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Old 06-07-2004, 04:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Great piece on Ronald Reagan

I have been reading Joe Klein's stuff for about five years now. He writes a regular piece in Time called In the Arena, about current Washington inside stuff. I am a moderate republican although I tend to lean a bit towards libertarianism. I mostly disagree with the point of view Mr. Klein writes from (He's a bit left for me.) but he is right about most issues more often than not. I read his piece today in Time on the late Ronald Reagan and thought I would share. I think no matter what side of the isle you're from it is a good depiction of the man and his legacy.

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The Secrets of Reagan's Success
Unlike other Presidents, Reagan came to power as the leader of an ideological movement
By JOE KLEIN
I interviewed Ronald Reagan once, on an airplane, during the 1980 presidential campaign. I imagined myself an aggressive young reporter in those days, and I had prepared a series of incendiary questions that I have long since forgotten. Reagan was wearing a brown suit; his red foulard was tied in a Windsor knot. His hair swooped dramatically; his cheeks were an odd wax-museum rouge. We shook hands and came out fighting. At least I did. He cocked his head, smiled and flicked me off his sleeve.

An entirely unnerving experience, but not untypical. Reagan's sunny opacity was legendary, especially when it came to relations with the press. His discipline was legendary too. On the trail that year, the press corps would sometimes leave the room when Reagan began to speak and play liar's poker in the hall, a designated notetaker remaining behind in the unlikely event that the man actually said something new.

With Reagan, it was always so rote and mechanical that it was easy to miss the big picture. It was easy to be infuriated by media whiz Michael Deaver's brilliantly insidious manipulation of the media, and lose the simple power of Reagan's message. Deaver, famously, didn't care what the network reporters said about the President as long as Reagan was pictured in upbeat, patriotic settings, preferably surrounded by American flags. The pictures, he knew, were far more powerful than the words. The gauzy, Morning in America mythmaking apparatus was going full tilt from the moment Reagan entered the White House.

Unlike other Presidents—except, perhaps, for Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Jackson—Reagan came to power as the leader of an ideological movement: in his case, a fierce conservatism forged and tempered by decades of disdain from the nation's moderate media and political establishment. In retrospect, the movement provided a necessary corrective for the slowly corroding industrial-age liberalism favored by the Democrats who controlled Congress. Reagan's followers were so eager for success that they were willing to tolerate some flagrant inconsistencies in his governance. His big 1981 tax cut was followed by two years of large, if undramatized, tax increases. He didn't shrink the size of the government (Bill Clinton was the only recent President to do that). Reagan was a champion of the religious right, but rarely attended church and never paid much more than lip service to the right-to-life movement. He was a critic of government waste, but routinely lavished more money on the military than the Pentagon asked for—and he stubbornly insisted on funding an utterly preposterous missile-defense program that his detractors, and eventually his supporters, called Star Wars.

As it happened—as Hollywood would have seen fit to script it—the only people aside from Reagan who really believed in Star Wars were the military leadership of the Soviet Union. The Zap! Pow! Bam! comic-book defense strategy reinforced Moscow's growing despair about the future and hastened the end of the cold war. And that, finally, is what has proved most galling to the Gipper's ideological opponents: his glossy Hollywood optimism proved more supple than the professional pessimism of the intellectual left. Ultimately, Reagan's sloppy and often insensitive domestic governance will have little impact on his place in history. His willingness to break the law and defy Congress by funding the contras in Nicaragua and surreptitiously attempting to trade arms for hostages with Iran—these will be footnotes as well. Reagan will mostly be remembered for his unyielding opposition to the Soviet Union, for his willingness to call a regime that murdered at least 40 million of its citizens "evil."

In fact, I didn't understand how truly monumental, and morally important, Reagan's anticommunist vision was until I visited the Soviet Union in 1987. My first night there, I was escorted to the Bolshoi Ballet by two minders from the U.S.-Canada Institute. The Russians were thrilled that I had figured out the Cyrillic alphabet and was able to read the program. The young woman on my left rewarded me with a smile—a rare public act in that terrifying regime—and a whispered encouragement: reform was coming. Glasnost and perestroika, she assured me, were real. The minder on my left, a chunky young man, then nudged me with his elbow. "Ronald Reagan. Evil empire," he whispered with dramatic intensity, and shot a glance down to his lap where he had hidden two enthusiastic thumbs up. "Yes!"
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Old 06-07-2004, 05:13 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Ask someone who lived in Poland during the 80s about what they thought of Reagan. They might just being tears to your eyes in addition to many "thumbs up". . . Ronnie's plan for bringing the cold war to an end without firing a perverbial shot was something that he dreamed up 25 years before he took office and refined every day after that. He believed in it to his core and that is what gave him the strength to carry it through.

The article was clearly written by someone who was not a Reagan fan, but even the author could see past some of what he percieved as shortcomings to the big picture of what Ronnie did for this country in a time of great need.

Speaking of the big picture though - maybe I should stay out of this thread . . . I know that there are plenty of vultures circling who curiously seem to be under say 23 years old or so with little income of their own and even less information to back up whatever arguments they make. They have a right to violently oppose the legacy Reagan left us, just as anyone else with different demographics. Maybe I will just step aside and let this thread take its course. Maybe then the thread won't get locked anyway. . .
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Old 06-08-2004, 05:10 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Reagan certainly was dedicated to the destruction of the Soviet Union. I still find it amazing that so many still decry his contributions to the fall of Communism. Who do you think knows more about why the Soviet Union collapsed? Gorbachev or the Reagan detractors? Gorbachev has often repeated that the Russians fully believed that Reagan was convinced they were an "Evil Empire" and that he would stop at nothing to see it broken. Without his calls for reform the Soviet Union would have continued along the same path for decades longer, after all, there were many more millions who could starve to feed Mother Russia's military complex.
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Old 06-08-2004, 05:28 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Another good article. Somethings I didn't know about him.
What I bolded is what I deem important and most positive about him.

Quote:
The Great Taxer
Paul Krugman

Over the course of this week we'll be hearing a lot about Ronald Reagan, much of it false. A number of news sources have already proclaimed Mr. Reagan the most popular president of modern times. In fact, though Mr. Reagan was very popular in 1984 and 1985, he spent the latter part of his presidency under the shadow of the Iran-Contra scandal. Bill Clinton had a slightly higher average Gallup approval rating, and a much higher rating during his last two years in office.

We're also sure to hear that Mr. Reagan presided over an unmatched economic boom. Again, not true: 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.

But Ronald Reagan does hold a special place in the annals of tax policy, and not just as the patron saint of tax cuts. To his credit, he was more pragmatic and responsible than that; he followed his huge 1981 tax cut with two large tax increases. In fact, no peacetime president has raised taxes so much on so many people. This is not a criticism: the tale of those increases tells you a lot about what was right with President Reagan's leadership, and what's wrong with the leadership of George W. Bush.

The first Reagan tax increase came in 1982. By then it was clear that the budget projections used to justify the 1981 tax cut were wildly optimistic. In response, Mr. Reagan agreed to a sharp rollback of corporate tax cuts, and a smaller rollback of individual income tax cuts. Over all, the 1982 tax increase undid about a third of the 1981 cut; as a share of G.D.P., the increase was substantially larger than Mr. Clinton's 1993 tax increase.


The contrast with President Bush is obvious. President Reagan, confronted with evidence that his tax cuts were fiscally irresponsible, changed course. President Bush, confronted with similar evidence, has pushed for even more tax cuts.

Mr. Reagan's second tax increase was also motivated by a sense of responsibility — or at least that's the way it seemed at the time. I'm referring to the Social Security Reform Act of 1983, which followed the recommendations of a commission led by Alan Greenspan. Its key provision was an increase in the payroll tax that pays for Social Security and Medicare hospital insurance.

For many middle- and low-income families, this tax increase more than undid any gains from Mr. Reagan's income tax cuts. In 1980, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates, middle-income families with children paid 8.2 percent of their income in income taxes, and 9.5 percent in payroll taxes. By 1988 the income tax share was down to 6.6 percent — but the payroll tax share was up to 11.8 percent, and the combined burden was up, not down.

Nonetheless, there was broad bipartisan support for the payroll tax increase because it was part of a deal. The public was told that the extra revenue would be used to build up a trust fund dedicated to the preservation of Social Security benefits, securing the system's future. Thanks to the 1983 act, current projections show that under current rules, Social Security is good for at least 38 more years.


But George W. Bush has made it clear that he intends to renege on the deal. His officials insist that the trust fund is meaningless — which means that they don't feel bound to honor the implied contract that dedicated the revenue generated by President Reagan's payroll tax increase to paying for future Social Security benefits. Indeed, it's clear from the arithmetic that the only way to sustain President Bush's tax cuts in the long run will be with sharp cuts in both Social Security and Medicare benefits.

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.
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Old 06-08-2004, 05:31 AM   #5 (permalink)
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i guess he was a "strong" president ... politically I wouldn't have agreed with him but this article seems pretty fair-minded

I think he roughly corresponds (political and economic policies) with Mrs Thatcher in UK, who again, I didn't like one bit, but arguably did some things that had to be done.
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Old 06-08-2004, 06:49 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Paul Krugman is a hack, and his attempt at fairness is a attack of Reagan, and should be seen as such.
I know that I'm treading on thin ice here, and don't want to start a war, but Ronald Reagan was a great man for many reasons. He inherited a troubled economy and a nation that was in despair. Any policy can be disected and there will always be a downside, and that's what Krugman is doing. If you believe Krugman you should read some articles from the "Krugman truth squad" they take his words and show him to be a hack not worthy of the respect he is given. Here is a link, but you may want to search the arcives if your not convinced (trust me, it won't take long to stop reading him) http://www.nationalreview.com/nrof_l...0406080847.asp
Although I'm not a big fan of Joe Klien, his article is far more fair and shows some balance.
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Old 06-08-2004, 07:11 PM   #7 (permalink)
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No matter how you feel about Reagan, this is a good look at the man, and why we should be proud to have had him serve our country.


Quote:
He volunteered for action in World War II, was turned away by doctors who told him with eyesight like his he'd probably shoot his own officer and miss. But they let him join behind the lines and he served at "Fort Roach" in Los Angeles, where he made training and information films. After the war, Ronald Reagan went on the local speaking circuit, talking of the needs of veterans and lauding the leadership of FDR and Truman. Once a woman wrote to him and noted that while he had movingly denounced Nazism, there was another terrible "ism," communism, and he ought to mention that, too. In his next speech, to industry people and others, he said that if communism ever proved itself the threat to decency that Nazism was, he'd denounce it, too. Normally he got applause in this part of the speech. Now he was met by silence.
The long education began. He studied communism, read Marx, read the Founders and the conservative philosophers from Burke to Burnham. He began to tug right. The Democratic Party and his industry continued to turn left. There was a parting.
A word on his intellectual reflexes. Ronald Reagan was not a cynic--he did not assume the worst about people. But he was a skeptic; he knew who we are. He did not think that people with great degrees or great success were necessarily smart, for instance. He had no interest in credentialism. He once told me an economist was a fellow with a Phi Beta Kappa key on one end of his chain and no watch on the other. That's why they never know what time it is. He didn't say this with asperity, but with mirth.

He did not dislike intellectuals--his heroes often were intellectuals, from the Founders straight through Milton Friedman and Hayek and Solzhenitsyn. But he did not favor the intellectuals of his own day, because he thought they were in general thick-headed. He thought that many of the 20th century's intellectuals were high-IQ dimwits. He had an instinctive agreement with Orwell's putdown that a particular idea was so stupid that only an intellectual would believe it.

He thought that intellectuals, like the great liberal academics of the latter half of the 20th century, tended to tie themselves in great webs of complexity, webs they'd often spun themselves--great complicated things that they'd get stuck in, and finally get out of, only to go on and construct a new web for mankind to get caught in. The busy little spiders from Marx through Bloomsbury--some of whom, such as the Webbs, were truly the stupidest brilliant people who ever lived--through Harvard and Yale and the American left circa 1900-90.

As president of the Screen Actors Guild he led the resistance to a growing communist presence in the unions and, with allies such as William Holden, out-argued the boutique leftism of the Hollywood salons. But when a small army of congressional gasbags came to town, Ronald Reagan told the House Un-American Activities Committee that Hollywood could police itself, thank you. By the time it was over, even his harshest foes admitted he'd been fair. In the '90s, an actress who'd been blacklisted, her career ruined, was invited by historians of Hollywood to criticize him. She said yes, she remembered him well. He was boring at parties. He was always talking about how great the New Deal was.

He wanted to be a great actor, but it never happened. He was a good actor. He married Nancy Davis, a young actress who'd gone to Smith. On their first date, she told me once, she was impressed. "He didn't talk, the way actors do, about their next part. He talked about the Civil War." They had children, made a life; she was his rock.

In 1962 he became a Republican; in 1966, with considerable initial reluctance, he ran for governor of California. The establishment of the day labeled him a right-wing movie star out of touch with California values; he beat the incumbent, Pat Brown, in a landslide. He completed two successful terms in which he started with a huge budget deficit, left behind a modest surplus, cut taxes and got an ulcer. About the latter he was amazed. Even Jack Warner hadn't been able to give him an ulcer! But one day it went away. Prayer groups that did not know of his condition had been praying for him. He came to think their prayers healed him.

In his first serious bid for the presidency, in 1976, he challenged his own party's beleaguered incumbent, the hapless Gerald Ford. Ronald Reagan fought valiantly, state by state, almost unseated Mr. Ford, and returned from the convention having given one of the best speeches of his life. He told his weeping volunteers not to become cynical but to take the experience as inspiration. He promised he wouldn't go home and sit in a rocking chair. He quoted an old warrior: "I will lie me down and bleed awhile / And then I will rise and fight again." Four years later, he won the presidency from Jimmy Carter after a mean-spirited onslaught in which he was painted as racist, a man who knew nothing, a militarist. He won another landslide.

Once again he had nobody with him but the people.

In his presidency he did this: He out-argued communism and refused to accept its claim of moral superiority; he rallied the West, rallied America and continued to make big gambles, including a defense-spending increase in a recession. He promised he'd place Pershings in Europe if the Soviets would not agree to arms reductions, and told Soviet leaders that they'd never be able to beat us in defense, that we'd spend them into the ground. They were suddenly reasonable.
Ronald Reagan told the truth to a world made weary by lies. He believed truth was the only platform on which a better future could be built. He shocked the world when he called the Soviet Union "evil," because it was, and an "empire," because it was that, too. He never stopped bringing his message to the people of the world, to Europe and China and in the end the Soviet Union. And when it was over, the Berlin Wall had been turned into a million concrete souvenirs, and Soviet communism had fallen. But of course it didn't fall. It was pushed. By Mr. Know Nothing Cowboy Gunslinger Dimwit. All presidents should be so stupid.

He pushed down income taxes too, from a high of 70% when he entered the White House to a new low of 28% when he left, igniting the long boom that, for all its ups and downs, is with us still. He believed, as JFK did, that a rising tide lifts all boats. He did much more, returning respect to our armed forces, changing 50-year-old assumptions about the place of government and the place of the citizen in the new America.

What an era his was. What a life he lived. He changed history for the better and was modest about it. He didn't bray about his accomplishments but saw them as the work of the American people. He did not see himself as entitled, never demanded respect, preferred talking to hotel doormen rather than State Department functionaries because he thought the doormen brighter and more interesting. When I pressed him once, a few years out of the presidency, to say what he thought the meaning of his presidency was, he answered, reluctantly, that it might be fairly said that he "advanced the boundaries of freedom in a world more at peace with itself." And so he did. And what could be bigger than that?
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Old 06-08-2004, 08:08 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Hmm. I thought that article was fairly balanced.
He discussed some good things about Reagan. It's a fact that Reagan canceled the majority of his 81 tax cuts and increased SS taxes tremendously for the middle and lower classes to help shore up our social security program.

That's all I was trying to show. And they are good things.

If that article is an attack on anything it is an attack on GWB. Done in a way that shows that GWB is horribly inadequate when compared to Reagan.
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Old 06-09-2004, 10:53 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Superbelt
If that article is an attack on anything it is an attack on GWB. Done in a way that shows that GWB is horribly inadequate when compared to Reagan.
It's hard to follow in the footsteps of one of the Five most effective Presidents ever (Washington, Jackson, Lincoln, FDR, and Reagan) that's in no particular order btw. To me, pretty much any of the other President's come up as "inadequate" when you compare them to these Giants.
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