Friday, June 21, 2002

It's stunning how much the neo-cons out there really, really, really want Ronald Reagan to be considered one of the "great" presidents. Witness the latest attempt to venerate his dubious achievements on NRO online, where they propose to remove FDR from the dime and replace him with Reagan. Aside from the continuing spectacle of wingers desperately trying to contain the continuing popularity of Roosevelt (the president that so crushed their predecessors that only the Reaper could get him out of office), I've gotta ask... Reagan?

I've never quite understood the right's attempts to place Reagan up there with the truly great presidents of the United States. Yes, the cold war ended on his watch, but it's debatable whether the USSR could have survived anyway- one of the neat examples of right-wing doublethink is their contention that the USSR was doomed (which is probably accurate) and their belief that it was entirely to Reagan's credit that it failed, despite the fact that these two things are, of course, contradictory. Even if Reagan were responsible, though, so what? He isn't credited for any kind of grand strategem or brilliant leadership... he just (theoretically) spent money on military toys until the Russians collapsed trying to keep up. Whee. It could have just as easily ended in Armageddon, if the United States hadn't been lucky enough to be up against a reformer like Gorbechev instead of the hardliners that would have died rather than given up the dream.

And the rest of his record really isn't that much better. The economics of his administration were lousy: he single-handedly proved that supply side economics was nonsense just as efficiently as Thatcher proved that strict monetarism is disasterous. The people didn't really respect him: throughout most of his second term (and arguably his first) he was considered by much of the public as an Alzheimer's ridden fossil. His moral record was dubious too, as Iran-Contra aptly demonstrates (whether he was personally responsible or no, the buck stops in the oval office). About the only thing that he really did well was put across the ideas of the right in a fashion that the population could accept and agree with.

Then again, that's the point, isn't it? He was a modern, neo-conservative, right-wing president. Whether he really deserves the honours he's getting or not, he's their chosen one, and therefore should be heaped with accolades and honor. He was on their side. That's enough.

(Thanks to vaara for the link)

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