Aug. 7, 2014 By Jack Jodell.
“The battle for the mind of Ronald Reagan was like like the trench warfare of World War I: never have so many fought so hard for such barren terrain.”
– Former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan –
I have heard many a so-called “conservative” state what a “great” President Ronald Reagan was. Whenever I hear such nonsense from such blatantly misled people, I always think of the old adage that there is “a sucker born every minute,” Unfortunately for this country, and for many in Latin America during Reagan’s two terms in the presidency, a huge number of American voters were deceived into casting their ballots for him in 1980 and again in 1984. The horrible repercussions of those very errant votes plague us even today, nearly a full 24 years since he left office. I can only hope that someday soon we will recover from the disastrous legacy he left us with!
Many of Reagan’s blind hero-worshipers love to talk about his great charm and “charisma,” I laugh at this, because, when compared with either John F. Kennedy or his brother Robert, Reagan’s so-called charisma all but vanishes. Both of those Kennedys were sharp, witty, quick-thinking, loaded with supporting facts and knowledge of past history, and were truly charming, as well as genuine when they expressed themselves. Reagan, on the other hand, would hem and haw as he tried to think of something cute or clever to say. His timing may have been good, but often his logic was flawed or he was unable to present convincing fact to back up some of his often preposterous statements. This is not the mark of a great man: rather, it is the trait of a second-rate actor who was far more concerned with putting on a good “show” than in presenting some real substance or valuable knowledge for his audience. It is really a shame that neither Jack nor Bobby Kennedy ever had the chance to debate Ronald Reagan, for if they had, they would have certainly smoked his ass but good!
Like many modern conservatives (Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Michele Bachmann, Paul Ryan, Rush Limbaugh, and Ted Cruz all come to mind here), Ronald Reagan had little time for actual fact, especially when it disproved many of his errant beliefs. “Facts are stupid things”, he once said. That explains how he could so ignorantly and flippantly reject the dangers of carbon-based pollution by ridiculously saying “Trees cause more air pollution than automobiles.” Reagan also admitted in an interview with Barbara Wakters in 1981 that “I never knew anything above Cs.” These are not the remarks of a great man. They are the statements of a stupid man.
Those who believe that Reagan was a kindhearted, grandfatherly type of man should be reminded how scornful, angry, and downright hateful a man he could be. He was full of caustic comments on the government, one time saying “Government is like a baby: an alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.” And he was also fond of telling people that “Government isn’t the solution. It is the problem.” How a previous lifelong New Deal Democrat with a tremendous admiration for the accomplishments and big government policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt could abruptly change course 180 degrees to espouse libertarian anti-government gibberish is way beyond my comprehension. Reagan had become a turncoat by the 1950s (with wife Nancy’s manipulation and urging), and from that point on, he had his blinders on concerning federal aid to the poor and on taxing the very wealthy. In a TV speech in late October of 1964, Reagan made a very cruel, thoughtless, and cold-hearted remark. He was quoted as saying “We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry every night. Well, that was probably true – they were all on a diet.” Yeah, right, Ronnie. What an uncaring ass! That is not the remark of a great or visionary man; it is the remark of an ignorant, self-centered man with ice in his veins. Utterly disgusting! He denounced Medicare as “creeping socialism” in the mid 1960s and parroted the paranoid and wholly wrong libertarian philosophy about it on a long-playing spoken record album. As governor of California during the Patty Hearst kidnapping by the leftist Symbionese Liberation Army, he reacted angrily at how that radical group had demanded and successfully gotten some free food for the poor. His sarcastic and mean-spirited comment then was that he hoped some of the food would be “poisoned.” Those are not the thoughts of a great man, or a lovable, grandfatherly type – they are the thoughts of a hateful, extremist ideologue who had absolutely no concern whatsoever for the less fortunate. Upon becoming President, one of the first things he did was to slash taxes on the very wealthy while steadily increasing expenditures on the military. A self-proclaimed fiscal conservative, he belied this claim by steeply increasing the federal debt and deficit to then-record levels.”I am not worried about the deficit,” he arrogantly and flippantly said. “It is big enough to take care of itself.” Remember that, Paul Ryan, Michele Bachmann, and all of you other Reagan hero-worshipers? Now THAT is hardly the attitude of a great leader or a true fiscal conservative! All this while, Reagan was also ridiculing the poor and deceiving voters by calling his Democratic opponents big spenders. He was contemptuous of labor unions and did all he could to stifle them. Those are NOT the actions of a fair-minded man or a great leader. They are instead strong evidence that Reagan was a suck-up to big business and the wealthy elite. Regrettably, the public bought this Reagan line of malarkey. VERY regrettably, they also bought his budget adviser’s nonsense about “supply side” or “trickle down” economics. This, of course, was David Stockman’s far-right, libertarian doublespeak gibberish which simply meant if you give the rich huge tax breaks and subsidies, all levels of income will rise as more jobs are created and greater overall prosperity will occur. Within a few years of this policy’s implementation, though, this country began to see a 30 + year exodus of American good-paying jobs and manufacturing plants to slave-wage labor markets far outside of its borders. It started a devastating pattern of reduced or stagnant workers’ wages and the curtailment or elimination of workers’ benefits. These negative developments were NOT the result of greatness on Reagan’s part, but were rather perfect examples of his weakness, ignorance, and lack of character and vision. Reagan himself once asked voters to think about if their lives were better after having experienced 4 years under his predecessor. I would maintain that, since Reagan took office in 1981, our country as a whole has LOST tremendous ground economically directly as a result of his pathetically short-sighted pro-wealthy, anti-worker economic policies.
SHAME on you, Ronald Reagan, and all of your followers both inside and out of our government! Your outright deceit, miscalculation, paranoia, and callous indifference to basic human needs have had a horribly detrimental effect on this country, and as a result, we may NEVER successfully dig our way out! SHAME on you, Reagan, for having appealed to our baser, more selfish instincts rather than using your “bully pulpit” to inspire this country to be more selfless and compassionate toward the less fortunate. SHAME on you for having turned a “we” generation into a self-absorbed “ME” generation!
I am certain that, by now, those that are Reagan hero-worshipers who may be reading this blog are marveling at why I have failed to acknowledge Reagan as being the conqueror of communism. The reason I have omitted this is because Reagan alone did NOT conquer communism. Oh, sure – he had stern talks with Gorbachev, but so did Ike and JFK with Khrushchev; LBJ, Nixon, and Ford with Kosygin and Brezhnev; and even Jimmy Carter battled the Soviet Union by proxy when the Soviets invaded and occupied Afghanistan in 1979! Remember, in 1962, JFK had boldly and successfully syood up to the Soviets in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Even before that, Harry Truman indirectly fought Stalin in the Korean War. It was the COMBINED efforts of all of these Presidents which led to the defeat of communism. All Reagan did was accelerate the inevitable end of the Soviet bloc by hugely and recklessly increasing our military expenditures to the point where no other nation could afford to keep up with us. That is hardly the same as defeating communism all by himself – what rubbish!
Ronald Reagan was definitely NOT a great man, nor was he a visionary leader. Rather, he was a corrupted, backward-looking phony who managed to buffalo a great many Americans during his time in office. He was also a bully in foreign affairs who was so terrified of creeping communism in the Western Hemisphere that he unnecessarily invaded tiny Grenada, tried to overthrow a democratically-elected government in Nicaragua, and strengthened a murderous and corrupt dictatorship in El Salvador, and even gave aid to Saddam Hussein in far-off Iraq. Ronald Reagan was not a great man, but rather a misguided and often mistaken mediocre chief executive!