Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan

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Ronald Reagan, the son of John Reagan and Nellie Wilson, was born above the general store in Tampico, Illinois, on 6th February, 1911. Later the family moved to Dixon, a small town a hundred miles west of Chicago. His father became a partner in a shoe store. He held left of centre political views and bravely spoke out against the activities of the Ku Klux Klan.

During the Great Depression his father was forced to close down his shoe store. He found a new job as a result of the New Deal. This resulted in both father and son becoming passionate supporters of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Democratic Party.

At high school Reagan developed a strong interest in sport and in 1928 won an athletic scholarship which enabled him to gain a place at Eureka College. Reagan studied economics and sociology but it was as a football player and swimmer that he excelled. After leaving college Reagan was able to find work as a sports announcer for the Davenport radio station, WOC. In 1933 Reagan moved to the WHO radio station in Des Moines and over the next four years became one of the most popular sports commentators in the region. In 1937 Reagan moved to California and after a screen test with Warner Brothers was given a seven-year contract.

The authors of Radical Hollywood (2002) argue that Reagan held left-wing views and applied to join the American Communist Party. According to one FBI informant "Reagan was turned down... for being too dumb." Joan LaCour Scott, the wife of film producer, Adrian Scott, commented: "I have never met a more limited man - to put it politely. He was stupid. He was an actor who made a good speaker, but talking with him before and after events, this was a man who simply was not well informed, not very knowledgeable. He was a kind of personable performer."

Reagan appeared in a series of undistinguished films including Hollywood Hotel (1937), Love is on the Air (1937), Accidents Will Happen (1938), Boy Meets Girl (1938), Brother Rat (1938), Cowboy From Brooklyn (1938), Sergeant Murphy (1938), Angels Wash Their Faces (1939), An Angel from Texas (1940) and The Santa Fe Trial (1940).

When the United States entered the Second World War Reagan joined the Army Air Corps and made training films for pilots. Discharged in December, 1945, as a captain, he resumed his film career. This included Stallion Road (1947), The Hagan Girl (1947) and The Voice of the Turtle (1947). After the war Reagan joined the Hollywood Independent Citizens Committee for the Arts, Sciences and the Professions (HICCASP), a left-wing pressure group. Anthony Summers argues in Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover (1993) Reagan became "Confidential Informant F-10".

Reagan was a member of the Screen Actors Guild and in 1947 he was elected president of the organization. According to the author of J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets (1991): "A confidential informant for the FBI since 1943, Reagan had spied on the activities of members of the Screen Actors Guild while serving as the union's president."

On 20th October, 1947, the House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), chaired by J. Parnell Thomas, opened its hearings concerning communist infiltration of the motion picture industry. The chief investigator for the committee was Robert E. Stripling. One of those interviewed was Reagan. Stripling asked him: "As a member of the board of directors, as president of the Screen Actors Guild, and as an active member, have you at any time observed or noted within the organization a clique of either Communists or Fascists who were attempting to exert influence or pressure on the guild?" Reagan replied: "There has been a small group within the Screen Actors Guild which has consistently opposed the policy of the guild board and officers of the guild, as evidenced by the vote on various issues. That small clique referred to has been suspected of more or less following the tactics that we associate with the Communist Party."

Reagan also told the HUAC: "Ninety-nine per cent of us are pretty well aware of what is going on and I think we have done a pretty good job in our business of keeping those people's activities curtailed...I do not believe the Communists have ever at any time been able to use the motion picture screen as a sounding board for their philosophy or ideology."

Reagan, along with Gary Cooper, Ayn Rand, Jack L. Warner, Robert Taylor, Adolphe Menjou, Robert Montgomery, Walt Disney, Thomas Leo McCarey and George L. Murphy attended voluntarily and became known as "friendly witnesses". These people named several possible members of the American Communist Party. During their interviews they named nineteen people who they accused of holding left-wing views.

One of those named, Bertolt Brecht, an emigrant playwright, gave evidence and then left for East Germany. Ten others: Herbert Biberman, Lester Cole, Albert Maltz, Adrian Scott, Samuel Ornitz,, Dalton Trumbo, Edward Dmytryk, Ring Lardner Jr., John Howard Lawson and Alvah Bessie refused to answer any questions. Known as the Hollywood Ten, they claimed that the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution gave them the right to do this. The House of Un-American Activities Committee and the courts during appeals disagreed and all were found guilty of contempt of congress and each was sentenced to between six and twelve months in prison.

Over the next few years FBI agents working with the House of Un-American Activities Committee and the Hollywood Motion Picture Producers, got 320 people blacklisted from the entertainment industry. As president of the Screen Actors Guild Reagan refused to support those actors such as Larry Parks, Joseph Bromberg, Charlie Chaplin, John Garfield, Howard Da Silva, Gale Sondergaard, Jeff Corey, John Randolph, Canada Lee and Paul Robeson who were on this list.

Reagan's support of McCarthyism enabled him to continue working in Hollywood but his films continued to appear in mediocre films such as Bedtime for Bonzo (1951), The Last Outpost (1951), The Winning Team (1952), Law and Order (1953), Cattle Queen of Montana (1954), Tennessee's Partner (1955) and Hellcats in the Navy (1957). Between 1954 and 1962 Reagan also worked for General Electric as host of the company's weekly half-hour dramas for television.

In the 1930s and 40s Reagan had been a loyal supporter of the Democratic Party. However, he switched to the Republican Party after the war and supported Dwight Eisenhower (1952 and 1956) and Richard Nixon (1960). In 1964 Reagan became a national political figure. This was as a result of a televised speech in support of Barry Goldwater. It did not help Goldwater win the election (he was seen by most people in America as a dangerous, right-wing extremist). However, it did convince members of the Californian business community that here was a man with the charm to sell right-wing extremism. Reagan was approached about becoming the Republican Party candidate as Governor of California. With the help of a smear campaign against Pat Brown and promises of tax cuts he won an easy victory.

As governor Reagan quickly established himself as one of the country's leading conservative political figures. This included dramatic budget cuts and a hiring freeze for state agencies. He also put up student fees and when they complained he sent state troopers to deal with their protest meetings.

Re-elected with 52 per cent of the vote in 1970, Reagan introduced a series of welfare reforms during his second term in office. This included tightening eligibility requirements for welfare aid and requiring the able to seek work rather than receiving benefits. However, the tax cuts never came, in fact, he presided over the largest tax increase any state had ever demanded in American history.

Reagan rejected two officers of cabinet posts from President Gerald Ford and in 1975 announced he intended to challenge him as the Republican Party presidential candidate. However, he was defeated by Ford in the contest for the nomination.

Michael K. Deaver worked for Ronald Reagan when he had been governor of California. He now took charge of Reagan's campaign to become president. Deaver co-founded the public relations company, Deaver and Hannaford in 1975. The company "booked Reagan's public appearances, research and sell his radio program, and ghost-write his syndicated column." Peter Dale Scott claims that "all this was arranged with an eye to Reagan's presidential aspirations, which Deaver and Hannaford helped organize from the outset".

In 1977 Deaver and Hannaford registered with the Justice Department as foreign agents receiving $5,000 a month from the government of Taiwan. It also received $11,000 a month from a group called Amigos del Pais (Friends of the Country) in Guatemala. The head of Amigos del Pais was Roberto Alejos Arzu. He was the principal organizer of Guatemala's "Reagan for President" organization. Arzu was a CIA asset who in 1960 allowed his plantation to be used to train Cuban exiles for the Bay of Pigs invasion.

Peter Dale Scott has argued that Michael K. Deaver began raising money for Ronald Reagan and his presidential campaign from some of his Guatemalan clients. This included Amigos del Pais. One BBC report estimated that this money amounted to around ten million dollars. Francisco Villgarán Kramer claimed that several members of this organization were "directly linked with organized terror".

Deaver and Hannaford also began to get work from military dictatorships that wanted to improve its image in Washington. According to Jonathan Marshall, Deaver was also connected to Mario Sandoval Alarcon and John K. Singlaub of the World Anti-Communist League (WACL). In the book, The Iran-Contra Connection (1987) he wrote: "The activities of Singlaub and Sandoval chiefly involved three WACL countries, Guatemala, Argentina, and Taiwan, that would later emerge as prominent backers of the contras.... these three countries shared one lobbying firm, that of Deaver and Hannaford."

In 1979 Jeane Kirkpatrick wrote an article for Commentary, entitled Entitled Dictatorships and Double Standards. The article argued that right-wing “authoritarian” governments, such as those in Argentina, Chile and South Africa, suited American interests better than left-wing regimes. She criticized the emphasis placed on human rights by Jimmy Carter and blamed it for undermining right-wing governments in Nicaragua and Iran. She went onto argue that right-wing dictatorships were reliably pro-American. She therefore proposed that the US government should treat authoritarian regimes much more favourably than other governments. Kirkpatrick added: "liberal idealism need not be identical with masochism and need not be incompatible with the defence of freedom and the national interest".

As Bill Van Auken has pointed out (Social Democrat to Champion of Death Squads): "The policy implications of Kirkpatrick’s thesis were unmistakable. Washington should seek to keep in power right-wing dictatorships, so long as they suppressed the threat of revolution and supported “American interests and policies.” Moreover, the limits placed by the Carter administration on relations with regimes that had carried out wholesale political killings and torture, as in Chile and Argentina, for example, should be cast aside."

In December, 1979, John K. Singlaub had a meeting with Guatemalan President Fernando Romeo Lucas García. According to someone who was at this meeting Singlaub told Garcia: "Mr. Reagan recognizes that a good deal of dirty work has to be done". On his return, Singlaub called for "sympathetic understanding of the death squads".

Another one of Deaver's clients was Argentina's military junta. A regime that had murdered up to 15,000 of its political opponents. Deaver arranged for José Alfredo Martinez de Hoz, the economy minister, to visit the United States. In one of Reagan's radio broadcasts, he claimed "that in the process of bringing stability to a terrorized nation of 25 million, a small number, were caught in the cross-fire, amongst them a few innocents".

Peter Dale Scott argues that funds from military dictatorships "helped pay for the Deaver and Hannaford offices, which became Reagan's initial campaign headquarters in Beverly Hills and his Washington office." This resulted in Ronald Reagan developing the catch-phrase: "No more Taiwans, no more Vietnams, no more betrayals." He also argued that if he was elected as president he "would re-establish official relations between the United States Government and Taiwan".

What Deaver's clients, Guatemala, Taiwan and Argentina wanted most of all were American armaments. Under President Jimmy Carter, arms sales to Taiwan had been reduced for diplomatic reasons, and had been completely cut off to Guatemala and Argentina because of human rights violations.

An article published in Time Magazine (8th September, 1980) claimed that Deaver was playing an important role in Reagan's campaign to be nominated as the Republican presidential candidate, whereas people like Campaign Director William J. Casey were outsiders have "valuable experience but exercise less influence over the candidate."

Reagan's main problem was that he was now sixty-eight and his opponents claimed he was too old for the job. He overcame this problem by campaigning aggressively and despite his tendency to make silly factual mistakes in interviews, he generally performed well. During his campaign he promised a "patriotic crusade" to reduce the size and scope of government, to rebuild American military power and self-respect and to restore traditional values".

During the campaign Ronald Reagan was informed that Jimmy Carter was attempting to negotiate a deal with Iran to get the American hostages released. This was disastrous news for the Reagan campaign. If Carter got the hostages out before the election, the public perception of the man might change and he might be elected for a second-term. As Deaver later told the New York Times: "One of the things we had concluded early on was that a Reagan victory would be nearly impossible if the hostages were released before the election... There is no doubt in my mind that the euphoria of a hostage release would have rolled over the land like a tidal wave. Carter would have been a hero, and many of the complaints against him forgotten. He would have won."

According to Barbara Honegger, a researcher and policy analyst with the 1980 Reagan/Bush campaign, William J. Casey and other representatives of the Reagan presidential campaign made a deal at two sets of meetings in July and August at the Ritz Hotel in Madrid with Iranians to delay the release of Americans held hostage in Iran until after the November 1980 presidential elections. Reagan’s aides promised that they would get a better deal if they waited until Carter was defeated.

On 22nd September, 1980, Iraq invaded Iran. The Iranian government was now in desperate need of spare parts and equipment for its armed forces. Jimmy Carter proposed that the US would be willing to hand over supplies in return for the hostages.

Once again, the Central Intelligence Agency leaked this information to Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. This attempted deal was also passed to the media. On 11th October, the Washington Post reported rumors of a “secret deal that would see the hostages released in exchange for the American made military spare parts Iran needs to continue its fight against Iraq”.

A couple of days before the election Barry Goldwater was reported as saying that he had information that “two air force C-5 transports were being loaded with spare parts for Iran”. This was not true. However, this publicity had made it impossible for Carter to do a deal. Ronald Reagan on the other hand, had promised the Iranian government that he would arrange for them to get all the arms they needed in exchange for the hostages.

In the election Reagan easily defeated Jimmy Carter by 44 million votes to 35 million. The Republican Party also won control of the Senate for the first time in 26 years. According to Mansur Rafizadeh, the former U.S. station chief of SAVAK, the Iranian secret police, CIA agents had persuaded Khomeini not to release the American hostages until Reagan was sworn in. In fact, they were released twenty minutes after his inaugural address.

Reagan appointed William J. Casey as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. In this position he was able to arrange the delivery of arms to Iran. These were delivered via Israel. By the end of 1982 all Regan’s promises to Iran had been made. With the deal completed, Iran was free to resort to acts of terrorism against the United States. In 1983, Iranian-backed terrorists blew up 241 marines in the CIA Middle-East headquarters.

After his election as president, Ronald Reagan, appointed Michael Deaver as Deputy White House Chief of Staff under James Baker III. He took up his post in January 1981. Soon afterwards, Deaver's clients, Guatemala, Taiwan and Argentina, began to receive their payback. On 19th March, 1981, Reagan asked Congress to lift the embargo on arms sales to Argentina. General Roberto Viola, one of the junta members responsible for the death squads, was invited to Washington. In return, the Argentine government agreed to expand its support and training for the Contras. According to John Ranelagh (The Agency: The Rise and Decline of the CIA): "Aid and training were provided to the Contras through the Argentinean defence forces in exchange for other forms of aid from the U.S. to Argentina."

Reagan had more difficulty persuading Congress to provide arms to Guatemala. During a 4th May, 1981, session of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, it was announced that the Guatemalan death squads had murdered 76 leaders of the moderate Christian Democratic Party including its leader, Alberto Fuentes Mohr. As Peter Dale Scott pointed out in the Iran-Contra Connection: "When Congress balked at certifying that Guatemala was not violating human rights, the administration acted unilaterally, by simply taking the items Guatemala wanted off the restricted list."

Reagan and Deaver also helped Guatemala in other ways. Alejandro Dabat and Luis Lorenzano (Argentina: The Malvinas and the End of Military Rule) pointed out that the Ronald Reagan administration arranged for "the training of more than 200 Guatemalan officers in interrogation techniques (torture) and repressive methods".

Reagan's first Secretary of State, Alexander Haig, resigned on 25th June, 1982, as a result of the administration's foreign policy. He also complained that his attempts to help Britain in its conflict with Argentina over the Falkland Islands, was being undermined by Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick and some above her in the White House. In his book, Gambling With History: Ronald Reagan in the White House, Laurence I. Barrett argued that this person from the White House was Michael Deaver: "At an NSC session... Haig had observed Kirkpatrick passing Deaver a note. Concluding that Kirkpatrick was using Deaver to prime Reagan... Haig told Clark that a 'conspiracy' was afoot to outflank him."

Another of Deaver's clients, Taiwan, benefited from Reagan's support. Although George H. Bush promised China in August, 1982, that the United States would reduce its weapons sales to Taiwan, the reverse happened. Arms sales to Taiwan in fact increased to $530m in 1983 and $1,085 million in 1984.

Reagan took a firm stance against communism and described the Soviet Union as the "evil empire". Although he avoided direct conflict with major communist countries such as China, he did send paratroopers against Bernard Coard, when he overthrew the elected government of Maurice Bishop in Grenada in October, 1983. However, it was not made clear at the time that Bishop was himself a Marxist.

Michael Deaver officially worked primarily on media management. One of his great successes was the presentation of the Grenada invasion. As Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber pointed out in their book Toxic Sludge is Good For You (1995): "Following their (Michael Deaver and Craig Fuller) advice, Reagan ordered a complete press blackout surrounding the Grenada invasion. By the time reporters were allowed on the scene, soldiers were engaged in "mop-up" actions, and the American public was treated to an antiseptic military victory minus any scenes of killing, destruction or incompetence." Later, it was discovered that of the 18 American servicemen killed during the operation, 14 died in friendly fire or in accidents."

Although there was a federal deficit of over $100 billion, Reagan managed to persuade Congress in 1981 to pass a plan for a three-year reduction in income tax rates. This was followed by cuts in domestic spending. During the 1980s Reagan's policy of reducing income taxes and federal domestic budgets became known as Reaganomics. These tax changes and the cuts in the welfare system widened the gap between rich and poor. It also caused a deep recession.

Reagan also funded anti-communist groups in Nicaragua who were fighting the elected government of Daniel Ortega. His government's power also suffered from economic sanctions imposed by Reagan. It was later discovered that the United States had attempted to damage the economy by the mining of Nicaragua's harbours. Reagan also funded death squads in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala in the 1980s. He also backed the Guatemalan government that killed an estimated 100,000 Mayan Indians during this period.

In 1981 Reagan sent Donald Rumsfeld, his Middle East envoy, to Iraq. This resulted in Reagan selling Saddam Hussein "dual-use" items, including helicopters and chemicals. He also armed the Mojahedin in Afghanistan that eventually evolved into the Taliban.

In early 1981, Leopoldo Galtieri visited the United States and was warmly received by members of the Ronald Reagan administration. Richard V. Allen, who Reagan had appointed as his National Security Advisor, described Galtiera as a "majestic general." With the help of the CIA, Galtieri replaced President Roberto Viola in December 1981. Galtieri attempted to improve the economy by cutting public spending and selling off government-owned industries. He also imposed a pay freeze. These policies were unpopular and demonstrations took place demanding a return to democracy.

Despite the support of the Reagan administration, Galtieri, faced the possibility of being ousted from power. He therefore decided to gain public support by appealing to nationalist sentiment. In April, 1982, Galtieri's forces invaded the weakly-defended British Falkland Islands and he declared the "Malvinas" a province of Argentina. The anti-junta demonstrations were replaced by patriotic demonstrations in support of Galtieri.

Margaret Thatcher appealed to Ronald Reagan for help in removing Galtieri from the Falklands. This caused problems for Reagan as Galtieri was seen as a key aspect of the foreign policy advocated by Jeane Kirkpatrick and Richard V. Allen. Kirkpatrick argued that America should not jeopardize relations with Latin America by backing Britain. She later explained that "I thought a policy of neutrality in that war made sense from the point of view of US interests".

However, in reality, Jeane Kirkpatrick was not arguing for neutrality. According to The Times newspaper: "Only hours after the 1982 invasion of the Falklands she notoriously attended as guest of honour a reception at the Argentine Embassy in Washington. She then went on television to assert that if the islands rightly belonged to Argentina its action could not be considered as “armed aggression”.

Reagan's Secretary of State, Alexander Haig, took the side of the British government. He argued that Kirkpatrick was “mentally and emotionally incapable of thinking clearly on this issue because of her close links with the Latins”. Reagan forced Haig to resign on 25th June, 1982. He later complaining that his attempts to help Britain in its conflict with Argentina over the Falkland Islands, was being undermined by Kirkpatrick and some above her in the White House.

Reagan eventually rejected Kirkpatrick's advice and as The Times pointed out: "Had Kirkpatrick prevailed, Britain would have been deprived of American fuel, Sidewinder missiles and other arms, and the vital US satellite intelligence that enabled it to win the war. And Galtieri and his junta would not have been replaced by a freely elected government."

In the 1984 presidential election the Democratic Party selected Walter Mondale as its candidate. Despite upsetting people on the left in American politics, Reagan remained popular with the electorate and easily defeated Mondale by winning 525 of the 538 electoral votes.

Reagan was unwilling to criticize anti-Communist governments and refused to support economic sanctions against the undemocratic government in South Africa. He vetoed a series of UN resolutions that attempted to punish the South African government. Reagan also tried to veto the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act that Congress passed in 1986.

As well as Guatemala, Taiwan and Argentina, Deaver also worked closely with South Korea. He arranged for President Chun Doo Hwan to meet Reagan in the White House. It was Deaver's involvement with the Ambassador in Seoul, Richard L. Walker, a member of the World Anti-Communist League (WACL) that eventually led to his demise. Deaver resigned from the White House staff in May 1985 under investigation for corruption. It seems that Deaver had charged the Taiwan government $150,000 for arranging the meeting with Reagan. Deaver was eventually charged with perjury rather than violations of the 1978 Ethics in Government Act and was fined $100,000.

Reagan had considerable problems trying to balance the budget during his second term in office. This was because he had increased defence spending by 35%. This included expensive military programs such as the MX missile and the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars). In 1985 he supported the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act that enabled large annual budget cuts to be made but it had little impact before being declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1986.

In late 1986 Reagan became embroiled in in what became known as the Irangate Scandal. It was discovered that the Reagan administration had been selling arms to the Islamic fundamentalist government in Iran in order to gain the release of American hostages in the Lebanon. The profits of the deal were then used to supply the anti-Marxist Contra guerrillas fighting in Nicaragua.

The scandal was damaging to Reagan because he had told the American public he would never "yield to terrorist blackmail". As a result of the scandal, the White House chief of staff, Donald Regan and his National Security Adviser, John Poindexter, were forced to resign. Reagan survived but the case damaged his image and gave the impression that he was not in full-control of his administration.

In 1987 Reagan met Mikhail Gorbachev and signed the Immediate Nuclear Forces (INF) abolition treaty. Gorbachev also made it clear he would no longer interfere in the domestic policies of other countries in Eastern Europe and in 1989 announced the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan. Aware that Gorbachev would not send in Soviet tanks there were demonstrations against communist governments throughout Eastern Europe. Over the next few months the communists were ousted from power in Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, and East Germany. All these events took place while Reagan was president and he therefore got the credit for the fall of communism in Eastern Europe.

Reagan retired from office at the end of his second-term in 1989. He spent his time establishing the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, but in 1994 he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

Ronald Reagan, aged 93, died of pneumonia died at his home in the Bel Air district of Los Angeles on 5th June, 2004.

Robert E. Stripling: As a member of the board of directors, as president of the Screen Actors Guild, and as an active member, have you at any time observed or noted within the organization a clique of either Communists or Fascists who were attempting to exert influence or pressure on the guild?

Robert Reagan: Well, sir, my testimony must be very similar to that of Mr. Murphy and Mr. Montgomery. There has been a small group within the Screen Actors Guild which has consistently opposed the policy of the guild board and officers of the guild, as evidenced by the vote on various issues. That small clique referred to has been suspected of more or less following the tactics that we associate with the Communist Party.

Robert E. Stripling: Would you refer to them as a disruptive influence within the guild?

Robert Reagan: I would say that at times they have attempted to be a disruptive influence.

This great turn from left to right was not just a case of the pendulum swinging - first, the left hold sway and then the right, and here comes the left again. The truth is, conservative thought is no longer over here on the right; it's the mainstream now. And the tide of history is moving irresistibly in our direction. Why? Because the other side is virtually bankrupt of ideas. It has nothing more to say, nothing to add to the debate. It has spent its intellectual capital, such as it was, and it has done its deeds.

Now, we're not in power because they failed to gain electoral support over the past 50 years. They did win support. And the result was chaos, weakness, and drift. Ultimately, though, their failures yielded one great thing-us guys. We in this room are not simply profiting from their bankruptcy; we are where we are because we're winning the contest of ideas. In fact, in the past decade, all of a sudden, quietly, mysteriously, the Republican party has become the party of ideas.

We became the party of the most brilliant and dynamic young minds. I remember them, just a few years ago, running around scrawling Laffer curves on table napkins, going to symposia and talking about how social programs did not eradicate poverty, but entrenched it; writing studies on why the latest weird and unnatural idea from the social engineers is weird and unnatural. You were there. They were your ideas, your symposia, your books, and usually somebody else's table napkins.

All of a sudden, Republicans were not defenders of the status quo but creators of the future. They were looking at tomorrow with all the single-mindedness of an inventor. In fact, they reminded me of the American inventors of the 19th and 20th centuries who filled the world with light and recorded sound.

The new conservatives made anew the connection between economic justice and economic growth. Growth in the economy would not only create jobs and paychecks, they said; it would enhance familial stability and encourage a healthy optimism about the future. Lower those tax rates, they said, and let the economy become the engine of our dreams. Pull back regulations, and encourage free and open competition. Let the men and women of the marketplace decide what they want.

But along with that, perhaps the greatest triumph of modern conservatism has been to stop allowing the left to put the average American on the moral defensive. By average American I mean the good, decent, rambunctious, and creative people who raise the families, go to church, and help out when the local library holds a fundraiser; people who have a stake in the community because they are the community.

These people had held true to certain beliefs and principles that for 20 years the intelligentsia were telling us were hopelessly out of date, utterly trite, and reactionary. You want prayer in the schools? How primitive, they said. You oppose abortion? How oppressive, how anti-modern. The normal was portrayed as eccentric, and only the abnormal was worthy of emulation. The irreverent was celebrated, but only irreverence about certain things: irreverence toward, say, organized religion, yes; irreverence toward established liberalism, not too much of that. They celebrated their courage in taking on safe targets and patted each other on the back for slinging stones at a confused Goliath, who was too demoralized and really too good to fight back. But now one simply senses it. The American people are no longer on the defensive. I believe the conservative movement deserves some credit for this. You spoke for the permanent against the merely prevalent, and ultimately you prevailed...

Now, whether government borrows or increases taxes, it will be taking the same amount of money from the private economy, and either way, that's too much. We must bring down government spending. We need a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. It's something that 49 states already require -no reason the federal government should be any different.

We need the line-item veto, which 43 governors have-no reason that the President shouldn't. And we have to cut waste. The Grace commission has identified billions of dollars that are wasted and that we can save.

But the domestic side isn't the only area where we need your help. All of us in this room grew up, or came to adulthood, in a time when the doctrine of Marx and Lenin was coming to divide the world. Ultimately, it came to dominate remorselessly whole parts of it. The Soviet attempt to give legitimacy to its tyranny is expressed in the infamous Brezhnev doctrine, which contends that once a country has fallen into Communist darkness, it can never again be allowed to see the light of freedom.

Well, it occurs to me that history has already begun to repeal that doctrine. It started one day in Grenada. We only did our duty, as a responsible neighbor and a lover of peace, the day we went in and returned the government to the people and rescued our own students. We restored that island to liberty. Yes, it's only a small island, but that 's what the world is made of-small islands yearning for freedom.

There's much more to do. Throughout the world the Soviet Union and its agents, client states, and satellites are on the defensive-on the moral defensive, the intellectual defensive, and the political and economic defensive. Freedom movements arise and assert themselves. They're doing so on almost every continent populated by man-in the hills of Afghanistan, in Angola, in Kampuchea, in Central America. In making mention of freedom fighters, all of us are privileged to have in our midst tonight one of the brave commanders who lead the Afghan freedom fighters-Abdul Haq. Abdul Haq, we are with you .

They are our brothers, these freedom fighters, and we owe them our help. I've spoken recently of the freedom fighters of Nicaragua. You know the truth about them. You know who they re fighting and why. They are the moral equal of our Founding Fathers and the brave men and women of the French Resistance. We cannot turn away from them for the struggle here is not right versus left; it is right versus wrong.

We did not - repeat, did not - trade weapons or anything else for hostages, nor will we.

A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that’s true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not.

How do you tell a communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin.

Since their formation, the World Anti-Communist League (WACL) chapters have also provided a platform and legitimacy for surviving fractions of the Nazi Anti-Komintern and Eastern European (Ostpolitik) coalitions put together under Hitler in the 1930s and 1940s, and partly taken over after 1948 by the CIA's Office of Policy Coordination. In the late 1970s, as under Carter the United States pulled away from involvement with WACL countries and operations, the Nazi component of WACL became much more blatant as at least three European WACL chapters were taken over by former Nazi SS officers.

With such a background, WACL might seem like an odd choice for the Reagan White House, when in 1984 WACL Chairman John Singlaub began to report to NSC staffer Oliver North and CIA Director William Casey on his fund-raising activities for the contras. We shall see, however, that Singlaub's and WACL's input into the generation of Reagan's Central American policies and political alliances went back to at least 1978. The activities of Singlaub and Sandoval chiefly involved three WACL countries, Guatemala, Argentina, and Taiwan, that would later emerge as prominent backers of the contras. In 1980 these three countries shared one lobbying firm, that of Deaver and Hannaford, which for six years had supervised the campaign to make a successful presidential candidate out of a former movie actor, Ronald Reagan.

Still unacknowledged and unexplained is the role which funds from Michael Deaver's Guatemalan clients played in the 1980 Reagan campaign. Although contributions from foreign nationals are not permitted under U.S. electoral law, many observers have reported that rich Guatemalans boasted openly of their illegal gifts. Half a million dollars was said to have been raised at one meeting of Guatemalan businessmen, at the home of their President, Romeo Lucas Garcia. The meeting took place at about the time of the November 1979 visit of Deaver's clients to Washington, when some of them met with Ronald Reagan.

Today, Argentina is at peace, the terrorist threat nearly eliminated. Though Martinez de Hoz, in his U.S. talks, concentrates on economics, he does not shy from discussing human rights. He points out that in the process of bringing stability to a terrorized nation of 25 million, a small number were caught in the cross-fire, among them a few innocents... If you ask the average Argentine-in-the-street what he thinks about the state of his country's economy, chances are you'll find him pleased, not seething, about the way things are going.

Like a Civil War victory at a major train junction, the election of Ronald Reagan and George H. Bush in 1980 put conservatives in control of key switching points in Washington for the transportation of ideas throughout the U.S. political system. By regaining the Executive Branch and winning the Senate, Republicans had their hands on many of the levers that could expedite the movement of favorable information to the American public and sidetrack news that might cause trouble.

Having learned how dangerous it was when critical scandals like Watergate or the CIA abuses started rolling down the tracks and building up steam, the conservatives took pains to keep hold of this advantage over what information sped through to the public and what didn't. Though often disparaged for being behind the times, conservatives - far better than liberals -grasped the strategic advantage that came with controlling these logistics of information. With the ability to rush public relations shock troops and media artillery to political battle fronts, conservatives recognized that they could alter the tactics and the strategies of what they called "the war of ideas."

Not losing any time, Republicans began devising new ways to manage, manufacture and deliver their message in the weeks and months after the Reagan-Bush victory. Some would call the concept "public diplomacy"; others would use the phrase "perception management." But the idea was to control how the public would perceive an issue, a person or an event. The concept was to define the political battlefield at key moments - especially when a story was just breaking - and thus enhance the chances of victory.

The Republican approach would be helped immeasurably by President Reagan's communication skills and by the image wizardry of White House aide Michael Deaver. But the administration's capability was given an important boost, too, by the intelligence backgrounds of two key figures, former campaign chief William Casey, who was named Reagan's CIA director, and Vice President George H. Bush, a former CIA director and a veteran of previous battles fought to contain political scandals. From their experiences in the intelligence fields, they understood what the CIA Old Boys, like Miles Copeland, meant when they talked about setting the "the spirit of the meeting" as a crucial element in managing political events.

The group that Deaver represented in Guatemala, the Amigos del Pais (Friends of the Country), is not known to have included Mario Sandoval Alarcon personally. But ten to fifteen of its members were accused by former Guatemalan Vice-President Villagran Kramer on the BBC of being "directly linked with organized terror." One such person, not named by Villagran, was the Texas lawyer John Trotter, the owner of the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Guatemala City. Coca-Cola agreed in 1980 to terminate Trotter's franchise, after the Atlantic Monthly reported that several workers and trade union leaders trying to organize his plant had been murdered by death squads.

One year earlier, in 1979, Trotter had traveled to Washington as part of a five-man public relations mission from the Amigos. At least two members of that mission, Roberto Alejos Arzu and Manuel F. Ayau, are known to have met Ronald Reagan. (Reagan later described Ayau as "one of the few people ...who understands what is going on down there.")

Roberto Alejos Arzu, the head of Deaver's Amigos and the principal organizer of Guatemala's "Reagan for President" bandwagon, was an old CIA contact; in 1960 his plantation had been used to train Cuban exiles for the Bay of Pigs invasion. Before the 1980 election Alejos complained that "most of the elements in the State Department are probably pro-Communist... Either Mr. Carter is a totally incapable president or he is definitely a pro-communist element."s (In 1954, Alejos' friend Sandoval had been one of the CIA's leading political proteges in its overthrow of Guatemala's President Arbenz.)

hen asked by the BBC how ten million dollars from Guatemala could have reached the Reagan campaign, Villagran named no names: "The only way that I can feel it would get there would be that some North American residing in Guatemala, living in Guatemala, would more or less be requesting money over there or accepting contributions and then transmitting them to his Republican Party as contributions of his own."

Trotter was the only U.S. businessman in Guatemala whom Alan Nairn could find in the list of Reagan donors disclosed to the Federal Election Commission. Others, who said specifically that they had contributed, were not so listed. Nairn heard from one businessman who had been solicited that "explicit Instructions were given repeatedly: Do not give to Mr. Reagan's campaign directly. Monies were instead to be directed to an undisclosed committee in California."

Trotter admitted in 1980 that he was actively fundraising in this period in Guatemala. The money he spoke of, half a million dollars, was however not directly for the Reagan campaign, but for a documentary film in support of Reagan's Latin American policies, being made by one of the groups supporting Reagan, the American Security Council (ASC). The film argued that the survival of the United States depended on defeat of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua: "Tomorrow: Honduras.. .Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Mexico ...the United States."

Deaver's Amigos and Trotter were in extended contact with the ASC over this project. In December 1979, and again in 1980, the ASC sent retired Army General John Singlaub to meet Guatemalan President Lucas Garcia and other officials. According to one of Singlaub's 1979 contacts, the clear message was that "Mr. Reagan recognizes that a good deal of dirty work has to be done."" On his return to the United States, according to Pearce, Singlaub called for "sympathetic understanding of the death squads."" In 1980 Singlaub returned to Guatemala with another apologist for death squads, General Gordon Sumner of the Council for InterAmerican Security. Again the message to Lucas was that "help was on the way in the form of Ronald Reagan."

Jenny Pearce has noted that Singlaub's first ASC visit to Guatemalan President Lucas took place shortly after Lucas's meeting with Guatemalan businessmen, where he is "alleged to have raised half a million dollars in contributions to the [Reagan] campaign."

Since the 1984 Congressional cutoff of aid to the contras, Singlaub, as world chairman of the World Anti-Communist League, has been the most visible source of private support to the contras. He did this in liaison with both William Casey of the CIA and Col. Oliver North of the National Security Council staff."

But Singlaub's contacts with the World Anti-Communist League go back at least to 1980, when he was also purporting to speak abroad in the name of Reagan. Did the help from Reagan which Singlaub promised Guatemalans in 1980, like the "verbal agreements" which Sandoval referred to at Reagan's Inaugural, involve commitments even then from Reagan to that fledgling WACL project, the contras?

Mike Deaver should be asked that question, since in 1980 he was a registered foreign lobbyist for three of the contras most important WACL backers: Guatemala, Taiwan, and Argentina.

Unlike the invasion of Normandy Beach during World War II, thee invasion of Grenada took place without the presence of journalists to observe the action. Reagan advisors Mike leaver and Craig Fuller had previously worked for the Hannaford Company, a PR firm which had represented the Guatemalan government to squelch negative publicity about Guatemala's massive violence against its civilian population. Following their advice, Reagan ordered a complete press blackout surrounding the Grenada invasion. By the time reporters were allowed on the scene, soldiers were engaged in "mop-up" actions, and the American public was treated to an antiseptic military victory minus any scenes of killing, destruction or incompetence. In fact, as former army intelligence officers Richard Gabriel and Paul Savage wrote a year later in the Boston Globe, "What really happened in Grenada was a case study in military incompetence and poor execution." Of the 18 American servicemen killed during the operation, 14 died in friendly fire or in accidents. To this day, no one has been able to offer a reliable estimate of the number of Grenadans killed. Retired Vice-Admiral Joseph Metcalf III remembered the Grenada invasion fondly as "a marvelous, sterile operation."

After reporters protested the news blackout, the government proposed creating a "National Media Pool." In future wars, a rotating group of regular Pentagon correspondents would be on call to depart at a moment's notice for US surprise military operations. In theory, the pool system was designed to keep journalists safe and to provide them with timely, inside access to military operations. In practice, it was a classic example of PR crisis management strategy enabling the military to take the initiative in controlling media coverage by channeling reporters' movements through Pentagon-designated sources.''

Distasteful as this Deaver-Hannaford apologetics for murder may seem today, the real issue goes far beyond rhetoric. Though Deaver and Hannaford's three international clients Guatemala, Taiwan, and Argentina-all badly wanted a better image in America, what they wanted even more urgently were American armaments. Under Carter arms sales and deliveries to Taiwan had been scaled back for diplomatic reasons, and cut off to Guatemala and Argentina because of human rights violations.

When Reagan became President, all three of Deaver's international clients, despite considerable opposition within the Administration, began to receive arms. This under-reported fact goes against the public image of Deaver as an open-minded pragmatist, marginal to the foreign policy disputes of the first Reagan administration, so that his pre-1981 lobbying activities had little bearing on foreign policy. The details suggest a different story.

Argentina could hardly have had a worse press in the United States then when Reagan took office. The revelations of Adolfo Perez Esquivel and of Jacobo Timmerman had been for some time front page news. This did not deter the new Administration from asking Congress to lift the embargo on arms sales to Argentina on March 19, 1981, less than two months after coming to office. General Roberto Viola, one of the junta members responsible for the death squads, was welcomed to Washington in the spring of 1981. Today he is serving a 17-year sentence for his role in the "dirty war."

Though the American public did not know it, the arrangements for U.S. aid to Argentina included a quid pro quo: Argentina would expand its support and training for the Contras, as there was as yet no authorization for the United States to do so directly. "Thus aid and training were provided to the Contras through the Argentinean defense forces in exchange for other forms of aid from the U.S. to Argentina .1128 Congressional investigators should determine whether the contemporary arms deals with Deaver's other clients, Guatemala and Taiwan, did not contain similar kickbacks for their contra proteges.

Let me tell you about the greatest victory in the history of the United States. We won World War III without firing a shot. Do you realize that? World War III had been raging for 45 years. We called it the Cold War, and we won it without firing a single shot. Who deserves credit for that? The credit belongs to a man who has been abused by the press. A president who is much greater than history is willing to portray him, because he was not their kind of guy. A grandfather, a father, who is now suffering from Alzheimer's. Can't think straight. Doesn't know where he is. Ronald Reagan...

President Reagan did it, by establishing something that he has been denounced for. Criticized for. Castigated for. Star Wars. Star Wars was not established to shoot down incoming Soviet missiles. That was what we said we were going to do with it. That was the purpose that we announced. But that wasn't the real purpose. We had discovered that the Soviet Union was near economic collapse. We knew that we had a stronger economy; that we could out-spend them, and we knew that they were crazy enough to continue to try to keep up with us, so we started Star Wars for the purpose of crashing the Soviet economy. And we succeeded. The Soviet Union came crashing down. The citizens in the Kremlin didn't want to do it. We now know, we didn't know then. They are now a little more free with us, telling us some of the secrets that they used to keep, and their civilian leaders didn't want to do it. They said, "We can't afford it. We've got to go ahead and let the Americans go ahead and prepare for Star Wars." The military said, "No, we have the responsibility to defend the Soviet Union, so we must develop Star Wars too." They ran out of money. They went bankrupt. They collapsed.

At the start of his presidency, Reagan favored the supply-side theory of growth, cutting taxes and social spending to jump-start a sluggish economy suffering with high inflation.

A deep recession forced some tax increases, but over the course of his tenure Wall Street responded appreciatively to "Reaganomics" and the economy boomed.

At the same time he fought to cut taxes, Reagan ordered a massive defense buildup to intimidate the Soviet Union, an expansion that required large-scale Pentagon spending. Critics called the effort corporate welfare for the defense industry.

In an attempt to stay ahead of the Soviets, Reagan supported the Strategic Defense Initiative, nicknamed "Star Wars," which promised to deflect incoming missiles. But the expensive plan was eventually deemed unworkable and shelved until being revived in the administration of the second President Bush.

Ronald Reagan, who has died aged 93, following complications from Alzheimer's disease, served two terms as US president, from 1981 to 1989. He will be long remembered for his part in ending the cold war, although what that part was exactly will be long disputed.

Perhaps the cold war was certain to end peaceably, rather than in a nuclear holocaust; perhaps the dissolution of the Soviet Union was equally certain. But it is at least as probable that the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev as Soviet leader in 1985, and the presence of the Republican Reagan in the White House, created a window of opportunity, which both men, to their credit, took full advantage of...

His personal popularity became so great that it even survived the revelation that he and Nancy consulted an astrologer. As Henry Kissinger and others noticed, only his speeches and their preparation roused him to hard work, though the reward was that he always found the right words for the occasion, most impressively at the time of the Challenger space mission disaster in 1986.

Otherwise, he cared very little for the day-to-day management of government. His indolence was notorious, so much so that he made jokes about it: "It's true that hard work never killed anybody, but I figured why take the chance?"

Appearance to the contrary, however, Reagan knew exactly what he wanted to do in his first term, and was shrewd and flexible enough to get most of it. His objectives were those of the south Californian business class with which he had long allied himself: a large tax cut, a sharply increased defence budget, and the defeat of organised labour's pretensions, which was demonstrated by his success in smashing the air traffic controllers' strike in 1981. Federal regulation was the enemy, and he did what he could to dismantle the legacy of Jack Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson's welfare programmes.

His inconsistencies did not faze him: a prophet of the balanced budget and cuts in federal spending, he spent more and ran up much larger deficits than any president before him. This unplanned Keynesianism produced a long boom, but bequeathed grievous problems to his successors. Even more damagingly, it persuaded many Americans that they could eat their cake and have it too: since Reagan was forever advertising his conservatism, they did not spot the real source of their prosperity and, in a damn-the-torpedoes fashion, became convinced that it could never be necessary to raise taxes and never be imprudent to lower them.

Reagan's inattention to detail, and the hostility of his followers to Washington, provided the opportunity for lawbreaking by members of the government on a scale never before attained, and there was an endless train of resignations, arrests and court cases.

Matters went altogether too far in the Iran-Contra affair, when the White House staff (and, almost certainly, the president himself) conspired to sell arms to revolutionary Iran, in defiance of declared government policy, and use the money to support the insurrectionary forces in Nicaragua, in defiance of congressional directives. The chief villain of the piece, Colonel Oliver North, was lucky to escape prison, but Reagan himself deserved to be impeached for the business. He escaped because few could bear the thought of struggling through another Watergate, and, anyway, no one hated or feared him as they had Richard Nixon.

Ronald Reagan was a statesman who, despite all disagreements that existed between our countries at the time, displayed foresight and determination to meet our proposals halfway and change our relations for the better, stop the nuclear race, start scrapping nuclear weapons, and arrange normal relations between our countries.

I do not know how other statesmen would have acted at that moment, because the situation was too difficult. Reagan, whom many considered extremely rightist, dared to make these steps, and this is his most important deed.

Reagan was the "unsolved mystery" of modern American politics, as Time magazine described him, confounding friends and enemies alike.

He was a budget hawk who tripled the national debt and created record budget deficits with his tax-cutting "supply-side" economic policies, which came to be known as Reaganomics.

He was a foreign policy novice who hastened the fall of the Soviet Union and, with it, victory in the four-decade Cold War against the "evil empire."

He was the champion of a durable political movement against big government who oversaw increases in federal spending every year of his administration.

He was the "Great Communicator," who relied heavily on cue cards and who could flounder badly without a script or a tightly orchestrated public event.

He was warm and genial in public, a passionate champion of family values, who was the only divorcee ever elected president and was sometimes accused of being a distant parent to his four children.

There is, however, no dispute that Reagan was a giant on the world stage and the leader of a conservative political revolution at home nearly as sweeping as the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt, his onetime political idol.

"Reagan may not have been a great president," biographer Lou Cannon wrote, "but he was a great American who had a compelling vision of his country."

That vision - of "morning in America" where "every day is Independence Day, the Fourth of July" - appealed to a nation weary of setbacks at home and abroad.

To a nation hungry for a hero, a nation battered by Vietnam, damaged by Watergate and humiliated by Iran, Ronald Wilson Reagan held out the promise of a return to greatness, the promise that America would ``stand tall'' again.

He was America's oldest president and in some ways its youngest when he came to the White House in 1981, a vigorous 69-year-old Republican who called America back to the traditional values of a simpler era.

Preaching the hometown virtues of smaller government, lower taxes and a stronger military, Mr. Reagan brought a jaunty optimism to the White House and led the country out of the malaise lamented by Jimmy Carter, the Democrat who preceded him.

He managed to project the optimism of Roosevelt, the faith in small-town America of Dwight D. Eisenhower and the vigor of John F. Kennedy. In his first term in the White House he restored much of America's faith in itself and in the presidency, and he rode into his second term on the crest of a wave of popularity that few presidents have enjoyed.

But late in 1986, halfway through his second term, Mr. Reagan and his administration were plunged into chaos by an effort to deal too rashly with the same kind of hostage crisis that he had accused Mr. Carter of handling too gingerly.

Contrary to official policy, Mr. Reagan's subordinates sold arms to Iran as ransom for the hostages in Lebanon and diverted profits from the sales to the rebels fighting the Marxist Sandinistas then governing Nicaragua. A joint Congressional investigating committee reported that the affair had been ``characterized by pervasive dishonesty and secrecy'' and that Mr. Reagan bore ultimate responsibility for the wrongdoing of a ``cabal of zealots.''

The deception and disdain for the law invited comparisons to Watergate, undermined Mr. Reagan's credibility and severely weakened his powers of persuasion with Congress. Scrutiny of his appointees increased; Supreme Court nominees were rejected or withdrawn, and more of his aides were charged with ethics violations than in any other administration.

But until the Iran-contra affair, Mr. Reagan enjoyed tremendous popularity. He used that popularity and a consummate political skill to push many of his major programs through Congress. And despite Iran-contra, he crowned his two terms with a nuclear arms agreement with the Soviet Union that reduced the nuclear arsenals of both countries for the first time, setting the stage for a new relationship with the Soviet Union under the leadership of Mikhail S. Gorbachev.

It was Mr. Reagan's good fortune that during his time in office the Soviet Union was undergoing profound change and was eventually to collapse, setting off a spirited debate over Mr. Reagan's role in ending the cold war, with his supporters arguing that his tough policies were the coup de grace and his detractors attributing the end to the accumulated influence of 45 years of the United States policy of containment. But wherever the credit was due, the thaw came on his watch.

Michael R. Beschloss, the presidential historian, said he believed that the cold war ended more quickly under Mr. Reagan than it would have had his opponent, Mr. Carter, been re-elected in 1980.

"With Reagan,'' Mr. Beschloss said, "the Soviets could no longer con themselves into thinking they would prevail in the cold war because the American people had lost their will and strength and lost their taste for confronting Soviet aggression. They were sufficiently convinced that Reagan meant business.''

He said the Soviet economy was beginning to flag and Mr. Gorbachev was selected and "charged with improving the economy and making the best deal he could with the West.''

The hagiography started as soon as they announced Reagan's death. How he ended the cold war, how he was a decisive leader, all this nonsense about Reagan which is just ridiculous.

The British have a tradition: when someone dies, their newspaper obituary tells the truth. Americans like to say something kind about the dead, no matter how scummy they were. Even Nixon got a halo in death, where only Hunter Thompson reminded people of who exactly he was and how the honors given him were, well, wrong.

This deification of Reagan began as soon as Clinton took office. There has been pressure to name everything but rest stop toilets after the man. Some right wing cranks wanted to add him to Mount Rushmore, as if FDR didn't exist. They forced his name on an unhappy Washington DC, by renaming the airport, still called by many, National.

So let's get past all the maudlin bullshit and discuss what Reagan really did.

First, Reagan rode to power on a wave of reaction to the Civil Rights struggle. California, a state with a deep well of racial resentment, supported Reagan, who would protect the establishment and call for students to be murdered on their campuses. Reagan was regarded as a crank by many on the left, but his appeal to middle America was strong. It wasn't that Reagan was a racist, as far as is known, he wasn't. But he sure could pander to them, as he did in 1984 at Philadelphia, MS. For those of you unaware, that is the place three civil rights workers were murdered by the Klan. It would be like a British Prime Ministerial candidate going to Amritsar to talk about the glory of the British Army (the site of a 1921 massacre of peaceful Indian protesters). Reagan pandered to the racist right with ease, even as Barry Goldwater, the man he supported in 1964 with a convention speech, slowly backed away from many of his reactionary views. Instead, Reagan depicted blacks as "welfare queens" leeching off the society, when in reality, white women are the largest recipients of AFDC. Reagan used race like a club to hammer minorities and pander to the racist right.

We need to ask what hath Reagan wrought. His economic policies crippled this country, preventing the kind of long term structural changes which are still needed. How long will American businesses have to foot the bill for health insurance? How long will unequal funding for schools exist? How long will the right of women to control their bodies be subject to restrictions? This is the real, domestic legacy of Ronald Reagan. His breaking of the PATCO strike began the road to anti-Union policies across business. Once, businesses wanted labor peace, after Reagan, strike breaking was permitted, hell encouraged.

Reagan began the road of crippling America's ability to care for Americans. Now we have this failed trickle down economic policy pushed by yet another President. One that leaves Americans in record debt and record bankruptcies. Instead of tax rates which fairly distribute the burden of funding America, the rich have been encouraged to avoid their fair share. Ronald Reagan began the bankrupting of America and the creation of a super wealthy CEO class, one where their great grandchildren will never have to work, an aristocracy of trustifarians. Under Reagan hypocrisy and selfishness became the rule of the road. Not just in public life, where his staff routinely lied, eventually leading to Iran-Contra.

But if Reagan started to ruin America, his foreign policy left the dead around like fallen leaves. His foreign policy was a disaster by any standard. Dead nuns in El Salvador, murdered school teachers in Nicaragua, the tortured in Argentina, the seizure of Grenade, the failed intervention in Lebanon, the aerial assassination attempt on Khaddafi, which led to the bombing of Pam Am flight 103. Reagan's policies left a trail of failure and disaster at every turn.

How to explain funding the deeply corrupt Contras? Former Somocista generals who funded their war by the drug trade? Who murdered the innocent. Or the war in Guatemala and the genocide of the Indian population. Or the war in El Salvador, where American nuns, among many others, were raped and murdered. A government so callous that it murdered an archbishop in his church.

Ronald Reagan is dead now, and everyone is being nice to him. In every aspect, this is appropriate. He was a husband and a father, a beloved member of a family, and he will be missed by those he was close to. His death was long, slow and agonizing because of the Alzheimer's Disease which ruined him, one drop of lucidity at a time. My grandmother died ten years ago almost to the day because of this disease, and this disease took ten years to do its dirty, filthy, wretched work on her.

The dignity and candor of Reagan's farewell letter to the American people was as magnificent a departure from public life as any that has been seen in our history, but the ugly truth of his illness was that he lived on, and on, and on. His family and friends watched as he faded from the world of the real, as the simple dignity afforded to all life collapsed like loose sand behind his ever more vacant eyes. Only those who have seen Alzheimer's Disease invade a mind can know the truth of this. It is a cursed way to die.

In this mourning space, however, there must be room made for the truth. Writer Edward Abbey once said, "The sneakiest form of literary subtlety, in a corrupt society, is to speak the plain truth. The critics will not understand you; the public will not believe you; your fellow writers will shake their heads."

The truth is straightforward: Virtually every significant problem facing the American people today can be traced back to the policies and people that came from the Reagan administration. It is a laundry list of ills, woes and disasters that has all of us, once again, staring apocalypse in the eye.

How can this be? The television says Ronald Reagan was one of the most beloved Presidents of the 20th century. He won two national elections, the second by a margin so overwhelming that all future landslides will be judged by the high-water mark he achieved against Walter Mondale. How can a man so universally respected have played a hand in the evils which corrupt our days?

The answer lies in the reality of the corrupt society Abbey spoke of. Our corruption is the absolute triumph of image over reality, of flash over substance, of the pervasive need within most Americans to believe in a happy-face version of the nation they call home, and to spurn the reality of our estate as unpatriotic. Ronald Reagan was, and will always be, the undisputed heavyweight champion of salesmen in this regard.

Reagan was able, by virtue of his towering talents in this arena, to sell to the American people a flood of poisonous policies. He made Americans feel good about acting against their own best interests. He sold the American people a lemon, and they drive it to this day as if it was a Cadillac. It isn't the lies that kill us, but the myths, and Ronald Reagan was the greatest myth-maker we are ever likely to see.

Mainstream media journalism today is a shameful joke because of Reagan's deregulation policies. Once upon a time, the Fairness Doctrine ensured that the information we receive - information vital to the ability of the people to govern in the manner intended - came from a wide variety of sources and perspectives. Reagan's policies annihilated the Fairness Doctrine, opening the door for a few mega-corporations to gather journalism unto themselves. Today, Reagan's old bosses at General Electric own three of the most-watched news channels. This company profits from every war we fight, but somehow is trusted to tell the truths of war. Thus, the myths are sold to us.

The deregulation policies of Ronald Reagan did not just deliver journalism to these massive corporations, but handed virtually every facet of our lives into the hands of this privileged few. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat are all tainted because Reagan battered down every environmental regulation he came across so corporations could improve their bottom line. Our leaders are wholly-owned subsidiaries of the corporations that were made all-powerful by Reagan's deregulation craze. The Savings and Loan scandal of Reagan's time, which cost the American people hundreds of billions of dollars, is but one example of Reagan's decision that the foxes would be fine guards in the henhouse.

Ronald Reagan believed in small government, despite the fact that he grew government massively during his time. Social programs which protected the weakest of our citizens were gutted by Reagan's policies, delivering millions into despair. Reagan was able to do this by caricaturing the "welfare queen," who punched out babies by the barnload, who drove the flashy car bought with your tax dollars, who refused to work because she didn't have to. This was a vicious, racist lie, one result of which was the decimation of a generation by crack cocaine. The urban poor were left to rot because Ronald Reagan believed in 'self-sufficiency.'

Ronald Reagan actively supported the regimes of the worst people ever to walk the earth. Names like Marcos, Duarte, Rios Mont and Duvalier reek of blood and corruption, yet were embraced by the Reagan administration with passionate intensity. The ground of many nations is salted with the bones of those murdered by brutal rulers who called Reagan a friend. Who can forget his support of those in South Africa who believed apartheid was the proper way to run a civilized society?

One dictator in particular looms large across our landscape. Saddam Hussein was a creation of Ronald Reagan. The Reagan administration supported the Hussein regime despite his incredible record of atrocity. The Reagan administration gave Hussein intelligence information which helped the Iraqi military use their chemical weapons on the battlefield against Iran to great effect. The deadly bacterial agents sent to Iraq during the Reagan administration are a laundry list of horrors.

The Reagan administration sent an emissary named Donald Rumsfeld to Iraq to shake Saddam Hussein's hand and assure him that, despite public American condemnation of the use of those chemical weapons, the Reagan administration still considered him a welcome friend and ally. This happened while the Reagan administration was selling weapons to Iran, a nation notorious for its support of international terrorism, in secret and in violation of scores of laws.

Another name on Ronald Reagan's roll call is that of Osama bin Laden. The Reagan administration believed it a bully idea to organize an army of Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union. bin Laden became the spiritual leader of this action. Throughout the entirety of Reagan's term, bin Laden and his people were armed, funded and trained by the United States. Reagan helped teach Osama bin Laden the lesson he lives by today, that it is possible to bring a superpower to its knees. bin Laden believes this because he has done it once before, thanks to the dedicated help of Ronald Reagan.

In 1998, two American embassies in Africa were blasted into rubble by Osama bin Laden, who used the Semtex sent to Afghanistan by the Reagan administration to do the job. In 2001, Osama bin Laden thrust a dagger into the heart of the United States, using men who became skilled at the art of terrorism with the help of Ronald Reagan. Today, there are 827 American soldiers and over 10,000 civilians who have died in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, a war that came to be because Reagan helped manufacture both Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

How much of this can be truthfully laid at the feet of Ronald Reagan? It depends on who you ask. Those who worship Reagan see him as the man in charge, the man who defeated Soviet communism, the man whose vision and charisma made Americans feel good about themselves after Vietnam and the malaise of the 1970s. Those who despise Reagan see him as nothing more than a pitch-man for corporate raiders, the man who allowed greed to become a virtue, the man who smiled vapidly while allowing his officials to run the government for him.

In some crude forms of therapy the patient is confronted with a re-enactment of the trauma that caused his collapse. Even so, I don't think I'll be watching Ronald Reagan's state funeral as Margaret Thatcher's taped tribute is played. It'll be too painful. I'll go and sit on broken glass for a while instead.

That, for me, was a bad decade - a decade in which rightwing precepts were dominant and the left was in full and abject retreat. But perhaps, along with others, I should reassess the Reagan legacy. If Gerhard Schröder and Mikhail Gorbachev can say what a fabulous contribution the old actor made to freedom, it may be time to forget jokes like, "My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you that I have signed legislation to outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes."

Because Reagan didn't start bombing in five minutes. He didn't even actually build Star Wars. Following the deployment of Cruise and Pershing missiles, he then - quite unexpectedly - engaged in a process of arms limitation and tension reduction that made it safe for Gorbachev to pursue a reform programme in the Soviet Union. That's not enough to get him chiselled into Mount Rushmore, but it's a damn sight more than I gave him credit for at the time.

What Was Ronald Reagan Remembered For ?

Ronald Reagan, the 40th US President, will always be remembered for mitigating the Cold War. He will always be considered as the American president who did not feel afraid to stare at the Soviet Union and not blink. He changed the way the American administration looked at the communism.

When Reagan came to power, his first priority was to improve the economic condition of the country and enhance the military might of the nation. He managed to do both and did not care about the huge budget deficit that resulted. However, when he was leaving office, the budget deficit was at manageable. So, ultimately he ended up proving what he had always maintained that a deficit was no cause for concern as it would manage itself.

The world over, leaders regard him as a man of his word and an optimist. He managed to convince Mikhail Gorbachev to sign a treaty to destroy intermediate nuclear warheads. This was in itself a huge success for Reagan because all previous General Secretaries of the Communist Party refused to even talk or consider such a proposal.

By strengthening the US military might, Reagan single-handedly managed to ruin the Soviet economy. Of course, there were other intrinsic and extrinsic factors that ultimately brought the downfall of the Soviet bloc, but Reagan definitely had a hand in this.

His famous speech at the Berlin Wall in June 1987 challenging Gorbachev to tear down the Wall was appreciated by everyone. No expected Reagan to make a speech like that. And, no expected it to be the harbinger of things to come not even Ronald Reagan himself.

But when communism collapsed in the Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries in the late 1980s, a lot of credit was given to Ronald Reagan. This is why he will always be remembered as the man who was instrumental in ending the Cold War.

There are number of reasons why a politician or an elected politician suddenly decides to switch parties. However, the main reason is often that the person feels that his views are no longer the same that the party's views. Sometimes, the switch is done to gain power. This brings us to why did Ronald Reagan join the Republican Party after being a Democrat for so many years. More..

FLASHBACK: Ronald Reagan Called Union Membership ‘One Of The Most Elemental Human Rights’

As the Main Street Movement of students, workers, and other middle class Americans erupts across America, many conservatives have invoked the legacy of former president Ronald Reagan to demand that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) not back down from his push to end collective bargaining for his state&rsquos public employees. In a prank call with the Buffalo Beast&rsquos Ian Murphy, where Murphy pretended to be right-wing billionare David Koch, Walker himself even fantasized about being just like Reagan.

Yet conservatives may be shocked to learn that their idol Reagan was once a union boss himself. Reagan was the only president in American history to have belonged to a union, the AFL-CIO affiliated Screen Actors Guild. And he even served six terms as president of the organized labor group. Additionally, Reagan was a staunch advocate for the collective bargaining rights of one of the world&rsquos most famous and most influential trade unions, Poland&rsquos Solidarity movement.

Founded in September 1980, Solidarity was formed in Soviet-occupied Poland as the USSR&rsquos first free and independent trade union. By 1981, the union had grown to 10 million people and became a powerful force for demanding economic and political reforms within the Soviet Union. Solidarity began to use strikes to demand these reforms, and the Soviets responded by jailing their leaders and cracking down on their right to organize. During his Christmas address to the nation on December 23, 1981, President Reagan condemned the Soviet-backed Polish crackdowns on labor unions, promoting the &ldquobasic right of free trade unions and to strike&rdquo:

REAGAN: The Polish government has trampled underfoot to the UN Charter and Helsinki accords. It has even broken the Gdańsk Agreement of 1980 by which the Polish government recognized the basic right of free trade unions and to strike.

In a radio address given the following October, the former president escalated his rhetoric. Reagan condemned the Polish government&rsquos outlawing of Solidarity, and attacked it for making it &ldquoclear they never had any intention of restoring one of the most elemental human rights &mdash the right to belong to a free trade union&rdquo:

REAGAN: Ever since martial law was brutally imposed last December, Polish authorities have been assuring the world that they&rsquore interested in a genuine reconciliation with the Polish people. But the Polish regime&rsquos action yesterday reveals the hollowness of its promises. By outlawing Solidarity, a free trade organization to which an overwhelming majority of Polish workers and farmers belong, they have made it clear that they never had any intention of restoring one of the most elemental human rights &mdash the right to belong to a free trade union.

Although Solidarity was not an American union, it is important to understand that much of its political program at the time was much farther to the left than any comparable U.S.-based unions. Solidarity&rsquos economic platform in 1981 called for worker-owned businesses, social control of the food supply so as to ensure that everyone was fed, and for workers to decide what days of the week businesses would be able to declare holidays, among other things.

As conservatives, including Walker himself, continue to fashion themselves as clones of Reagan as they face off with a new progressive populist movement across the country, Americans should know that Reagan&rsquos views and actions may not have always perfectly aligned with those on the far right.

Ronald Reagan: Impact and Legacy

Ronald Wilson Reagan was a transformational President. His leadership and the symbiotic relationship he forged with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev during their four summit meetings set the stage for a peaceful resolution of the Cold War. As the Soviet Union disappeared into the mists of history, Reagan's partisans asserted that he had "won" the Cold War. Reagan and Gorbachev more prudently declared that the entire world was a winner. Reagan had reason to believe, however, that the West had emerged victorious in the ideological struggle: as he put it, democracy had prevailed in its long "battle of values" with collectivism. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, his staunch ally, wrote that Reagan had "achieved the most difficult of all political tasks: changing attitudes and perceptions about what is possible. From the strong fortress of his convictions, he set out to enlarge freedom the world over at a time when freedom was in retreat—and he succeeded." This is true as far as it goes—the number of democratic nations as well as the reach of free-market ideology expanded on Reagan's watch. But, as Russia's recent autocratic path suggests, the permanence of these advances remains in doubt.

Scholars offer a variety of explanations for why the Cold War ended as it did and for the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union. Some historians cite the U.S. military buildup under Reagan and the pressures exerted by his pet program, the Strategic Defense Initiative. Others emphasize the increased restiveness of Eastern European nations, particularly Poland, and Soviet overreach in Afghanistan. Still others point to the implosion of the Soviet economy after 75 years of Communist rule. Although historians have reached no consensus on the weight that should be given to these various factors, it is clear that Reagan and his policies contributed to the outcome.

Reagan's economic legacy is mixed. On the one hand, tax reduction and a tightening of interest rates by the Federal Reserve led to a record period of peacetime economic growth. On the other, this growth was accompanied by record growth in the national debt, the federal budget deficit, and the trade deficit. Defenders of Reagan's economic record point out that a big chunk of the deficit was caused by increased military spending, which declined after the Soviet collapse and created the context for balanced budgets during the Clinton years. Even so, the supply-side tax cuts did not produce the increase in revenues that Reagan had predicted. The economist Robert Samuelson has suggested that Reagan's main achievement in the economic arena was his consistent support of the Federal Reserve, which under Reagan's appointee Alan Greenspan, followed monetary policies that kept inflation low. Reagan also succeeded in a principal goal of reducing the marginal income tax rate, which was 70 percent when he took office and 28 percent when he left.

Reagan also left a monumental political legacy. After he was reelected in a 49-state landslide in 1984, it became clear that Democrats would be unlikely to return to the White House under a traditional liberal banner. This paved the way for Bill Clinton's centrist capture of the Democratic nomination and the presidency in 1992. Reagan had an even greater impact within his own party. He carried Republicans into control of the Senate when he won the presidency in 1980. Although Democrats controlled the House throughout the Reagan presidency, the Republicans won control for the first time in 40 years in 1994 under the banner of Newt Gingrich's "Contract With America," a potpourri of leftover Reagan proposals. Even today, with Democrats back in control, there are more avowed Reagan Republicans in Congress than there ever were during Reagan's lifetime. In the 2008 contest for the Republican presidential nomination, virtually all the candidates proclaimed that they would follow in Reagan's footsteps.

It is an open question whether Reagan's accomplishments occurred because of his philosophy or despite it—or both. Reagan was an effective communicator of conservative ideas, but he was also an enormously practical politician who was committed to success. The welfare bill that was the signal achievement of Reagan's second term as governor of California, the reform that salvaged Social Security for a generation during his first term as President, and the tax overhaul of his second presidential term were bipartisan compromises, defying "liberal" or "conservative" labels. In the tradition of American populists, Reagan ran for office as an outsider who was determined to restore traditional values. In fact, he was a master politician who expanded the reach of his party at home and pursued his vision of a nuclear-free world abroad. He casts a long shadow.


A series of scandals happened during the later years of Reagan’s presidency. The most important one, called Iran-Contra, involved illegal sales of weapons to the Middle Eastern nation of Iran. Profits from the sales were secretly sent to support rebel forces called the Contras in Nicaragua, a country in Central America. Congress had previously passed a law banning U.S. funding for the Contras, and the U.S. government also had a policy in place saying they would not aid Iran in its war against its neighboring nation of Iraq. Many U.S. citizens were upset that high-level government officials secretly approved the weapon sales and funding, ignoring the laws and policies already in place. Charges of illegal behavior led to several of Reagan’s staff members being forced to resign, including his labor secretary and his attorney general.

More Comments:

Oliver Penn - 5/3/2007

As an American businessman who lived through the 1980s while Ronald Reagan was President, I see his terms a little different.

20 million new jobs? This was widely dicussed during the 80a and in the early 90s when Bill Clinton was running for Commander and Chief. It was pointed out that under Reagan and Bush, there was tremendous economic failures. Thee was, and I remember this, tremendous downsizing and catastrophic unemployment. For ten years, we watch massive unemployment, soup kitchens that were created in cities that had never had them before, thousands of homeless people nation-wide and thousands of people dying from a new plague called AIDS. When gay men were mysteriously dying of this disease, there was not ONE word or speech from the White House. It was not until 1987 when Rock Hudson became infected, did Reagan speak the word "AIDS." By then, thousands of young men had died and the hetero community began to be significantly affected.

I owned an emplyment agency during Reagonomics and 35% of all agencies, nation-wide went out of business because of the poor economy.

Yes, rich people had a field day after the tax cuts for the wealthy, but the "trickle down" effect did NOT work. As Mr. Clinton describe those GOP dominated years: "they drove the economy into the ditch."

I want to forget the Reagan years, I remember them as HARD TIMES and broken lives. I couldn't WAIT until the republicans were voted out of office.

More Comments:

Patrick J Hogan - 1/14/2007

Max doesn't want to pick through the so called tangled mess because he has no answer for them. Like many on his side of the debate. They throw out arguments against President Reagan. But when they're called on it and have to defend their position they can't. So they'll try and deflect the message by trying to pick at MINOR grammatical errors rather than try to answer in reply because they have no answer. As for the Balanced Budget comment your right the GOP did control the Senate for 6 years. If you recall I did blame both parties for the deficits of the 80's but from Reagan's desk to final authorization those budgets didn't go down they went up, and for that you can look to the Congress as the ultimate source of the massive spending increases. In the end, I might have made some errors in grammar or syntax, but for me SUBSTANCE means a whole lot more than style. Max my friend all you could do was try and deflect my arguments by nitpicking at how I wrote something. You spent very little time answering to WHAT I wrote, and thats because you couldn't. Hope your day goes. RIGHT

Max J. Skidmore - 1/14/2007

I cannot resist adding a question as a postscript (and I promise that this ends it for me): just how many balanced budgets did Reagan submit to the Congress (which for six of Reagan's eight years included a Republican Senate)? The answer, of course, is not one.

Max J. Skidmore - 1/14/2007

It's not even worth sorting through this tangled mess--and no, all you have to do is look over the postings to see that the invective in this exchange didn't come from me.

My last comment on this is, if you cannot get someone literate to edit your fulminations (I know, it must be hard to find someone who would), at least please look up the difference between "your," and "you're."

Patrick J Hogan - 1/13/2007

Dear Max,
I read your latest rejoinder to my posting. Those weren't bombastic assertions they were "FACTS". The reason I reply in this manner is that revisionist history buffs are constantly trying to discredit what Ronald Reagan did because they disliked his political ideology and I decided that if ever I have the chance to defend him I will. As for the comment about fearing those communist loving liberals under my bed, I don't fear them but when they held positions of power and thought that Ronald Reagan was more of a threat to world peace than the Soviet Union then the whole country had reason to fear because they failed to see the peril we faced. Fast forward today to those same weak in the knee Liberal Democrats who shamelessly put party in front of country for political gain, and YES your damn right I fear for our country because these so called leaders fail to understand that there is a mindset alive and well in certain circles which wants to eliminate the United States. But instead of focusing on that threat they deem our current Republican President to be the real threat to peace and freedom. While I'm at it, let me comment on your other remarks about astronomical deficits. Feel free to lump Tip O'Neill and the Democratic Congress in the mix. Every year President Reagan would submit a budget and every year we would hear the same old song from Tip, Robert Byrd, et al. This budget is DOA. The power of the purse rests with Congress, we had record setting revenues under Reagan it was a DEMOCRATIC Congress who spent, and spent that shares a large chunk of the responsibilty for the deficits of the 80's. Both parties can take the hit for that one.As for cutting and running in Lebanon, I really take issue with that one. I spent 6 months in Beirut and lost friends in the Barracks bombing. We didn't cut and run so much as the same thing happened there that is happening now. Tip O'Neill and the Democrats again played politics rather than support us while we were in harms way. They continually criticized the mission. The terrorists elements saw this and exploited that wedge by escalating the attacks against us. If instead of hearing the constant drumbeat from the Democrats saying get out, get out, they heard that America was united and standing at the waters edge in support of our President and our Marines then maybe they wouldn't have felt that targeting the Multi-national force would have led to a withdrawal. But just like today the Democratic party led by Liberals decided that political gain was more important that allowing a Republican administration to have a successful military campaign lest it hurt their political standing. As a result America's enemy seeing Democrats constant criticism of the President realized that if they stepped up attacks they could hope to achieve their goal of a withdrawal of American troops. Sadly we did withdrawal before completing the mission. Fast forwarding to today, The same scenario is being played out yet again. An American President has committed troops, who are engaged in armed conflict. But when our enemies look to this country to gauge the sentiment among those elected officials in positions of power what do they see. Unlike Germany & Japan who saw a united front determined to win and giving unfliching support to our men & women in harms way. They see a President with resolve, who understands the stakes and is striving to defeat an enemy who seeks to destroy our way of life. While at the same time they see an opposition party so thirsty to regain power that they will compromise the security of the country in order regain the power they covet. In closing I'll simply add that like most Liberals when you have nothing to say or can't come back with facts to back your argument you simply revert to name calling in an attempt to discredit your opponent. Alas I'm not surprised you aren't the first nor will you be the last to try and divert attention from the issue by throwing out your silly little invective. I'm guessing you'll go with the old favorites let me guess. A conservative, knuckle dragging, racist, homophobic, sexist, hatemonger. Did I forget any. Ahh you'll probably fill in any I forgot. Hope your day goes . Right.

PS Keep up the hooked on phonics work.

Max J. Skidmore - 1/12/2007

Dear Mr. (Dr. Professor?) Hogan:

That's an intemperate reply to a mere comment that this space is better used for argument than for bombastic assertion. Perhaps it's fear of all those "communist-loving liberals" who must live under your bed--I've never met one, never known anyone who has met one, and hope never to meet one.

I'm tempted to point out that balance is important, that your "facts," even when correct, are less straightforward than they seem, and should be seen alongside the creation of astronomical deficits, "cutting and running" in Lebanon, deliberately providing weapons to known enemies of the United States (None Dare Call it Treason), flouting laws, and the like.

But I won't. My old grandpa years ago warned me against pissing contests with skunks.

I therefore shall merely point out that one does not form a normal plural with an apostrophe, and of course, I send you my best wishes.

Patrick J Hogan - 1/11/2007

Dear Max,
You want some facts. Here are the facts. During the REAGAN years, 19 million new jobs created, a foreign policy with a "SPINE" which would in 1989 lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Probably a sad day for communist loving liberal lap dogs. Median family income rose 12% for the period 1981-1990, while 1971-80 it rose 0.3%. When Ronald Reagan took office the top tax rate was 70% when he left it was 28%. Again probably a bad thing in the eyes of Liberals. But lets look at total tax revenue. 1977-81 total tax revenue 1.7 trillion, 1981-85 2.5 Trillion, 1985-89 3.2 Trillion but how could that be if we cut taxes. You want facts, you got facts. One more intangible when Jimmy Carter left office we were a nation unsure of ourselves aimlessly wandering, and hoping that there wouldn't be any more Nicaragua's Afghanistan's or Iranian Hostage debacles.8 years later when Ronald Reagan left office we had once again gained the respect of the world, eliminated a whole class of intermediate range Nuclear missiles put our economy back on a good footing with the longest peace time economic expansion in the nation's history. So there are your facts, To quote a line from a famous movie, " You want the Truth, You can't handle the truth" Because the truth hurts especially when your a Liberal who can't handle the fact that Ronald Reagan was a GREAT PRESIDENT. Hope your day goes. RIGHT

Max J. Skidmore - 1/11/2007

Opinions, however strongly expressed, without support count for little (even less when they contain words spelled incorrectly).

Patrick J Hogan - 1/9/2007

I read Lorraine's comment and had to laugh. She sounds like all those other elitist,ivory tower intellectuals who never got it and thought Ronald Reagan was a simpleton. Thats what made him so successful. The left took him for granted and never realized how smart he really was. THANKFULLY 97 MILLION AMERICANS recognized how great a leader he was and gave him two OVERWHELMING victories (Another source of Liberal angst). Ronald Reagan was a great leader because he understood the greatness within the American people and his inspirational message and leadership helped motivate the country. His stedfast adherence to his principles even in the face of non stop criticism from the media and the left was what made him GREAT he led, he didn't ask what the opinion polls said. As a result he is now remembered as a GREAT LEADER, a GREAT PRESIDENT and a GREAT AMERICAN. And his detractors like Lorraine can't stand it. Patrick Hogan Troy, NY

Greg Ransom - 1/8/2007

Reagan as President mentions Hayek in several of his speeches. Did you look in Reagan's library and see what books by Hayek were in his library and what yearsof publication were on those books? What year did Reagan read _The Road to Serfdom_? Did he read _The Constitution of Liberty_? (which is very likely).

Did Reagan put notes in the books in his library?

Did Reagan keep a file of articles he liked, or note cards from his reading?

Lorraine Paul - 1/8/2007

I can see now where Reagan got his simplistic world view and why he would rather get his information from Reader's Digest than his advisers.

As for Gorbachev, Reagan merely stood there while Mikhail did all the work!

History of Reagan’s Presidency

Ronald Wilson Reagan served as the 40th President of the United States from Jan. 20, 1981 to Jan. 19, 1989. He won the Nov. 4, 1980 presidential election, beating Democratic incumbent Jimmy Carter with 50.7% of the votes, and won his second term by a landslide of 58.8% of the votes. [2][49]

Reagan’s proponents point to his accomplishments, including stimulating economic growth in the US, strengthening its national defense, revitalizing the Republican Party, and ending the global Cold War, as evidence of his good presidency.

His opponents contend that Reagan’s poor policies, such as bloating the national defense, drastically cutting social services, and making illegal arms-for-hostages deals, led the country into record deficits and global embarrassment.

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on Feb. 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois. He graduated in 1932 from Eureka College with a BA in social sciences and economics and moved to Iowa to become a radio sports announcer. A screen test in 1937 won him a contract in Hollywood and, over two decades, he appeared in 53 films. In 1949 Ronald Reagan divorced his first wife, Jane Wyman, and married Nancy Davis in 1952. He was the only president to have been divorced (as of Oct. 11, 2010). After six years as president of the Screen Actors Guild, serving intermittently between 1947 and 1960, Reagan was elected Governor of California on Nov. 5, 1966 and reelected on Nov. 5, 1970. [2]

At the age of 69 in 1981 and 73 in 1985, Reagan was the oldest man ever elected President (as of Oct. 11, 2010). [1]

President Reagan waves to onlookers just before attempted assassination.
Source: “Reagan Assassination Attempt,” (accessed Sep. 9, 2010)

On Mar. 30, 1981, 69 days after Reagan’s inauguration on Jan. 20, John Hinckley, Jr. attempted to assassinate the President outside the Washington Hilton hotel. Reagan was shot under the left arm, the bullet lodged in his lung, and missed his heart by less than an inch. [2]

When Ronald Reagan took office the US economy had 9% inflation with 20% interest rates. [50] To combat these effects Reagan established what came to be known as “Reaganomics,” economic policies that included increased defense spending, lower personal income taxes, reduced spending on social services, and decreased business regulation. [51]

The President and his cabinet emphasized supply-side economics, believing that slashing taxes will stimulate economic growth. They passed legislation such as the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, which included the largest tax cuts in the postwar period, the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982, and the Tax Reform Act of 1986. As a result, the top marginal tax rate on individual income was reduced from 70% to 28% and the overall tax code was restructured. [37] [52]

13,000 members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) walked off the job in a nationwide strike on Aug. 3, 1981. Two days later, Reagan announced that they were in violation of legislation prohibiting strikes by government employees because of public safety and, if they did not report to work within 48 hours, their jobs would be terminated. Only 1,300 returned to their jobs. [42] It was an event that changed the landscape of US labor relations – major strikes plummeted from an average of 300 each year in the decades before to fewer than 30 in 2006. [20]

On Aug. 19, 1981, Ronald Reagan fulfilled his campaign pledge to appoint the first woman to the Supreme Court by nominating Sandra Day O’Connor to replace Justice Potter Stewart. Congress confirmed O’Connor’s appointment on Sep. 21, 1981 by a vote of 99-0. [3]

In the fall of 1981, the US economy took a turn for the worse, experiencing its worst recession since the Depression. The Federal Reserve increased interest rates to combat the 14% inflation rate. By Nov. 1982, unemployment reached 10.8%, thousands of businesses failed, farmers lost their land, and many sick, elderly, and poor became homeless. [2] The official unemployment rate reached 11.5 million in Jan. 1983, and Reagan’s disapproval rating rose to 50%, from a low of 18% in early 1981. [53][54]

Artist’s rendering of the proposed Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), aka “Star Wars.”
Source: “Rush to Failure,”, May-June 2000

On Mar. 8, 1983, Reagan gave what came to be known as his “Evil Empire Speech,” that warned against ignoring “the aggressive impulses of an evil empire,” the USSR. [55] That same month, on Mar. 23, President Reagan announced the creation of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), nicknamed “Star Wars,” a space-based defense system intended to deter an attack on the US by intercepting Soviet nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). [56]

In Beirut, Lebanon on Oct. 23, 1983, a suicide bomber drove his truck into a US Marine barracks, killing 241 Marines. This tragedy caused the US to reconsider Reagan’s placement of the Marines as peacekeepers of a cease-fire during the Lebanese civil war. US troops left Lebanon in Feb. 1984. [57] In that same month, on Oct. 25, 1,900 US Marines invaded the small island nation of Grenada. The invasion was partly over safety concerns for American medical students in the country and partly to weaken a recent Marxist coup it emphasized Reagan’s drive to undermine any spread of communism. The move was both denounced by the United Nations and supported by many Americans. [6][58] The US accomplished its military objectives in Grenada: the students came home unharmed and the Marxist government was deposed. [2]

Map of the 1984 US presidential election results.
Source: “Ronald Reagan,” (accessed Sep. 17, 2010)

Reagan won a second term in 1984 by a landslide, receiving 58.8% of the popular vote. He also won a record 525 of a possible 538 electoral college votes, the highest in US history (as of Oct. 11, 2010). Reagan won every state but Minnesota, the home state of his opponent Walter Mondale. [49]

Between Nov. 19, 1985 and Dec. 8, 1987, President Reagan met with Mikhail Gorbachev, Secretary General of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, at four summits to discuss their countries’ bilateral arms race. The meetings culminated in their Dec. 8, 1987 signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, a bilateral treaty which required the elimination of all intermediate range ground-launched missiles. [2][59][66]

On Nov. 25, 1986, Attorney General Edwin Meese publicly confirmed that $10-$30 million of profits from the sale of US arms to Iran had been diverted to the anti-communist guerrilla Nicaraguan Contras. National Security Adviser John Poindexter resigned and National Security Aide Col. Oliver North was fired, both for their involvement in what came to be known as the “Iran-Contra” affair. President Reagan claimed that he did not learn of the Iran-Contra diversion until Meese told him about it on Nov. 24, 1986. [63] The Feb. 26, 1987 Tower Commission’s Report, a study by an independent commission appointed by Reagan, found no evidence linking Reagan to the fund diversion. However, the report did determine that Reagan’s disengagement from the management of the White House led to the actions of his administration. [2]

Click for an Encyclopaedia Britannica video showing Reagan speaking at the Berlin Wall on June 12, 2987.

On June 12, 1987, Reagan delivered a famous address in West Berlin at the Brandenburg Gate which had separated communist East Berlin from democratic West Berlin since 1961. In his speech, the president questioned whether reforms in the Soviet Union were profound or “token gestures,” and challenged Gorbachev to prove his efforts at openness: “General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” [15]

In his two terms in office, Reagan continually tried to balance the budget by cutting federal spending. He cut the budgets of many federal departments, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development (by 40%), the Department of Transportation (by 18%), the Department of Education (by 19%), the Department of Commerce (by 32%), and the Department of Agriculture (by 24%). Reagan never cut the budgets for the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, Justice, or State. [4]

President Reagan also presided over the biggest peacetime defense buildup in history. Reagan expanded defense spending from $178 billion in 1981 to $283 billion by 1988, an increase of 58.9%. [5]

During Reagan’s presidency, total national debt increased from $994 billion in 1981 to $2.9 trillion in 1988. [36] The deficit grew from $74 billion in 1980 to $155 billion in 1988, and unemployment was at a 14-year low, 5.5%, by mid-1988. [60] [2] On Jan. 20, 1989, Ronald Reagan left the White House with the highest approval rating, 68%, of any president since Franklin D. Roosevelt. [61]

In 1993, Reagan experienced recurring episodes of confusion and forgetfulness and was diagnosed as having Alzheimer’s Disease. He disclosed his condition in a Nov. 5, 1994 letter to the American people hoping to “promote greater awareness of this condition.” [62] Ronald Reagan died in California on June 5, 2004 at the age of 93. [2]


"Ronald Reagan was convivial, upbeat, courteous, respectful, self-confident, and humble. But he was also opaque, remote, distant, and inscrutable," says historian Melvyn P. Leffler [1] According to James P. Pfiffner, University Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University, Reagan was a larger-than-life character, a formidable politician, and an important president. His complexity produced a "presidency of paradoxes," in which dramatic successes mingled with unfortunate failures. His strengths included broad vision and clear direction. Voters appreciated his optimism, geniality, and gracious nature, which made his ideals seem all that more attractive. He believed that all national problems were simple problems, and had faith in simple solutions. That strengthened his resolve but also led to failures when there were deep complications. Paradoxically, his victories depended on his willingness to make pragmatic compromises without forsaking his ideals. [2]

Reagan himself made the major policy decisions, and often overruled his top advisers in cases such as the Reykjavík Summit in 1986, and his 1987 speech calling for tearing down the Berlin wall. [3] He was concerned with very broad issues, as well as anecdotal evidence to support his beliefs. He paid very little attention to details and elaborate briefings. When senior officials did not work out, such as Secretary of State Alexander Haig, they were fired. Reagan went through a series of six national security advisers before settling on people he trusted. Indeed, the one of them John Poindexter was trusted too much. [4] Poindexter and his aide Oliver North engaged in a secret deal with Iran called the Iran–Contra affair that seriously damaged Reagan's reputation. Reagan had rarely travelled abroad, and relied on an inner circle of advisers who were not foreign policy experts, including his wife, James Baker, Edwin Meese and Michael Deaver. Haig had the credentials to be Secretary of State, but he was arrogant and unable to get along with the other top aides. He was replaced by George P. Shultz, who proved much more collaborative, and has been generally admired by historians. Other key players included William J. Casey, director of the CIA, William P. Clark, national security advisor, and Jeane Kirkpatrick, Ambassador to the United Nations. Casper W. Weinberger, Secretary of Defense, successfully rebuilt and expanded the military, but did not coordinate well with the foreign policy leadership. [5] [6]

Cold War Edit

Reagan served as President during the last part of the Cold War, an era of escalating ideological disagreements and preparations for war between the United States and the Soviet Union. Reagan in 1982 denounced the enemy as an "evil empire" that would be consigned to the "ash heap of history" and he later predicted that communism would collapse. [7]

He reversed the policy of détente [8] and massively built up the United States military. [9]

He proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), a defense project [10] that planned to use ground and space-based missile defense systems to protect the United States from attack. [11] Reagan believed that this defense shield could make nuclear war impossible. [10] [12] Reagan was convinced that the Soviet Union could be defeated rather than simply negotiated with. [13]

Policy toward USSR Edit

Reagan forcefully confronted the Soviet Union, marking a sharp departure from the détente observed by his predecessors Nixon, Ford, and Carter. Under the assumption that the Soviet Union was financially unable to match the United States in a renewed arms race, he accelerated increases in defense spending begun during the Carter Administration and strove to make the Cold War economically and rhetorically hot. [14]

Reagan had three motivations. First he agreed with the neoconservatives who argued that the Soviets had pulled ahead in military power and the U.S. had to race to catch up. Stansfield Turner, CIA director under Carter, warned in 1981 that, "in the last several years all of the best studies have shown that the balance of strategic nuclear capabilities has been tipping in favor of the Soviet Union." [15] Second, Reagan believed the decrepit Soviet economy could not handle a high-tech weapons race based on computers it was imperative to block them from gaining western technology. [16]

Third, was the moral certainty that Communism was evil and doomed to failure. Reagan was the first major world leader to declare that Communism would soon collapse. [17] On March 3, 1983, he was blunt to a religious group: the Soviet Union is "the focus of evil in the modern world" and could not last: "I believe that communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose — last pages even now are being written." [18] His most detailed analysis came on June 8, 1982, to the British Parliament, stunning the Soviets and allies alike. Most experts assumed that the Soviet Union would be around for generations to come, and it was essential to recognize that and work with them. But Reagan ridiculed the USSR as an "evil empire" and argued that it was suffering a deep economic crisis, which he intended to make worse by cutting off western technology. He stated the Soviet Union "runs against the tide of history by denying human freedom and human dignity to its citizens." [19]

A year later in 1983 Reagan stunned the world with a totally new idea: the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), labeled "star wars" by the media, after the current movie. Reagan, following the ideas of Edward Teller (who invented the H-Bomb in 1950) called for a defensive missile umbrella over the U.S. that would intercept and destroy in space any hostile missiles. It was an unexpected, new idea, and supporters cheered, as SDI seemed to promise protection from nuclear destruction. To opponents, SDI meant a new arms race and the end of the Mutual Assured Destruction ("MAD") strategy that they believed had so far prevented nuclear war. The Soviets were stunned—they lacked basic computers and were unable to say whether it would work or not. Critics said it would cost a trillion dollars yes said supporters, and the Soviets will go bankrupt if they try to match it. The SDI was in fact funded but was never operational. [20] [21] [22]

Defense spending Edit

The Reagan administration made dramatic increases in defense spending one of their three main priorities on taking office. The transition to the new professional all-professional force was finalized, and the draft forgotten. A dramatic expansion of salary bases and benefits for both enlisted and officers made career service much more attractive. Under the aggressive leadership of Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, the development of the B-1 bomber was reinstated, and there was funding for a new B-2 bomber, as well as cruise missiles, the MX missile, and a 600 ship Navy. The new weaponry was designed with Soviet targets in mind. In terms of real dollars after taxation, defense spending jump 34 percent between 1981 in 1985. Reagan's two terms, defense spending totaled about 2 trillion dollars, but even so it was a lower percentage of the federal budget or have the GDP, then before 1976. [23] [24] There were arms sales to build up allies as well. The most notable came in 1981, a $8.5 billion sale to Saudi Arabia involving aircraft, tanks, and Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS). Israel protested, since the AWACS would undermine its strategic attack capabilities. To mollify Israel and its powerful lobby in Washington, the United States promised to supply it with an additional F-15 squadron, a $600 million loan, and permission to export Israeli-made Kfir fighting aircraft to Latin American armies. [25] [26]

In its first term administration looked at arms control measures with deep suspicion. However, after the massive buildup, and the second term it looked at them with favor and achieve major arms reductions with Mikhail Gorbachev. [27]

Nuclear weapons Edit

According to several scholars and Reagan biographers, including, John Lewis Gaddis, Richard Reeves, Lou Cannon and Reagan himself in his autobiography, Reagan earnestly desired the abolition of all nuclear weapons. He proposed to Mikhail Gorbachev that if a missile shield could be built, all nuclear weapons be eliminated and the missile shield technology shared, the world would be much better off. Paul Lettow has argued that Reagan's opposition to nuclear weapons started at the dawn of the nuclear age and in December 1945 he was only prevented from leading an anti-nuclear rally in Hollywood by pressure from the Warner Brothers studio. [28]

Reagan believed the mutually assured destruction policy formulated in the 1950s to be morally wrong. In his autobiography, Reagan wrote:

The Pentagon said at least 150 million American lives would be lost in a nuclear war with the Soviet Union—even if we 'won.' For Americans who survived such a war, I couldn't imagine what life would be like. The planet would be so poisoned the 'survivors' would have no place to live. Even if a nuclear war did not mean the extinction of mankind, it would certainly mean the end of civilization as we knew it. No one could 'win' a nuclear war. Yet as long as nuclear weapons were in existence, there would always be risks they would be used, and once the first nuclear weapon was unleashed, who knew where it would end? My dream, then, became a world free of nuclear weapons. . For the eight years I was president I never let my dream of a nuclear-free world fade from my mind. [29]

Reagan and Soviet leader Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 1987 (and ratified in 1988), which was the first in Cold War history to mandate the destruction of an entire class of nuclear weapons. [30]

Iran-Iraq Edit

Originally neutral in the Iran–Iraq War of 1980 to 1988, the Reagan administration began supporting Iraq because an Iranian victory would not serve the interests of the United States. [31] In 1983, Reagan issued a National Security Decision Directive memo which called for heightened regional military cooperation to defend oil facilities, measures to improve U.S. military capabilities in the Persian Gulf, directed the secretaries of state and defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to take appropriate measures to respond to tensions in the area. [31]

Economic plans, taxes and deficit Edit

Reagan believed in policies based on supply-side economics and advocated a laissez-faire philosophy, [32] seeking to stimulate the economy with large, across-the-board tax cuts. [33] [34] Reagan pointed to improvements in certain key economic indicators as evidence of success. [9] The policies proposed that economic growth would occur when marginal tax rates were low enough to spur investment, [35] which would then lead to increased economic growth, higher employment and wages.

Reagan did not believe in raising income taxes. During his presidential tenure, the top federal income tax rates were lowered from 70% to 28%. [36] However, it has also been acknowledged that Reagan did raise taxes on eleven occasions during his presidency in an effort to both preserve his defense agenda and combat the growing national debt and budget deficit. [37]

In order to cover the growing federal budget deficits and the decreased revenue that resulted from the cuts, the U.S. borrowed heavily both domestically and abroad, raising the national debt from $1.1 trillion to $2.7 trillion. [38] Reagan described the new debt as the "greatest disappointment" of his presidency. [38]

Free trade Edit

Reagan was a supporter of free trade. [39] When running for President in 1979, Reagan proposed a "North American accord", in which goods could move freely throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico. [40] Largely dismissed then, Reagan was serious in his proposal and once in office he signed an agreement with Canada to that effect. [39] His "North American accord" later became the official North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signed by President George H. W. Bush and ratified by President Bill Clinton. [40]

Reagan understood free trade as including the use of tariffs to protect American jobs and industry against foreign competition. He imposed a temporary 100% tariff on Japanese electronics as well as other tariffs on a variety of industrial products, which resulted in some free market advocates criticizing his policies as protectionist in practice. [41]

Healthcare Edit

Reagan was opposed to socialized healthcare, universal health care, or publicly funded health care. In 1961, while still a member of the Democratic Party, Reagan voiced his opposition to single-payer healthcare in an 11-minute recording. [42] The idea was beginning to be advocated by the Democratic Party. In it, Reagan stated:

One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It is very easy to describe a medical program as a humanitarian project . Under the Truman administration, it was proposed that we have a compulsory health insurance program for all people in the United States, and of course, the American people unhesitatingly rejected this . In the last decade, 127 million of our citizens, in just ten years, have come under the protection of some privately-owned medical or hospital insurance. The advocates of [socialized healthcare], when you try to oppose it, challenge you on an emotional basis . What can we do about this? Well you and I can do a great deal. We can write to our [ Congressmen, to our Senators. We can say right now that we want no further encroachment on these individual liberties and freedoms. And at the moment, the key issue is we do not want socialized medicine . If you don't, this program I promise you will pass just as surely as the sun will come up tomorrow. And behind it will come other federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as well have known it in this country, until one day, as Norman Thomas said, we will awake to find that we have socialism. If you don't do this and if I don't do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children's children, what it once was like in America when men were free. [42] [43]

Social Security Edit

Reagan was in favor of making Social Security benefits voluntary. [44] According to Reagan biographer Lou Cannon: "I have no doubt that he shared the view that Social Security was a Ponzi scheme. He was intrigued with the idea of a voluntary plan that would have allowed workers to make their own investments. This idea would have undermined the system by depriving Social Security of the contributions of millions of the nation's highest-paid workers". [44]

Although Reagan was for a limited government and against the idea of a welfare state, Reagan continued to fully fund Social Security and Medicare because the elderly were dependent on those programs.

Mounting concerns that rising Social Security benefits were causing a long-term deficit and were growing too fast resulted in a bipartisan compromise in 1983. Brokered by conservative Alan Greenspan and liberal Congressman Claude Pepper, the agreement lowered benefits over the next 75 years and brought the system into balance. Key provisions included a gradual increase over 25 years in the retirement age from 65 to 67, to take account of longer life expectancy. (People could retire younger, but at a reduced rate of benefits.) Millions of people were added to the system, especially employees of state governments and of nonprofit organizations. [45] [46]

New Deal Edit

Reagan wrote that he was never trying to undo the New Deal as he admired President Franklin D. Roosevelt and voted for him all four times. [47]

Environment Edit

Reagan dismissed acid rain and proposals to halt it as burdensome to industry. [48] In the early 1980s, pollution had become an issue in Canada and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau objected to the pollution originating in U.S. factory smokestacks in the midwest. [49] The Environmental Protection Agency implored Reagan to make a major budget commitment to reduce acid rain, but Reagan rejected the proposal and deemed it as wasteful government spending. [49] He questioned scientific evidence on the causes of acid rain. [49]

Abortion Edit

Reagan was opposed to abortion, except in cases of rape, incest and life of the mother. [50] He was quoted as saying: "If there is a question as to whether there is life or death, the doubt should be resolved in favor of life". In 1982, he stated: "Simple morality dictates that unless and until someone can prove the unborn human is not alive, we must give it the benefit of the doubt and assume it is (alive). And, thus, it should be entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". [50]

As Governor of California, Reagan signed into law the Therapeutic Abortion Act in May 1967 in an effort to reduce the number of "back room abortions" performed in California. [51] As a result, approximately one million abortions would be performed and Reagan blamed this on doctors, arguing that they had deliberately misinterpreted the law. [50] Just when the law was signed, Reagan stated that had he been more experienced as Governor, he would not have signed it. [52] Reagan then declared himself to be pro-life. [50] During his presidency, though, Reagan never introduced legislation to congress regarding abortion.

Crime and capital punishment Edit

Reagan was a supporter of capital punishment. As California's Governor, Reagan was beseeched to grant executive clemency to Aaron Mitchell, who had been sentenced to death for the murder of a Sacramento police officer, but he refused. [53] Mitchell was executed the following morning. [53] It was the only execution during his eight years as Governor—he had previously granted executive clemency to one man on death row who had a history of brain damage. [53]

He approved the construction of three new prisons as President in 1982 as recommended by Attorney General William French Smith. [53]

Drugs Edit

Reagan firmly sought opposition to illegal drugs. [54] He and his wife sought to reduce the use of illegal drugs through the Just Say No Drug Awareness campaign, an organization Nancy Reagan founded as first lady. [54] In a 1986 address to the nation by Ronald and Nancy Reagan, the President said: "[W]hile drug and alcohol abuse cuts across all generations, it's especially damaging to the young people on whom our future depends . Drugs are menacing our society. They're threatening our values and undercutting our institutions. They're killing our children." [55]

Reagan also reacted to illegal drugs outside of Just Say No as the Federal Bureau Investigation added five hundred drug enforcement agents, began record drug crackdowns nationwide and established thirteen regional anti-drug task forces under Reagan. [54] In the address with the first lady, President Reagan reported on the progress of his administration, saying:

Thirty-seven Federal agencies are working together in a vigorous national effort, and by next year our spending for drug law enforcement will have more than tripled from its 1981 levels. We have increased seizures of illegal drugs. Shortages of marijuana are now being reported. Last year alone over 10,000 drug criminals were convicted and nearly $250 million of their assets were seized by the DEA, the Drug Enforcement Administration. And in the most important area, individual use, we see progress. In 4 years the number of high school seniors using marijuana on a daily basis has dropped from 1 in 14 to 1 in 20. The U.S. military has cut the use of illegal drugs among its personnel by 67 percent since 1980. These are a measure of our commitment and emerging signs that we can defeat this enemy. [55]

Civil rights Edit

Women Edit

While running for President, Reagan pledged that if given the chance, he would appoint a woman to the U.S. Supreme Court. [56] In 1981, he appointed Sandra Day O'Connor as the first female justice of the Supreme Court. As President, Reagan opposed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) because he thought that women were already protected by the 14th Amendment, although he had supported the amendment and offered to help women's groups achieve its ratification while serving as Governor of California. [57] Reagan pulled his support for the ERA shortly before announcing his 1976 candidacy for President. The 1976 Republican National Convention renewed the party's support for the amendment, but in 1980 the party qualified its 40-year support for ERA. Despite opposing the ERA, Reagan did not actively work against the amendment, which his daughter Maureen (who advised her father on various issues including women's rights) and most prominent Republicans supported.

Reagan established a "Fifty States Project" and councils and commissions on women designed to find existing statutes at the federal and state levels and eradicate them, the latter through a liaison with the various state governors. Elizabeth Dole, a Republican feminist and former Federal Trade Commissioner and advisor to Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford (who would go on to become Reagan's Transportation Secretary) headed up his women's rights project.

Black people Edit

Reagan did not consider himself a racist and dismissed any attacks aimed at him relating to racism as attacks on his personal character and integrity. [58]

Reagan did not support many civil rights bills throughout the years. [58] He opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 [59] on the grounds that specific provisions of the law infringed upon the individual's right to private property and to do business with whomever they chose, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. [58] In 1982, he signed a bill extending the Voting Rights Act for 25 years after a grass-roots lobbying and legislative campaign forced him to abandon his plan to ease that law's restrictions. [60] In 1988, he vetoed the Civil Rights Restoration Act, but his veto was overridden by Congress. This was especially notable as it was the first Civil Rights bill to be both vetoed and to be overridden since President Andrew Johnson vetoed the Civil Rights Act of 1866 followed by Congress overriding the veto and making it law. Reagan had argued that the legislation infringed on states' rights and the rights of churches and small business owners. [61] Reagan's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as his Justice Department, prosecuted fewer civil rights cases per year than they had under his predecessor. [62]

In 1967, Reagan signed the Mulford Act into law which banned the carrying of loaded weapons in public in the state of California. While California was an open carry state, when the Black Panther Party began lawfully open carrying and monitoring law enforcement for police brutality, bipartisan calls for increased gun control came from the California State Legislature. The law was controversial, as it was clearly retaliatory against the Black Panthers, but Reagan defended the law, saying that he saw "no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons". [63]

Critics have claimed that Reagan gave his 1980 presidential campaign speech about states' rights in Philadelphia, Mississippi in a calculated attempt to appeal to racist southern voters. [64] This location is near the place where three civil rights workers were killed in 1964. [65] However, others have pointed out that Reagan had given it at the Neshoba County Fair some distance away from where the murders took place. They also said that the vast majority of his speech had nothing to do with "states' rights" and that the fair was a popular campaigning spot. Presidential candidates John Glenn and Michael Dukakis both campaigned there as well years later. [66] [67] While campaigning in Georgia, Reagan said that Confederate President Jefferson Davis was "a hero of mine". [68] However, Reagan was offended that some accused him of racism. [68] In 1980, Reagan said the Voting Rights Act was "humiliating to the South", [69] although he later extended the Act after overwhelming public pressure from grass-roots lobbying and legislative campaign. [70]

Reagan opposed Fair Housing legislation in California (the Rumford Fair Housing Act), [71] but in 1988 signed a law expanding the Fair Housing Act of 1968. While signing the expanding of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, he said, among other things, that "[the bill was a] step closer to realizing Martin Luther King's dream", "[the bill was the] most important civil rights legislation in 20 years", and "[the passage of the Civil Rights of 1968 bill] was a major achievement, one that many members of Congress, including a young Congressman named George Bush, had to show enormous courage to vote for". Congressman John Lewis stated that Reagan "dramatized in a very open fashion that he is supportive of efforts to end discrimination in housing" and stated that Reagan's statements were blatantly meant for political gain as it was an election year. [72] Reagan had previously stated in 1966 that, "If an individual wants to discriminate against Negroes or others in selling or renting his house, he has a right to do so." [73]

Reagan engaged in a policy of Constructive engagement with South Africa in spite of apartheid due to the nation being a valuable anti-communist ally, He opposed pressure from Congress and his own party for tougher sanctions until his veto was overridden. [74]

Reagan opposed the Martin Luther King holiday at first and signed it only after an overwhelming veto-proof majority (338 to 90 in the House of Representatives and 78 to 22 in the Senate) voted in favor of it. [75]

In July 2019, newly unearthed tapes were released of a 1971 phone call between Reagan, then Governor of California, and President Richard Nixon. Angered by African delegates at the United Nations siding against the U.S. in the vote to expel Taiwan from the UN and recognize the People's Republic of China, Reagan stated, “To see those, those monkeys from those African countries - damn them, they're still uncomfortable wearing shoes!" [76]

Education Edit

School prayer Edit

Reagan was a supporter of prayer in U.S. schools. [77] On February 25, 1984 in his weekly radio address, he said: "Sometimes I can't help but feel the first amendment is being turned on its head. Because ask yourselves: Can it really be true that the first amendment can permit Nazis and Ku Klux Klansmen to march on public property, advocate the extermination of people of the Jewish faith and the subjugation of blacks, while the same amendment forbids our children from saying a prayer in school?". [77] However, Reagan did not pursue a constitutional amendment requiring school prayer in public schools. [78] Reagan mischaracterized the Supreme Court decisions on school prayer, as no decision of the Court has ever held that children are prohibited from praying on their own. The effect of the school prayer decisions is to prohibit public school authorities from requiring children to participate in prayer.

Department of Education Edit

Reagan was particularly opposed to the establishment of the Department of Education, which had occurred under his predecessor, President Jimmy Carter. This view stemmed from his less-government intervention views. [79] He had pledged to abolish the department, but did not pursue that goal as President. [79]

2016: America Today

During their bouts with Donald Trump, numerous Republicans have brought up Reagan in remarks to the party. Recently, Marco Rubio referred to the GOP as the "Party of Reagan and Lincoln." In the last few years, tee shirts and bumper stickers that don the "Reagan/Bush '80" stamp are hitting the shelves. Nearly every Republican politician talks about how great Reagan was. They make the man out to be a prophet, a poster boy, for the Republican Party.

Even just everyday Republicans reflect back on the "good ole' days." Those who didn't exist during the Reagan days reflect on it in such a way that they wish they had.