wouldn't nuke us in what can only be called pre-emptive self defense.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:32 AM on February 7, 2011


I have noticed that every single bit of hagiography, up to yesterday when Cheney was speaking, features the meme that Reagan rescued the country from the Carter presidency.

Carter is ALWAYS mentioned. It is just curious, and I am sure that it is intentionally a part of keeping this Big Lie going.
posted by Danf at 8:06 AM on February 7, 2011


Jello Biafra's first spoken word album No More Cocoons (1987) features a great piece on "Grandpa Calligula" called "What Reagan Didn't Know".
posted by stinkycheese at 8:19 AM on February 7, 2011


foreign policy was an utter disaster under Carter

Oh, I don't know about that. Little things like, say, the Camp David peace treaty between Egypt and Israel? Returning the Panama Canal? SALT II? Any one of those would be a pretty big deal for a one-term president.

And yeah, reread the text of his speech known as the "malaise speech" that Astro Zombie linked above. The man had a clear vision of what he saw was wrong with the country, both short term and long term, and was offering solutions. Or at least offering approaches to find solutions. And his speech rings even more true today, as nearly everything he talked about over 30 years ago are still problems in the US.

(Interesting point of fact -- Carter never used the word "malaise".)
posted by hippybear at 8:29 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Facts are stupid things.
posted by whuppy at 8:46 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Reagan: Killer, Coward, Con-man
posted by edgeways at 9:42 AM on February 7, 2011


THERE YOU GO CLARKNOVA WITH THAT LINK, YOUR AN ASSHAT AND BE ON YOUR....
posted by clavdivs at 9:42 AM on February 7, 2011


I am really amused by the vitriol in this thread, especially from the old-timers (who are the only ones who really have much of a hate-on for Reagan anyway).

Yeah, I'm 23 and I see plenty to hate. I have a raging hate-on. So do all of my friends, and there's nary an old-timer among them.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:46 AM on February 7, 2011


Why could he not have stuck to doing his 'Death Valley Days' show? It wasn't half bad.

The driver's either missing or he's dead!
posted by JHarris at 10:41 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Splunge: There was a frightening thing out there. It had no name, but it was pretty much considered the "gay disease". There was no, zero, zilch and who gives a fuck interest about it in the medical community. Nobody cared. Not blaming Reagan for it. Just putting the facts here.

I agree with you, but Reagan was different from the medical community in one very important respect. He had the power to help stop that indifference in its tracks by saying one single fucking word that would acknowledge that tens of thousands of citizens in his own goddamn country (including a family friend, Rock Hudson) were dying of an unstoppable, unrelenting plague. He bothered to utter the word "AIDS" only a handful of times in eight years in office, once when Rock Hudson lay dying and he tossed out the lie that AIDS research was one of his administration's "top priorities." And it didn't stop with Reagan, either. GHW Bush was the head of the AIDS Executive Committee of the NIH during his vice-presidency. He didn't say a single goddamn word about AIDS either until March 1990 -- when he'd already been president for 14 months. How many people died in 14 months who could have been helped, in some small way, by Bush mentioning the word in public?

three blind mice: The economy and foreign policy was an utter disaster under Carter.

Yeah, that's why under Carter, Sadat and Begin signed a peace treaty that has lasted 31 years. A real disaster that was, one whose imminent possible revisit has the US government and governments in the region scrambling to decide what comes next.
posted by blucevalo at 10:46 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


"When I was a child, President Ronald Reagan was the nice man who gave us jelly beans when we visited the White House. I didn't know then, but I know it now: The jelly beans were much more than a sweet treat that he gave out as gifts. They represented the uniqueness and greatness of America -- each one different and special in its own way, but collectively they blended in harmony." -- Ben Quayle (R-AZ)
posted by blucevalo at 11:15 AM on February 7, 2011


You know what you get when you pop a whole lot of different flavor jelly beans into your mouth? A mouth of yuck.

And...

There are always the snot flavored jelly beans.. What flavor are you Ben?
posted by edgeways at 11:49 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I'm not real enthused about what it is that is being done on a national level from D.C. in regards to understanding all the situation there in Egypt and in these areas that are so volatile right now, because obviously it's not just Egypt but the other countries too where we are seeing uprisings. We know that now more than ever, we need strength and sound mind there in the White House." -- Sarah Palin, February 4, after giving kleynote speech at the Reagan 100 Celebration Opening Banquet

You can say whatever you want about Ronnie Reagan. The current crop of GOP presidential contenders makes him look like Franklin Roosevelt.
posted by blucevalo at 11:56 AM on February 7, 2011


Interesting point of fact -- Carter never used the word "malaise".

The country had not been in a war for almost four years. The people felt they were in a crisis of stagnation. Carter acknowledged it, and the label was applied for him. Four months later saw the Iran hostage crisis. Americans overwhelmingly supported military action and economic sanctions which would have led to the execution of the hostages. For a month Carter's approval ratings soared. But Jimmy did not support sanctions or an invasion. Instead he tried covert ops and diplomacy, one of which worked. Americans never forgave him for denying them a war.

The current crop of GOP presidential contenders makes him look like Franklin Roosevelt.

Liberals are pretending they're some kind of mirage, and the real candidates will appear during the primaries.
posted by clarknova at 2:58 PM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why clarknova do you continue to link to a site that has a picture of a person with downs syndrome in a superman costume? Do you find that sort of humor funny? I really don't think it has any place on MetaFilter. If there is something on that site that you like so much (as you said you've linked to it at least twice now) then perhaps you can put it into your own words and not associate Metafilter with a website that would do something like that for the lulz. No need to drag the rest of us through the mud along with you.
posted by Sailormom at 3:05 PM on February 7, 2011


> Why clarknova do you continue to link to a site that has a picture of a person with downs syndrome in a superman costume?

Is it that the contents of the article shocked you so much that you were unwilling to comment on it at all, and are reduced to being snarky about a photo that, it's quite likely, wasn't even chosen by the writer? Or is there some other reason you aren't interested at all in the actual words and concepts expressed?

Well, I personally read the article, thought it was brilliant, and sent it to many people. If you're not willing to comment on the actual content in the article, might I politely suggest you go elsewhere? Here, most of us are interested in content, not window-dressing (I hope...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:32 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have a friend who is the son of one of the members of the list Astro Zombie linked to, and ever since I found out about it, it's amused me that I've smoked pot with a guy who has childhood pictures of himself posing with Mr. T and Nancy "Just Say No" Reagan in the Oval Office. Petty? Yeah. But I still find it funny.

We haven't talked much about his father's time with Reagan. I didn't realize the extent of it other than "My Dad had a job in the White House, when Reagan was President.", until I attended his wedding some years ago and some of his old friends clued me in. There was even a rumor that Nancy was going to attend, but it was kiboshed because of all the extra security precautions that would entail. I don't know if there was any truth to the rumor.

I don't know what his feelings on the Reagan legacy are, but I bet that would be an interesting conversation. From what little I remember of his views (We didn't talk politics much. Mostly we rode bikes and drank beer together. He moved to another state some years ago, so our contact these days is limited.), but I'd wager his views on Reagan would fall a lot closer to the general view on the blue than they would the words of Ben Quayle (Who, for all I know, could have been his playmate at the white house.), quoted above by blucevelo.
posted by zen_spider at 3:37 PM on February 7, 2011


Andrew Bacevich on Reagan:
As an effort to reorient public policy, Carter’s appeal failed completely. Americans showed little enthusiasm for the president’s brand of freedom with its connotations of virtuous austerity. Not liking the message, Americans shot the messenger.

Carter’s speech did enjoy a long and fruitful life—chiefly as fodder for his political opponents. The most formidable was Ronald Reagan. He portrayed himself as conservative but was, in fact, the modern prophet of profligacy—the politician who gave moral sanction to the empire of consumption. Beguiling his fellow citizens with talk of “morning in America,” Reagan added to America’s civic religion two crucial beliefs: credit has no limits, and the bills will never come due. Balance the books, pay as you go, save for a rainy day—Reagan’s abrogation of these ancient bits of folk wisdom did as much to recast America’s moral constitution as did sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

When it came to confidence, the former governor wanted it known that he had lots of it. In a jab at Carter, he alluded to those “who would have us believe that the United States, like other great civilizations of the past, has reached the zenith of its power” and who “tell us we must learn to live with less.” Reagan rejected these propositions. He envisioned a future in which the U.S. would gain even greater power while Americans would enjoy ever greater prosperity. The sole obstacle was the federal government. His solution was to pare down the bureaucracy, reduce federal spending, and cut taxes.

... During the Carter years, the federal deficit had averaged $54.5 billion annually. During the Reagan era, deficits skyrocketed, averaging $210.6 billion over the course of Reagan’s two terms. Federal spending nearly doubled, from $590.9 billion in 1980 to $1.14 trillion in 1989. The federal government did not shrink. It grew, the bureaucracy swelling by nearly 5 percent.

To call Reagan a hypocrite is to miss the point. The Reagan Revolution was never about fiscal responsibility or small government. Far more accurately than Carter, Reagan understood what made Americans tick: they wanted self-gratification, not self-denial. Although always careful to embroider his speeches with inspirational homilies and testimonials to old-fashioned virtues, Reagan mainly indulged American self-indulgence.

There was a revolution; it just had little to do with the tenets of conservatism. The true nature of the revolution becomes apparent only in retrospect. Reagan unveiled it in remarks that he made on March 23, 1983. History remembers this as the occasion when the president announced his Strategic Defense Initiative. Embedded in Reagan’s remarks were two radical propositions: the minimum requirements of U.S. security required a status akin to invulnerability and modern technology was bringing this utopian goal within reach. Star Wars introduced into mainstream politics the proposition that Americans could be safe only if the United States enjoyed permanent global military supremacy. Here was Reagan’s preferred response to the crisis that Carter had identified. Here, too, can be found the strategic underpinnings of George W. Bush’s global war on terror.
posted by russilwvong at 4:51 PM on February 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


the left still hasn’t come around to answering that big Kansas mystery about Americans’ farcical voting habits. So the left ...Koch brothers from… losers.

Hey, Mark AXXX . Nice, did you use WORD or did the data just Jackdaw itself into your visual cortex. Asscoin, hack, peddler of obvious garble- its politics, you rookie. "you" control those who have power- are you not getting this about politics-are you platos nattering stablehand yanking quiet notes or this is something the polity could use other then raw data and talking points. Mark AXXX did you pick that picture? Perhaps not. Wow, you found something and look, those people are not in power?, not really. Thanks, it is because of honest people like you that tools of politics are exposed thus creating a market for new ones.
Love, Clavdivs
posted by clavdivs at 5:05 PM on February 7, 2011


dont click that link but it it cited
posted by clavdivs at 5:06 PM on February 7, 2011


Fuck You, Ronald Reagan!

My loving, dear and greatly missed late partner, Tony, (not to mention the many friends who passed in the early, mid and late 1990s), would likely be alive today, if you'd have at least brought attention and focus to the epidemic and fast-tracked experimental treatments (aka "The Cocktail," etc.).

Again, I say, Fuck You, Ronald Reagan.
Reagan's Failure to Act
"As Ronald Reagan's legacy is discussed around his 100th birthday, it's important to remember his devastating failure to act on AIDS, which surely cost many lives.

Via Scott Wooledge at DailyKos, who has a more thorough look at those years.

Veteran journalist Hank Plante also recalls those years.

The Failure to Act: The Reagan Administration's Deliberate Failure to Address the AIDS Epidemic [video | 05:32]"
Oh, in case you missed my sentiment: Fuck You, Ronald Reagan!
posted by ericb at 5:16 PM on February 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


Brian B.'s list is a nice summation of the cost of Ronnyism. But this airliner junky just has one tiny quibble with "Reagan deregulated the airlines and caused many to suddenly go under."

Actually, that was Jimmy Carter's chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board, Alfred Kahn, who died at the end of December at the age of 93. The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 ("deregulation" is really a misnomer; airlines are among the most heavily regulated endeavors on the planet) just closed the CAB and allowed airlines to decide which routes they wanted to fly and how much they wanted to charge for the flight. And it ended up being a degrading and dehumanizing nightmare for everyone involved.

In fact, I personally think our long 35-year slide into the depths of insanity we currently occupy began when the mentality behind the airline deregulation act successfully got it signed into law. Ronny and Reaganism just kicked it all into high gear and, well, here we are.

Full disclosure: my first presidential vote was cast for Ronny. I was the first registered Republican in our family of Okie New Deal-worshipping Democrats ("You registered as a what??!! Don't tell your grandfather, it will kill him. Or he will kill you."). And there's not a day that goes by that I don't wish there really existed a Delorean time machine so I could flux capacitate myself back to 1984 … and kick my clueless, "where's the beef"-loving, Reagan-voting ass into oblivion. I once saw Walter Mondale in the Minneapolis airport; if I hadn't been running to make a connection, I would have stopped and apologized to him for my absurd and immoral vote in '84, his boss's 1978 deregulation signing notwithstanding.

What a … destructive force was Ronny. Thanks and happy 100th, you senile ol' fart. Hope you and Kahn are enjoying yourselves.
posted by AirBeagle at 5:59 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of the worst things about my birthday is that I have to spend the whole of it listening to people fawn over a murderer and villain. Sometimes they also talk about Eva Braun.
posted by Errant at 10:04 PM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, I personally read the article, thought it was brilliant, and sent it to many people. If you're not willing to comment on the actual content in the article, might I politely suggest you go elsewhere? Here, most of us are interested in content, not window-dressing (I hope...)

me to lupine, so would you care to walk us throught the amazing article or do you have just some mild sense of outrage. Brillant huh, I thought it was trite and foul-care to discuss it. Point by point?
posted by clavdivs at 8:56 AM on February 8, 2011


"Rather than grapple with that dilemma, the left pretends it doesn’t exist. The people are good—if only the people were enlightened and freed up to think for themselves, they’d behave differently, better, more earnestly and decently."

-ames article

lets start there Lupus, I will let you explain that sentence because it sounds like marginal horseshit in the guise of social constructs to me, but your the expert.
posted by clavdivs at 9:21 AM on February 8, 2011


clavdivs: The point of that line, and that article, is that many Americans who vote Republican are not decent people who are driven by their own self-interests, but people who are driven by spite.

This explains a lot of things. It explains why so many millions vote for the Republicans who are promising to take services away from those very voters. It explains why they get so angry when the Democrats try to give them things, by giving them more government services or by trying to tax a tiny percentage of Americans, the rich and ultra-rich. It explains why so many Republican talking heads don't even seem to be trying to make sense but simply say the thing that will make rational people the most angry.

BTW, I received MeFi mail from you - but I have no idea what you mean... I assume it meant you wanted to talked about this article....?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:48 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


could you define "spite" as it relates to american politics. Also: self-interest, does this include the governments role in ones self-interest or the aspects of government that facilitate self-interest in general.
posted by clavdivs at 2:37 PM on February 8, 2011


> could you define "spite" as it relates to american politics.

The article is very clear here - it refers to doing things, not because they help you, but because they hurt other people you don't like. There are many examples. This is the dictionary definition of spite, btw.

> Also: self-interest, does this include the governments role in ones self-interest or the aspects of government that facilitate self-interest in general.

I don't understand what you mean - and I'm a little not-understanding where you're going in general.

The point of the article is that American voters do things that are apparently against their best interest, simply to punish a small minority of their own who they perceive are having a better life than they are. Does that help?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:00 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, in fact it is a poor synopsis of the article. I see you cannot quantify self-interest in political vocabulary so I will just include you in the many others who take careful pains to try and prove seemingly obvious points about voting habits. “Spite” is what it means but you fail to put any political meaning behind this as in how does it “hurt” . I think you are back peddling the synopsis without the analytical skills to explore beyond mere definition.

The point of the article is that American voters do things that are apparently

Really, is that the point or the conclusion based on all available data.
A pencil has a point.
posted by clavdivs at 3:41 PM on February 8, 2011


BTW, I received MeFi mail from you - but I have no idea what you mean

same here, i just simply deleted mine.
posted by clavdivs at 3:42 PM on February 8, 2011


clavdivs, I really don't understand what you're talking about at all. Sorry! :-(
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:50 PM on February 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here, let me cut to the chase. Perhaps “spite” was in the voters self-interest despite the nations self-interest. Can you understand that? How about just answering this one question. Do that.
(to test you signal/noise meter)

Would you characterize these voters as ignorant?
posted by clavdivs at 4:51 PM on February 8, 2011


> Perhaps “spite” was in the voters self-interest despite the nations self-interest.

So (I think) you're saying that the Republican's bad choices were in the interests of voters, but against the nation's "self-" interest. How would that work? How is something good for the voters individually and yet bad for the nation?

Consider that the demographic that the Republicans appeal to are the ones sending their children to die in pointless foreign wars; are the same "working class" voters who have been the most impacted by the economic collapse; are the same people who depend most on the very government services that the Republicans have cut.

Yes, I would absolutely characterize these voters as ignorant. These are the people who, polls seem to claim, vote for the Republicans because they believe in fiscal responsibility - and yet the last three Republic Presidents have been the three most fiscally responsible Presidents of all time, each of them has individual spent more deficit money than any other Presidents ever.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:17 PM on February 8, 2011


"With our obsession with antagonisms of the moment, we often forget how much unites all the members of humanity. I occasionally think how quickly our differences, worldwide, would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world." (Former President Ronald Reagan, while sharing the stage with former Russian leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, 1988).
posted by ovvl at 5:46 PM on February 8, 2011


I occasionally think how quickly our differences, worldwide, would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world.

For him, it was always an "us" and a "them". For him, the "other" was always a threat. Thousands died before we broke away and began to realize that they weren't them, they were us. We still mourn and wonder what would have happened, if compassion and not fear had been the order of the day.
posted by Errant at 11:01 PM on February 8, 2011


There should be mention of homelessness. That wasn't a national problem before Reagan, was it?
posted by goofyfoot at 12:33 AM on February 9, 2011


I found this Murray Rothbard piece on Ronnie from just after his 2nd term had ended fascinating, both for Rothbard's accurate description of Reagan's political hypocrisy, and his quaint alarm at the scope of government intrusion in that pre-Patriot Act era.
posted by telstar at 12:46 AM on February 9, 2011



Yes, I would absolutely characterize these voters as ignorant


thank you, you can go play now.
posted by clavdivs at 9:02 AM on February 9, 2011




Embarrassed Republicans Admit They've Been Thinking Of Eisenhower Whole Time They've Been Praising Reagan

That's the funniest onion article I've read in years.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:30 AM on February 22, 2011


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