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( Recent History:)Reagan's Liberal Legacy
Washington Monthly ^ | January/February 2003 | Joshua Green

Posted on 05/21/2006 1:47:28 PM PDT by woofie

What the new literature on the Gipper won't tell you.

Over the past several months, Nancy Reagan has quietly been alerting friends and family that the health of her husband Ronald Reagan, the nation's 40th president, is failing rapidly due to Alzheimer's. Reagan will turn 92 on Feb. 6, and the signs seem to suggest that he won't be with us for very much longer.

It is not uncommon, when such circumstances involve a national figure, for the media to prepare tributes and obituaries in anticipation of the event. But in the case of Ronald Reagan, the magnitude of this ritual seems certain to eclipse anything that has preceded it. As long as five years ago, the three main newsweeklies had locked up eminent presidential historians to write his valedictories. The conservative Heritage Foundation has underwritten a multimedia Reagan legacy project, cued up and awaiting word of his death. The major networks and the History Channel have prepared exhaustive documentaries (the latter didn't even wait for Reagan's departure, airing "Ronald Reagan: A Legacy Remembered" over Thanksgiving). And media jockeying to pay tribute has already begun: This month's Esquire dubs Reagan the "greatest living American."

But the clearest indicator can be found at the bookstore. The last few months have brought an avalanche of Reagan biographies, from John Harmer's Reagan: Man of Principle to Peter Schweizer's Reagan's War to Peter Wallison's Ronald Reagan: The Power of Conviction and the Success of His Presidency. They join such recent fare as William F. Buckley Jr.'s Ronald Reagan: An American Hero, Peggy Noonan's When Character Was King, and Dinesh D'Souza's Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader, themselves just a fraction of the 427 listings on Amazon.com, many of them gauzy tributes, each striving to bestow an encomium more noble and gallant than the last. Indeed, what is so striking about these books--besides their sheer number--is their collective determination to exalt Reagan as the heroic embodiment of American conservatism.

This is no accident. In fact, there is an active campaign to nail into place a canonical version of Reagan's life and career. Energetic conservatives have organized a drive to glorify the former president by trying to do everything from affixing his name to public buildings in each of the nation's 3,066 counties to substituting his face for Alexander Hamilton's on the $10 bill. A similar dynamic applies here. Many of these hagiographies are written by noted conservative authors (Buckley, Noonan, D'Souza) or former Reagan staffers (Wallison, Martin Anderson, Michael Deaver), under the auspices of conservative think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute (Wallison), the Hoover Institution (Anderson and Schweizer), and the Heritage Foundation (Stephen F. Hayward's The Age of Reagan, the first of two volumes).

One would have to go back to FDR to find a comparable example of a president portrayed in such consistently glowing terms--and the swashbuckling triumphs depicted in these books mythologize Reagan to a degree which exceeds even that. As one might expect, most gloss over or completely avoid mentioning the many embarrassing and outright alarming aspects of his presidency: from consulting astrologers to his fixation with biblical doom to the tortured rationalizations that enabled him to believe that he never traded arms for hostages. But they also do something else. Most of his conservative biographers espouse a Manichaean worldview in which Reagan's constancy in the face of liberal evils is the key to his greatness. But to sustain such an argument requires more than simply touting (and often exaggerating) his achievements, considerable though some of them were. The effort to gild Reagan's legacy also seems to demand that any accomplishment that didn't explicitly advance conservative goals be ex-punged from his record. And so they have been.

Reagan is, to be sure, one of the most conservative presidents in U.S. history and will certainly be remembered as such. His record on the environment, defense, and economic policy is very much in line with its portrayal. But he entered office as an ideologue who promised a conservative revolution, vowing to slash the size of government, radically scale back entitlements, and deploy the powers of the presidency in pursuit of socially and culturally conservative goals. That he essentially failed in this mission hasn't stopped partisan biographers from pretending otherwise. (Noonan writes of his 1980 campaign pledges: "Done, done, done, done, done, done, and done. Every bit of it.")

A sober review of Reagan's presidency doesn't yield the seamlessly conservative record being peddled today. Federal government expanded on his watch. The conservative desire to outlaw abortion was never seriously pursued. Reagan broke with the hardliners in his administration and compromised with the Soviets on arms control. His assault on entitlements never materialized; instead he saved Social Security in 1983. And he repeatedly ignored the fundamental conservative dogma that taxes should never be raised.

All of this has been airbrushed from the new literature of Reagan. But as any balanced account must make clear, Reagan acceded to political compromises as all presidents do once in office--and on many occasions did so willingly. In fact, however often unintentionally, many of his actions as president wound up facilitating liberal objectives. What this clamor of adulation is seeking to deny is that beyond his conservative legacy, Ronald Reagan has bequeathed a liberal one.

Roosevelt Republican

Reagan arrived in Washington with a full head of steam, vowing, as he put it in the major economic speech of his 1980 campaign, "to move boldly, decisively, and quickly to control the runaway growth of federal spending." To conservatives, and many others, he seemed destined to fulfill campaign pledges to abolish entire government agencies, rein in the excesses of the welfare state, and end Americans' overreliance on government. Sensing the historical moment, Reagan echoed John F. Kennedy in famously declaring, "If not us, who? If not now, when?"

At the outset of his first term, Reagan's revolution appeared to have unstoppable momentum. His administration passed an historic tax cut based on dramatic cuts in marginal tax rates and began a massive defense buildup. To help compensate for the tax cut, his first budget called for slashing $41.4 billion from 83 federal programs, only the first round in a planned series of cuts. And Reagan himself made known his desire to eliminate the departments of Energy and Education, and to scale back what his first budget director David Stockman called the "closet socialism" of Social Security and Medicaid.

But after his initial victories on tax cuts and defense, the revolution effectively stalled. Deficits started to balloon, the recession soon deepened, his party lost ground in the 1982 midterms, and thereafter Reagan never seriously tried to enact the radical domestic agenda he'd campaigned on. Rather than abolish the departments of Energy and Education, as he had promised to do if elected president, Reagan added a new cabinet-level department--one of the largest federal agencies--the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Though his budgets requested some cuts in some areas of discretionary spending, Reagan rapidly retreated and never seriously pushed them. As Lou Cannon, the Washington Post reporter who covered Reagan's political career for 25 years, put it in his masterful biography, President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime, "For all the fervor they created, the first-term Reagan budgets were mild manifestos devoid of revolutionary purpose. They did not seek to 'rebuild the foundation of our society' (the task Reagan set for himself and Congress in a nationally televised speech of February 5, 1981) or even to accomplish the 'sharp reduction in the spending growth trend' called for in [his] Economic Recovery Plan." By Reagan's second term, the idea of seriously diminishing the budget was, to quote Stockman, "an institutionalized fantasy." Though in speeches Reagan continued to repeat his bold pledge to "get government out of the way of the people," government stayed pretty much where it was.

This hasn't stopped recent contemporary conservative biographers from claiming otherwise. "He said he would cut the budget, and he did," declares Peggy Noonan in When Character Was King. In fact, the budget grew significantly under Reagan. All he managed to do was moderately slow its rate of growth. What's more, the number of workers on the federal payroll rose by 61,000 under Reagan. (By comparison, under Clinton, the number fell by 373,000.)

Reagan also vastly expanded one of the largest federal domestic programs, Social Security. Before becoming president, he had often openly mused, much to the alarm of his politically sensitive staff, about restructuring Social Security to allow individuals to opt out of the system--an antecedent of today's privatization plans. At the start of his administration, with Social Security teetering on the brink of insolvency, Reagan attempted to push through immediate draconian cuts to the program. But the Senate unanimously rebuked his plan, and the GOP lost 26 House seats in the 1982 midterm elections, largely as a result of this overreach.

The following year, Reagan made one of the greatest ideological about-faces in the history of the presidency, agreeing to a $165 billion bailout of Social Security. In almost every way, the bailout flew in the face of conservative ideology. It dramatically increased payroll taxes on employees and employers, brought a whole new class of recipients--new federal workers--into the system, and, for the first time, taxed Social Security benefits, and did so in the most liberal way: only those of upper-income recipients. (As an added affront to conservatives, the tax wasn't indexed to inflation, meaning that more and more people have gradually had to pay it over time.)

By expanding rather than scaling back entitlements, Reagan--and Newt Gingrich after him--demonstrated that conservatives could not and would not launch a frontal assault on Social Security, effectively conceding that these cherished New Deal programs were central features of the American polity.

"Mondale Would Have Been Proud"

It's conservative lore that Reagan the icon cut taxes, while George H.W. Bush the renegade raised them. As Stockman recalls, "No one was authorized to talk about tax increases on Ronald Reagan's watch, no matter what kind of tax, no matter how justified it was." Yet raising taxes is exactly what Reagan did. He did not always instigate those hikes or agree to them willingly--but he signed off on them. One year after his massive tax cut, Reagan agreed to a tax increase to reduce the deficit that restored fully one-third of the previous year's reduction. (In a bizarre bit of self-deception, Reagan, who never came to terms with this episode of ideological apostasy, persuaded himself that the three-year, $100 billion tax hike--the largest since World War II--was actually "tax reform" that closed loopholes in his earlier cut and therefore didn't count as raising taxes.)

Faced with looming deficits, Reagan raised taxes again in 1983 with a gasoline tax and once more in 1984, this time by $50 billion over three years, mainly through closing tax loopholes for business. Despite the fact that such increases were anathema to conservatives--and probably cost Reagan's successor, George H.W. Bush, reelection--Reagan raised taxes a grand total of four times just between 1982-84.

This record flummoxes the best efforts of today's Reagan hagiographers to explain away. Peter Wallison, for instance, after proclaiming that Reagan "stayed the course against changes in his economic plan," later dismisses the president's tax increases as "a modest rollback" that "seems to have been the result" of his accepting a Democratic promise to cut spending by twice that amount. (Whatever happened to "Trust, but verify"?)

Reagan continued these "modest rollbacks" in his second term. The historic Tax Reform Act of 1986, though it achieved the supply side goal of lowering individual income tax rates, was a startlingly progressive reform. The plan imposed the largest corporate tax increase in history--an act utterly unimaginable for any conservative to support today. Just two years after declaring, "there is no justification" for taxing corporate income, Reagan raised corporate taxes by $120 billion over five years and closed corporate tax loopholes worth about $300 billion over that same period. In addition to broadening the tax base, the plan increased standard deductions and personal exemptions to the point that no family with an income below the poverty line would have to pay federal income tax. Even at the time, conservatives within Reagan's administration were aghast. According to Wall Street Journal reporters Jeffrey Birnbaum and Alan Murray, whose book Showdown at Gucci Gulch chronicles the 1986 measure, "the conservative president's support for an effort once considered the bastion of liberals carried tremendous symbolic significance." When Reagan's conservative acting chief economic adviser, William Niskanen, was apprised of the plan he replied, "Walter Mondale would have been proud."

So would Russell Long. In 1975, the Democratic senator from Louisiana had passed into law the earned income tax credit (EITC), essentially a wage subsidy for the working poor. Long's measure was tiny to begin with and had dwindled to insignificance by the time Reagan agreed to expand it in 1986 as part of the tax reform act. Despite years of opposing social insurance programs, Reagan's support of the EITC gave rise to what has become one of the most effective antipoverty measures the federal government has ever devised--by the late 1990s, the EITC was lifting 4.3 million people out of poverty every year. Reagan's decision to expand it was "the most important anti-poverty measure enacted over the past decade," wrote The Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt. The exemption of millions of low-wage earners from income taxes through the EITC and other reforms in 1986 added a significant measure of progressivity to the tax code. As evidence of its popularity with liberals, Clinton dramatically expanded the EITC in 1993.

At the time, many Republicans touted Reagan's support as proof that he wasn't the coldhearted tyrant liberals made him out to be. Other conservatives, like Niskanen, however, saw it as troubling evidence of their leader's weakness. Today, there is a growing movement within the Bush administration to roll back these changes by making the working poor pay their "fair share" of taxes.

These evident lapses in conservative ideology are a fact that some liberals have a much less difficult time coming to terms with than conservatives. "There were two Reagans," says Robert J. McIntyre, director of the left-leaning Citizens for Tax Justice, who was instrumental in the 1986 act, "the good one and the bad one. Liberals and conservatives wouldn't agree on which is which, but they would have to agree that Reagan completely flipped after 1981. If you like one, you can't like the other."

Bellicose Peacenik

Reagan has a good claim to the credit he receives for a foreign policy of confronting and challenging the Soviet Union that helped bring on its collapse--a central theme of any account of his life. But the vexing problem for conservatives, then and now, was that Reagan's bellicosity, which they liked, obscured an equally strong belief that nuclear weapons could and should be abolished, a conviction found mainly on the liberal left. Long before he became president, Reagan had argued for a massive military buildup not just to confront the Soviets, which hardliners approved, but also to put the United States in a stronger position from which to establish effective arms control--a goal to which conservative pragmatists subscribed. But no one shared, or even understood until late in the game, Reagan's desire for total disarmament. "My dream," he later wrote in his memoirs, "became a world free of nuclear weapons." This vision stemmed from the president's belief that the biblical account of Armageddon prophesied nuclear war--and that apocalypse could be averted if everyone, especially the Soviets, eliminated nuclear weapons.

Driven by this dream, Reagan embraced Mikhail Gorbachev and initiated a series of negotiations that ultimately alarmed everyone in his administration. Hardliners like Patrick Buchanan, Richard Perle, and Caspar Weinberger reacted in horror to the very idea of engaging the Soviets in such talks, warning against the "grand illusion" of peace. "Reagan is a weakened president, weakened in spirit as well as clout," echoed New Right leader Paul Weyrich in The Washington Post. Administration pragmatists like George Shultz and Robert McFarlane, who supported negotiations but believed in deterrence, were shocked by how far Reagan took them. At the Reykjavik summit, he and Gorbachev almost agreed to the "zero option" to eliminate both sides' thermonuclear arms. Reagan's unwillingness to give up his cherished missile-defense program doomed the agreement, though the talks did yield the signature arms-reduction pact of his presidency, the 1987 INF treaty.

Conservative biographers like Peter Schweizer seem determined not to acknowledge Reagan's timely softening toward the Soviets: Reagan "would not change course, even in pursuit of personal political glory." But, thankfully, Reagan did change course. After a defense buildup that pushed the Soviets to the verge of economic collapse, this shift, augmented by a reduction in U.S. military spending in the latter years of his presidency, strengthened Gorbachev's ability to proceed with reform in the Soviet Union, and set the stage for George H.W. Bush to oversee a peaceful end to the Cold War.

Reagan was similarly helpful in advancing another great liberal cause, one in which his overall record is deeply tarnished: human rights. The idea of pressuring despotic governments to better treat their citizens had long appealed to the left and rankled the right. Like other conservatives, Reagan criticized the Helsinki Accords when Gerald Ford signed them in 1976, and disparaged Jimmy Carter during his 1980 campaign for what he considered a soft refusal to engage with the bitter realities of communism. Reagan's indifference to human rights abuses committed by the United States' erstwhile allies in Central America is an especially ugly stain on his presidency. Yet, as time progressed, there was one place where he did apply the logic of bringing human rights into public policy: the Soviet Union. Through the latter part of his presidency, Reagan spoke forcefully and openly about human rights in speeches and in meetings with Gorbachev, presenting lists of thousands of persecuted Soviet Jews and dissidents, many of whom were ultimately allowed to emigrate. "Human rights became for Reagan the final shame that he could bring to bear on that aspect of the Communist empire," says Sean Wilentz, director of the American Studies program at Princeton University.

Reagan's human rights policy may have been inconsistent and hypocritical. But the very fact that he had one transformed the politics of human rights. With dissidents from Andrei Sakarov to Vaclav Havel testifying to the power of his words in sustaining their movements, it became impossible for conservatives to deny the usefulness of such commitments as a component of American foreign policy. Today, there are almost as many human rights proponents on the right side of the aisle in Congress as on the left.

Mourning in America

Many of Reagan's actions that wound up furthering liberal ends were to some extent the result of the normal compromises of political office. The fact that his conservative biographers don't see fit to acknowledge these deviations is a clue that their aim is something besides an accurate depiction of the life and achievements of the 40th president. When conservatives mythologize the Reagan presidency as the golden era of conservatism, it's not Reagan that they're mythologizing, but conservatism.

The great success of Reagan's 1980 campaign was that it united the disparate strands of the conservative movement: supply-siders, libertarians, religious conservatives, foreign policy hawks, and big business. The fact that Reagan's presidency didn't accomplish anything approaching its seismic promise--the size of government grew, abortion remained legal, and entitlements still abounded--is one that his partisan biographers elide by focusing on what Reagan believed and said rather than on what he actually did. The imaginary Reagan who inhabits these books embodies the ideas on which all these groups can agree. His shining example helps maintain the coalition while putting pressure on current GOP politicians to hew to the hard-right ideal.

The real Reagan, on the other hand, would bring discord to the current conservative agenda. If you believe, as conservatives now do, that raising taxes is always wrong, then it's hard to admit that Reagan himself did so repeatedly. If you argue that the relative tax burden on low-income workers is too light, as the Bush administration does, then it does not pay to dwell on the fact that Reagan himself helped lighten that burden. If you insist, as many hardliners now do, that America is dangerously soft on communist China, then it is best to ignore Reagan's own softening toward the Soviet Union. As with other conservative media efforts--Rush Limbaugh, Fox News Channel, The Washington Times--the purpose of the Reagan legacy project is not to deliver accuracy, but enhance political leverage.

But, as Reagan himself liked to cite from John Adams, facts are stubborn things. And the fact is that Reagan, whether out of wisdom or because he was forced, made significant compromises with the left. Had he not saved Social Security, relented on his tax cut, and negotiated with the Soviets, he'd have been a less popular, and lesser, president. An honest portrait of Reagan's presidency would not diminish his memory, but enlarge it.

Joshua Green is an editor of The Washington Monthly.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Government
KEYWORDS: history; reagan; reaganlegacy
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1 posted on 05/21/2006 1:47:30 PM PDT by woofie
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To: woofie

This has to be old.


2 posted on 05/21/2006 1:50:55 PM PDT by HHKrepublican_2
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To: woofie

I ran across this while googling ...its applicable to the Bush hatred from the right ..." He is not a REAL consevative!"...well neither was Reagan . They are called Presidents and Presidents cannot be PURE . But thanks God we have had them, both Bush and Reagan


3 posted on 05/21/2006 1:51:50 PM PDT by woofie (Another actor with political ideas.................John Wilkes Booth)
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To: HHKrepublican_2

Yep its old but also true and relates to the yammering going on today


4 posted on 05/21/2006 1:53:10 PM PDT by woofie (Another actor with political ideas.................John Wilkes Booth)
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To: woofie

When did Reagan write the law that raised taxes?


5 posted on 05/21/2006 2:01:37 PM PDT by raybbr (You think it's bad now - wait till the anchor babies start to vote!!!)
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Comment #6 Removed by Moderator

To: raybbr
On his watch the tax codes were revamped and interest, contribution, etc. change affected millions of taxpayers.
7 posted on 05/21/2006 2:09:41 PM PDT by Coldwater Creek ("Over there, over there, We won't be back 'til it's over Over there.")
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To: woofie

What a hoot. I want more "liberals" like President Reagan.


8 posted on 05/21/2006 2:11:01 PM PDT by cloud8
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To: sss33
The difference being Reagan was a smoother talker!!!!!
9 posted on 05/21/2006 2:11:34 PM PDT by Coldwater Creek ("Over there, over there, We won't be back 'til it's over Over there.")
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To: sss33

Thats the key ...
I would argue that this congess although nominally Republican is badly split with very little manuevering room and the Dems are primarily rabid nut cases bent on destruction ...Also because of close elections Bush has had a tough time ....Last Reagan got a shot (no pun intended) of good will when he was shot and almost killed


10 posted on 05/21/2006 2:15:00 PM PDT by woofie (Another actor with political ideas.................John Wilkes Booth)
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To: sss33
Given that, Reagan's conservatism- which goes way beyond George Bush's "conservatism"- is an immediate indicator that Ronald Reagan was a markedly different entity than Bush. At least Reagan was able to implement a sizable amount of conservative policy, even with a Democratic legislature, as opposed to Bush, who has had a Republican Congress at his disposal.

Reagan folded like a cheap suit almost immediately after enacting his tax cuts. He rolled over on tax increases--no threats to veto whatsoever. Bush, OTOH, has never wavered on NEVER allowing tax increases.

Reagan cut-and-ran out of Lebanon almost immediately after the 240 Marines were killed by terrorists. Even though George Schultz pleaded with him to hit Assad in Syria and Hezbollah in the Bekaa Valley, Reagan and Weinberger feared a widening war, and did nothing.

Reagan did NOTHING on abortion. He never even so much as encouraged passage of a single bill.

You forget that Reagan had a Republican Senate. I don't recall that Howard Baker ever attempted to stand up to Tip O'Neill, on anything.

And, of course, we have the Reagan immigrant amnesty, signed with Reagan's full concurrence and acceptance.

Some of use remember 1980-1988, and conservatives were ready to throw in the towel after Iran-Contra, saying that Reagan had lost his touch and would be ruined by the scandal. It was as bad, or worse, as much of what we hear today aimed at Bush.

11 posted on 05/21/2006 2:26:37 PM PDT by sinkspur ( Don Cheech. Vito Corleone would like to meet you......Vito Corleone.....)
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To: sinkspur

amen


12 posted on 05/21/2006 2:27:38 PM PDT by woofie (Another actor with political ideas.................John Wilkes Booth)
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To: sss33; woofie
I'm sure that the folks who tend to back Bush more than most on this board will say "see? Reagan was just like Bush, and people complained about him being too liberal too!"

The Bush cheerleaders have a difficult time defending their guy, so their standard operating procedure it to attempt to diminish Reagan. The current president has defined his presidency with government programs and how much of our money he's spent. Reagan defined his presidency with great ideas. That's why Reagan will be remembered as great and GWB won't.

13 posted on 05/21/2006 2:32:59 PM PDT by Moonman62 (The issue of whether cheap labor makes America great should have been settled by the Civil War.)
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To: mariabush
The difference being Reagan was a smoother talker!!!!!

That's because Reagan didn't talk down to the American people the way W does.

14 posted on 05/21/2006 2:36:46 PM PDT by Moonman62 (The issue of whether cheap labor makes America great should have been settled by the Civil War.)
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To: sinkspur
Reagan did encourage various anti-abortion bills, and was, to date, the only president to have a pro-life surgon general.

No anti-abortion bill ever reached his desk.

Howard Baker, felt that abortion, was an issue where pro-life positions was a minority (he said as much during his japanese ambassorship).

As for his legacy after his initial tax cuts, he did slow or slash government spending, whenever he could at one point vetoing spending bills, at least a few of his vetos were over-ridden.

As for Lebenon, while I disagreed with Reagans response, George Shultz makes a good case for Reagans response, though I disagree. Shultz was also barely in as a replacement, so he hadn't even unpacked his bags when everything happened, as he replaced the previous Sect of state.

15 posted on 05/21/2006 2:39:57 PM PDT by Sonny M ("oderint dum metuant")
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To: woofie
As one might expect, most gloss over or completely avoid mentioning the many embarrassing and outright alarming aspects of his presidency: from consulting astrologers to his fixation with biblical doom

That is because Ronald Reagan never consulted with astrologers and was not fixated on biblical doom.

16 posted on 05/21/2006 2:41:26 PM PDT by Always Right
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Comment #17 Removed by Moderator

To: raybbr
When did Reagan write the law that raised taxes?

For those whose ignorance is beyond dispute, no president ever wrote a law. Members of congress write the laws. The presidents only roll in law creations is to either sign or veto bills first passed by both houses of congress.. If a president signs such a bill it becomes law. If he vetos the bill then it goes back to congress and must be passed by a 2/3 majority in both houses in order to become law. That process is referred to as overriding a veto. If the veto is not overridden the bill does not become law.

When congress raised taxes (described as fee's) Reagan did not veto them ... he signed them.

It is the legislative branch that writes laws. It is the excutive branch's duty to enforce them.

People who graduated from the 8th grade can not be this ignorant of how our government works. They have to take lessons.


18 posted on 05/21/2006 2:45:21 PM PDT by Common Tator
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To: Moonman62
Reagan defined his presidency with great ideas. That's why Reagan will be remembered as great and GWB won't.

You mean like the idea to reduce the size of government? (He didn't do it).

LIke the idea to cut out two cabinet departments? (Added one).

Tax cuts? (Cut once, raised taxes four times).

Terrorism? (Cut and ran).

Reagan had ideas, all right, but was successful in only one, albeit the biggest one: Staring down the Soviet Union.

Bush will be remembered for beginning the process of changing the face of the Middle East, by liberating 50 million Muslims.

Government spending is not a definition for greatness, since Reagan and Bush both had record deficits.

And for all of Reagan's great ideas, his record fell way short, especially on taxes.

19 posted on 05/21/2006 2:46:24 PM PDT by sinkspur ( Don Cheech. Vito Corleone would like to meet you......Vito Corleone.....)
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To: sss33
It's a cheesy tactic, similar to what the Clinton did by defining down the office to make himself look better.

Reagan was a great president. The events surrounding his funeral confirm that. Just about everything he did, good or bad (mostly good) was defined by the Cold War, which is how it should have been. Something the Bush cheerleaders/Reagan attackers leave out.

20 posted on 05/21/2006 2:49:23 PM PDT by Moonman62 (The issue of whether cheap labor makes America great should have been settled by the Civil War.)
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To: sss33
How people attempt to compare a President who has created the largest expansion in Medicare history to a guy- during a time of fully Republican control- to a guy who wanted to scale back the entitlement state but couldn't due to a partisanly divided Congress- is beyond me.

When did Reagan even attempt to scale back the entitlement state? Did he just talk about it, or did he actually begin the effort in any of the six years he had a Republican Senate?

21 posted on 05/21/2006 2:49:40 PM PDT by sinkspur ( Don Cheech. Vito Corleone would like to meet you......Vito Corleone.....)
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To: Moonman62
Just about everything he did, good or bad (mostly good) was defined by the Cold War, which is how it should have been. Something the Bush cheerleaders/Reagan attackers leave out.

Just about everything Bush has done, good or bad (mostly good) has been defined by the War on Terror, which is how it should be. Something the Bush attackers leave out.

22 posted on 05/21/2006 2:51:57 PM PDT by sinkspur ( Don Cheech. Vito Corleone would like to meet you......Vito Corleone.....)
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To: woofie

I know the tone of this will sound conspiratorial, but wasn't most of his backing away from his ideas of cutting, after he was nearly assassinated? He had to rely on Wobbly Sr for a lot I am sure, and coming close to death will change anyones outlook and fervor.


23 posted on 05/21/2006 2:52:28 PM PDT by jeremiah (How much did we get for that rope?)
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Comment #25 Removed by Moderator

To: Moonman62
Baloney!!!!!!!
26 posted on 05/21/2006 2:58:18 PM PDT by Coldwater Creek ("Over there, over there, We won't be back 'til it's over Over there.")
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To: Sonny M
I will NWVER forgive Reagan for Lebanon. We might not be in the mess in the Middle East today if he had done the right thing.
27 posted on 05/21/2006 3:00:53 PM PDT by Coldwater Creek ("Over there, over there, We won't be back 'til it's over Over there.")
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To: sss33

Reagan's tax increases were defined by the Cold War?


28 posted on 05/21/2006 3:01:07 PM PDT by sinkspur ( Don Cheech. Vito Corleone would like to meet you......Vito Corleone.....)
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To: sinkspur
Howard Baker, another Tenn. political failure.
29 posted on 05/21/2006 3:02:27 PM PDT by Coldwater Creek ("Over there, over there, We won't be back 'til it's over Over there.")
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To: sss33
That's just one example of how many of Reagan's attempted government scalebacks were torpedoed by his political opponents, who had massively more control back then than Bush's opponents have now.

Reagan had to turn this country around from the dark, defeatist days of Carter. People forget how bad Carter was, mainly because of the great job Reagan did. Reagan also had to overcome the freash memory of Watergate and a Democrat dynasty in Congress dating back to FDR.

30 posted on 05/21/2006 3:02:39 PM PDT by Moonman62 (The issue of whether cheap labor makes America great should have been settled by the Civil War.)
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To: Moonman62
Facts are facts.!!!!!!
31 posted on 05/21/2006 3:03:09 PM PDT by Coldwater Creek ("Over there, over there, We won't be back 'til it's over Over there.")
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To: mariabush
I will NWVER forgive Reagan for Lebanon. We might not be in the mess in the Middle East today if he had done the right thing.

Osama bin Laden has gone back to our fecklessness in Lebanon as a sign that America will not stand up in a fight with terrorists, and Clinton continued the backing-down with Somalia and his failure to get bin Laden in three opportunities.

32 posted on 05/21/2006 3:03:15 PM PDT by sinkspur ( Don Cheech. Vito Corleone would like to meet you......Vito Corleone.....)
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Comment #33 Removed by Moderator

To: Always Right
But, Reagan did not have a clue as to where he was the last two years of his term.

He couldn't help himself, but I remember wondering just who was running the country. Then I discovered it was Nancy.
34 posted on 05/21/2006 3:05:36 PM PDT by Coldwater Creek ("Over there, over there, We won't be back 'til it's over Over there.")
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To: sinkspur
Just about everything Bush has done, good or bad (mostly good) has been defined by the War on Terror,

GWB came to office with a plan to bring a "new tone to Washington." In other words, unify incumbent Republicans and Democrats with new government programs and spending. His "no veto" strategy dates back to his days as governor, long before the WOT. No president who sways whichever way Congress wants to go will be remembered as great.

35 posted on 05/21/2006 3:07:33 PM PDT by Moonman62 (The issue of whether cheap labor makes America great should have been settled by the Civil War.)
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To: Moonman62
If you are referring to the huge crowds, I would bet the farm that there will be just and many or more at Clinton's funeral.

I would go just to spit on his casket.
36 posted on 05/21/2006 3:09:04 PM PDT by Coldwater Creek ("Over there, over there, We won't be back 'til it's over Over there.")
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To: HHKrepublican_2
Been telling it and telling it. Usually people just ignore me. There are a few freepers with the courage to speak the truth.

The Hannity's and Levin's are shamelessly bashing the President and declaring themselves Reagan conservatives.

That kind of intellectual dishonesty is inexcusable, yet they get away with it, day in and day out.

37 posted on 05/21/2006 3:09:07 PM PDT by OldFriend (I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag.....and My Heart to the Soldier Who Protects It.)
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To: raybbr

1986 Tax Reform, signed by Reagan, and if memory serves was pretty much written by Bill Bradley.


38 posted on 05/21/2006 3:11:08 PM PDT by OldFriend (I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag.....and My Heart to the Soldier Who Protects It.)
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To: sinkspur

I hear you!


39 posted on 05/21/2006 3:12:14 PM PDT by OldFriend (I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag.....and My Heart to the Soldier Who Protects It.)
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To: mariabush
Not just the crowds, but the things that were said, and how our entire national attention was focused on him for a week.

Bernie Shaw of CNN said it best, "We obviously missed something while he was in office."

40 posted on 05/21/2006 3:12:44 PM PDT by Moonman62 (The issue of whether cheap labor makes America great should have been settled by the Civil War.)
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To: mariabush
But, Reagan did not have a clue as to where he was the last two years of his term.

A little bit broad for me to agree with you. Reagan did some of his best work concerning the Soviet Union and SDI from 1986-1988. On the other hand, I remember listening to President Reagan address the nation in the Fall of 1986 in regards to Iran-Contra. He sounded confused and generally not aware of what had happened.

One of the problems I believe President Reagan had was allowing his administration to be spun by the likes of Mike Deaver, etc. I have very little respect for men like Deaver.

41 posted on 05/21/2006 3:17:31 PM PDT by Fury
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To: woofie
George Washington had the 'Whiskey Rebellion'.

John Adams had the 'Sedition Act' laws.

Thomas Jefferson bought the 'Louisiana Territory'....(and people telling him that it was Un-Constitutional and a waste of money).

Lincoln led the Nation in a Civil War...and did away with 'habeus corpus'.

...and yet....each of these men were Great Presidents.

When I see articles like this posted on FR...and the ranting and raving by those who appreciate GWB and those who don't...I'm reminded that,sometimes, Conservatives are so damn miopic that they are incapable of realizing the truth...(and so damn anal retentive that they MUST act like those idiot asswipes over at D.U.).

Trying to compare Reagan and GWB is not possible. It's the 'apples and oranges' thing.

Reagan MADE Conservatism a valid political force in this Nation. After the mental depression of the Carter years....he brought back pride in our Nation..and a will to look forward to our better times to come...rather than to the past. He was not perfect...and he did some things that were not conservative..but so what. It's just the anal retentive's who carp about his Presidentcy long after the fact.

GWB had 9/11. After that day he had gone after Terrorism....and kept at it no matter how many Conservatives tell him that he's not doing it right. He has rolled back taxes...and has steadfastly tried to make those tax-cuts permanent. He has had failures....but so what. It is again those same anal-retentive idiot types who slam Reagan....pointing out the slightest fault in GWB's Presidentcy.

We have the sons and daughters of our Nation...on the 'front-line' fighting for our Freedoms....and backing them up we have the solid mass of Conservatism..ranting and sniping at each other.

Kinda makes ya proud....doesn't it??

redrock

42 posted on 05/21/2006 3:38:02 PM PDT by redrock ("I'll learn to speak Spanish.......when it snows in Hell.")
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To: Moonman62
That's because Reagan didn't talk down to the American people the way W does.

That is the most ridiculous post I've seen yet. People that hate him can't make up their minds whether he is an idiot or a tyrannical dictator, but pundits always agree that what keeps him going is his connection to the public.

If you think he is talking down to you, you must be dumber than a rock or you think he's a genius!!!

43 posted on 05/21/2006 3:43:52 PM PDT by Krodg
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To: Common Tator; woofie
People who graduated from the 8th grade can not be this ignorant of how our government works. They have to take lessons.

I do know that. But, woofie was trying to draw a parallel between Reagan and Bush. His side wants to give credit to Bush for the tax cuts while blaming Reagan for the tax increases.

I posed the question to pull woofie's covers on this.

No real need to get nasty, is there?

44 posted on 05/21/2006 3:56:56 PM PDT by raybbr (You think it's bad now - wait till the anchor babies start to vote!!!)
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To: sinkspur
Reagan had ideas, all right, but was successful in only one, albeit the biggest one: Staring down the Soviet Union

That was plenty!! and he did that with a Demoscum majority in both houses of congress.our facts although accurate are misleading.
45 posted on 05/21/2006 4:07:31 PM PDT by lonedawg (why does that rag on your head say holiday inn?)
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To: All
The two best Presidents of my lifetime are Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. I would rate Reagan only slightly ahead of W at this point in time until we see how the War on Islamofacists turns out. For every boneheaded policy or act of the present Bush Administration you can match with an equally egregious policy in the Reagan Administration.
46 posted on 05/21/2006 4:09:47 PM PDT by Oklahoma
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To: sinkspur; mariabush; Common Tator
You all can distort the Reagan record and malign our nation's greatest-ever President until you're blue in the face.
The fact will remain that GWB isn't one-fourth the president that RR was, nor is GWB half the man that RR was.
47 posted on 05/21/2006 4:11:33 PM PDT by jla
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To: Oklahoma

I've voted for GWB four times and I don't regret a damn one of them, But he is not Ronald Reagan. That being said I have to admit that in my eyes no one is or ever will be.


48 posted on 05/21/2006 4:13:12 PM PDT by lonedawg (why does that rag on your head say holiday inn?)
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To: jla
It is all in the eye of the beholder!!!!!!!!
49 posted on 05/21/2006 5:03:22 PM PDT by Coldwater Creek ("Over there, over there, We won't be back 'til it's over Over there.")
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To: mariabush
But, Reagan did not have a clue as to where he was the last two years of his term. He couldn't help himself, but I remember wondering just who was running the country. Then I discovered it was Nancy.

Oh puh_leez. You need to stop getting your stupid disinformation from DU. Last week you falsely accused Reagan of using astrology to make policy, now this ridiculous assetion. Reagan was always in control.

50 posted on 05/21/2006 5:07:16 PM PDT by Always Right
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