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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Apotheosis of Ronald Reagan

Listening to the Republican debate, I can't help but think that the Reagan worship has gotten wildly out of control.  I mean, really, folks - he was a great man and one of the greatest Presidents but, the way that people are talking about him these days, I'm starting to think that we should forget about building a Reagan Memorial in Washington and instead just get it over with and build a temple to worship the man.

Posted by Adam T. Yoshida on January 30, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink


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You beat me to the post, Adam. I was going to mention the same thing, watching the debate on CNN.com. "Would Ronald Reagan endorse you?" What a ridiculous question.

Romney: "Absolutely!"
McCain: "Yes, he would endorse me. And he wouldn't endorse someone who changes his mind (a not-so-subtle jab at Romney)"
Paul: "I don't know, but he campaigned for me in 1978."
Huckabee: "It would be presumptuous and arrogant for me to think that he would endorse me. But I do know this--I endorse him."

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2008-01-30 7:39:25 PM

A Reagan memorial? He was good but hardly enough to merit something along the lines of other DC memorials. If you ask me, one of the world's great memorials is the Lincoln Memorial, which is a temple of sorts. The inscription inside reads:


If you ever get to DC, I cannot recommend a visit to this awesome memorial, my personal favorite, enough.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-01-30 7:50:19 PM

McCain: "Yes, he would endorse me. And he wouldn't endorse someone who changes his mind"

Ronald Reagan was a registered Democrat until he was 51 years old. Only then did he join the Republican party. I think Ron would not mind a candidate who changes his mind. But then again, I don't think Romney has changed his mind. He is and has always been an empty shirt.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-01-30 8:03:59 PM

Don't allow phony "main stream media" USE of Ronald Reagan's name give legitimacy to anything that our horrific Communist-Atheist-Feminist-Homosexual media does to pervert our elections or your understanding of America.

Reagan was merely a man who grew up in and believed in America's basic small government individual responsibility culture and who had the strength of character and constancy to recognize that he occupied elective office as a public servant (which didn't make him a "big deal" versus his fellow men).

Posted by: Conrad-USA | 2008-01-30 8:09:08 PM

What debate ?

Posted by: Marc | 2008-01-30 8:11:05 PM

Check you facts, Fact Check. McCain said that Reagan wouldn't endorse someone who changed his mind every year. And, of course, Reagan was fond of saying that it wasn't he who left the Democratic Party - it was the Democratic Party that left him.

I agree on the Lincoln Memorial, Pike. I've been there and it really is an inspiring place.

But, of course, 'temple' in the case of the inscription is simply a rhetorical exercise. I mean a literal temple, in this case.

Listening to them talking tonight they - even the questioners who, like Mitt Romney, almost certianly opposed Reagan when he was President they sounded like they were talking less about a politician and more about a supernatural being.

Posted by: Adam Yoshida | 2008-01-30 8:11:09 PM

Why McCain would accuse Romney of changing his mind, I can't figure out. McCain of the amnesty bill, then when it failed who said that, Oh I know what the people want now. Of course we need to build the fence first and secure the borders. Then he says how he was never for amnesty, yet has Juan (Mexico first) Hernandez helping in his campaign. What a fraudster.

Posted by: Markalta | 2008-01-30 8:53:09 PM

I was in a camp south of Grande Prairie when he was elected. In those days it was a story, not the air we breath. Magnum PI aired that fall, and believe me it was more popular than American politics in that camp at least.

He was an interesting man, but most Canadians were convinced he was about to press the button at any second. He was chief during a turbulent period in history, and some of the results have not gone all that well. I felt more secure when the Soviet Union was our only enemy than I do now.

Reaganomics was good for big corporations but it destroyed a lot of small business. The independant truckers were wiped out in a heartbeat. Air traffic was a mess for a while. His vision of smaller government was a great idea but it didn't last long.

If it hadn't been for his personality and charisma, he wouldn't have risen to this level on his performance alone.

Posted by: dp | 2008-01-30 8:58:45 PM

Adam: "Check you facts, Fact Check..."

Calm down, big boy! I was quoting Peter's reply above mine. I quoted Jaws accurately, but if he got McCain wrong take it up with him. Silly man!

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-01-30 9:01:04 PM

dp: I always liked him, and he did win the Cold War! Do you think that Carter could have done that? Reagan scared the Ruskies, and won the Cold War with Maggie Thatcher. What a dynamic duo!

Posted by: Markalta | 2008-01-30 9:16:59 PM

markalta: Many have given Reagan and Thatcher credit for defeating the USSR in the Cold War. But don't forget their partner: Pope John Paul II.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-01-30 9:25:40 PM

I realize the Pope was involved, but he didn't have the nukes and the world's greatest economy...that was in Reagan's hands.

Posted by: Markalta | 2008-01-30 9:41:53 PM

True, but there's something about human will that can defeat the mightiest of empires. The Pope inspired people to take matters into their own hands. It worked.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-01-30 9:45:10 PM

The Soviet Union collapsed on its own, while Reagan was in office. He helped it along all right. What we ended up with was the
Russian mafia (ex-KGB), war in the Balkans, Chechnea, misplaced nukes, a united Germany, the Taliban (a stretch).

Guess what. Democracy is in trouble already. Like I said, I felt more secure with the Soviets. At least the cold war was a one front war.

Posted by: dp | 2008-01-30 9:55:13 PM

dp: well I guess we can agree to disagree. Just because the former Communists can't get their act together, doesn't detract from Reagan's achievement in bringing down Communism...what's wrong with a united Germany? They may be pussies, but at least they're capitalists.

Posted by: Markalta | 2008-01-30 10:37:13 PM

Would not a better question have been "Would George Washington endorse you?"

Posted by: Seyitbek Usmanov | 2008-01-30 11:56:03 PM

While we're bringing up Founding Fathers Seyit, did anyone else find if laughable that Huckabee claimed to be a Jeffersonian rather than a Hamiltonian during today's debate?

Posted by: Kalim Kassam | 2008-01-31 1:22:09 AM

The funniest part of all of this is, of course, that amongst all the Regan-worshiping there isn't a candidate among them (apart from maybe Ron Paul, but we all know that's not going to happen, sadly) that would do for America what Regan - that is, leave its citizens freer than when he took office.

Posted by: Janet | 2008-01-31 11:22:25 AM

Reagan was both a "great" President and a "less-than-great" President at the same time.

If one were to somehow ignore the presidencies of Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and especially Carter, then Reagan was not really a great President. If one can imagine Reagan as simply following similar principles to Truman and Eisenhower and, arguably, Kennedy (even if the implementatation of the principles resulted in different policies), then Reagan was simply a good President as were these others.

However, if the measure of "greatness" is one who is able to identify what is wrong and take measured and thoughtful steps to correct the wrongs, then Americans are correct to place Reagan in the camp of their "great" Presidents. It was not just the errors of Carter that were corrected. Sure, Carter was the epitome of the foolishness of American voters doing themselves harm but Richard "we're are all Keynesians now" Nixon prepared the way for Carter and his policies. It is a measure of "greatness" for a politician to go against the natural impulse to increase government and opt for somewhat limited government. For this reason Reagan was great; for this reason, it is wrong for the three Republican frontrunners to suggest they are Reagan-like.

Posted by: Brent Weston | 2008-01-31 12:40:49 PM

"The Soviet Union collapsed on its own, while Reagan was in office. He helped it along all right."

This is not an entirely incorrect statement in an otherwise well-written post. However, it is an understatement.

What came to be known as "The Reagan Doctrine" was a military doctrine that Reagan became convinced of after he was in office. Certain Republicans gained Reagan's confidence and they convinced him that the Soviet Union could be destroyed. The destruction was by design.

Keep in mind the timeframe. Americans were still remebering Vietnam. Carter had made the Americans look very weak with Iran. The problem with the US dollar and inflation were causing many Americans to think only about the domestic issues. The Soviets had moved into Afghanistan and were winning at the time.

However, Americans owned the new micro-computing technologies than were emerging. Reagan became convinced that two parts of "The Reagan Doctrine" were true. The first was that if America started an arms race based on technology then America would win that arms race. The second was that Reagan believed (at a time when it was not universally believed) that capitalism was a superior economic system to communism. He believed that the Soviets would either 1) withdraw from the arms race or 2) go bankrupt trying to keep up in the race.

History indicates that the second scenario is the option the Soviets took. Reagan was vilified in the press for his position but he stood by.

The destruction of the Soviet Union was by design - and it was by an Americann design.

Posted by: Brent Weston | 2008-01-31 1:00:08 PM

Unfortunately, Putin is proving to be a brutal leader as he and his former KGB cohort put a stranglehold on the Russian economy.

It continues to be a dreary, depressing place void of any compassion.

Where was the last time you saw a Russian smile?

Posted by: set you free | 2008-01-31 1:07:37 PM

Agreed, Set. I also understand a net worth approaching $40 billion USD. Yes, billion, not million. Russian mafiosa indeed.

Posted by: Brent Weston | 2008-01-31 1:14:55 PM

I agree that Reagan falls on the "great president" side for the reasons Brent mentions.

Don't forget, he managed to reach an agreement with Trudeau on cruise missile testing. Hard to believe. The very first missile, strapped to a B52, flew over my head north-west of Grande Prairie. If he could convince Trudeau, he must have been some kind of hypnotist.

I'd also be willing to bet he could have handled Saddam, and had the world on his side.

Posted by: dp | 2008-01-31 1:32:34 PM

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