Sunday, February 06, 2011

Ronald Reagan's 100th Birthday

Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ronald Reagan, one of the best American presidents and certainly the best in the last half-century. Mister we could use a man like Ronald Reagan again:

It is not just Reagan's specific achievements, though, that inspire people today, that leave so many of us yearning for his brand of leadership. It is also his profound faith in the essential goodness of the American people and in the exceptional role the U.S. has been destined by the Almighty to play in the world. Reagan was a master of the stage. But the Great Communicator's power came from deeply held convictions, not from superficial eloquence. Reagan's words represented his core. There was no slight-of-hand in his speeches; he didn't use liberal language to disguise or hide his agenda.
Here's an example of showing his core beliefs, his deeply held convictions. How they resonate for us today!

He was a good man. Not perfect, by any stretch, but the very definition of a leader. You get a sense of how good a man he was--how genuine he was--at the Reagan Library. I visited there almost two years ago.


mazenko said...

Yes, Darren, we could.

Sadly, we need the real, not the mythical Reagan. And the troubling effort to distort his legacy on everything from taxes to government to social issues poses serious risks of historical revisionism.

Interestingly, based on his history, based on his governing, Reagan would most likely never survive a GOP primary in 2012. And, the problem for the GOP is it is naively chasing a legacy that never existed.


Darren said...

Yes, we put the guy up on a pedestal because he was great. But let's not play the "he wouldn't pass muster today" game, which is unprovable. I assert that Democrats wouldn't vote for Lincoln today--by your logic, that would make Democrats pretty bad people, right? I don't think Reagan's legacy *needs* distortion. It isn't perfect, but it's pretty darn good.

Reagan was sincere. When he said something, you know he believed it. And his beliefs were good, and just, and right. He was resolute, but he also believed that the purpose of negotiating was to come to an agreement. Take this entire paragraph, stand our current president up against it, and tell me how *he* stacks up. I'll be blunt here--anyone who says that he stands up in *any* of these categories is either a liar, a troll, or a doe-eyed fool.

mazenko said...

Agreed in some ways. But you're missing my point. Much of his greatness came from his compromising and pragmatism. The arguments being made about cutting taxes, shrinking government, and controlling entitlements are not reflective of his legacy of "governing." Cutting marginal rates from 79% to 30% is a completely different issue than today.

And the Cold War does not align at all with the threats from islamic extremism. And the current campaigns ignore the criticism of the side effects of some policies which cost the country a lot. He dipped to 35% in the polls in his first term, and in the early 1990s his ratings fell below 50% again as his legacy became more clear. Only recently has image risen again, and much of the praise and reverence is based on ignorance of the real world governing he did.

Darren said...

This article says pretty much what you're saying:
The comments are on both sides of the spectrum.

mazenko said...

Valid points, and that is what I really hope to promote about the legacy of Reagan. A great president - one of our greatest. However, as the country seeks to move forward, we need fully-informed and educated discussion. And we are not getting it in most of the GOP heralding of Reagan, especially from people like Palin and Gingrich. Paul Ryan is better - but he's still too pie-in-the-sky on the Reagan legacy. I thought Pawlenty and Romney understood, but their recent campaign talk says otherwise. They need to listen to people like David Stockman and Bruce Bartlett, so we can have genuine debate about government for the future.

If anyone of them seemed like they truly understood the Reagan legacy, they'd have my independent vote in a second. Right now, they are nowhere close. Here's hoping.

Garry said...

It's a pity that presidents these days are not made out of the same material.....

allen (in Michigan) said...

I think you're missing the point, Mike.

A significant chunk of the Reagan legacy comes from the internal, moral compass that allowed him to make some of those compromises without losing sight of the more important goal he was pursuing.

Currently lefties are trying to flog Ronald Reagan for the deficits that were racked up during his administration. A closer examination of the period reveals that Reagan's gave the Democrats the social spending by which they purchased votes in order to rebuild the military and challenge the Soviet Union. What Reagan understood was that socialism is an economic disaster and that the way to destroy a socialist nation is to force it into a race of wealth-building.

The Soviet Union couldn't compete with us economically and by being forced to, specifically in response to Start Wars although more generally by our overall military buildup, collapsed.

Another significant chunk of Reagan's legacy comes from his resurrection of the conservative political ideal, and of support for conservative causes, in the public mind.

Ever manipulative lefties had managed to create a public image of conservatives as somehow less then lefties. People and ideas that had fallen out of the mainstream and had no more relevance to today's, and tomorrow's, society then a spittoon. Reagan's geniality, humor, razor-sharpness of wit, his ability to strike to the heart of a matter, began the resurrection of conservative ideas, and conservatives, in the public mind.

The part of the Reagan legacy that's most mysterious to lefties though is that he isn't venerated the way, say, John Kennedy is.

It's not Reagan's good looks or hot wife or the phony aura of monarchy that John Kennedy brought to the White House that endears Reagan to conservatives. You see, conservatives are reflexively suspicious of faux monarchy and thus of anyone who seeks high office. What endears Reagan to conservatives is that he's the anti-monarch. The guy said what he thought in terms that weren't equivocal - "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" - the "evil empire" speech and other, similar positions. Ron Reagan was someone you knew because he didn't make an effort to be too good for those whose vote he pursued.

When Ron Reagan ran for the presidency he was applying for a job not accepting a coronation.

MikeAT said...

Interestingly, based on his history, based on his governing, Reagan would most likely never survive a GOP primary in 2012

Mike, the question you imply in your statement is a classic. Does man make the machine or the machine make the man? Reagan lost his first two shots at the Republican nomination (68 and 76) but kept working at the through the late 70s and finally got there in 1980. That wasn’t him saying in 1978 “I want to run for president, how do I do it?” That was “I want to lead a movement to change this country and we need a new Republican Party to do it…bold colors, obvious differences, a choice to make…” I think he would reject this call for civilitry which is code for censorshop. Reagan brought in working class Democrats who were turned off by the radicals who had taken over their party in the 60s.

Again it comes down to something sadly missing from Washington. Leadership. Reagan could handle a challenge. He would win the nomination. And an election in 2012.

mazenko said...

Mike and Allan - I concede your praise of Reagan in terms of his convictions, but I'd argue you've missed my points and diverted the discussion away from my assertion about Reagan as a pragmatic leader. Reagan was simply an effective "governor." Certainly, his convictions on the Cold War are historic, but to ignore the role of Gorbachev or the inevitable decay of a corrupt government is naive. Additionally, a man of conviction didn't simply cut deals with "lefties" to get his military build-up. He cut taxes when prudent, but raised them much more often when the role of government required it. Additionally, his goals of cutting government were never met, and it wasn't because the "lefties" grew it. Reagan added as much as Tip O'Neill, but it was in pursuit of effective governing, which was always his barometer. Reagan, by force of personality, made a mark on a very different time in America. And too many in the GOP are chasing his myth, and will never catch it, because they truly don't understand his legacy. From your comments, it's clear you may not either. That is the GOP's problem.

Anonymous said...

In some cases, govt. does victimize farmers.

In MOST cases farmers RUN to the USDA for their FAT subsidies. Farmers are CLOSER to the govt. than a govt. employee.

The idea that veterans are somehow victimized by their govt. is ludicrous.

Reagan was a good man. Sarah P. is NOT a Reagan. She was NOT invited to the 100 anniversary at the Simi library.

I would accept another Reagan, even with is FAULTS. Based upon his actions in the 600 ship Navy and the defeat of the USSR, he would have opposed the Tea Party.

Nancy said as much when she uninvited them from the SIMI celebration. Nancy has taken a stand. The Tea Party is NOT the successor to the vision of the REAL conservative movement.

Reagan would CUT Social Security and Medicare. He would see through the transparent, greedy claims of the old.

He would ask them to make the SAME sacrifices as the young who they PLUNDER day by day.

Listen to the video. Social Security is a TAX. It is PLUNDER OF THE YOUNG.

It is THE disgusting hypocrisy of the Tea Party.

Call them the GOG's, greedy old geezers. And that my friends, is THE Tea Party.


Mathematical Economist
Retired Navy

Darren said...

That's *one* way of looking at the Tea Party, but I don't think it's rooted in any reality.