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Reagan the greatest American?

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  • Reagan the greatest American?

    I mentioned this recent poll over at the Q&A. Then I realized I hadn't expressed my shock over it here. I'm too lazy to do a search on the details, but it was a call-in poll that accompanied a television special on a cable network (A&E? Bravo? Discovery?)

    Regardless, Ronald Reagan came out number one. Yes, number one. Ahead of Jefferson, Lincoln, Washington... You get the picture. I was absolutely stunned.

    My own impression of this result is that history has been whitewashed. People remember Reagan as a kindly, endearing, optimistic man who single-handedly crushed the Soviet Empire. Mention that the entire Eastern Bloc was already collapsing internally and people will look at you vacantly. Mention Iran-Contra and people don't know what you are talking about. Challenge his perception of honesty by reminding people how he lied about things like Iran-Contra--more than once-- and many people will refuse to believe you. Worse, challenge people to tell you what he really did in office, and they will struggle to tell you anything after the whole Commie-killer thing. Some will tell you that he "restored optimism." When I remind them that optimism didn't pay the bills in the 80s...

  • #2
    Re: Reagan the greatest American?

    Originally posted by Doc
    I mentioned this recent poll over at the Q&A. Then I realized I hadn't expressed my shock over it here. I'm too lazy to do a search on the details, but it was a call-in poll that accompanied a television special on a cable network (A&E? Bravo? Discovery?)

    Regardless, Ronald Reagan came out number one. Yes, number one. Ahead of Jefferson, Lincoln, Washington... You get the picture. I was absolutely stunned.

    My own impression of this result is that history has been whitewashed. People remember Reagan as a kindly, endearing, optimistic man who single-handedly crushed the Soviet Empire. Mention that the entire Eastern Bloc was already collapsing internally and people will look at you vacantly. Mention Iran-Contra and people don't know what you are talking about. Challenge his perception of honesty by reminding people how he lied about things like Iran-Contra--more than once-- and many people will refuse to believe you. Worse, challenge people to tell you what he really did in office, and they will struggle to tell you anything after the whole Commie-killer thing. Some will tell you that he "restored optimism." When I remind them that optimism didn't pay the bills in the 80s...
    It's a shame when people nowadays are more ignorant of their history and
    and politics.

    The Soviet collapse was in fact more detrimental to the US than to Russia.
    it needed that ideological shield more than anything. The U.S.S.R. was in fact a "sub-empire" of the US. Now we have more terrorism and sporadic wars because of the collapse..

    Sidenote.
    I heard from a friend who went to Cuba during his vacation (he's a socialist, so i don't know if he's just biased in his views). I asked him questions about the so called "facts" the right wing media and journalists keep pouring out. None of it was true. I could write some more about it but i'm hung-over today.. :(

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    • #3
      Historical revisionism. :roll:

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...2004Jun11.html

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      • #4
        Re: Reagan the greatest American?

        Originally posted by Doc
        Worse, challenge people to tell you what he really did in office, and they will struggle to tell you anything after the whole Commie-killer thing.
        That's when you ask "er, by te way...what is communism?" ....unless you don't want to know how deep the rabbit-hole goes of course.

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        • #5
          I think that it may be because he embodies the American dream.

          Relative nobody grows to be B-Actor who becomes B-Govenor and then, eventually B-President.

          I bet J.G Ballard was happy.

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          • #6
            Sometimes I think I would really like Arnold to become president of the united states 8O
            It would be like all my favourite books becoming reality at the same time.

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            • #7
              Reagan is 'the Greatest American', in the same way that Pinnochio is the greatest Italian and Andy Pandy would be the greatest Englishman.

              :lol:

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              • #8
                Originally posted by AndroMan
                Reagan is 'the Greatest American', in the same way that Pinnochio is the greatest Italian and Andy Pandy would be the greatest Englishman.

                :lol:
                Thanks for the perspective! I couldn't have said it better.

                Great article, TM. I remember the collective outpouring of admiration when Reagan died--much of it vastly misplaced. It seems all of those people who were trying to shape his historical perspective through his death did a fine job.

                I always compare Reagan to Clinton. Both were very popular Presidents, especially with their parties. Clinton was impeached for a relatively minor crime, after years of investigation. Reagan proved to be liar and a hypocrite of mythic proportion. Clinton is remembered as a liar and a philanderer, and Reagan is the greatest American. I don't like the implication about priorities.

                Of course, I'm not trying to cloud the issue by saying Clinton didn't have it coming. I'm simply trying to find a context for judging Reagan's presidency. Reagan's should be defined by its corruption, but I fear people remember the scandals as one of those, "well other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the theater" kind of events.

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                • #9
                  I could write a long essay going into detail describing the renaissance within the Republican party following the Johnson administration, but I will save that for another discussion. Reagan initiated the Conservative Revolution which began with his election in 1980 and is now in it's 25th year. Reagan was able to take advantage of the fertile political ground prepared by Nixon, Ford and Carter in order to construct a new right wing movement within America.

                  This "New Right" was comprised primarily of Southern whites who were Democrats before the Johnson era and Northern working class whites who feared the pressure within the Democratic party to support a social agenda around issues like racial intergration and the ERA. Lets not forget the role that was played by corporate sponsorship as well. The military industrialists in America made a ton of money during the Reagan era.

                  The religious right which is receiving so much attention today because of its close relationship with W. Bush was also an important factor in Reagans rise to power. Who could have predicted that by the 90s the power of the religious right would be such that it would literally dictate policy within the Republican party.

                  At any rate, Reagan was able to assemble this collection of elements who were offended by the 60s era revolutions into a force that would sweep him into office and would eventually attempt to change the very nature of the social contract in America.

                  The Conservative Revolution which Reagan started is now in its 25th year and still seems to have plenty of steam left in it. Will American democracy (such as it was) survive this era? Only time will tell.

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