« National Amnesia | Main | Oh, That Again »

June 14, 2004



What amazes me is that a few times I heard pundits (outside of FOX News, no less) try to push the idea that Reagan left office with the highest approval rating of any president in history, something that can be objectively proven false.


As another quick addenda, I found myself wryly
amused over the weekend when NPR ran a piece
challenging the rhetorical record with the historical one. In particular, it seemed to cite many of the examples alluded to here and documented elsewhere. And I heard it here first!

At least, so concisely enumerated. I mean I was FEELING it earlier...so to speak.

David Van Domelen

"Hagiography" is a term that really should be brought into common discourse, as you're rarely going to see such a clear example of that process in action as you will with RWR RIP.

Tim Hulsey

True, Reagan opposed abortion, but I don't see how that contradicts the idea that he supported individual liberty. Reagan included fetuses under the definition of "individual" -- an intellectually valid and defensible position, albeit one with which I happen to disagree.

Reagan wasn't anti-Gay, either, as anyone who examines his record in California can plainly see. Quite a few people linked to his administration were homophobic, and perhaps Reagan should have denounced them. Perhaps he should also have mentioned AIDS as a national policy issue prior to '85, though by then the federal government had allocated several billion dollars for research and treatment. It's difficult to see what else could have been done.

As for wealth and power, it's true that the rich got richer under the Reagan administration. But we tend to forget that the poor got richer, too -- not just in terms of jobs and wages, but in terms of their buying power as well. Small-time farmers didn't fare so well in this new economy, of course: Low food prices led to the consolidation of family farms. I guess you could say Reagan didn't do well by them.


I wrote that Reagan's ostensible fealty to individual self-determination broke down if you were "HIV-positive," not "gay" - two very different categories, obviously! - for precisely the reason you cite, Tim. Although I'll also note that, while Reagan opposed the California proposition banning gays from teaching, he was perfectly willing to benefit politically from a surging anti-gay (and anti-feminist) backlash in the late 1970s and 1980s.

I also believe the funding Reagan allocated for AIDS in the early eighties was significantly less than what Congress requested, and at any rate it's easy to imagine quite a bit more that he could have done: mentioned AIDS sometime in the four years before it killed one of his personal friends, or not left it up to a conscientious Surgeon General to start advocating protections against it. (I did a bit of research on Reagan's AIDS policy prior to writing this piece, but left out the links and citations as my point was not to attack twenty-year-old policy but to deflate the revisionist canonization. Maybe I'll add them here once I'm back from vacation.)

In any case, these are just a few examples, and we haven't even gotten to the blacklists or death squads yet. My point is that while claiming Reagan as a champion of individual liberty makes for a polite epitaph, one perfectly in keeping with conservative ideology and the man's own carefully crafted image, it doesn't match up with his actions. Your piece suggested that Reagan was, by his very nature as an individualist, opposed to "hierarchy and control"; Ronald Reagan was a friend to both, and to those who wanted to reinstitute some of the most reactionary or brutal hierarchies.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 03/2004