Saturday, April 11, 2009

Thinking About Ronald Reagan

I was reading The New York Review of Books' What You Can Learn from Reinhold Niebuhr when I hit this paragraph:
"Ronald Reagan has a special place in Bacevich's rogue's gallery. He is a 'faux-conservative' and 'the modern prophet of profligacy' who encouraged the fantasy that credit had no limits and bills would never come due. He had a 'canny knack for telling Americans what most of them wanted to hear' and presided over eight years of 'gaudy prosperity and excess' based on cheap credit and cheap oil. Bacevich remarks that Reagan's beliefs 'did as much to recast America's moral constitution as did sex, drugs, and rock and roll.' By 1990 the United States imported 41 percent of its oil and was embroiled in the Islamic world as a result. Deficits and the national debt had soared, and the United States was no longer a creditor country. 'Americans have yet to realize,' Bacevich writes, 'that they have forfeited command of their own destiny.'"

For Republican, I think Reagan offered escape from the shame of Richard Nixon. for the majority, he offered an escape from the dullness of jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. The closer one looks, the lesser I think he becomes.
  • His ending of the Soviet Union got a big boost from Pope John Paul II and Gorbachev.
  • He never tried to end abortion.
  • He never was a fiscal conservative when government money helped his supporters.
  • He turned political discourse into wisecracks that made good soundbites and we have been stuck with this dumbing down of our politics ever since.
His biggest accomplishment? Revising the tax code. Which is really a rather important thing rather albeit not very sexy.

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