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The Reagan of History

Uploaded by SchoolStinks! on Jul 07, 2004

What can we say about Ronald Reagan? What should we say? We can be fairly sure that the mainstream (liberal) press will be respectful, but will cleave to the conventional (liberal) wisdom that consistently has portrayed Reagan as an amiable dolt whose presidency was little more than a case of "sleepwalking through history." To liberal sophisticates, Reagan was a real-life Forrest Gump. His successes were the result of dumb luck, and his popularity was due to the shallowness of the American people.

According to the conventional (liberal) wisdom, the Reagan presidency unleashed domestically the "decade of greed" during which the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. Not only did his tax cuts favor the well-to-do, they also led to deficits without end, saddling the country with massive debt.

Meanwhile, in the international arena, his saber rattling derailed relations with the Soviet Union, leading to unnecessary increases in defense spending. Only the "liberal," open-minded Mikhail Gorbachev was able to undo the damage wrought by President Reagan and end the Cold War.

Fortunately for the historical record, there is a serious reevaluation of the Reagan presidency underway. Not too long ago, a survey of presidential historians from across the political spectrum ranked Mr. Reagan eighth among American presidents, firmly within the category of "near great" executives, a group that included Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Dwight Eisenhower. As more Cold War history is de-classified, it is likely that he will move up in the rankings. For he may prove to be the most important president of the Cold War era—the one who changed the terms of the debate, both domestically and internationally.

In 1980, the United States was in trouble. Malaise was in the air. President Carter could not govern, despite having a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress. The U.S. economy was stagnant and beset by a variety of other problems, including soaring inflation and high unemployment, something conventional Keynesian macro-economic policy and the Phillips Curve said was not supposed to happen. Because inflation was well into double digits, interest rates were sky-high as well. Having dishonorably abandoned South Vietnam only five years earlier, U.S. influence abroad was at its nadir while Soviet adventurism was on the rise. The "correlation of forces" certainly seemed to favor the Soviet Union.

The key to Mr. Reagan’s success in ending American malaise and thereby changing the course of the...

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Uploaded by:   SchoolStinks!

Date:   07/07/2004

Category:   Historical

Length:   6 pages (1,461 words)

Views:   4553

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