9 June 2004

Reagan bad

There are many palette-cleansing essays out there clearing out the sugary taste of the over-ebullient eulogizing of Reagan. I understand that respect for the deceased is more respect for those who were close and who survive the deceased, but there is no excuse for overstating their importance.

Here's a collection and assessment of some criticisms that have appeared:

Christopher Hitchens makes a crystal clear case in his essay Not Even a Hedgehog: The stupidity of Ronald Reagan in Slate. Almost every sentence contains an act of glaring idiocy by Reagan.

  • In the Oval Office, Ronald Reagan told Yitzhak Shamir and Simon Wiesenthal, on two separate occasions, that he himself had assisted personally at the liberation of the Nazi death camps.
  • Reagan announced that apartheid South Africa had "stood beside us in every war we've ever fought," when the South African leadership had been on the other side in the most recent world war.
  • Reagan sold heavy weapons to the Iranian mullahs and lied about it...

In 15 Years Later, the Remaking of a President, Howard Kurtz enumerates the many instances where Reagan was taken to task by the media and wonders at reasons why he's now being lauded.

DailyKos illustrates with simple graphs that, no, Reagan was most definitely not the most popular president (as too many people have been saying).

Krugman goes over the popularity lie in The Great Taxer (subscription) along with several others regarding tax increases and the economy.

... the economy grew slightly faster under President Clinton, and, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates, the after-tax income of a typical family, adjusted for inflation, rose more than twice as much from 1992 to 2000 as it did from 1980 to 1988.

He does, however, temper them with points that the increases were corrections that Bush sorely needs to make. His closing two paragraphs show a balanced criticism:

I did not and do not approve of President Reagan's economic policies, which saddled the nation with trillions of dollars in debt. And as others will surely point out, some of the foreign policy shenanigans that took place on his watch, notably the Iran-contra scandal, foreshadowed the current debacle in Iraq (which, not coincidentally, involves some of the same actors).

Still, on both foreign and domestic policy Mr. Reagan showed both some pragmatism and some sense of responsibility. These are attributes sorely lacking in the man who claims to be his political successor.

Finally, WTF? Reagan on the $10 bill?!?


[ posted by sstrader on 9 June 2004 at 8:44:23 AM in Politics ]