Ronald Reagan, De-Mythologized

Historians/History




Mr. Cole is Professor of Modern Middle Eastern and South Asian History at the University of Michigan. His website is http://www.juancole.com/.

I did not say anything about Ronald Reagan's death on Saturday. The day a person dies he has a right to be left alone.

But yesterday is now history, and Reagan's legacy should not pass without comment.

Reagan had an ability to project a kindly image, and was well liked personally by virtually everyone who knew him, apparently. But it always struck me that he was a mean man. I remember learning, in the late 1960s, of the impact Michael Harrington's The Other America had had on Johnson's War on Poverty. Harrington demonstrated that in the early 1960s there was still hunger in places like Appalachia, deriving from poverty. It was hard for middle class Americans to believe, and Lyndon Johnson, who represented many poor people himself, was galvanized to take action.

I remember seeing a tape of Reagan speaking in California from that era. He said that he had heard that some asserted there was hunger in America. He said it sarcastically. He said, "Sure there is; they're dieting!" or words to that effect. This handsome Hollywood millionnaire making fun of people so poor they sometimes went to bed hungry seemed to me monstrous. I remember his wealthy audience of suburbanites going wild with laughter and applause. I am still not entirely sure what was going on there. Did they think Harrington's and similar studies were lies? Did they blame the poor for being poor, and resent demands on them in the form of a few tax dollars, to address their hunger?

Then when he was president, at one point Reagan tried to cut federal funding for school lunches for the poor. He tried to have ketchup reclassified as a vegetable to save money. Senator Heinz gave a speech against this move. He said that ketchup is a condiment, not a vegetable, and that he should know.

The meanness was reflected, as many readers have noted, in Reagan's "blame the victim" approach to the AIDS crisis. His inability to come to terms with the horrible human tragedy here, or with the emerging science on it, made his health policies ineffective and even destructive.

Reagan's mania to abolish social security was of a piece with this kind of sentiment. In the early twentieth century, the old were the poorest sector of the American population. The horrors of old age--increasing sickness, loss of faculties, marginalization and ultimately death--were in that era accompanied by fear of severe poverty. Social security turned that around. The elderly are no longer generally poverty-stricken. The government can do something significant to improve people's lives. Reagan, philosophically speaking, hated the idea of state-directed redistribution of societal wealth. (His practical policies often resulted in such redistribution de facto, usually that of tossing money to the already wealthy). So he wanted to abolish social security and throw us all back into poverty in old age.

Reagan hated any social arrangement that empowered the poor and the weak. He was a hired gun for big corporations in the late 1950s, when he went around arguing against unionization. Among his achievements in office was to break the air traffic controllers' union. It was not important in and of itself, but it was a symbol of his determination that the powerless would not be allowed to organize to get a better deal. He ruined a lot of lives. I doubt he made us safer in the air.

Reagan hated environmentalism. His administration was not so mendacious as to deny the problems of increased ultraviolet radition (from a depleted ozone layer) and global warming. His government suggested people wear sunglasses and hats in response. At one point Reagan suggested that trees cause pollution. He was not completely wrong (natural processes can cause pollution), but his purpose in making the statement seems to have been that we should therefore just accept lung cancer from bad city air, which was caused by automobiles and industry, not by trees.

In foreign policy, Reagan abandoned containment of the Soviet Union as a goal and adopted a policy of active roll-back. Since the Soviet Union was already on its last legs and was not a system that could have survived long, Reagan's global aggressiveness was simply unnecessary. The argument that Reagan's increases in military funding bankrupted the Soviets by forcing them to try to keep up is simply wrong. Soviet defense spending was flat in the 1980s.

Reagan's aggression led him to shape our world in most unfortunate ways. Although it would be an exaggeration to say that Ronald Reagan created al-Qaeda, it would not be a vast exaggeration. The Carter administration began the policy of supporting the radical Muslim holy warriors in Afghanistan who were waging an insurgency against the Soviets after their invasion of that country. But Carter only threw a few tens of millions of dollars at them. By the mid-1980s, Reagan was giving the holy warriors half a billion dollars a year. His officials strong-armed the Saudis into matching the U.S. contribution, so that Saudi Intelligence chief Faisal al-Turki turned to Usamah Bin Laden to funnel the money to the Afghans. This sort of thing was certainly done in coordination with the Reagan administration. Even the Pakistanis thought that Reagan was a wild man, and balked at giving the holy warriors ever more powerful weapons. Reagan sent Orrin Hatch to Beijing to try to talk the Chinese into pressuring the Pakistanis to allow the holy warriors to receive stingers and other sophisticated ordnance. The Pakistanis ultimately relented, even though they knew there was a severe danger that the holy warriors would eventually morph into a security threat in their own right.

Reagan's officials so hated the Sandinista populists in Nicaragua that they shredded the Constitution. Congress cut off money for the rightwing death squads fighting the Sandinistas. Reagan's people therefore needed funds to continue to run the rightwing insurgency. They came up with a complicated plan of stealing Pentagon equipment, shipping it to Khomeini in Iran, illegally taking payment from Iran for the weaponry, and then giving the money to the rightwing guerrillas in Central America. At the same time, they pressured Khomeini to get US hostages in Lebanon, taken by radical Shiites there, released. It was a criminal cartel inside the US government, and Reagan allowed it, either through collusion or inattention. It is not a shining legacy, to have helped Khomeini and then used the money he gave them to support highly unsavory forces in Central America. (Some of those forces were involved after all in killing leftwing nuns.)

Although Reagan's people were willing to shore up Iranian defenses during the Iran-Iraq War, so as to prevent a total Iraqi victory, they also wanted to stop Iran from taking over Iraq. They therefore winked at Saddam's use of chemical weapons. Reagan's secretary of state, George Schultz, sent Donald Rumsfeld to Baghdad twice, the second time with an explicit secret message that the U.S. did not really mind if Saddam gassed the Iranian troops, whatever it said publicly.

I only saw Reagan once in person. I was invited to a State Department conference on religious freedom, I think in 1986. It was presided over by Elliot Abrams, whom I met then for the first time. We were taken to hear Reagan speak on religious freedom. It was a cause I could support, but I came away strangely dissatisfied. I had a sense that "religious freedom" was being used as a stick to beat those regimes the Reagan administration did not like. It wasn't as though the plight of the Moro Muslims in the Philippines was foremost on the agenda (come to think of it, perhaps no Muslims or Muslim groups were involved in the conference).

Reagan's policies thus bequeathed to us the major problems we now have in the world, including a militant Islamist International whose skills were honed in Afghanistan with Reagan's blessing and monetary support; and a proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, which the Reagan administration in some cases actually encouraged behind the scenes for short-term policy reasons. His aggressive foreign policy orientation has been revived and expanded, making the U.S. into a neocolonial power in the Middle East. Reagan's gutting of the unions and attempt to remove social supports for the poor and the middle class contributed to the creation of an America where most people barely get by while government programs that could help create wealth are destroyed.

Reagan's later life was debilitated by Alzheimer's. I suppose he may already have had some symptoms while president, which might explain some of his memory lapses and odd statements, and occasional public lapses into woolly-mindedness. Ironically, Alzheimer's could be cured potentially by stem cell research. In the United States, where superstition reigns over reason, the religious Right that Reagan cultivated has put severe limits on such research. His best legacy may be Nancy Reagan's argument that those limitations should be removed in his memory. There are 4 million Alzheimers sufferers in the U.S., and 50 percent of persons living beyond the age of 85 develop it. There are going to be a lot of such persons among the Baby Boomers. By reversing Reaganism, we may be able to avoid his fate.




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reality hammer - 6/21/2004

I have to say the myth that Reagan kicked off his campaign by honoring the KKK is certainly an enduring one.

As has been pointed out, Reagan appeared at the Neshoba County Fair, not in Philadelphia. It is difficult to go anywhere in the south and not be "near" a site of racial injustice.

It is certainly telling that when Reagan pointed out that Jimmy Carter actually kicked off his campaign in a city known for its KKK ties, he was accused of "bringing race into the political arena".

For the record, Reagan kicked off his 1980 campaign in New Jersey and Detroit, targetting union Democrats, not white racists.

For more information see http://www.presidentreagan.info/1980_campaign/neshoba.cfm

The Reagan and the KKK story is just another propaganda piece that fits into the "Nixon's southern strategy" theme. (But don't mention that Nixon didn't win the south in 1968!)

People who hate Reagan will allow their prejudices to blind them.


reality hammer - 6/21/2004

http://www.presidentreagan.info/

What is it with the people who hate President Reagan? Why can't they debate with facts and logic instead of hate and lies?


reality hammer - 6/21/2004

Most people say 'wealth' but mean 'income'.

And you can play all sort of games with 'income'.

Indeed, the most often cited index, the GINI index, showed an even greater disparity during the Clinton years, not to mention a one-year increase greater than any of the Reagan years.

For what the rest of us consider 'wealth', there were two studies done, one in 1983 and another in 1989 and comparing the numbers in those two studies showed that everyone got richer and the poor gained at a larger rate than the rich.

In addition, if you look at the poverty rate when Reagan took office and when he left, you'll see that it was lower at the end of his terms, and declined five years in a row at the end.

More info at http://www.presidentreagan.info/


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 6/14/2004

Bill,
You have failed to acknowledge why or how you can use the same terms as I and yet still feel justified in such a post?

Dare I say sir, evidence of your double standard has never been so evidently displayed.


Bill Heuisler - 6/12/2004

Mr. Simon,
Thank you, but Mr. Moshe will not produce even one number to support his "wealth gap". The Gini coefficient is a summary statistic of the Lorenz curve and measures inequality in a population, calculated from unordered size data as relative mean difference. But there must be datum or the Curve has no beginning and no end.

The existentialist universe is postulated as absurd, but his construction without foundation is just plain silly.
Bill Heuisler


Bill Heuisler - 6/12/2004

Grant,
I'm a dabbling dilettante with little experience fumbling through God's Garden, barely able to find keyholes. That's on the odd occasion when I'm completely sober, fully restrained and under the proper strong medications. Strangely though, among the rancor, uncomprehension and sanctimony one encounters at HNN there are also a great many learned men and women, potential friends and worthy adversaries. All in all, an enthralling journey.

Now, if I could just find my shoes...
Bill Heuisler


Grant W Jones - 6/12/2004

Hello Bill:

I also have hope for Derek, he is still young. In his latest post for Rebunk he takes to task the Post-Modern, lit-crit crowd. Although he doesn't take advantage of some glaring openings the left for him. My favorite is the PoMo's recourse to "life-boat" ethics. "What if you had to steal to feed your starving children." As if Americans live in a Victor Hugo novel. Also, unless I misunderstood him, on other threads Derek strongly defended Israel's right to self-defense.

Get a load of Chris Petit (of the lower case proper nouns) and Don Williams. There are some True Believers on this board.

I'm off to go coconut fishing. You read that right. I have a long pole with a hook on it for harvesting cocos. There is NOTHING like a fresh coco, or three, after working in the yard under the tropical sun.

Grant

P.S. Do you have a graduate degree in history, or are you just a "talented amateur" like me?


E. Simon - 6/12/2004

Perhaps if the two of you could debate these finer points among the backdrop of a Lorenz curve, which I believe is an economic concept sufficiently "mainstream" to satisfy both your perspectives, then you might be able to get somewhere.


Ralph E. Luker - 6/12/2004

Don,
You vent a lot of spleen and hostility on these boards. Why don't you do something constructive. Write an article and submit it for publication at HNN. If you can't make the cut there, maybe you are just a hostile blowhard.


chris l pettit - 6/12/2004

If only you had actually traveled to Africa and studied Bill instead of using the usual right wing sources spouting nonsense.

Now, I am not the biggest supporter of DC on all issues...for instance we vehemently disagree on Israel and my (as well as many others) comparisons of the current situation with South Africa's apartheid government. This is not to start another discussion on that topic...just to illustrate that DC and I are definitely not birds of the same feather, nor do we usually support each other on all issues.

That being said...he is absolutely right about Mugabe. I am intimately familiar with the current crisis, having been smuggled into Zimbabwe two years ago on human rights work, and having bribed my way in last year, as the Zim government does not take kindly to human rights activists or Americans. I can tell you that Mugabe has, since around the mid-80's, fully embraced the type of "free market" economics that provides the wealthy with all the chips and the poor with none. It is true that Mugabe was raised a communist (not that you actually define anything as usual), but when he reached power, Mugabe turned into what has amounted to a totalitarian nightmare. For all his land takeovers, most of the land remains in the hands of the most powerful political players in the country and cronies of Mugabe. This is hardly communism. There is a huge problem of ministers owning several huge farms that were supposedly to be distributed to poor farmers...and squatters living on those farms have been forceably removed by the "Green Shirts", gangs of youths trained by Mugabe to threaten and terrorise the general population as well as intimidate and beat, sometimes murder, political opponents and human rights activists. (As an aside...as a proud right winger Bill, I thought you would support the part about those no good do nothings who won't get a job being russled off the farms...seems like a quality conservative instinct...no wonder so many businesspeople still support Mugabe) How can anyone possibly accuse Mugabe of being a communist at this point? His methods don't even resemble the totalitarian policies of the Soviets or Cuba...they are most similar to some type of warped capitalist totalitarianism.

Mbeki's policies are another area where DC and I will differ. While he shows patience and measured support for Mbeki's methods, over the past two years I have reached the level of frustration that has caused me to believe that Mbeki has chosen the wrong path and that his velvet glove approach has failed. Nigerian and South African policies have influenced the Commonwealth to be easier on Zimbabwe than it should have been. I favoured the idea of economic sanctions on Mugabe and his government as individuals and allowing NGO's and human rights activists to provide the support to the general population in the form of food and protection, but of course the US has ignored the situation, as has the UK for the most part. In fact, as stated above, there is ample evidence of complicity and support from large US multi-nationals (Monsanto included).

On Reagan...the man supported the apartheid regime. No less of an authority than Desmond Tutu declared his presidency to be a disgrace. Bill's attacks on Mandela have been, and will continue to be absolutely baseless. Having had the good fortune to have met the man, to have studied under a leader of the anti-apartheid struggle, to be able to claim several members of the movement as friends and colleagues, and to have lived and studied in the nation extensively, much like DC, I can tell you that the nation has a bright future if they can find leadership more like Mandela, learn to reject those who embrace Mbeki's poorer ideas like the building of a black elite to match the white elite and neglecting the rest of the population in the spirit of US capitalism and continue to resist the fraud that is "free market" economics (read some Stiglitz, Bill). By the way...you want the best constitution in the world? Try South Africa. you will also find the most progressive judiciary in the world there.

Regarding Nicaragua...Reagan oversaw war crimes and a violation of international law. Of this there can be no argument. The US to this day remains the only nation to have been found guilty of war crimes by the ICJ and to have vetoed the overwhelmingly supported UN resolution to censure that nation. Did the Sandanista's commit war crimes? Absolutely...but playing partisan politics over the issue is ridiculous. There were atrocities on both sides and a debate over evil and less evil is idiotic. What the US government did was wrong and a violation of international law. For all those foolish to argue against that...I remind you once again, not that it ever sticks, that by signing and ratifying the UN Charter, it became part of US law...the supreme law of the land. I am sure we would not want to denigrate our wonderful Constitution now, would we?

Illegal invasions and genocide (it was officially defined as such by the UN) were supported and actively abetted in El Salvador, Guatemala, the Phillippines, Grenada, as well as others.

Iran-Contra speaks for itself. THe illegalities went all the way to Bush 41 and the Gipper himself. The NSA among others has established this...including the approval of arms sales to Iran to try and contain Lebanon...another Reagan mistake.

While i have stated before that I believe Carter is the main source for the beginning of our Afghan problems...Reagan had a huge hand in supporting terrorism in the name of defeating communism...which is absurd. he does have a hand in the source of our current difficulties and continually reaping of what we have sown.

We supported Saddam and it was during the Reagan presidency that most of the mass graves that war supporters bitch about all the time were dug and filled. but of course the US has no responsibility in this...we were only supporting the secular dictator against the evil fundamentalists in his own nation and the evil Iranians who overthrew the guy who the US put into power after overthrowing a democratically elected leader. And of course there is no complicity in the gassing and slaughter of countless Iranians.

There is ample evidence that Reagan's actions actually prolonged the Cold War...not ended it. Nothing changed until Gorbachev came to office...and there is ample evidence from Soviet sources that the economics and infrastucture was crumbling long before Reagan. Rock and roll, democracy movements, non-violent action (the way you should solve probelms and get rid of pieces of trash like "W"), human rights movements, and western goods were fueling a generation of young activists. What arrogance for the US to claim any but the smallest role in the collapse! As an aside, the claim of the failure of "communism" is pretty silly as well. What failed was a bureaucratic totalitarianism that only slightly resembled communism. It was basically a corporate dominated capitalist approach...there was nothing even resembling equality or the spreading of resources.

At home, Reagan did feed the rich and the military industrial complex really well...even though it did not end the Cold War, it absolutely filled their pockets. His stands on homelessness, homosexuality and AIDS were disgraceful, as well as contradictory to countless human rights instruments.

Krugman makes interesting statements of qualified support for Reagan in that he at least had the hindsight to realize that his tax cuts for the wealthy were a huge problem and to raise taxes and (sort of) acknowledge a boo boo. While I would not go as far as he did (being a piece of trash Clinton economist himself) I do acknowledge that there was some responsibility, if not much.

Reagan's destructive economics (I forgot the attacks on the elderly), human rights violations, arms strategy, and violations of the Constitution as well as international law most surely place him as one of the worst presidents in terms of human rights, morals, or ethics under any legal or religious (i.e. moral) standard. He, like Bush, is one to claim to be a Christian yet would only quote the Old Testament (why is it that you never see the Beatitudes in conservative religious speak...or liberal religious speak for that matter). Blessed are the poor or meek would never have been in his vocabulary...even though Roosevelt's New Deal policies saved his family. Reagan was a human being following his beliefs and doing his best...but this is not enough to excuse the damage he caused the majority of people in this country and the Constitution. His administration was scum, and I say good riddance to his legacy.

This should not be viewed as disrespect in any way for his gallant fight against Alzheimer's or his passing. We as historians and Americans must see clearly and judge history through a clear lens not obscured by fogs of political smoke. Call a spade a spade. Reagan was an incredibly wonderful president if you are a fan of "might makes right" and "all for none and more for me." In any legal, ethical, or moral sense, his presidency was a disgrace and should be held up with the worst this nation has ever had (Bill if you want Clinton in that group you can absolutely have him).

By the way...Ben Severance and I had a conversation a while back regarding whether this nation is suffering from pseudo-fascism. The nonsense that has transpired regarding Reagan, his beaification, the hero worship, singing of silly songs, trumping of ultra-nationalism and jingoistic pride, extending for days absolutely supports one of the points I claimed that Ben contested and I reluctantly gave him but now seem to have evidence for...the "cult of personality" surrounding leaders. It is a little more difficult to do with Bush (who has alienated even a few conservatives) outside of the 35% or so that are either gaining off his policies or are so ignorant and undereducated (the US education system does that to you) that they automatically support the cult worship mentioned above. However, this "cult of personality" syndrome seems to run thick with conservatives and so called "liberals" (see Clinton). George Carlin once used the phrase "crypto-fascists"...I find it especially poignant now.

Anyway, to sum up...Reagan was an atrocious president if one supports the "rule of law" and anything other than an extremist (silly people say fundamentalist even though it has nothing to do with the fundamentals of a faith) religious outlook...and a great one if one supports the wealthy, legal positivism, "might makes right" politics and Machiavellian philosophy.

Bill...I would invite you to either research a bit on Africa AND actually travel there and experience the culture and history of the countries before writing on them from your ivory double wide (it would be a tower if you had any education) OR please stop writing on the topic. your ignorance hurts all of us who are actually scholars and have taken the time to get beyond extremist propaganda and have actually read all sources and made our own INDEPENDENT decisions on the topic. I know independent critical thinking is difficult for anyone with a US education these days (liberal or conservative) unless you have been lucky to have one of the few intelligent professors in the country, but at least try. it is your right to make a fool of yourself when you please (and god knows I am well aware of your perceived omnipotence that I will surely hear about yet again after this post...all hail the all knowing Heuisler!!) but I would hope you could for once show some humility and slink away with tail tucked firmly in between your legs.

What was it...about 220 people in the Reagan administration were at one point or another indicted, charged, convicted, had to resign over or censured for criminal acts? And his own attorney general was dogged by no less than 4 independent prosecutors? At what point will people wake up about this administration? I know die hards never can acknowledge facts, but do they have to be run over roughshod with them before they at least are silenced? Oh well...how nice to be the most powerful nation and be able to crush anything in your path...it;ll be interesting if the tables are ever turned...long live US despotism and empire. (That is sarcasm for those incapable of interpretation)

CP


Bill Heuisler - 6/12/2004

Grant,
My pleasure. Call me Bill. You sound wise and happy over there in the Islands. And you write well about philosophy and politics. Best, you generally seem to agree with me.

Derek's fault is that he's even more pompous than I am. He's a nice, talented man inside all that stuffing and believes the final word on Africa is his. But he's young; his illusions are still fresh and he doesn't yet realize he will never own the truth.
Bill


Grant W Jones - 6/11/2004

Mr. Heuisler:

You can address me as Grant. I've lived in Hawaii for a lot of years and have grown to love its informal style, among many other things. Heck, the one time I met her, I called the state governor "Linda," like everyone else.

Thank you for the information on Mugabe. It's kind of sad that Derek didn't give some background history in order to defend his position. As a result he gives off more heat than light. A curious thing for a history professor.

Have a good evening, Grant


Bill Heuisler - 6/11/2004

Mr. Jones,
Professor Catsam's much esteemed travel and education were apparently for nought. Mugabe has been a committed Marxist most of his life. The only people who seem surprised about Mugabe's destruction of the breadbasket of Southern Africa are those fawning Liberals who see evil only in the depredations of Western Civilization.

As Everyman knows, Mugabe was born in 1924, received a Jesuit upbringing and education for twenty years, but was first introduced to Marxism at Fort Hare University in South Africa in the early 1950s. He also traveled. Of Nkrumah's Ghana he said, "You could say it was there I accepted the general principles of Marxism." Let's see, that was in the Fifties, right? And in his own words.

It's worse. In 1960 Mugabe joined Joshua Nkomo's Zimbabwe African People's Union. In 1977, Mugabe formally became leader and fulfilled his Marxist destiny. The '77 Chimoio meeting marks the full acceptance of Marxist thought by Zimbabwean Black Nationalists.

In fact, the adoption of Marxism-Leninism set Mugabe's Zimbabwe Party apart from its black nationalist rivals elsewhere, and strongly influenced the foreign and domestic policies implemented by the new Zimbabwean government after 1980. At independence, Mugabe inherited a vibrant economy and efficient bureaucracy. He moved cautiously for a while, proclaiming a policy of "national reconciliation" and included Rhodesian Front members of Parliament in his first cabinet. Didn't last. Those first few years after independence, Mugabe acted ruthlessly in the pursuit of Marxist policies. Initial targets were the armed forces and civil service. He surpressed the media almost immediately (in 1981) enforcing the "Mass Media Trust". Party control at the workplace began immediately also with the creation of worker committees and strict government control of Zimbabwe's Trade Unions. Marxism? After one year? Gasp!

History, Mr. Jones, no matter how the sycophants squirm.
Bill Heuisler


Grant W Jones - 6/11/2004

Whew, Derek. Where to start? Mugabe was a Jeffersonian/Smithian/Hayekian for a time? Why am I skeptical? Before that Mugabe was a Marxist, after which he became a thug. Why do you consider being a Marxist and a thug mutually exclusive? My bet is Mugabe was always a collectivist and an opportunist, which are also not mutually exclusive: see Lenin on that. The NEP did not make Lenin a capitalist.

"Banal anti-Marxist," is it possible to be a banal anti-Nazi? Marxist theory of class warfare and its nitwit economics has led to mass death and suffering. Martin Heideggar wrote (to Herbert Marcuse after the war) that the theory of National Socialism was great, but Hitler corrupted the noble dream. The theory versus practice dichotomy doesn't work here. Marxism, with its hostility to private property and individualism plays well with the tribalist mentality of whatever variety. Not to mention its saved versus damned Manchianism is also very useful to demagogues looking for scapegoats for their One-Hour Hates. Marxism is pure hate, "all that exists deserves to perish," was Karl's motto.

There is much racism/tribalism in Africa. Most of it is now black on black or Arab on black or black on white or black on East Asian. You are fighting the last battle, Derek. As long as African leaders can blame their problems on the White Devil they will never have to deal with their self-inflicted wounds. The career of Idi Amin is instructive on how this process works. I know he had lots of help from the Libyans. Even the cowardly Brits gave him some support. Can we blame white racism on Amin's reign of terror? No, not if one is honest. In fact, it could be argued that de-colonizing too quickly was part of the problem. The combination of native tribalism, imported monotheism and socialism is an explosive brew.

It's a funny thing about history, it can't be undone. African leaders can construct rational policies based on the situation of today or they can continue to blame "enemies" for their host of problems. I don't think they can do both.

As for ad hominem, Derek, you quickly descend to that level. Instead of argumentum ad veracuntium [sp?] appeals to your creditials, travel and publications, how about some facts?


Don Williams - 6/11/2004

I's sure there must be a reason -- aside from the Republicans well-known penchant for discarding moral
values at the slightest whiff of a profit.

I would note that Africa is not throwing large numbers of Americans out of work with currency devaluation and a $100 billion/year trade surplus based on cheap labor. Or bidding up the price of gasoline with all those big stacks of US dollars.


Don Williams - 6/11/2004

1) As I seemed to recall , Al Qaeda has cells in Indonesia and Phillipines. As I recall, people in those countries hate our guts because the US government installed puppets who stole everything not nailed down --plunging the people of those countries into endless poverty.
2) As I recall, Iran had a revolution in 1979 to overthrow another tyrannical puppet the US installed after the CIA mounted a coup against lawful minister Mossadagh. Maybe Heuisler can explain the Shah's Savak torturers were misunderstood choir boys.
3) As I recall, Houston's prostitutes within the US government were more successful in propping up the tyrants of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The plan in those countries being the same as it was in Iran -- to provide massive military support to keep a tyrant in power in exchange for him letting us loot his people's birthright --their only wealth and hope for a future.
4) Just as Houston's whores are currently installing a CIA puppet on top of Iraq's oil reservoirs -- and sucking up to the tyrants of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.

5) Maybe Mr Catsam and Mr Heuisler can explain to us whether it is better for a third world country to be fucked over by white foreign hypocrites preaching the joys of "democracy" or whether it is better to be fucked over by native sons.

For extra points, maybe Mr Heuisler can explain how much democracy was enjoyed in the 2000 election by those thousands of blacks in Florida -- i.e., the ones illegally disenfranchised by the government run by George W's brother.


Don Williams - 6/11/2004

Would this passionate catfight look better conducted in bikinis within a large vat of Jello?


Don Williams - 6/11/2004

I read to the end and pondered why you spent so many words
without ever making a single,strong, clear assertion. Your article ended up resembling a Saturday Night Live parody of a John Kerry speech -- in which the listener is left dizzy from all the tacking to port and starboard, lost in a fog of words and desperately trying to determine whether the speaker had a point to make and on what bearing that undiscovered point might lie.

You even have Kerry's smug, unjustified , self-satisfaction down perfectly. Although, a hysterically funny performance.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 6/11/2004

Exactly what is it about the article that is inappropriate? Is it because Ronald Reagan is dead or is it because he died so recently?


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 6/11/2004

Bill,

1) “If I said there was a ball game and one team was beaten, you would ask for the score.”

Perhaps, but the concept of winning and loosing would make sense to me. I would not contend that since you cannot produce the score, then the team may not have lost.

2) “If I referred to a widening age gap in Tucson between young and old, you would ask at what age does a person become old or cease to be young.”

Perhaps, but I would question what the word “old” or “young” means unless I was really, REALLY curious. My mind can conceptualize the terms and I know that they do have an actual definition that I could probably infer within a few years.

3) “But you insist on a "wealth gap" while providing no numbers.

Bill, with respect, I believe you are gasping at straws to simply deny the issue. Again, with respect, I believe you are merely playing word games. Allow me to quote your own words to demonstrate how rather silly this conversation is:

“Reagan years saw the largest expansion of (wealthy?) Americans in the nation's history. More middle-class, fewer poor; more succeeded, fewer failed; fewer poor as a percentage of the whole. But always a gap no matter what.”

You then say the following against me:

“Using arbitrary terms like rich and poor, making a critical point about their distance and expecting readers to nod knowingly to such polemic is importunate and insulting.”

I will not ask you, what is wealthy, what is middle-class, what is poor, what is success, and what is failure because such a question gets us know where. I know what you mean when you use the terms and so do you. What I don’t understand is why you don’t know what I mean when I use some of the same terms?!?

4) “One last time, comparing a 1980 poverty line with a 1990 poverty line, how many more poor were there after Reagan (as a percentage of the population)? Or did Bill Gates and Warren Buffet raise the wealth level - as percentage of personal income - and skew the whole thing so anybody making under $150,000 a year is listed poor? Ridiculous? No more so than a wealth gap with no limits/definitions.”

If you contend that poverty should be compared to some absolute number or foreign nations, or history, that is a fair contention. However, I cannot figure out whether that is what you are saying or whether you are denying the very existence of the economic indicator? In any event, the whole point of this (incredibly silly) discussion (which is so far removed from the topic of Ronald Reagan) is that there is a wealth gap. If Bill Gates skews the numbers, or if “poor” means making $100 million, it changes NOTHING that I have said. It may change the implications, but my statement, and that of PBS, and that of other media sources, and that of everything else I have read and heard on TV over the past week, remains accurate and true.

5) “This isn't rocket science. Answer questions; give us some real numbers and percentages. After all, you brought up the so-called wealth gap as criticism of President Reagan.”

Bill,
If I honestly believe that you were simply not gasping at straws in order to simply deny the fact, than I would gladly look them up, but I have neither the time nor inclination given the fact that you have used similar terms that I have not disputed. I am willing, for your sake, to simply cede your point that the terms “poor,” “rich,” “wealth,” and “gap” are all made up words, created by liberals for some hidden conspiratorial reason.

I am content to leave it at that.

By the way, if, as I suspect, you are merely loath to accept an economic reality and do not truely believe what you suggest, perhaps the following site will be of use to you.
http://www.inequality.org/facts.html


HNN - 6/11/2004

Mr. Cole's comments on Ronald Reagan are entirely inappropriate. Some people cannot restrain themselves even when the object of their hatred has
died. The deceased is deserving of respect and so is his family It is Mr. Cole who is meanspirited. Henry Fritz P.S. Please pass my comment along to
Mr. Cole.


Derek Charles Catsam - 6/11/2004

Ahhh, Bill. Good to see you in regular form. I have disagreed with your misconceptions of Mandela, whom you have been vicious towards. Ergo, you do not take my arguments seriously when it comes to Mugabe. Problem is, I've written enough here that you have praised, and I have more credentials on Africa than you do, (you know --lived there, worked there, PhD, publications, op-eds, etc.) so when you savage and I defend Mandela I suspect HNN's readers know what is what.
Meanwhile, Bill, I cannot help but notice that you whined about ad hominem attacks a while back. And here is what you respond with here: "Professor Catsam is a typical sycophantic white stooping to patronize black thugs in the name of Western guilt." Except, Billy Boy, I'm none of those things. I simply pointed out facts -- that Mugabe after taking power moved directly into liberal capitalism. That South Africa's racist leaders (your boys, Billy!) That after that he veered back toward a noxious form of tyranny. You'll notice that I never defended him. I simply rejeced the vacuous and banal anti-Marxism trope that infects those who are unwilling to engage in real history, who are inept at differentiating between marxism, the policy, and marxism the intellectual movement, (neither of which I embrace, which anyone who has read my voluminous articles would know. Feel free to counteract with your articles,books,op-eds,and soforth.Surelyyouhave more tooffer than comments on other peopls's posts, right, Billy?) .
As for "Land reform" one can certainly imagine where the white terrorists who stole southern African land might have had to concede some of that land in the past. Mugabe has wielded it as a weapon in the past, and he has no legitimacy now. My published record on this is clear. Your intellectual sophistry notwithstanding, there are some evils that trace back to colonialism; others to megalomoania of African leaders; others to systemic problems; and others to, yes, Bill, racism. That you would deny a legacy of racism in southern africa, and that you would be as harsh toward Mandela as you have been while at the same time defending folks like de Klerk, well, Bill, sure -- You are absolutely not a racist! Because you say so! Then you call other folks names (sycophant! Apparently you do not know what that word means -- but it sounded biting! Good work.) Problem is, Bill, no one here believes you. Other than me, of course. Because even though your only credentials on this matter of race in Africa is racist ramblings, I am sure there is some other explanation and that Occum's Razor does not hold in this situation. Keep fighting the good fight, Bill. Last time we had one of these little fights, you ran away. (Whining about name calling! The gall!) I'm sure on the main board we won't see the same cowardice. Meanwhile, Rebunk thrives. My two conservative buddies (but they are smart ones, Bill. You're best off keeping away) and I are doing quite well.
I'm sure you and the article you couldn't quite get on HNN are doing well. (Gentle Reader: Bill will pretend he was kept off for ideological or credential purposes. That's nonsense. Both conservative folks [lots and lots of them] and folks without PhDs have had articles published on HNN. Maybe, just maybe, the "quality" of argumentation he has maintained here [sycophant, he says, after whining about name calling among friends -- as we've said from this corner before, and we'll spell it phonetically so that Billy can grasp it -- Hyp-O-Crite, And whiny at that,which losespoints]. So, Bill, William, Billy -- call me out all you want. My guess is that most folks see through you.
And yes Bill,on questions of history and Africa policy, I'd say "superior" works. Thanks for noticing.

dc


John H. Lederer - 6/10/2004

Here is the actual text of the offending portion of the speech:

"What we have to do is bring back the recognition that the people of this country can solve its problems. I still believe the answer to any problem lies with the people. I believe in state's rights and I believe in people doing as much as they can for themselves at the community level and at the private level. I believe we have distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended to be given in the Constitution to that federal establishment."

I grant you that in Mississippi in 1980 the words "states' rights" might have connotations of segregation. However, the idea of states' rights is also a respectable political position, one near and dear to the founding fathers, and textualized in the Constitution.

I don't think Reagan was a racist anymore than Goldwater was, or any more than the National Governor's Conference is when they inveigh against the federal government intruding on the states.

But I do grant the words were not well chosen given the time and place -- too easily and perhaps hopefully-- misinterpreted.


Bill Heuisler - 6/10/2004

Mr. Jones,
Mugabe's Marxist roots and agenda are obvious to all.
But you'll have to excuse Catsam. Anyone who has any opinions contrary to his Alice in Africa opinions is called either dim witted or racist. Mugabe's "land reform" seizures of white-owned farms and murderous one party politics could never be an echo of Leftist tyranny. Apparently - in Mr. Catsam's cozy little world - all the evils in sub-Saharan Africa trace back to colonialism.

Professor Catsam is a typical sycophantic white stooping to patronize black thugs in the name of Western guilt. Makes him feel good. Maybe superior?
Bill Heuisler


Grant W Jones - 6/10/2004

Yep, and the Inquisition had nothing to do with Christianity.


Bill Heuisler - 6/10/2004

Adam,
One last try:
If I said there was a ball game and one team was beaten, you would ask for the score. If I referred to a widening age gap in Tucson between young and old, you would ask at what age does a person become old or cease to be young. You might even ask how many middle aged people there are after I'd told you cut-offs for young and old. But you insist on a "wealth gap" while providing no numbers.

One last time, comparing a 1980 poverty line with a 1990 poverty line, how many more poor were there after Reagan (as a percentage of the population)? Or did Bill Gates and Warren Buffet raise the wealth level - as percentage of personal income - and skew the whole thing so anybody making under $150,000 a year is listed poor? Ridiculous? No more so than a wealth gap with no limits/definitions.

This isn't rocket science. Answer questions; give us some real numbers and percentages. After all, you brought up the so-called wealth gap as criticism of President Reagan.
Bill Heuisler


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 6/10/2004

Bill,

1) “Those terms are meaningless unless you define who, how many and how much.”

Those terms are not meaningless. Perhaps not as precise as you would like, but technically accurate, which is all that I claimed. You may suggest that the poor in America should be content because they are not as bad as those living elsewhere in other times, but I do not subscribe to that claim. I really don’t know what the actual income definition of “rich” and “poor” and have not the inclination to research the matter. However, I can assume the definition is consistent across presidents and thus would still make the phrase useful as a comparative measure of the Reagan years. I am sorry if nationally recognized terms like rich and poor are insulting to you. If you would prefer me to call them something else, just let me know and I would be more than glad to.

2) “you know this is simply false. Per capita earnings increased 50%, GNP doubled, interest rates and inflation were cut in half. After the Reagan tax cuts government revenue doubled. After the Reagan tax cuts Congress increased domestic spending. After the Reagan tax cuts Americans experienced an economic boom. Where was PBS?”

Actually, this is simply true. Most Reagan supporters credit him with ending this, but you seem to simply deny it occurred. Perhaps this pro-Reagan cite will be more readily believed than PBS or anything else I can offer. It says that Ronald Reagan inherited an economy that was in the midst of its worst crisis since the Great Depression.”
http://www.ronaldreagan.com/nr_open.html

3) “The PBS piece denied reality. Schlesinger (anticipating ignorance) mouths a meaningless pejorative used by Marx and Ulyanov referring to Tsarist Russia's aristocracy vs serfs - where Arthur knows there was no middle class and where the term might have had socioeconomic relevance.”

So he is Marxist by saying that “surely the thing that did in the Russians was that time had proved communism an economic, political and moral disaster”? I have heard the term “Marxist” too many times on this site for the term to have any meaning. Please explain the term as you are using it here, because I do not know what you are in reference to.

4) “When you write of me "defending an economic policy" it becomes plain you don't even understand the point I've tried to make. Define poor. Define wealthy. Give HNN some numbers before and after, but don't attack President Reagan with meaningless terms like wealth gap unless you are prepared to define who became more poor, who became more rich, how the distance widened and how much the huge American middle class expanded during the Eighties.”

Why? To much of America, the term “wealth gap” has a meaning, and a precise economic one at that. The fact that you seem to have never heard the term or even reject its existence is your prerogative. However, if you go to any common text on economic indicators, you will find terms such as poor and rich. By all means, write to the CIA world fact book and economic texts and tell them to discontinue using such terms, but most Americans know what they mean. They must, since the press and policymakers use those terms all the time. I only know what I read about in history. If you have evidence to refute the claim, I would be glad to look it over.

5) “Yes, defining economics in imprecise terms that divide vague classes of people into opponents is exactly how Karl Marx injected poisonous ideas into the body politic.”

Okay, although I happen to find Marx to be extremely interesting. What does all this have to do with anything? Who are you accusing of being a Marxist, in what way, and even if they are a Marxist, how does that affect their specific points?

6) “Writing about a "wealth gap" is akin to writing about a "life span" and implying sinister intrigue. When you use meaningless outdated terms to critique a great man, expect to be called to account.”

Thus far, my friend, you have included a lot of words but little calling into account of anything. For the record however, the term “lifespan” does have a meaning, it is used by sociologists, doctors, and international policy analysis. Same as “wealth gap.” Both have specific meanings that are accepted by most people. If you reject the existence of such terms, that is your right and we are arguing two different things.

My argument is that the wealth gap rose during his administration, your is that there is no such thing as a “wealth gap” as I am using the term, if I understand correctly.


Derek Charles Catsam - 6/10/2004

Don --
There are ample good arguments against Reagan. But you are not making many of them. Reagan was neither the hero his followers make him out to be nor the tyrant his opponents do. Don't be afraid of a little sophistication, folks. It won't do anyone any harm. In our blog "Rebunk" I wrote an entry on Reagan. I don't make many claims for it other than as an indication that liberal historians should be able to make fair assessments of historical figures we do not like. You can find it at Rebunk --hnn.us/blogs/25.html. The specific post is http://hnn.us/blogs/entries/5522.html Rebunk consists of three historians, one liberal (me) and two "conservatives", all grad school friends, all engaged in questions of history and current events.
dc


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 6/10/2004

1) “The USSR invaded Afganistan immediately after President Carter warned us against "inordinate fear of Communism". Do you think Reagan was responsible for such an invitation? He took a bad situation and made the best of it - just as he did in Iran after Carter replaced our ally, The Shah, with our enemy, the Ayatollah. To call Afganistan, "Reagan's" is blaming a fireman for a fire.”

Well Bill, you are entitled to your opinion, but frankly this is the first that I have heard of anyone blaming Carter for American involvement in Afghanistan, given that the vast majority of aid, money, and weapons was well after Carter left office.

However, your line about Carter and the Shah is totally wrong and rather strange. I am not really sure to begin and I have no interest in outlining Iranian history for you, but the Shah was put in power in the 1950’s during the Eisenhower administration. The Revolution was caused by his corruption, not by President Carter. I do not know where you get your history, but Iran suffered from a revolution in 1979, not a US coup of some kind, as you suggest.

2) “In a similar vein, quoting Gorbachev to explain the fall of the USSR is like asking Wilson about the LON - his view is obstructed by his mirror and a need to appear creditable in some way. Why not quote Thatcher?”

Why quote Thatcher, or Reagan, or any other policy maker on “our” side? Would that not be equally bias? I could cite scholars and academics, but if you don’t mind me making a speculation, I believe that you are just as likely to dismiss them. In any event, I am willing to concede that, at the most, the reasons for the collapse are open to debate.

3) “While Governor he was favored by most California unions because they perceived him as fair and even pro-union because of his past. In fact, Adam, name another union he opposed or broke.”

The Teamsters is one other example. Reagan implemented trucking deregulation, causing steady decline in the Teamster membership rolls for the first time since the Depression. With each year, big business lobbyists eroded labor law and took the teeth out of its enforcement. The Teamsters joined the rest of the labor movement on a slide that led many to predict labor's demise. In fairness to Reagan, this trend of deregulation and labor damage was already beginning when he took office and probably would have proceeded in any event, but the heavy deregulation during his tenure certainly help precipitate it.

4) “People who attend college create wealth. People who displace the elderly create wealth. Who creates Pell grants and Social Security? People who have created a little wealth for themselves (you and me) each donate a part of our wealth to the future.”

Correct, and then those programs go on to create more wealth. If you are arguing that you need some wealth to create wealth, you will get no disagreement from me.

5) “Government creates nothing except as an instrument of the people who form and instruct its function. To posit otherwise rejects the republican ideal of self government that does only what the individual cannot do himself.”

This seems like a rather circular argument. The government built many major highways during the 1950’s. Did the government create those highways? Well, I guess no, people built them paid by the government, but not really the government since it was taxpayers who paid the workers, and so on. Do you see what I mean? Your argument is that the government does not create wealth. I disagree. The creation of wealth is at the very least facilitated by government laws, regulations, and indeed, social programs.


Derek Charles Catsam - 6/10/2004

Thanbo Mbeki is working hard to get Mugabe and Tsvangirai to the table. Until the latter can get an election victory, this may be the best we can hope for.
Mugabe was a liberation hero when he preached Marxism. Upon assuming office he immedoiately became a market capitalist in a way that shocked both the white regime in Pretoria and the United States. Then he became a kleptocrat and thug. This has nothing to do with Marxism or matters right or left and everything to do with tyrants, who do not fit into any simple American ideological schema, no matter how much people might try to use these sorts of examples to make dimwitted commentary on "the left " or "the right."
dc


Bill Heuisler - 6/10/2004

Adam,
You need better sources with more precise terminology.
You quote Schlesinger as though it were Holy Writ:
"In eight Reagan years the gap between rich and poor Americans was greater than...half a century."

Those terms are meaningless unless you define who, how many and how much. If you take the richest ten people in the world and decide the last is poor by some standard (not mentioned by you or Schlesinger) then a gap between first and last can be measured. Using arbitrary terms like rich and poor, making a critical point about their distance and expecting readers to nod knowingly to such polemic is importunate and insulting.

Then you cite PBS, "He (Reagan) cut the benefits of millions and watched Americans suffer through the hardest economic times since the Great Depression..."
Adam, you know this is simply false. Per capita earnings increased 50%, GNP doubled, interest rates and inflation were cut in half. After the Reagan tax cuts government revenue doubled. After the Reagan tax cuts Congress increased domestic spending. After the Reagan tax cuts Americans experienced an economic boom. Where was PBS?

The PBS piece denied reality. Schlesinger (anticipating ignorance) mouths a meaningless pejorative used by Marx and Ulyanov referring to Tsarist Russia's aristocracy vs serfs - where Arthur knows there was no middle class and where the term might have had socioeconomic relevance.
Question is, do you know?

When you write of me "defending an economic policy" it becomes plain you don't even understand the point I've tried to make. Define poor. Define wealthy. Give HNN some numbers before and after, but don't attack President Reagan with meaningless terms like wealth gap unless you are prepared to define who became more poor, who became more rich, how the distance widened and how much the huge American middle class expanded during the Eighties.

Yes, defining economics in imprecise terms that divide vague classes of people into opponents is exactly how Karl Marx injected poisonous ideas into the body politic.
Read his "Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844" (published in 1932). Read all volumes of Das Kapital and notice how the so-called wealth gap is central to the Marxist theory of class conflict. Also please notice that the European sociopolitical "realities" that supposedly existed on the crest of industrialization over a century ago do not even remotely resemble the documented economic realities of mid-eighties US.

Writing about a "wealth gap" is akin to writing about a "life span" and implying sinister intrigue. When you use meaningless outdated terms to critique a great man, expect to be called to account.
Bill Heuisler


Grant W Jones - 6/10/2004

I know. This latest land grap is only another nail in Zimbabwe's coffin. I am aware of the existence of lease-hold property. It is a common thing here in Hawaii. Although buyers should beware and know the difference between fee simple and lease-hold. But it works in the States because these communities are part of a nation that has the rule of law. Mugabe is a lawless tyrant, so his lease-hold scheme can only make a bad situation worse.


Benjamin Scott Crawford - 6/10/2004

AHHH - OK - I'm with you. I agree with you in regard to all that you stated about the strategic importance of Grenada. I did not mention that aspect simply because I was going in a different direction with my argument - my focus was on bringing pride back to America and recognizing the need for certain improvements in the military. You are correct, though, in regard to the strategic points you mention - thanks for the info.


Don Williams - 6/10/2004

In your post above starting this thread, you indicated that Grenada was overly costly in lives but you noted
the positive aspects: (a) a boost in military morale and
(b) exposure of weaknesses in US military operations that were subsequently fixed. Rather small accomplishments, given that you came here to praise Reagan, not to bury him.

Your comments did not reflect the real importance of the Grenada invasion, why it was strategically significant, and the enormous benefits it bought to the US. That is why I judged that you failed to recognize how much Reagan had accomplished in the Grenada affair.


Don Williams - 6/10/2004

-- certainly their oft-proclaimed loyalty to their
constituents (the 99% who do not give them $100,000
campaign donations ) is demonstrably a crock of bull.
I don't care who Clinton screwed -- why don't Republicans
want to discuss who screwed the US voters out of $7.1 Trillion over the past 3 Republican Administrations.

Clinton's affair with Monica arguably hurt Hillary.
Republicans, by contrast, deliberately destroy the lives of millions. Babies and elderly die for lack of medical care -- and the impact will be far worse in the future as
the impact of the Reagan/Bush debt hits the retiring
(and bankrupt) baby boom generation. Thousands die of homicides because the Republicans feel that poor citizens of our cities are not entitled to police protection, jobs, or the education necessary to gain a job and have a viable career. Thousands died on the Sept 11 because George W lied to Arab Americans during the 2000 election --then turned around in June 2001 and sold Sharon 53 F16 fighter jets with which to bomb the Palestians.


Benjamin Scott Crawford - 6/10/2004

Adam,

No offense taken - The only thing that has upset me is the essay above and the assault on Reagan's character.

I too am sorry if I said anything that upset you.

1- Well, I still maintain that the oath is a little more serious than giving wine at communion to a child - and besides, most churches of which I know use grape fruit because of that very issue (and its cheaper). There was still a principle at stake here - a lie under oath is a lie under oath, no matter who or how many people are hurt. Clinton lying under oath showed a disdain for the entire system - a lack of respect for our nation's institutions. For the president, of all people, he should serve as a model for us - and by no means should he be above the law.

2- Agreed

3- Very true - Bush had backed Saddam into a corner and he was conceding - but it was still to a large degree under his terms; and of course we all realize that Bush wanted to take down that regime (he could have just been a little more Machiavellian in his maneuvering). I maintain he was correct in doing this - the region will become, and already is, more stable, a potential threat is now neutralized, and Bush has demonstrated that the Bush Doctrine is real and nations had better think twice before tying themselves to international terrorist organizations - I STRONGLY recommend SURPRISE, SECURITY, AND THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE by John Lewis Gaddis - he had an essay a few weeks ago on HNN which is basically the first chapter from his book. I enjoyed it, you may as well.

"Inspections worked during the 1990’s"

No they didn't - inspectors left due to Saddam's reluctance to aid them - and there were still two shells - if inspections were successful, why were not these shells found? Those stockpiles could be hidden anywhere - this will not be resolved for quite some time. The very fact these two shells appeared, as well as evidence of mustard gas, shows that there is indeed a WMD connection somewhere.

As far as connections with 9/11 and Al Qaeda, again, evidence gathered as a result of Saddam's capture and the finding of government papers is revealing some connection - any connection at all, even just providing aid and comfort, is justification for regime change.

4- Well, in 50 years I will probably give up on finding WMDs; but, sorry, I truly believe the weapons are there, or are now in Syria or Iran.

5- Cool

6- Well, as I stated - had we had a president not involved in so many scandals he may have been able to accomplish something. As far as the other presidents not being as effective, the oil embargo struck in 1973 resulting largely from the US's support of Israel during the previous Arab-Israeli conflict - all before Carter. Carter had other problems that weakened his ability to lead - an energy crisis, amnesty to draft dodgers, stagflation, Iranian hostage crisis, and disco (ha ha) - yet even Carter pulled off a coup and brought Egypt and Israel together, to some degree. Reagan continued to carry out his agenda - under more difficult circumstances, yes, but successful nonetheless. Nixon, of course, had done something just as horrible as Clinton. Which, by the way, according to your above argument in point 1, was not really all that bad either since no one was really hurt - a burglary that really didn't do anything was committed, Nixon lied and facilitated a cover-up, but really, so what? Well, obviously a principle was violated - it was wrong and Nixon should not have been pardoned - which is what REALLY hurt Ford, not that he was the first, and thus far only, president not elected as vice president or president.

7- True - that is in essence what I am stating.

Take care!


William C. Berman - 6/10/2004

I thank Mr. Lederer for his correction. I was mistaken in having located Reagan's speech in Philadelphia, Miss, not the Neshoba County fair--alas, I was off by six miles. But I remind readers that Reagan's speech that day was a passionate defense of states'rights. Surely no white southerner of a certain persuasion could have missed what he was saying on matters of racial import. Which is why those remarks had the political appeal they had among many southerners during the 1980 campaign and beyond.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 6/10/2004

“Coles anaylsis of Reagan IS a Marxist interpretation. Cole's argument is structured completely around captialist elites (Reagan) and the "people" (Reagan's victims).”

Interesting. The definition of Marxist than is anyone who criticizes elites in favor of the people? To me, there is much more to it than that. Under your definition, the writing of the Founding Fathers in the Federalist Papers could very easily be viewed as Marxists and certainly that of the anti-Federalists.

1) “Cole definitely implies that Johnson's concern for the poor stemmed from a close relationship with them. My argument was similar(and not replied to).”

I did not reply because I do not disagree, Reagan did come from a poor background. However, I do not agree that Cole made such an argument and thus should not be attacked for it. As I have said before, reading the article did not leave me with any in depth insight into Johnson’s psychology. I will give you this: his mention of Johnson’s background without Reagan’s is a criticism, but hardly major.

2) “The point being that so-called "liberals" do not always know what is good for the down and out.”

Neither Cole nor myself ever made that contention. However since you bring it up, I would never say that liberals always know what is better for the poor, but I will say that the poor will usually be better off with liberals than with conservatives. Just my opinion.

2a) “Most of my own immediate family is what would be called the "working poor" and yet hold many "conservative" values and reject the welfare state. Are these poor people, then, enemies of the people?”

I don’t recall either Cole or myself calling conservatives enemies of the people. His article addresses only Ronald Reagan and his administration, nothing more.

3) “I am also more than happy to argue that, as above, the "people" are not naturally "liberal."

You confuse liberalism with Democratic party platform. Many people support liberal policies and continue to support them. For example, free education, social security, the FDA, the right to sue for negligence, emergency healthcare for the poor, and so on are all examples of liberal policies (note that the FDA was initiated by a Republican, as well). School prayer and abortion are political issues that one party has taken a position on. Ideologically however, one can be a liberal or conservative and still be for or against it.

4) “Cole, however, wants to imply that populism means the "people" as a whole. By using the term "Sandinista populism," he wanted to argue, falsely, that the Sandinistas represented the people where as the counter-revolutionaries were the pawns of capitalist elites.”

A valid criticism. I, too, think Cole was wrong to apply the term to the government, which was corrupt and brutal to the people.

5) “Coles does say that Communism was on its last legs in the Soviet Union. However, this is a analysis of the Soviet Union and not the flaws of Communist, a standard neo-Marxist argument. Cole implies that the Soviets had it better in his recounting of other Soviet experts who suggest that the Russian people were really living in an utopia. If he did not wish to imply this, why did he include that debate?”

I am curious, in what way does Cole imply this? Frankly, I believe this to be a straw man argument in which you are saying that Cole is making an argument he simply does not make in this brief article. In what way did he include any discussion of the pros and cons of Communism in the debate? His reference to the Soviet Union was in the context of what Reagan did or did not do to end it, nothing more.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 6/10/2004

Bill,
You are incorrect.
1) “You repeat a myth - an urban legend - when you criticize any administration for a so-called "wealth gap"… Class-warfare. Marxist nonsense and beneath you, Adam.”

Pointing out an economic situation is not Marxist. Perhaps by defending an economic policy, you are practicing class warfare? Perhaps you are a Marxist? There. Now, where did that get us? On to the real issue:

“In eight Reagan years, the gap between rich and poor Americans was greater than it had been for half a century.”
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5147744/site/newsweek/
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/reagan/sfeature/excerptbosch.html

This is simply a fact. I am sorry if you are so uncomfortable with it. By all means, explain how the pro’s outweigh the con’s, or try to say it was not Reagan’s doing, or whatever you like. But denying this reality and then accusing me of Marxism for pointing it out seems a bit pointless.

2) “Think about that "wealth gap" statement a moment. Imagine no wealth gap. How? We'd all be poor or we'd all be rich, but there could not be even one poor person or there'd still be a wealth gap...unless we defined poor as rich.”

Okay, a fine point, but the gap still existed and that was my point. To me, this is a bad thing for this country. I may be wrong on the interpretation, but not the on point of fact.

3) “But how do you define poor? Poor Americans are wealthy by Cairo/Manila/Monterey/Naples/Patrai standards. Many Americans live in conditions undreamed of by ancient kings while earning less than $50,000 a year.”

Correct, and they are poor by American standards and really, would have it judged any other way? Your point would be true if all but 1% of the country lived in poverty. Is that really a defense, better to be poor in America that rich in 6th century London, so it is all good?

4) “So, Adam, realize there will always be a wealth gap as long as there are less fortunate Americans and there are politicians who wish to create class envy for votes.”

Of course there will always be a wealth gap, but the size, substance, and ability to overcome it is what matters. To take your post literally, one might just as easily assume that nothing throughout American history was good or bad for the economy since, hey, there will always be a wealth gap.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 6/10/2004

Ben,
I think we both got a little heated in our discussion, which is fine (what else is political debate for?). In any event, if I said anything that offended you, please accept my apologies, it was not my intent.

That said, on to t6he post: Most of it, I agree with, and here are my comments towards the rest of it:
1) “Think about it Adam. What if someone lied under oath and swore out a warrant for your arrest. You would be arrested simply based on that lie”

Your analogy may be technically accurate, but in reality it is not accurate. Giving a child a glass of wine during communion is as much a crime as giving a child some beer during a rave party, but most people see a very practical difference. Clinton’s “crime” was, in my mind and in many others, simply a knee-jerk reaction to a question about his fidelity to his wife. It had nothing to do with Whitewater, very little to do in the Paula Jones case, and served no other purpose than to embarrass him. The oath is very serious, as if alcohol laws, but like the example above, most Americans see a very real difference. Who suffered, other than Clinton, his family, and Lewinsky because of his lie?

2) “Clinton's lack of character hurt this nation at a very deep level. I think if we are going to look at the Founders, we should remember the importance they stressed on virtue and character - the issues you point out about Clinton all reveal how correct the Founders were.”

You will get no argument from me. Clinton did lack character and although I believe the impeachment was a nasty partisan smear campaign, that does not change the fact that for many, MANY other reasons, Clinton cared only about one person: Clinton. I disagree with Bush because I disagree with his issues, but I will give him this: at least he has the conviction and courage to do what he believes is right (even if I think he is wrong). Clinton had no such conviction. THAT should have been his legacy, not lying about an affair.

3) “Well, Bush's comments were based on bad intelligence - or were they?
a- First, and foremost - Iraq was in violation of the cease fire of Gulf War I

This is very true, and the world admitted this before the war. Where they (and I) disagreed was the contention that the alternative to invasion was doing nothing. Prior to the invasion, Bush (to his credit) forced Saddam to give in to virtually every demand he made. Had it ended there, I for one would have praised Bush for the move.

b- WMDs have not been found in Iraq - no, THEY HAVE BEEN USED AGAINST US TROOPS! Saran nerve agent was USED - no, not much, but it is a start.

It is unfortunate that war supporters are forced to rely on such a small event to justify their pre-war claims. We did not go into Iraq because we feared that some shells that had WMD might not have been destroyed. We went in because of stockpiles of WMD’s of all kinds that could be used against us or sold to terrorists. Thus far, many people such as David Kay say that there is simply no evidence that they were there before the invasion.

Don’t get me wrong, the 2 shells that we have found is certainly news, and something to be concerned about. Certainly, it proved that Saddam lied and that Iraq had something, and I don’t mean to dismiss it. However, was the only way to get rid of those 2 shells (and others if we find them) an invasion and occupation? Inspections worked during the 1990’s, why did Bush not give them a chance to work now, and if not, THEN we could have taken further action? That is the question this administration has never answered.
http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/01/25/sprj.nirq.kay/index.html

c- “Iraq CLEARLY had ties to Al Qaeda - the individual who brutally cut off Berg's head is part of Al Qaeda, and records now prove that HE WAS IN IRAQ GETTING MEDICAL TREATMENT FOR SOME TIME”

I really don’t know how extensive the connection was, although it does appear that we had more members of the group in America than Iraq, and certainly in other countries such as Pakistan and Syria. In any event, before the war, many analysts believed that the evidence for a connection, if it existed at all, was very weak, and Bush himself admitted that there was no evidence of ANY link between Iraq and the attacks of 9/11:
http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/03/11/Iraq.Qaeda.link/
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A19822-2003Jun21?language=printer
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/2727471.stm
http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Anthropology/publications/General_Powell.htm
http://usgovinfo.about.com/b/a/001532.htm
http://www.americanprogress.org/site/pp.asp?c=biJRJ8OVF&b=23816

4) “It is still too early to entirely condemn Bush. If he KNOWINGLY lied to the American people, yeah, then there is an issue. But that does not seem to be the case at this point.”

Frankly, and I mean this without a hint of resentment, I do not believe there will ever be a time when many conservatives will find it an issue. Before the war, the administration said many things about Iraq and after the war, much of that information has not yet been found and there is little reason to believe that it will be. Since one cannot prove a negative, I suspect that in 50 years, many will still claim that WMD massive stockpiles will be found… one day. (NOTE I say many, not all. A notable exception: http://www.nydailynews.com/front/story/163375p-143201c.html)

5) “As far as hypocrisy, well, there is hypocrisy in every organization - but whereas you can list conservative hypocrisy, I could go toe to toe with you listing liberal hypocrisy.”

Fair enough.

6) “If Clinton had gone to the UN, as did Bush, if Clinton made his case against Iraq, as did Bush, if Clinton had character and had not gotten himself mired in a host of domestic issues, as is the case with Bush, I think he could have gotten Congress and the American people behind a strike, a real strike, against Iraq”

This may or may not be true, I am at least confident that he could have gotten the support of the American people and the international community. However, on this one event, I do not blame his lack of conviction. He was operating under impeachment, never an easy task, while trying to take the country into combat. It was an impossible situation, as I see it. Certainly, an examination of presidents in personal crises (Nixon during Watergate, Carter during the oil embargo, Ford for being unelected, and even Reagan after Iran-Contra) demonstrate that operating as an effective international leader is almost impossible.

7) “Granted, 9/11 helped Bush tremendously - I dare say he would have had a hard time, if not impossible time, getting the support he had with 9/11 - he could learn much from Reagan.”

According to Colin Powell and Madaline Albright, under oath, they both said that before 9/11, military action against al Qeada and the Taliban would have been politically impossible and militarily unfeasible.

The remainder of your post is overall well grounded, even I may disagree here and there.


Benjamin Scott Crawford - 6/10/2004

OK - folks - calm down - that one statement was just an observation - a GENERALIZATION - not an absolute; I did not mean you specifically, Mr. Williams - in fact, I was not even referring to you. The only thing from you for which I am still waiting is an explanation above about how you seem to suggest that I did not support Reagan's decision to invade Grenada - how it is "hilarious that Reagan's defenders fail to recognize his accomplishments as well as his major failures" - again, which accomplishment did I mention that I did not recognize as such?


Ralph E. Luker - 6/10/2004

Actually, Mr. Jones, Mugabe made a disaster of Zimbabwe long before the change in land ownership announced in the article to which you refer in the _Washington Times_. On its face, the proposed change is not nearly so radical as the title of your comment suggests. It isn't so much a Marxist proposal as it is one inspired by the American reformer, Henry George. I lived for six very pleasant years in an American community which functioned on Henry George's "single tax" principles. I didn't own the land on which my house was built. I owned a 99 year lease on the land. The lease was renewable and inheritable. My not owning clear title to the land did not in any way diminish the marketability of the property. In fact, I sold the lease at a very substantial profit. Mugabe has made a disaster of Zimbabwe, but this latest proposal of his is not, itself, disasterous.


Don Williams - 6/9/2004

In above, Mr Crawford noted: "It is only an observation that many of the individuals whom I see on the news and writing essays on HNN are older individuals who were part of the various protest movements or at least sympathized with those movements. It is simply speculation that some came of age at a time when it was cool to "drop out" and challenge the establishment. As I noted in my post above, yes, that movement was on the way out by the end of the 1970s as a conservative swing was beginning to define the US political culture and society - Reagan was the culmination of that conservatism"

What utter rot. In 1973 I was in the Young Republican club at the University of Virginia -- a very small group at that time, I assure you.

Today, this "liberal" is a long time member of the NRA and charter subscriber to Pat Buchanan's "American Conservative". Real conservatives --like Barry Goldwater -- would regard today's Republican sellouts with all the affection they would have shown to dogshit on their shoes. What part of "America First" do you not understand?

Do you think Goldwater would have approved of George W's sellout to the Israeli lobby -- to George's attempt to bury his nose deeper in
Haim Saban's butt than the Democrats?


Don Williams - 6/9/2004

Given that Money is the Republican god, I would have thought $7.1 Trillion in debt would constitute
"substance".

It seems to me that Mr Heuisler, like the people at Fox News, diverts the national discourse with irrelevant trivia while averting his eyes from the primary issues.

A strangely cavalier attitude,
given that AARP will, in a few years, certainly
push Congress to shake Mr Heuisler down for his share
( $116,400 plus interest ) of the Reagan /Bush debt.

heh heh heh


John H. Lederer - 6/9/2004

The "started his capmpaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi" story is a nice bit of innuendo circulating of late -- it is true (well, not quite, but 6 miles close) , but it avoids the real story.

Reagan didn't start his campaign in Philadelphia. He started it at the Neshoba County Fair which is a traditional place to campaign in the South. (Yes, the Neshoba County Fair is near Philadelphia-- it is about 6 miles away). It is not your typical County Fair -- it has 600 cabins, campgrounds, and used to have a hotel.It becomes a little "mini-city" of vacationers during the fair.

According to the little history blurb on the fair's website:


"In 1896 Governor McLaurin spoke at the Fair which began the tradition of the Neshoba County Fair as a political forum for local, state, and national politicians. Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp and John Glenn are among the national figures who have visited the Fair during their campaigns."


Grant W Jones - 6/9/2004

While American leftists fiddle i.e. natter on about the evils of capitalism and free trade, the real deal is setting up yet another Marxist famine with the potential to kill millions.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/upi-breaking/20040609-121312-3881r.htm

If that link doesn't work just check out the latest news from Zimbabwe. Will Mugabe's horror ever end?


B. S. Crawford - 6/9/2004

Adam - jeez, 14 Points - do you think you are Wilson - ha ha, just kidding. OK, here goes:

1- Cool

2- Adam, I don't want to make too much out of this one - I cannot claim to "know" what motivates everyone. It is only an observation that many of the individuals whom I see on the news and writing essays on HNN are older individuals who were part of the various protest movements or at least sympathized with those movements. It is simply speculation that some came of age at a time when it was cool to "drop out" and challenge the establishment. As I noted in my post above, yes, that movement was on the way out by the end of the 1970s as a conservative swing was beginning to define the US political culture and society - Reagan was the culmination of that conservatism. Such liberals were now out of touch with many Americans as "dropping out" was no longer hip - everything the hippie movement abhorred became the new "cool" of the decade – I cannot help but think of Abbie Hoffman and his tragic suicide during the 1980s. I just speculate that some liberals, frustrated with such changes, seem to have focused their rage on Reagan - why, heck, I don't know - this is just a guess with no real evidence, per se, except for looking at many who criticize. Remember, this would only include a small group - I also mention those who came of age politically during the Clinton years and missed out on the Reagan Revolution. Don't read too much into this one – I did not mean to purport to have some psychological edge that allows me to know what motivates something as complicated as a liberal.

3- Cool

4- Possibly

5- True, the post-Cold War era left much in the air as to how the US military should function and be organized - the absence of a major military threat in the form of the Soviet Union allowed primarily Clinton the freedom to cut back forces - and an American public eagerly embracing the euphoria of "peace" asked, indeed demanded, for a president that would concentrate more on domestic issues rather than foreign policy. As a result, as many historians and policy maker have noted, including Kissinger, the Clinton presidency was marked by a foreign policy with no real vision. This in turn facilitated the debate as to what the US military should look like and DID lead to cuts. Numerous commentators have discussed decline in morale and the fact that the military lost some, but by NO means all, of its edge. Downsizing has been a factor, not necessarily the only factor, that has led to the need to heavily rely on reserves and the National Guard.

6- I do not entirely agree. Tocqueville as well as all of the Founding Fathers would be appalled at the level the wellfare state has reached in the country. Help for the poor, which has ALWAYS been available in this nation, should come more through volunteerism and churches - at least that is what the Founders believed. And as far as healthy males - if you live off of the government, then you MUST work in some manner. Obviously, due a highly more complex industrial economy, such ideals have waned and there is a real need for state assistance - something Reagan never denied. However, rather than tax tax tax and then spend the money on the poor, providing no incentives to get off of wellfare, why not cut taxes and allow for economic growth in the private sector. This did help turn the economy around, leading to the largest peacetime economic growth in America's history - and outside of a setback during father Bush, that tide continued to grow during the 1990s - the fact that the US economy has NEVER gone back to pre-Reagan economic woes is a testament to Reagan's economic policy. But I digress. Reagan believed that economic growth in the private sector would allow individuals to find fairly good jobs, thus lowering the number of people on wellfare, and thus allowing for a reduction in entitlements. Thus, the government WAS creating an environment where individuals could help themselves - people could keep more of their own money – spend it or invest it. While yes, the wealthy did benefit, of which I am by no means a part, they deserved it - they pay a grossly disproportionate amount in taxes; tax reform should therefore begin at the top. Total self-absorption? Well, while Madonna's song "Material Girl" did sum up part of the eighties, it was not the whole story. Remember, Reagan led to Bush's "thousand points of light" - yes, you may laugh, but that form of volunteerism is more in line with Tocqueville and the Founders.

7- Well, I don't agree. I think the crime did warrant impeachment - and expulsion. Think about it Adam. What if someone lied under oath and swore out a warrant for your arrest. You would be arrested simply based on that lie - and if the individual was extremely cruel, he or she might force the matter to go to court - a night in jail for you, a trial, and if you don't have an alibi and others lie under oath, you may be in big trouble - would you be mad? Would you want that individual to be punished? Well, they would, if proven that he or she lied, because it is against the law. The oath is extremely important. To quote George Washington's Farewell Address:

“Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice?”

Clinton's lack of character hurt this nation at a very deep level. I think if we are going to look at the Founders, we should remember the importance they stressed on virtue and character - the issues you point out about Clinton all reveal how correct the Founders were.

8- I totally disagree - see above, point 7. Lying under oath is ANYTHING BUT speeding.

9- Well, Bush's comments were based on bad intelligence - or were they? First, and foremost - Iraq was in violation of the cease fire of Gulf War I - the UN recognized this and put forth a resolution allowing for force (this, of course, was the resolution that the UN then later backed away from). Second - WMDs have not been found in Iraq - no, THEY HAVE BEEN USED AGAINST US TROOPS! Saran nerve agent was USED - no, not much, but it is a start. Third, Iraq CLEARLY had ties to Al Qaeda - the individual who brutally cut off Berg's head is part of Al Qaeda, and records now prove that HE WAS IN IRAQ GETTING MEDICAL TREATMENT FOR SOME TIME – Saddam was giving aid and comfort to our enemy. Also, records have revealed that a representative from Iraq did meet with Al Qaeda reps before 9/11. It is still too early to entirely condemn Bush. If he KNOWINGLY lied to the American people, yeah, then there is an issue. But that does not seem to be the case at this point.

As far as hypocrisy, well, there is hypocrisy in every organization - but whereas you can list conservative hypocrisy, I could go toe to toe with you listing liberal hypocrisy.

10- If Clinton had gone to the UN, as did Bush, if Clinton made his case against Iraq, as did Bush, if Clinton had character and had not gotten himself mired in a host of domestic issues, as is the case with Bush, I think he could have gotten Congress and the American people behind a strike, a real strike, against Iraq - again, this is why character is SOOOO important. Not damned if you do, damned if you don't - had he been a statesman and not a politician, as was the case with Reagan, he could have rallied people behind what would have been a just cause. Granted, 9/11 helped Bush tremendously - I dare say he would have had a hard time, if not impossible time, getting the support he had with 9/11 - he could learn much from Reagan.

11- But my morals are evenly applied - that is my point. Nixon- should have been impeached - never should have been pardoned. Reagan, yes - investigation into Iran-Contra was needed - it was not proven, though. George W. - if he lied to America to go to war - impeach him! However, except for Nixon, the other post 1968 presidents, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Bush, have in no way had the character flaws, which in turn hurt the country, as Clinton; again, this is not me as a conservative speaking, it is simply me as a concerned citizen.

12- Yeah, sorry; I just really cannot think off of the top of my head anything Clinton did that was outstanding and exceptional in a positive light.

13- OK

14- Yes, I used hyperbole and I am sorry.


B. S. Crawford - 6/9/2004

Thanks Bill - good points. In my haste I forgot to address these points.

It is true that during the 1980s the US witnessed the greatest peacetime economic growth in the nation's history up to that point - the economy, overall, continued to grow during the 1990s - only to falter for a second time in a decade or so toward the end of the Clinton years (the first lag, of course, was during George Bush's term) - hopefully, and all signs indicate this, the economy is now rebounding yet again. NEVER did the economy drop to pre-Reagan years with double digit inflation and unemployment – thus the Reagan Revolution helped move the economy in a direction that was quite positive.


Don Williams - 6/9/2004

1) The US defense budget is more than the COMBINED defense budgets of the next 23 largest military powers.
Most of those powers are our NATO allies. See
http://www.cdi.org/program/document.cfm?DocumentID=1040&StartRow=1&ListRows=10&appendURL=&Orderby=D.DateLastUpdated&ProgramID=15&from_page=index.cfm

While we are spending $400 billion/year Russia is spending around $65 billion and China around $45 billion.
The much vaunted Hussein's Iraq defense budget was on the order of $1.4 billion.

2) Note to mention the fact that our huge expenditures in the past has built up a military that is heads and shoulders above the rest of the world combined.

3) A look at the numbers --which our corrupt news media never discusses -- shows the extent to which Republicans are such lying shitheads. Our "defense" is not set up to defend the continental US --it is set up to defend a global empire. Our plutocrats have laid off millions of American workers and moved US capital overseas because of cheap labor. But they wouldn't have invested hundreds of billions overseas if they had not been sure that their whores in Washington would safeguard their foreign investments --with the blood and life savings of America's workers. As I noted above , Bush's foreign military adventures are being paid for by him stealing $Trillions from Social Security and Medicare.

4) On the one hand, American voters are so fucking stupid
they almost deserve to be screwed. But it's not really their fault. When mom and daddy come home in the evening , they are exhausted and their children want attention. US voters don't have time to do research --they assume that the US news media pretty much tell them
the truth , the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

But whores like Tim Russert, Tom Brokaw, and Peter Jennings did not become millionaires by telling the voters the truth -- they became millionaires by shovelling out whatever lying swill they're handed every evening.

We have Ronald Reagan to thank for overturning "fair coverage" laws in the 1980s and for allowing independent TV corporations to be bought out by greedy assholes like Jack Welch of General Electric (known as "Neutron Jack" for his massive layoffs).

5) As a result, we have the taxpayers paying for a string of new US airbases in Central Asia under the guise of the "war on terror" -- whereas what they're really guarding is Houston's billion dollar investments to seize the huge Caspian Sea oil deposits. Same reason why Bush sacrificed the lives of 800 US soldiers to grab Iraq's oil deposits by installing long time CIA puppet Allawi.

5) Meanwhile, no one bothered to ask why we need to spend an additional $60 billion /year for a Department of Homeland Security. If our Department of Defense is NOT providing homeland security ,then what the hell is it doing with the $400 billion/year we give to it?? Why were 19 Saudi Arabians able to pull off Sept 11? Why was NO ONE in the government fired?


Bill Heuisler - 6/9/2004

Adam,
You repeat a myth - an urban legend - when you criticize any administration for a so-called "wealth gap".
You wrote,(Reagan) "...spread the wealth gap in this country to record levels, and while more people became rich in the 1980’s than ever before, the gap between rich and poor was also at its peak."

Nonsense. Dare I say Chomskyist or a Zinnist? Class-warfare. Marxist nonsense and beneath you, Adam.

There can't be a real wealth gap in a volatile society without a very specific misuse of terms. Once forced to be specific, you will realize that the so-called wealth gap is fanciful use of statistics for political purposes. Reagan years saw the largest expansion of (wealthy?) Americans in the nation's history. More middle-class, fewer poor; more succeeded, fewer failed; fewer poor as a percentage of the whole. But always a gap no matter what.

Think about that "wealth gap" statement a moment. Imagine no wealth gap. How? We'd all be poor or we'd all be rich, but there could not be even one poor person or there'd still be a wealth gap...unless we defined poor as rich.
But how do you define poor? Poor Americans are wealthy by Cairo/Manila/Monterey/Naples/Patrai standards. Many Americans live in conditions undreamed of by ancient kings while earning less than $50,000 a year. Reagan didn't eradicate poverty, but there were fewer poverty-line (poor?) and more middle-class (wealthy?) Americans after his Presidency than there were during Carter's.

So, Adam, realize there will always be a wealth gap as long as there are less fortunate Americans and there are politicians who wish to create class envy for votes.
Bill Heuisler


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 6/9/2004

1) I stated he was a terrific LEADER - that is what is not debatable - NOT his performance. I believe that most of his critics tend to agree that his style of leadership was, overall, quite successful.”

A fair statement.

2) “Missing the "good ole days" is not "absurd." Some individuals miss the days of Woodstock, fighting the power, etc. Reagan helped move the nation away from that, not that those movements were already in a rapid state of decline and were basically dead.”

The claim that liberals think that Reagan was mean because they missed protesting the government is, in my opinion, an absurd accusation. Indeed, some do miss the protests and other aspects of the 1960’s. However, I do not recall anyone blaming Reagan for the end of the movement, which had pretty much morphed into radical zealotry by the 1970’s, and was tapering off in any event by the time Reagan cam to office.

3) “I do not believe in any way shape or form that those who dislike Reagan hate America - on the contrary…I believe that ALL people are equal and should have EQUAL access to all institutions - NO group should ever be dicriminated against in any way or manner.”

This entire section of your post is a well-written defense of policy and I have no objection to it. I disagree with some of it, but they are fair claims to make. If I misinterpreted your post to believe that you were insinuating that people who hate Reagan hate America, the mistake is mine and I apologize for it.

4) “The attack on liberals as being "un-American" is entirely false, whereas the propaganda used against conservatives as being mean is well-engrained in the population. The patriotism of liberals may be questioned, but that does not make them un-American. I agree, though, that labels come from both sides, and even labeling liberals unpatriotic is wrong. I was simply addressing the "mean" label since it is again perpetuated in the above essay.”

Again, a fair accusation. However, the idea that conservatives are mean is not as well ingrained I think as some other labels from both sides.

5) “here is a third choice: Clinton did hurt the morale of US troops and he did cut military expenditures, and he downsized the military (thus the need to rely so heavily on the reserves).”

That is a possibility, but I do not agree with it. Clinton did indeed try to cut military expenditures, but then so did President H.W. Bush. After the end of the Cold War, there was (and remains) serious questions about what our military should look like. The need to rely heavily on the reserves is the result of poor planning and the inability of policymakers to make difficult decisions as to resource allocation, not the result of Clinton’s policies towards the military. Contrary to the grim picture of the military painted by some conservatives during the Clinton administration, I have seen no evidence that their performance or their morale has been hindered in any way from his presidency.

6) “I think the new-individualism that emerged during the 1980s is something that modern liberalism hates.”

I agree, but this new individualism was not individualism that Toquville noted, whereby people were being helped to help themselves, it was an individualism that repudiated help for the poor at all, in favor of total self-absorption.

7) “Billions of dollars were not wasted if justice was attempted to be found”

You are right, but that was not the function of the impeachment and investigation. Clinton was originally hunted for a real estate deal, and then for the Paula Jones case, and then for the Lewinsky scandal. Once it had become universally recognized that Clinton lied, most Americans saw his crime (and yes, it was a crime no one denies this) it did not warrant removal from office. When all was said and done, billions of dollars was spent on exposing the details of his sexual liaison for bookstores across the country. To me, this hunt was, in principle and in reality, a waste.

8) “he got off of a crime anyone else would have been convicted of - so much for equality - as liberal, you should be appalled at this. Adam, this was a SERIOUS offense. The oath is the foundation upon which our judicial system rests - Clinton made a mockery of that system.”

I consider Clinton to be a scumbag and a liar. However, the reaction and evolution of the impeachment was what I found most appalling. Bill Clinton lied about having an affair. It was wrong, and it was technically, a crime, as is speeding, and writing a bad check. So was Andrew Johnson’s violation of the tenure in office act. Then, as now, people realized that, despite the fact that a legal offense was committed, the impeachment was more a political maneuver to embarrass a president than a genuine attempt at justice. Clinton did not make a mockery of the oath system, Congress made a mockery of the impeachment system. Americans recognized that ultimately, this was a man lying about having an affair. When all the legal technicalities are washed away, that is what we are left with, and the debacle was an embarrassment.

9) “Do not even begin to call conservatives hypocrites (especially when liberals espouse the believe that no one should be above the law and then defend Clinton) - liberals tend to have a monopoly on hypocrisy - see, hurts, doesn't it - and in the end it gets us nowhere.”

Why should I not call conservative hypocrites, especially when conservatives demonstrate no such hesitation. In any event, I certainly do not mean all conservatives, since there are many whom I respect and agree with. However, as a listener to AM radio, including Hannity, Limbaugh, and Savage, I can assure you, I have more than enough evidence to justify my claim. Just one example, Bush’s statement before the Iraq war were wrong. To conservatives, this is simply ignored, or spun out of existence. And yet Clinton was impeached for lying about having an affair. I know many liberals who are hypocrites as well, however, if you would like some examples of how they by no means have a monopoly, I could fill pages with them.

10) “Anyway, in answer to your question, Clinton did a useless strike against Iraq that did absolutely nothing to contain Saddam - so he did not do enough. However, the circumstances surrounding his do-little attack were highly suspect - that is my only point here.”

In 1998, when it was clear that Saddam was in violation of the UN, Clinton went in with the military and began a series of bombing strikes. The Republican Congress did little to support him and neither did the American people. He did as much as someone in his position could do and I recall no one at the time saying he did not do enough. As you demonstrated, the exact opposite occurred. He was damned if he does and damned if he didn’t.

11) “How dare you state that liberals are not that "pathological toward conservatives" - read almost every essay published at HNN as well as the majority of these posts. Yes, I am disgusted with Clinton because he lied under oath - sorry, I have morals.”

Many liberals are pathological, certainly. However, those that are on the fringes of the Democratic party, not their base. Judging from conservative talk radio, conservative TV hosts, and conservative columnists in mainstream papers and magazines, however, the level of loyalty towards all Republicans and the level of absolute disgust towards any and all Democrats is truly extraordinary. Even your own post was littered with a level of disdain towards Clinton that is echoed by many mainstream conservatives. Such a level exists on the left as well, to be sure, but they have little voice in the country and are often relegated to the fringes, or liberal magazines and on line blogs. I have no problem with you having morals. I simply wish that they were more evenly applied across ideologies.

12) “I could still point to many good things Reagan did. I have a hard time saying the same for Clinton - and really, this is not because he is a Democrat. There are many good things I could say about Carter - for one, I would argue he has been one of the greatest ex-presidents this nation has seen; he has used his former position as president to do much good throughout the world.”

I am glad to hear that you are able to acknowledge good things an ex-president has done. I too can point to good things that Reagan did, or Bush, or Bush. The fact that you cannot think of anything good that Clinton did certainly your prerogative.

13) “Some accusations against Clinton? I recall only one - and it is the truth: he cheated on his wife while in the White House, among other times, and he lied under oath. Clinton later admitted to ALL of this. I did not attack the way he breaths, walks, talks, etc.”

I was referring, not to your post, but to overall conservative critiques of Clinton, which usually stretch to just about everything he ever said and did.

14) “Me mean? Well, I am conservative, and, according to liberals, I guess that is true - see what I mean in point number 4? - Yet nowhere have I called or implied that any liberal is un-American or even unpatriotic - again, see point number 4 - thanks for helping me with this one.”

I don’t believe I ever suggested that you were mean. I simply said that it was hypocritical of you to call the article mean while calling Clinton “a hedonistic megalomaniac who molested a young intern in a venerable government structure while he was married and then went on to lie under oath about those acts. Oh yeah, and when an actual impeachment came about he attacked Iraq in order to take the heat off of himself.” That was my point. However, if I assisted you in any way, you are welcome.


Bill Heuisler - 6/9/2004

Adam,
The mean-spiritedness abounds with Professor Cole misstating history and Don embarrassing himself again by substituting name-calling for substance.

You shouldn't defend these types; you are no "ignorant Freshman". But you have each fact exactly wrong when you defend Cole:
1) The USSR invaded Afganistan immediately after President Carter warned us against "inordinate fear of Communism". Do you think Reagan was responsible for such an invitation? He took a bad situation and made the best of it - just as he did in Iran after Carter replaced our ally, The Shah, with our enemy, the Ayatollah. To call Afganistan, "Reagan's" is blaming a fireman for a fire.

2) In a similar vein, quoting Gorbachev to explain the fall of the USSR is like asking Wilson about the LON - his view is obstructed by his mirror and a need to appear creditable in some way. Why not quote Thatcher?

3)Those air traffic controllers were not "the powerless' as you implied. Each of the illegal strikers made well above the national average and some of the most senior were making over $100,000. per year. This action was not anti-unionism on the part of a former SAG union leader, but was enforcement of the law. While Governor he was favored by most California unions because they perceived him as fair and even pro-union because of his past. In fact, Adam, name another union he opposed or broke.

4)You wrote, "Programs like the Pell Grant...allow more people to attend college and, perhaps, create wealth upon their graduation."
Exactly so. People who attend college create wealth. People who displace the elderly create wealth. Who creates Pell grants and Social Security? People who have created a little wealth for themselves (you and me) each donate a part of our wealth to the future. Government creates nothing except as an instrument of the people who form and instruct its function. To posit otherwise rejects the republican ideal of self government that does only what the individual cannot do himself.

Professor Cole has exhibited ignorance in his haste to desecrate a good and great man.
Bill Heuisler


Lynn Bryan Schwartz - 6/9/2004

My critique focused on the out-of-hand assumptions made in Coles argument. Coles anaylsis of Reagan IS a Marxist interpretation. Cole's argument is structured completely around captialist elites (Reagan) and the "people" (Reagan's victims). Cole further structures his argument around the false concept that Communism was not so bad, and that the capitalist war against it actually did more harm than good. I personally hate the use of "liberal" in this context. Unfortunately the contemporary use of the term liberal (a fault of politicians on both sides of the political spectrum)had come to mean, at least, social democracy. Anyway...on the problems brought up concerning my response:
1)Cole definitely implies that Johnson's concern for the poor stemmed from a close relationship with them. My argument was similar(and not replied to). Reagan came from a poor background and yet responded to the problem of poverty differently. The point being that so-called "liberals" do not always know what is good for the down and out. Most of my own immediate family is what would be called the "working poor" and yet hold many "conservative" values and reject the welfare state. Are these poor people, then, enemies of the people?
3)I am also more than happy to argue that, as above, the "people" are not naturally "liberal." My own background aside, ethic minority groups frequently hold values that run counter to even the mainstream Democratic Party. Hispanic population of the United States place importance on family ties, hold devote religious ideas, and incorporate those beliefs into their private and public lives.
4)I did slightly misspeak on the issue of populism. Communist/socialist movements are populist in the sense that they draw on some segment of the public at large. The same could be said for National Socialism. But, these movements draw on only a segment. For example, the Russian revolution drew its support from urban industrial workers, a tiny segment of the 1917 Russian population. The vast majority of the Russian people were rural farmers and fiercely loyal to the monarchy. Cole, however, wants to imply that populism means the "people" as a whole. By using the term "Sandinista populism," he wanted to argue, falsely, that the Sandinistas represented the people where as the counter-revolutionaries were the pawns of capitalist elites. Why is it so difficult to believe that poor people would think that capitalism and free market democracy was a good thing.
5)Coles does say that Communism was on its last legs in the Soviet Union. However, this is a analysis of the Soviet Union and not the flaws of Communist, a standard neo-Marxist argument. Cole implies that the Soviets had it better in his recounting of other Soviet experts who suggest that the Russian people were really living in an utopia. If he did not wish to imply this, why did he include that debate?
6) I would not have protested this last point if the rest of the article were reasonable, objective, and/or could stand up to academic rigor.


Benjamin Scott Crawford - 6/9/2004

Adam,

1- "The idea that Reagan’s performance as president is not debatable is as remarkable as saying that a particular controversial issue is not really debatable. In any event, I disagree with this statement 100%. I believe his performance is very debatable."


Read carefully - I stated he was a terrific LEADER - that is what is not debatable - NOT his performance. I believe that most of his critics tend to agree that his style of leadership was, overall, quite successful. He united the country in a sorely needed manner - if he was not a great leader, he could not have succeeded here. In regard to performance, I agree, that is debatable.

2- In response to your entire comment:

Well, Republicans did NOT overwhelmingly love FDR. He met much resistance as he put through elements of his New Deal and as he attempted to stack the Supreme Court - why did he need to stack this court? To protect the legislation he supported from judicial attacks from his enemies. What I state here is that "attests to the degree to which his administration was a success from a conservative perspective." Note - from a CONSERVATIVE PERSPECTIVE. Not overall success, but if one were a modern conservative and this many liberals hate what Reagan did, then one would believe that a conservative agenda had indeed been advanced - thus success, from a CONSERVATIVE PERSPECTIVE.

3- Again, responding to your whole point:

Missing the "good ole days" is not "absurd." Some individuals miss the days of Woodstock, fighting the power, etc. Reagan helped move the nation away from that, not that those movements were already in a rapid state of decline and were basically dead. I do not believe in any way shape or form that those who dislike Reagan hate America - on the contrary. I believe that protestors do love this country and honestly want what is best for this country; they just go about it in a manner that I believe to be detrimental and they tend to embrace programs that I believe hurt the nation - just my opinion, which I could argue in more detail if you want. As far as Reagan's record on labor, environmentalism, and Civil Rights - hey, sorry, but I support most of those policies. I believe that unions have hurt America's workforce and helped push American industry toward out-sourcing (unions were needed, now they are dinosaurs); The environment is of course important, but I do not believe in any way that it is in as great a danger as liberals tend to lead the American public into believing. And as far as Civil Rights, I believe that affirmative action is racist and quite insulting to minorities. I believe that ALL people are equal and should have EQUAL access to all institutions - NO group should ever be dicriminated against in any way or manner.

4- The attack on liberals as being "un-American" is entirely false, whereas the propaganda used against conservatives as being mean is well-engrained in the population. The patriotism of liberals may be questioned, but that does not make them un-American. I agree, though, that labels come from both sides, and even labeling liberals unpatriotic is wrong. I was simply addressing the "mean" label since it is again perpetuated in the above essay.

5- Well, not entirely - here is a third choice: Clinton did hurt the morale of US troops and he did cut military expenditures, and he downsized the military (thus the need to rely so heavily on the reserves). The military, however, is still a product of Reagan's reforms.

6- That is fine - but I believe it to be more than Reagan not being perfect - he is mean. I take issue with this. A better article could have at least addressed some accomplishments.

7- Yes - I think the new-individualism that emerged during the 1980s is something that modern liberalism hates. That Reagan understood liberals well and was able to bring so many under his spell is EXACTLY why he was a great leader - see point 1 above. Yes, you are correct, our current president could learn much from Reagan.

8- a- Yes, sorry for the hyperbole - the mean comment was really getting to me. Oh come on Adam, I know she was something like 21 and not 12 - I did not say young girl, I said young intern; and interns are at least what, 18? Billions of dollars were not wasted if justice was attempted to be found - and due to anything BUT intelligence among Americans (hey, their pocketbooks were full, who cares if he lied, don't we all?), he got off of a crime anyone else would have been convicted of - so much for equality - as liberal, you should be appalled at this. Adam, this was a SERIOUS offense. The oath is the foundation upon which our judicial system rests - Clinton made a mockery of that system.

b- Do not even begin to call conservatives hypocrites (especially when liberals espouse the believe that no one should be above the law and then defend Clinton) - liberals tend to have a monopoly on hypocrisy - see, hurts, doesn't it - and in the end it gets us nowhere. Anyway, in answer to your question, Clinton did a useless strike against Iraq that did absolutely nothing to contain Saddam - so he did not do enough. However, the circumstances surrounding his do-little attack were highly suspect - that is my only point here.

c- " I only wish that liberals around the country had the party discipline and devout loyalty of many conservatives. It is something to be proud of. Sadly for the Democrats, many liberals are simply not that pathological towards conservatives, and judge them accordingly. Pity."

And Adam can use hyperbole too - good for you. Just because I react to what I believe to be an unfair attack on Reagan - that he is mean - does not mean that I have some sort of blind loyalty to the Republican party - believe me, there are several issues I have with George W. and the Republican Party. How dare you state that liberals are not that "pathological toward conservatives" - read almost every essay published at HNN as well as the majority of these posts. Yes, I am disgusted with Clinton because he lied under oath - sorry, I have morals. Likewise, IF any real wrongdoing occurred with Iran-Contra (talk about wasting billions of dollars - couldn't even get an impeachment), then I would be disgusted with Reagan - however, I could still point to many good things Reagan did. I have a hard time saying the same for Clinton - and really, this is not because he is a Democrat. There are many good things I could say about Carter - for one, I would argue he has been one of the greatest ex-presidents this nation has seen; he has used his former position as president to do much good throughout the world.

9- Some accusations against Clinton? I recall only one - and it is the truth: he cheated on his wife while in the White House, among other times, and he lied under oath. Clinton later admitted to ALL of this. I did not attack the way he breaths, walks, talks, etc. Of course presidents can be criticized - I AM SIMPLY STATING THAT TO ATTACK HIS CHARACTER SO SOON AFTER HE DIED is mean - critique all you want - but refrain from personal insults.

Me mean? Well, I am conservative, and, according to liberals, I guess that is true - see what I mean in point number 4? - Yet nowhere have I called or implied that any liberal is un-American or even unpatriotic - again, see point number 4 - thanks for helping me with this one.


mark safranski - 6/9/2004

The Sandinistas never won a free election, they won a rigged one where their opponents were prevented from competing by the state security apparatus and media restrictions. Under subsequent internationally supervised elections the Sandinistas lost and have been losing ever since.

The Sandinistas were loosely and incoherently Marxist but not full fledged Communists on the Cuban model (partly due to American pressure against the regime)


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 6/9/2004

1) “Reagan was truly a terrific leader – I think that is not debatable.”

This opening line in your post perhaps best identifies the disconnect between those who love Reagan and those who do not. The idea that Reagan’s performance as president is not debatable is as remarkable as saying that a particular controversial issue is not really debatable. In any event, I disagree with this statement 100%. I believe his performance is very debatable.

2) “The very fact that so many “scholars” of a liberal persuasion are using HNN to attack Reagan now that he has passed away and as the nation mourns his death attests to the degree to which his administration was a success from a conservative perspective.”

An interesting measure of success. Personally, I tend to view the exact opposite position. Success of a president is measured, in my opinion, by how many of their opponents admire and respect them, not by how many of their opponents attack them. If only Republicans loved TR and only Democrats loved FDR, this would not make them as successful leaders as they were, in my opinion.

3) “So was Reagan mean? Well, if you are a liberal and if you miss the days of protest, the days when it seemed as if all Americans thought the US was ridden with flaws, or if you were too young to remember the Reagan years and are more of a product of Clinton’s America, then yes, Reagan is mean”

Might I suggest another possibility: that liberals think Reagan was mean, not because they miss days of protest (an absurd accusation) but because the policies that Reagan initiated spread the wealth gap in this country to record levels, and while more people became rich in the 1980’s than ever before, the gap between rich and poor was also at its peak. This is to say nothing of his record on labor, environmentalism, and Civil Rights. All of these things can be discussed and debated but to suggest that Reagan detractors dislike Reagan simply because they hate America is simply a means to dismiss any criticism of his administration.

4) “; as is the liberal charge against all conservatives (it is truly pathetic that George W. had to push "compassionate conservatism" in order to try to shake a ludicrous and false image perpetuated by liberals).”

I don’t recall liberals charging that John McCain, or Robert Novak, or George Will is mean? Can you defend that sweeping generalization that all liberals think that all conservatives are “mean”? Bush pushed the concept of “compassionate conservatism” because there is a stigma attacked to conservatives that they are mean, just as the conservatives fostered the opinion of liberals that they are all anti-American radicals. You are right, it is pathetic, but it is so on both sides.

5) “He created a military that was able to, and continues to, even though Clinton tried his best to undermine the military, meet America’s threats.”

Dick Cheney once said that all wars are fought with the military of the previous president, and send a letter to Reagan after the Gulf War, crediting him with the military, since the military is too large and too complex to change within one president’s tenure. Either Dick Cheney and others are all wrong, you are wrong in accusing Clinton of trying to undercut the military, or you believe that the performance in Afghanistan and Iraq was sub-par.

6) “If Reagan was guilty of using a rhetoric that was insensitive and hurtful, well, he is not perfect. Did every policy prove to be the right course of action – of course not – name one president who was perfect.”

This comment tends to tell me that perhaps we are arguing past each other. Much of your post is a valid praise of Reagan and I have little objection to it. The author is not claiming that Reagan was the worst president or that anything short of perfection in unacceptable. He is merely taking some time to point out this exact theme: that Reagan was not a perfect president.

7) “Did he expect people to help themselves? Of course (and this is why liberals hate Reagan).”

Do you honestly believe that liberals “hate” Reagan” because liberals simply hate when people help themselves? There is little I can say to dispel some of these myths about liberals, but I do want to point out that Reagan was once an FDR Democrat, and he supported many of FDR’s social programs. I will leave it at that but I must say one positive thing about Reagan, and the reason so many Democrats supported him: Ronald Reagan understood liberals very well, and understood them to share his principles even while disagreeing with his tactics. His rhetoric towards them is something that our current president, and his many conservative supporters, would do well to remember.


8) “Mean? No, he was much less mean than a hedonistic megalomaniac who molested a young intern in a venerable government structure while he was married and then went on to lie under oath about those acts. Oh yeah, and when an actual impeachment came about he attacked Iraq in order to take the heat off of himself – and what was one of the reasons for that attack? To disrupt Iraq’s WMD program!”

Wow, so much inflammatory hyperbole, where to start: Clinton did not “molest” a young intern. He cheated on his wife with an employee (how old do you think she was, 12?). He then lied about the affair (yes, under oath). The Republicans then proceeded to waste billions of tax payers dollars to uncover every sexual act so that they remove him from office and make many lawyers very rich. The American people however, were smarter than that, and they punished the Republicans at the polls.

Conservative hypocrisy never ceases to amaze me. So which is it? Did Clinton not do enough about Iraq, as many conservatives claim, or did he do too much, as other conservatives claim. Bush didn’t go into Iraq for oil, and it is almost treasonous to suggest it, but Clinton did go into Iraq to take attention away from the impeachment.

I only wish that liberals around the country had the party discipline and devout loyalty of many conservatives. It is something to be proud of. Sadly for the Democrats, many liberals are simply not that pathological towards conservatives, and judge them accordingly. Pity.

9) “But most of all, I think that those that would actually attack a man’s character, not his policies, when he has not even been buried are the ones who are mean.”

Given the almost perpetual condemnation of everything about Bill Clinton, from the way he moved to the way he breaths, I find this sentence… odd. Unless, of course, you believe that once someone is dead, they are beyond criticism, which also seems a bit odd. Reagan was the president of the United States and like all presidents when they die (including Nixon a decade ago), his record and legacy has been opened for discussion. You are more than entitled to praise him, but given some of your outrageous accusations against President Clinton, I find it rather hypocritical for you to call the article in question, which was extraordinarily mild compared to your post, mean.


Benjamin Scott Crawford - 6/9/2004

I do not mean to appear as if this is a "my team" vs. "opposing team" paradigm, but when rhetoric of the nature used in many of the posts related to this topic as well as the essays being published on HNN, one cannot help but take a stand, and thus we have conflict that forces individuals to take sides.

You tend to criticize Reagan by putting forth "facts." Well, what you have done is simply put forth evidence that you interpret in a manner consistent with your overall conclusions about Reagan's presidency. Therefore, you take a position, or a side, if you will. I on the other hand see those same "facts" but interpret them differently - thus I take a different position and am therefore on a different "side." However, through a friendly dialectic, we can hopefully better understand Reagan's presidency and come closer to the truth. What we must avoid are hegemonic representations of truth (i.e., that one of us is "right" and anyone who disagrees is being driven by "unquestioning emotional loyalty --instilled by deceitful news media propaganda --rather than on knowledge, logic, or on anything connected to reality.").

By you labeling me as "unquestioning" and being blinded by "emotional loyalty," you attack me and not my arguments - you discount my entire post with a single stroke, or several strokes, of the keys by ignoring my points and simply labeling them "emotional."

My loyalty to Reagan is not blind, unquestioning, and/or emotional. It is my belief that when looking at the "facts" it becomes evident that Reagan did do much good for the US and even the world. I point out some of those good achievements above. However, I even state above that he was in no way perfect and he did make mistakes. I felt no need to address those mistakes since the overwhelming majority of posts and essays are simply focusing on those mistakes. What I took most offence to in the above essay, however, is the author's argument that Reagan was mean. I felt that this was unscholarly and uncalled for. Sure, critique his presidency, but just because one does not agree with Reagan one does not have to then resort to calling him names and attacking his character.

As far as your title for your post: "It's hilarious that Reagan's defenders fail to recognize his accomplishments as well as his major failures," I am not sure I understand. What accomplishments that I mention in my post did I not recognize as accomplishments? You go on at some length supporting the need to have invaded Grenada - I could not agree more. If you recall, I state:

"While Grenada was, militarily speaking, not the most successful operation – we accomplished our objective, but arguably at the cost of too many lives – the invasion gave the US a military victory, sorely needed after Vietnam and the failed hostage rescue mission in Iran."

I was not implying this military action to be unnecessary; I was simply stating what most military historians recognize: that it was not as smoothly carried off militarily as it could have been. We learned, however, from this invasion, and the US military made improvements and changes where needed. I whole-heartedly support what Reagan did with Grenada - thank you for all of that great info, but you are preaching to the choir.

So again - why the title for the post? Sorry, I am just a little confused with that point, but I am not confused at all about the facts that in my opinion support Reagan as being a strong and good president.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 6/9/2004

Alec,
A fair and justified criticism. Well-said.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 6/9/2004

1) “First point is that assumption that Cole makes about Johnson versus Reagan: that Johnson was concerned about the poor because of his background and some of his constituents and Reagan was a fat-cat.”

I disagree that the author makes such an assumption. The only time Johnson’s background is mentioned is when the author says that “Lyndon Johnson, who represented many poor people himself, was galvanized to take action.” He does not cite Johnson’s background as a reason, in fact he does not give a reason. He merely points out that Johnson took action and Reagan made sarcastic jokes.

2) “The problem with Marxist analysis here is that you are a man of the "people" until you are rich. Then, you are the enemy of the "people."”

You are right, that is a problem with Marxists. As to the relevance of that fact to this discussion, I am unclear. Throughout your post, you use words like “Marxist” and “socialist” simply as accusations without justifying their use in any way.

3) “Moreover, the analysis runs on the assumption that poor people are naturally socialist.”

In what way does it do this? I am not sure how you are using the term “socialist.” Do you really mean to say liberal? Are you suggesting that FDR, JFK, and LBJ were all socialists and that only conservative Republicans are not?

4) “This same problem comes up in Coles discussion about Nicaragua. He calls the Communist dictatorship "Sandinista populism." I am not sure how "populist" a dictatorship can be. I am likewise confused as to how an movement to end that dictatorship for the democratic and free governments now present in Central America are harmful to the "people."

Why would a dictatorship be unable to be a Populist? I would certainly put Napoleon, or Augustus Caesar in that list. Of course, I personally consider the Sandinistas to be brutal murdering thugs who the country is better off without but that is besides the point. The point is that the Sandinista government was ELECTED just as surely as many other elections in the world that we accept. Furthermore, you are suggesting that the anti-government terrorists that we supported were (a) less brutal, and (b) democratic and free. You are quite mistaken.

5) “Thirdly, I will only comment briefly on Cole's nonsense discussion about how people in the Soviet Union had it good, even better that a free people in the United States. No serious academic would validate this argument as anything other than propaganda, Comrade.”

I do not recall this anywhere in the article. In fact, Cole says that “the Soviet Union was already on its last legs and was not a system that could have survived long.” Like your accusations of Marxism and socialism, I do not understand where you are getting your information from.

6) Finally, it is simply bad taste to attack someone struggling with such a sever disease as Alzheimer's. Cole implies that not only was Reagan a maniac but the disease made him more so. This is irresponsible.”

I do not recall attacking Reagan for having a disease. If Reagan’s affliction affected his performance as president, that is a valid hypothesis. Roosevelt’s condition was certainly a fair topic in any discussion of his performance, particularly in the last days, when he was weak and frail. Why should Reagan, who had a disease that could have effected his cognitive abilities, somehow be immune from very appropriate questions about his health?


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 6/9/2004

Bill,
I detected no mean spiritedness in the article. Furthermore, the post, and others like it, is not meant to disrespect the recently departed. However, I must confess that the near deification of Reagan since his passing does deserve some balance. It should be reminded that when Nixon passed away a decade ago, his legacy and record as president was all open for discussion, not exaggerated claims of his success.

1) "Reagan's Afghanistan" was in fact Jimmy Carter's.”

The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979. The vast majority of US involvement, arms supply, and training was under Reagan. To suggest that it was Carter’s is to suggest that the Vietnam war was “Truman’s war.” There is a hint of truth, but misleading. Furthermore, I am shocked that you would even credit Carter with the conflict, since pre-9/11, many conservatives hailed Reagan’s Afghan policy as a leading factor in ending the Cold War.

2) “Reagan's "aggressive foreign policy" - SDI, Pershings in Europe, Reykjavik - finally ended the Cold War.”

Do you know this for certain? In a letter originally printed in the NY Times, Mikhail Gorbachev credits Reagan’s second term change in rhetoric that did more than anything else to end the Cold War.
http://www.iht.com/articles/523632.html

3) “Reagan's "gutting of the unions" applied law and public welfare to an illegal act by public employees who had contracted for binding arbitration (not strikes) as a bond of their employment.”

I believe you are assuming that the author is using the strike as the sole rationale for the claim. He is not. In the article, the author admits that “It was not important in and of itself, but it was a symbol of his determination that the powerless would not be allowed to organize to get a better deal.” Indeed, you are right, Reagan was acting legally in firing them, but this is simply a symbol of a much broader policy of anti-unionism throughout his administration.

4) “Professor Cole, the most ignorant Freshman knows there are no government programs that "create wealth". Your ignorance of history, Labor Law and economics transforms a mean-spirited screed into a self-inflicted wound.”

Bill, you may consider me to fall into the category of ignorant Freshman, if that is true. Programs like the Pell Grant, and other student loans and grants allow more people to attend college and, perhaps, create wealth upon their graduation. Social Security allows unproductive elderly people to discontinue working in their old age, making room for younger, more productive workers in their place every generation that could create wealth. Furthermore, the entire concept of corporate welfare, which Republicans love so much, is based on the principle that it creates wealth.


Don Williams - 6/9/2004

1) I have criticized Reagan elsewhere --see, e.g, my
note to Mr Heuisler above. But in doing so, I focused
on the facts, not on whether Reagan was on "my team" or the "opposing team".

The support of Reagan's defenders seems based more on unquestioning emotional loyalty --instilled by deceitful news media propaganda --rather than on knowledge,logic, or on anything connected to reality. By contrast, I try to look at the facts.

For that reason, I do not see the invasion of Grenada as a Hollywood PR stunt or something for which to apologize --I see it as an important, decisive military maneuver to protect a major US strategic interest.
Indeed, it was one of the few Reagan actions of which
I approved.

2) The reason for preventing Grenada from falling into the hands of the Soviets and their Cuban proxies is simple. If you look at a NIMA pilot chart or a NOAA mariner's chart, you will see
that (a) shallow waters and reefs force deep draft oil tankers into thousand mile-long narrow channels as they approach the Caribbean area and (b) Grenada overlooks a strategic chokepoint --the southern entrance to the narrow shipping lane for oil tankers coming from the Middle East on the way to the Houston/Louisiana oil refineries .

Hostile submarines and bombers based there could have
halted Middle Eastern oil shipments at will --especially if the island anti-air defenses were built up greatly over time --e.g., to the level of Kamchatka penisula on
the east coast of Siberia. Grenada is located roughly 1600 miles from the US air bases on the US mainland -- well outside the range of jet fighters.
Staging US fighter protection for US bombers attacking Grenada would have been difficult. Air craft carriers could have handled the job --but would have been vulnerable to hostile submarines based on Grenada. Even Puerto Rico is about 600 miles from Grenada. As an isolated island, Grenada was protected from US land forces absent a major naval battle and amphibious landings.

All in all, the Soviets could really have used Grenada to poke us in the butt with a sharp stick --if Reagan had allowed them time to consolidate their hold.
You can imagine what a cutoff in Middle Eastern oil--or even the continuing threat of a cutoff -- would have done to the US economy and stock market back in the early 1980s.

Note: NIMA pilot chart for the North Atlantic/Caribbean is available online at http://pollux.nss.nima.mil/pubs/pubs_j_apc_sections.html?rid=10499 . Choose any month, scroll down to page 3 (Caribbean), move down to lower right (Grenada is just north of Trinidad/Tobago off Venezuela), and increase zoom to 150-200%.


Benjamin Scott Crawford - 6/9/2004

Reagan was truly a terrific leader – I think that is not debatable. The very fact that so many “scholars” of a liberal persuasion are using HNN to attack Reagan now that he has passed away and as the nation mourns his death attests to the degree to which his administration was a success from a conservative perspective. The Reagan Revolution of 1980 marked a distinct shift in American political culture as a conservatism that was growing in strength throughout the 1970s reached its boiling point and allowed the political pendulum to dramatically swing to the right. Reagan gave conservatives a voice as he crystallized this conservative movement and truly made Americans proud to be Americans – something naturally offensive to those who were truly defining their identities throughout the late 1960s and the 1970s by being involved in a host of movements that attacked America’s values and policies.

Of course, such protests were not entirely unwarranted. The 1970s was a period, in many ways, of dreadfulness: the arguably illegal bombing of Cambodia becoming public knowledge, Vietnam winding down in a manner unfavorable to US policy, the energy crisis, race riots, the oil embargo and accompanying gas lines, Watergate, the Iranian hostage crisis, stagflation, double digit unemployment, double digit inflation – and Disco! Many Americans wanted an escape from these issues – communes grew in numbers unheard of since the 1820s and 1830s, while the discotheque offered more mainstream youth a racial utopia where drugs and sex were easily found and the music reflected truly a racial melting pot as the entire disco movement emphasized assimilation rather than pluralism – a fact that possibly made disco so hated (see Schulman, THE SEVENTIES). In a sense, the seventies was a turbulent period.

Reagan helped end some of that turbulence. His conservative policies and his conservative rhetoric took the country in a positive direction as the economy stabilized and, most importantly, Americans felt proud again to be Americans. While Grenada was, militarily speaking, not the most successful operation – we accomplished our objective, but arguably at the cost of too many lives – the invasion gave the US a military victory, sorely needed after Vietnam and the failed hostage rescue mission in Iran. It also demonstrated certain inherent weaknesses in our military that, once subsequently fixed during Reagan’s administration, the US military was more than capable to react to the Iraqi illegal and unjustified invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Reagan also brought morality back into the Cold War. His defining the Soviet Union as what it was, an Evil Empire, injected into the Cold War a renewed spirit on the part of the US to challenge that tyranny and defeat it once and for all. No one thought this to be possible. Liberals cringed and shuddered every time Reagan’s rhetoric, which was tied to his moralistic crusade against communism, condemned the Soviets, challenged them to “tear down this wall,” and spoke of military expenditures on programs that could have given the US an edge over the Soviet Union. The liberals, as well as many conservatives, were incorrect. To everyone’s surprise, the Soviet Union was crumbling internally and Reagan’s policies DID hasten that demise. Reagan did what other Cold War Warriors had failed to do – he actually hastened, and please note, I do state “hastened,” the fall of the Soviet Union. No, Reagan in no way single handedly brought down the Soviets – but his policies DID help greatly and, more importantly, his moralistic rhetoric made Americans feel as if they were indeed just in their pursuit to fight communism as it existed in the Soviet Union. Détente had simply kept the status quo – millions oppressed and millions upon millions more living in fear that at any time a nuclear holocaust could occur. Reagan’s return to brinksmanship and morality helped to end that great nuclear stand-off that defined so much the post-World War II era. Reagan’s strong military stand helped Americans feel pride again as he showed Americans that they were fighting for a just cause. The build-up in America’s military showed the world that the US was serious about this mission and that it would not stand for the abuses of the Soviets - the Soviets were literally shaking in their boots as they thought that at any time war could begin.

That the Soviets shot down a Korean passenger plane helped show the world that Reagan might just be correct: the Soviets were indeed evil. The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan – where the Soviets used chemical warfare as well as practiced dropping toys that were booby-trapped near Afghan villages in order to maim Afghan children so that they could not grow up and fight with the Muhjahadeen - was yet another testament to the evil nature of the Soviets – oh, and by the way, "Soviet defense spending was flat in the 1980s"? Well, that is simply incorrect. The Soviets were funding a costly occupation and war in Afghanistan, as well as attempting to keep their forces in Europe up to par in order to place a check on the US’s military build-up.

So was Reagan mean? Well, if you are a liberal and if you miss the days of protest, the days when it seemed as if all Americans thought the US was ridden with flaws, or if you were too young to remember the Reagan years and are more of a product of Clinton’s America, then yes, Reagan is mean; as is the liberal charge against all conservatives (it is truly pathetic that George W. had to push "compassionate conservatism" in order to try to shake a ludicrous and false image perpetuated by liberals). He took away a weak America, ridden with turmoil, from you. He created a military that was able to, and continues to, even though Clinton tried his best to undermine the military, meet America’s threats. If Reagan was guilty of using a rhetoric that was insensitive and hurtful, well, he is not perfect. Did every policy prove to be the right course of action – of course not – name one president who was perfect. Even George Washington, number one or two on most historians “greatest president” list, was burned in effigy and attacked in the press during his tenure as president – remember the Jay Treaty? But overall, did Reagan help the nation? Of course. Did he help millions of people? Of course. Did he expect people to help themselves? Of course (and this is why liberals hate Reagan). Did he believe it to be unfair for government to take an individual’s hard earned money and give it to someone else? Yes - but note that he did not mean to end welfare, but rather he supported the beginnings of MUCH NEEDED welfare reform. Did Reagan build strong coalitions with other nations to stop communism? Yes – something liberals wish Bush would do more of today in his war on terrorism.

Mean? No, he was much less mean than a hedonistic megalomaniac who molested a young intern in a venerable government structure while he was married and then went on to lie under oath about those acts. Oh yeah, and when an actual impeachment came about he attacked Iraq in order to take the heat off of himself – and what was one of the reasons for that attack? To disrupt Iraq’s WMD program!

Mean? No, I think that being mean is advocating programs that take away an individual's income so that it may then be used to enable individuals and make poverty perpetual. I think it is mean to see government as an entity intended to create jobs. I think it is mean to create a welfare state where many individuals in essence become dependent on the state since no real incentives exist to encourage individuals to fend for themselves. I think it is mean for air traffic controllers to illegally go on strike (sorry, termination was justified). I think it is mean that due to being WAY overly concerned about the environment, the US remains dependent on foreign oil. I think it is mean to in a hyperbolic manner actually try and suggest that Reagan is in some way responsible for creating Al Qaeda when the US was rightly helping groups defend themselves against Soviet aggression - he had no crystal ball, how could he have known some of those groups would turn against us later? I

But most of all, I think that those that would actually attack a man’s character, not his policies, when he has not even been buried are the ones who are mean.


Alec Denisir - 6/8/2004

I'm no fan of Ronald Reagan. I also disagree with a lot of what Juan Cole chose to offer as criticism. Still, I want to leave that aside for now. There
was one thing in his article that I could not, however, leave aside.

He mentioned that Reagan "hated the Sandinista populists." Perhaps
Reagan did hate the Sandinistas, and he may well have done damage to
our republic in response to that hatred, but there is no way that anyone
with a conscience could let pass this bit of outright distortion. The
Sandinistas were not populists by any stretch of the term. They were
brutal Marxist revolutionaries who did not scruple to engage in the same
vicious, violent, and bloody tactics of those against whom they fought.

The Sandinista prison, Las Tejas, routinely tortured, electroshocked, and
killed inmates through starvation. The Sandinistas expelled indigenous
peoples from their lands for "suspected" allegiance to Somoza, when in
fact they could not care less--they simply wanted to go on with their
peasant lives. The "populist" Sandinistas promoted rule by the
revolutionary elite, using local gangs to control the lives of citizens while
the government funded like-minded groups around Latin America.

Look, the Contras and the whole contra-affair were horrible, and I would
never apologize for them. Yet I cannot see how anyone could whitewash
the Ortega regime by calling it populist. Heck, the voters rejected the
Sandinistas in fully fair and internationally observed free elections, the
first the country had had in decades. Those who seek objective
evidence of the brutality and evil of the Sandinistas can check out
Amnesty International's reports on the country.

Please Prof. Cole, don't try to slip in such distortions just to win points
against Reagan--it is a disservice to the truth and to those whose
innocent lives were lost in the Nicaraguan war.

Respectfully,

Alec


John H. Lederer - 6/8/2004

"I will not dispute that Reagan perhaps hastened the end of the Cold War by reversing his inflammatory rhetoric during his second term and negotiating with them."

How curious a way of expressing it. So...your belief would be that the conciliatory phase is what caused the early collapse?

I wish I could recall better an interview of 10 years or so ago of a former Soviet official -- I believe in Intelligence--- who was reflecting on the Reagan years and the collapse. Though he talked about despondency in Soviet circles regarding the technological threat of SDI, he placed a peculiar emphasis on, of all things, the Air Traffic Controllers' strike. Reagan's response, and his willingness to stick to it under considerable political pressure was, in this officials' view, the point that the Soviet leaders realized they had a dramatically different situation. That response was what gave Reagan's later pronouncements on foreign policy so much credibility in high Soviet circles.

It is interesting in another respect for there always is a tension in history between whether outcomes are the result of the people involved or the more general forces. One can always contend that with different players the play might have been different in detail, but the end result, even if reached by different means, similar. Rome might still have had an empire without Julius or Augustus Caesar.

The interview strongly suggested that Reagan as a person made a considerable difference.

I don't think the triumph of the West was preordained. It was, I think, closer thing than we presently realize. I am old enough to recall a distinct whiff of defeatism in the air in the late 70's and early 80's.


Alec Denisir - 6/8/2004

I'm no fan of Ronald Reagan. I also disagree with a lot of what Juan Cole chose to offer as criticism. Still, I want to leave that aside for now. There
was one thing in his article that I could not, however, leave aside.

He mentioned that Reagan "hated the Sandinista populists." Perhaps
Reagan did hate the Sandinistas, and he may well have done damage to
our republic in response to that hatred, but there is no way that anyone
with a conscience could let pass this bit of outright distortion. The
Sandinistas were not populists by any stretch of the term. They were
brutal Marxist revolutionaries who did not scruple to engage in the same
vicious, violent, and bloody tactics of those against whom they fought.

The Sandinista prison, Las Tejas, routinely tortured, electroshocked, and
killed inmates through starvation. The Sandinistas expelled indigenous
peoples from their lands for "suspected" allegiance to Somoza, when in
fact they could not care less--they simply wanted to go on with their
peasant lives. The "populist" Sandinistas promoted rule by the
revolutionary elite, using local gangs to control the lives of citizens while
the government funded like-minded groups around Latin America.

Look, the Contras and the whole contra-affair were horrible, and I would
never apologize for them. Yet I cannot see how anyone could whitewash
the Ortega regime by calling it populist. Heck, the voters rejected the
Sandinistas in fully fair and internationally observed free elections, the
first the country had had in decades. Those who seek objective
evidence of the brutality and evil of the Sandinistas can check out
Amnesty International's reports on the country.

Please Prof. Cole, don't try to slip in such distortions just to win points
against Reagan--it is a disservice to the truth and to those whose
innocent lives were lost in the Nicaraguan war.

Respectfully,

Alec


Don Williams - 6/8/2004

For example, Mr Cole overlooked some of Reagan's more serious shortcomings.

See ,e.g., my comments here:

http://hnn.us/readcomment.php?id=36196#36196

http://hnn.us/readcomment.php?id=36258#36258


Lynn Bryan Schwartz - 6/8/2004

It is unfortunate that a discussion about a significant time in the American past revolves around those who hate President Reagan and those that admire him. The discussion should take a higher, more academic road. That said I take issue with Juan Coles many assumptions in his VERY narrow analysis. I was in elementary school when Reagan was President, though I remember voting for him in my Weekly Reader poll in kindergarten.
First point is that assumption that Cole makes about Johnson versus Reagan: that Johnson was concerned about the poor because of his background and some of his constituents and Reagan was a fat-cat. Cole forgets that Reagan also came from poor beginnings in Illinois. His father sold shoes (not exactly the Marxist idea of the ruling captialist elite). The problem with Marxist analysis here is that you are a man of the "people" until you are rich. Then, you are the enemy of the "people." Moreover, the analysis runs on the assumption that poor people are naturally socialist. This is false. Reagan was froma poor family and yet became a Republican. This indicates to me that the "people" are much more complex and dynamic than Marxists like Mr. Cole would like to believe.
This same problem comes up in Coles discussion about Nicaragua. He calls the Communist dictatorship "Sandinista populism." I am not sure how "populist" a dictatorship can be. I am likewise confused as to how an movement to end that dictatorship for the democratic and free governments now present in Central America are harmful to the "people."
Thirdly, I will only comment briefly on Cole's nonsense discussion about how people in the Soviet Union had it good, even better that a free people in the United States. No serious academic would validate this argument as anything other than propaganda, Comrade.
Finally, it is simply bad taste to attack someone struggling with such a sever disease as Alzheimer's. Cole implies that not only was Reagan a maniac but the disease made him more so. This is irresponsible.


Ben H. Severance - 6/8/2004

Adam,

Thanks for you references to factors beyond Reagan's control or influence. I agree that Reagan's military spending helped push the USSR over the edge, but it was a precipice that country was already rushing toward. While Americans sing the praises of Reagan's foreign policy on this matter, they completely forget the risks and sacrifices of Poland's Solidarity under Lech Walesa, Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution under Vlasec Havel, Gorbachev's policies of Glasnost and Perestroika, East Germany's widespread social unrest, etc... These leaders and events began undermining Soviet Power in the 1970s, well before Reagan's "Evil Empire" rhetoric. Abd these are the principal reasons for the Soviet collapse. For Americans to think otherwise would for this country to give thanks to Louis XVI for independence instead of George Washington or the patriot militias. French aid certainly contributed to American victory in the Revolution, but homegrown efforts ultimately assured the triumph. Thus, Reagan is to the fall of the USSR as France is to the independence of America. Now wouldn't the Republican party just love seeing their man compared to the French!


Bill Heuisler - 6/8/2004

Professor Cole,
Perhaps mean spiritedness has addled your mind. Unable to wait until Reagan is under the earth, your venom must be slaked in ahistoric ignorance. You blame President Reagan for other's mistakes and misapply Law and economics.

But you must have your hatred, though it diminishes you.

"Reagan's Afghanistan" was in fact Jimmy Carter's.
Reagan's "aggressive foreign policy" - SDI, Pershings in Europe, Reykjavik - finally ended the Cold War.
Reagan's "gutting of the unions" applied law and public welfare to an illegal act by public employees who had contracted for binding arbitration (not strikes) as a bond of their employment.

Lastly, you commit economic idiocy by writing:
(Reagan) "contributed to the creation of an America where most people barely get by while government programs that could help create wealth are destroyed."

Professor Cole, the most ignorant Freshman knows there are no government programs that "create wealth". Your ignorance of history, Labor Law and economics transforms a mean-spirited screed into a self-inflicted wound.
Bill Heuisler


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 6/8/2004

Thomas,
My apologies for the misunderstanding. I would agree that the political ideology of many humanities professors does seem to be rather different from that of the average college student.


Thomas W Hagedorn - 6/8/2004

My comments about academic historians being "increasingly irrevelant" were made in reference to their opinions on contemporary politics and politicians. Broad based opinion polls and even polls of recent college graduates (showning them to be quite a bit more conservative than the average humanities faculty)make my point. Only one "party" (the left) is represented on these faculties and so when historians (or others in the humanites)speak (or lecture)their message is tainted by its lack of balance.

My comment did not pertain to their teaching, research or publishing, except where they stray into contemporary politics.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 6/8/2004

Thomas,
It is not uncommon for the American people to rate presidents as one of the best merely for being recent. In 2003, for example, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush tied for third greatest president ever (only Lincoln and JFK beat them). Also, among whom are academic historians irrelevant? Their books are bestsellers among the public, movie-makers turn to them for advise, and without them, I am not sure who you would prefer to be writing history?

John,
As for the fall of the Soviet Union, I cannot speak for so-called “liberals,” nor will I take a sentence or two of conservative writers and generalize them to all conservatives. What I would ask is this: Had Reagan not been president, do you believe the Soviet Union would have thrived for another century or more?

I will not dispute that Reagan perhaps hastened the end of the Cold War by reversing his inflammatory rhetoric during his second term and negotiating with them. However, I do dispute the contention collapse was not an inevitability, given the internal reforms and crisis that effected the Soviet Union after Khrushchev. It was not until internal Soviet documents were released that we knew how bad the Soviet economy was leading up to their break up, from the decade long quagmire in Afghanistan to the nationalist fervor that exploded from Eastern Europe.

Perhaps the problem is that you are taking two groups, and then merging them into one in order to demonstrate their hypocrisy. The liberals who denied Communist cruelty were radicals, often on the far left, similar to those who protested the war in Afghanistan. They are no more representatives of liberalism than the KKK and neo-Nazis are representatives of conservatism. Thus, “the same liberals” really are not the same at all.


William C. Berman - 6/8/2004

Thanks to Professor Cole for reminding us of the essential meaness of Ronald Reagan while noting, at the same time, the serious shortcomings and limitations of many of his domestic and foreign policies. But there are other unpleasant details we should not forget or ignore, such as his trip to Bitburg Cemetery in 1985 and the start-up of his 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, Miss.,which was the site where those three civil rights workers were murdered in June 1964. But having said that much, we surely can give Reagan, along with M. Gorbachev, full credit for helping to end the Cold War, and for placing limits on the arms-race.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 6/8/2004

I appreciate Professor Cole’s article. It is an honest assessment of the Reagan administration, and I sense none of the vitriolic rage that many feel compelled to include in a political analysis.

I too have many problems with Reagan’s policies, and I suspect much more will come out once his records are released. Personally, I agree with the author and believe that Reagan was indeed, a “mean man.”

In 1947, the FBI went to him and his then wife (Jane Wyman) and accused them of having Communist affiliations. After that, Reagan agreed to become an informant, eagerly testifying before the House Un-American Activities Committee. He gave names of many actors and actresses that he suspected of being communists and ruined countless careers because of it.

His actions as Governor of California, sending the national guard to stop student protests on college campuses and threatening to discontinue subsidizing education also do not sit well with me.

In any event, I believe that Reagan was a far better president than many of his detractors claim, being the first since Eisenhower to not leave office in disgrace, death, or defeat. However, he certainly was not the messianic figure many conservatives paint him as. I understand the fanfare given to him in recent days, as respect should be paid to the dead and to Reagan’s family. What I do not understand is the hero worship conservatives have given Reagan which only increases with time and, I suspect, will continue to increase in the recent future.


Thomas W Hagedorn - 6/8/2004

H-Net list-serves are a good way to find out how the academy thinks about Reagan (very negative). HNN is a good way to understand how political partisans feel about Reagan (undertstandably divided). The Gallop polls are a great way to get into the American mind. Before his death, Reagan was the #2 most admired person, ahead of Pope Paul and behind Billy Graham. According to Gallup, he is also rated by the American people as one of the best Presidents, in contrast to his ratings among increasingly irrelevent academic historians. Today's Bush-haters were yesterday's Reagan-haters and their program has fallen on deaf ears.


John H. Lederer - 6/8/2004

In the 1980's when Reagan first asserted that the Soviet Union could be caused to collapse by American policies designed to "outcompete it" -- militarily, economically and technologically-- liberals found this absurd. A recent Reason magazine article quotes some:

'"It is a vulgar mistake to think that most people in Eastern Europe are miserable," declared economist Lester Thurow, adding that the Soviet Union was "a country whose economic achievements bear comparison with those of the United States." (I wonder if Thurow had ever flown on a Soviet airliner?) John Kenneth Galbraith went further, insisting that in many respects the Soviet economy was superior to ours: "In contrast to the Western industrial economies, it makes full use of its manpower."

Arthur Schlesinger, just back from a trip to Moscow in 1982, said Reagan was delusional. "I found more goods in the shops, more food in the markets, more cars on the street -- more of almost everything," he said, adding his contempt for "those in the U.S. who think the Soviet Union is on the verge of economic and social collapse, ready with one small push to go over the brink."'


Reagan pursued his policy, spelled out in aim and means in a National Policy Directive, now declassified.

The Soviet Union collapsed. The same liberals now argue that the Soviet union was on the verge of collapse and Reagan's policy superfluous or even counter productive.

A bit facile?


John H. Lederer - 6/8/2004

In the 1980's when Reagan first asserted that the Soviet Union could be caused to collapse by American policies designed to "outcompete it" -- militarily, economically and technologically-- liberals found this absurd. A recent Reason magazine article quotes some:

'"It is a vulgar mistake to think that most people in Eastern Europe are miserable," declared economist Lester Thurow, adding that the Soviet Union was "a country whose economic achievements bear comparison with those of the United States." (I wonder if Thurow had ever flown on a Soviet airliner?) John Kenneth Galbraith went further, insisting that in many respects the Soviet economy was superior to ours: "In contrast to the Western industrial economies, it makes full use of its manpower."

Arthur Schlesinger, just back from a trip to Moscow in 1982, said Reagan was delusional. "I found more goods in the shops, more food in the markets, more cars on the street -- more of almost everything," he said, adding his contempt for "those in the U.S. who think the Soviet Union is on the verge of economic and social collapse, ready with one small push to go over the brink."'


Reagan pursued his policy, spelled out in aim and means in a National Policy Directive, now declassified.

The Soviet Union collapsed. The same liberals now argue that the Soviet union was on the verge of collapse and Reagan's policy superfluous or even counter productive.

A bit facile?