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Idealization of Reagan

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Roots of Reaganolatry

The New York Times

Jim Hansen
is a trusted commenter California 4 hours ago

Given their intense desire to destroy and smash Iran through bombing or any other means possible, I'm surprised that the Republicans still like Reagan, who illegally sold high-tech missiles to Iran without Congressional approval.

Ron Cohen
is a trusted commenter Waltham, MA 6 hours ago

Reagan has been lionized by the right because he personified an ideal, that of free markets and small government. What he actually did in office, whether successful or not in pursuing a conservative agenda, have no bearing on his popularity.

Economists may enjoy debating the merits of his economic record. But they should recognize that not all judgments are economic. Reagan gave the country a morale boost when it was most needed. As to his actual record, the faithful don't give a damn.

Ohio 7 hours ago

But there is little connection between the broad measures of any president's success/failure re economic policies and "how the economy works".

On one hand, in Reagan's case, interest rates brought under control, unemployment greatly reduced; wages increased; energy prices greatly reduced - is Reagan directly responsible? - matters little most people and without doubt the Republican/conservative population will look no further - nor will this change with expert economic analysis 'proving' otherwise; which of course will be disputed by other experts.

The roots of Reagan's success as seen by the many non-expert, but more importantly voting, population is that on balance broad measures of the U.S. economy were much better when he left than when he started. 

Dryly 41

8 hours ago

I have always thought that if Abraham Lincoln was the greatest Republican president and Franklin D. Roosevelt the greatest Democratic president then Ronald Reagan was one of the strangest, if not the strangest president in American history. He was born February 6, 1911 such that he voted for FDR over Herbert Hoover in 1932. His father was one of the 25% unemployed and got a job with the Federal Emergency Relief Agency, and, when that was converted to a works program with the Works Project Administration. Reagan defended those programs as constructing real improvements in the waterfront in Dixon, Ill. where he was a lifeguard. Reagan saw, as an adult "one third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, and ill-nourished", soup lines and breadlines, and Hoovervilles. He voted for FDR in 1936, 1940 and 1944. He voted for Truman in 1948 and supported Helen Gahagan Douglas in 1950.
But his marriage to Jane Wyman dissolved and his grade B movie acting career ended. He took a job hawking for General Electric where he came under the spell of Lemuel Rickets Boulware and became a right winger. He led the GOP to radicalism. He ended the GOP as the party of Lincoln on race. He adopted "supply side" tax cuts for the wealthy funded by massive budget deficits unseen in American history. He led the movement back to Laissez Faire and repeal of the "strict supervision" of finance that gave us the longest period of financial stability in American history. Radicalism not at all conservative.

James Jordan
Falls Church, VA 8 hours ago

Dr. K,

I observed the Reagan Administration at close hand and you write the truth.

I think the GOP might have had something to break the ideological mold in "Carly" Fiorina. She was "head and shoulders" above the Governors and the sitting Senators.

There is a new demographic and the old rich white guys who were setting the agenda for both parties are losing power. They are fighting like hell to hold on but I don't think they can make it to the White House.

Of course they have strength at the local and district level where money really counts so the challenge is to form a government to deal with the real problems by taking back the House and the Senate and the State Houses. As you have recognized, it was all over for President Obama in 2010.

We need to correct this imbalance if we are to have a chance of stopping the drift to oligarchy and monopoly. The whole economy is being hurt and it is kind of stupid. America can do more than sell weapons all over the World. Why not invest in electric Maglev transport for freight and passengers and reduce the cost of goods delivered & fare cost for travel.

Space solar anyone? 2 cents per kwh would make synthetic gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel feasible.

Cheap electric transport and cheap electricity are principal milestones of the project plan for achieving a paradise by the end of the Century. The return on investment can be used to pay the tuition, books, fees, room and board of pre-k through 16. It can be done.

Jonathan Payne
London via Silicon Valley 8 hours ago

All thinking and intellectually honest people know the truth about the Reagan administration. It's almost boring to discuss it anymore.

Carter had OPEC and the resulting inflation to deal with twice, and geologists telling him that end of oil was near. Reagan cut taxes DRAMATICALLY, borrowed $2.5T over the course of his administration (back when $1T meant something) and Iran/Iraq had a 10 year war that they financed by flooding the oil markets, providing 10 years of nearly free energy.

Reagan partied without any eye to the future. And here we are in his future. Thanks, Reagan.

Dave G
Palo Alto, CA 8 hours ago

It is not just that the economy under Reagan was not that great. Reagan himself was not a very bright or thoughtful person. In many ways he set the country on the wrong path. Someday soon historians will document well the many different ways he ruined the country for its citizens.

Blue State
here 8 hours ago

The Great Communicator was really handy with the tribal buzzwords of a tribe beginning to see the end of its dominance. That's why that tribe doesn't want to let go of St. Reagan. There will be a tipping point - soon? - where that tribe will collapse in on itself, and the new era begins.

Moorestown, NJ 8 hours ago

Reagan is right on Dubya's shirt=tail as the worst President ever!

Republicans have historical amnesia about everything Reagan did including funding terrorists. Yes, the same group that attacked the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and brought down the plane in Pennsylvania. In the 1980's while preparing for a possible war with the Soviet Union, Ronald Reagan spent billions of taxpayer dollars funding the Islamist mujahidin Freedom Fighters in Afghanistan. He supplied the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden with weapons and training and they gave it back to the United States over a decade later....911.

Margaret Thatcher about Ron Reagan: "Poor Dear, there's nothing between his ears."

Germany 8 hours ago

When Reagan slashed Carter's budget for solar energy by two third, it was a great day for Germany. We had lost our radio/tv industry to Japan, losing many well-paid jobs. It took a while, but the solar industry eventually became a great success for Germany and China. Thank you so much, Ronald Reagan.

NJ 8 hours ago

Regarding that "white male" comment, I suggest you don't go down the road of identity politics. It's a logic- and reason-free zone of oppression olympics that's no less fact-denying that the worst of conservatism.

Stick to liberalism, which holds no truck with bad ideas no matter how broadly similar the motives of those holding them are.

Jim in MI
Michigan 8 hours ago

The job creation success of the Democrats seems to be repeatable. From Carter, to Clinton, to Obama. My guess is that if job creation is what you want to do, with the power of America and its government, it's not that hard. The Reagan success can't be replicated. Basically because there's nothing there.

Ann Arbor, MI 8 hours ago

Another part of the Reagan myth is that his push for massive expansion of military spending - including the deployment of weapons intended to provide first strike capability such as the MIRV'd MX missile, the creation of the "Star Wars" program, deployment of nuclear armed Pershing II missiles in Europe, and the gigantic naval expansion - brought the Soviet Union to its knees and won the cold war. The fact is that the USSR was teetering on brink of economic and political collapse for years, something famously predicted by Soveit dissident Andre Amalrik in his 1970 book "Will the Soviet Union Survive until 1984?"

The foreign policy failures and aberrations of the Reagan administration (bombing of the Marine Barracks in Lebanon, invasion of Granada, Iran-Contra scandal) are legendary.

Reagan's presidency has been overrated in so many ways.

Sydney, Australia 8 hours ago

The republicans have white washed the whole Iran Contra mess from their history. Imagine Obama selling weapons to Iran to fund planned parenthood.

Chicago, IL 8 hours ago

Brief summary of Reagan’s “low tax” and “small government”:
1. Average tax revenue (%GDP) under Reagan: 18.2%. US Average (40 years) :18.1%.
2. Federal spending (%GDP) under Reagan: 22.4%. US Average (40 years): 20.7%
3. Reagan cut top income tax rate on the richest from 70% to 28%.
4. Reagan upped social security tax.

Rick Starr
Knoxville 8 hours ago

The amazing thing to me is how the Right has hero-worshipped Reagan into the role of the great de-regulator. It was Carter (with a Democratic congress) who deregulated airlines. Railroads. Trucking. Telecommunications. There was banking reform and the sudden ability to provide branch banking across political boundaries.

Some were for better, a few for worse, but the Reagan mythology continues, even though I can't think of anything he did that was comparable. (While the AT&T breakup happened during the Reagan years, the process began during the Carter time)

Marc Donner
New York 8 hours ago

Well, the Internet was coming to be by 1980, though it was more than fifteen years after that before the general public really got to use it. But I am definitely splitting hairs here :-)

Pennsylvania 8 hours ago

I think the problem is we are not use to looking at the stats through the global lens. Thus, I can understand how the economy (macro economy) "vanishes"--according to the stats in your last post.

We live in a security [surveillance] state. Therefore the transparency, we so much desire, would probably hurt future growth potential projections or G.D.P.
Or, we can see this as being an aid to the real transparency we seek.

I do laugh thinking about the philosopher Alain de Botton's work and why he and the philosophy of Roger Scruton play off each other. Then again, the philosopher Terry Eagleton, seems to be on board with de Botton (if I understand Eagleton correctly. It's all about ___________. But, really, what do you think society will look like in 50-100 years?

If you could live in any time period in our past would you? I don't think you would.

redwood city, ca 8 hours ago

"It’s quite remarkable that the right can’t find any more contemporary role models."
But, but... Isn't the whole point to the Right about taking us back to where we were? In fact, I find it remarkable they can fixate on someone so contemporary.

"2036, when Democrats will have nominated their first android"
I dunno, man. 2036 seems a tad on the near side. Can we agree on 2044?

Mitch Buchannon
beach 8 hours ago

Funny how this doesnt apply to Clinton. Economic boom during the 90s didnt have anything to do with Bill Clinton. If you dont believe me try this guy:



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