Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Will the real Reagan story be told?

NOW THAT THE nation has been served the Reagan Centennial with lavish golden trimmings, may we point out that such ventures into the inspiration that gave us Morning In America also carries certain risks. However noble the tales of his presence in the White House, there's a lot of stuff lying around about so-called Reagan Conservatism that has been revived to challenge the myths of his perfect presidency. For the benefit of younger Americans who either were in their infancy or not-yet born when he left office, they should know that he was hardly a god during the modern history of these 50 states. OK, maybe the imperfect god of ancient mythology - but that's as far as I can reach.

So when you see folks with iconic Reagan buttons, or, like Sarah Palin, playng the revisionist Reagan card against taxes and deficits, shouldn't we remind them that it betrays the annals. He did, indeed, raise taxes, again and again (11 times!), and set a record for increased national debt ($3 trillion) at that moment with budgets that soared past the total of all previous presidents when the Democratic Congress had sought less.

As the New York Times David Leonhardt pointed out: "Unemployment jumped to 10.8 pct. after Reagan enacted his much-touted tax cut, and it took years for the rate to get back down to its previous level."

Ah, abortion? He arrived with a pro-life reputation. Eight years later, he left after giving it only mild lip service. For this piece, we won't even examine the lawlessness within his first team in the Iran-Contra scandal and other ugly matters. Scandals? Do the names Oliver North, Caspar Weinberger, Richard Secord and James Watt - among many other culprits - mean anything to the record today.?

There was myth attached to Reagan before he turned to politics. As an Air Force captain he never left the states during WW11 and spent much of his time in California making war movies. Still he was hailed as a national hero and when he came to Hollywood the local paper declared that "Reagan Returns!" (From where?) The Hollywood glow remains today for everything else.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the fresh breath of reality after years of choking on the myth of the Sainted Ronald Reagan. Scores of his people went to prison after his presidency. As you stated, the deficit tripled after his promise to balance the budget by 1984.He began deregulating the banking industry. Somehow the Iran-Contra Scandal(crime) is forgotten. Ollie North gets a FoxNews show instead of prison time. Reagan's presidency began the era of huge, wealthy corporations getting away with not paying federal taxes, the birth of giant monopolies and the Republican practice of union busting (which our newly elected governor seems bent on). "Morning In America", my ass.

Mencken said...

Now there you go again.... it was mourning in America.