It's no surprise that the right-wing corporate propaganda media is now
going all out to try and deify Ronald Reagan, calling him one of our
greatest presidents, in the same class as Washington, Lincoln and FDR.
This notion is so absurd it should hardly even need any rebuttal - but
living in the times we do, when right-wing extremism is in control of
just about everything in this country, unfortunately it does. Here's
what I see as the deficiencies of Reagan both as a man and as a
president, and why history will never judge him a great president. On
the contrary, history will see him as the shallow bungler who set this
country on its current self-destructive course.
1) For Reagan, 'Great communicator' was just another way of saying
'shallow actor'. He was the first president who was much more style
than substance, and as such the creature of his handlers. His
political philosophy was grounded in series of shallow anecdotes, and
his only memorable words were pre-scripted jokes or witty comebacks. A
second rate movie actor and TV host, he little more the photogenic
front man and PR spokesman for powerful corporate interests. While
always doing their bidding, he never posessed the insight,
intelligence or depth of character to understand what he was and what
he was really doing to this country. He was simply hired by the money
interests to play a role, and he played it. The best you could say
for him is that he was the most sincerely corrupt president in our
nation's history. At least, up until now.
2) He persued a one-sided tax, regulation and economic policies that
became little more than a way of transferring more wealth from the
poor and middle class to the very rich. By far the most enduring
legacy of the Reagan presidency is the exploding gap between rich and
poor in America. Since and because of Reagan, America has been two
countries - one affluent and always pampered, and one poor,
third-world, and completely ignored. It is the widening 'Reagan Gap'
in income and the resulting climate of deep injustice that it helped
foster, that is directly responsible for the strident political
climate and deep divisions in this country today. The destruction of
American democracy, and the loss of fundamental human rights that we
see today, can be traced directly back to Ronald Reagan.
3) Ronald Reagan hated working people and did everything he could to
destroy worker's unions, beginning with the air traffic controller's
strike. He hated gays and did absolutley nothing when the AIDS crisis
first broke out, refusing to even mention the word. He hated the poor
and homeless and used the exploding deficit, the direct result of his
tax cuts for the rich, to dramatically slash programs geared to
relieve the unjust suffering of the poor. He always preferred the
company of wealthy men, and always did their bidding. Nevertheless,
he styled himself a deeply religious man.
4) He should have been impeached for the Iran-Contra scandal, and gone
down in history with other fundamentally corrupt Republicans like
Grant and Harding and Nixon - but by that time he was so far gone
mentally and the next presidential election was coming up anyway, so
the Democratically controlled Congress mistakenly decided to spare the
country and let it slide. They would have spared the country much
more if they had impeached both him and his VP Bush.
5) He led the US miliary into a disaster in Lebanon, and then
compounded the mistake and sent exactly the wrong message to
terrorists by turning tail and running without any reprisals. He did
this once again when terrorists hyjacked an airliner. This policy of
appeasement under Reagan sent the wrong message to terrorists, and
ultimately resulted in the disaster of 9-11. More than any other
president besides Bush, Reagan's poor leadership is responsible for
the destruction of the World Trade Center.
6) He did not end the cold war - he only further militarized Amercan
society and enshrined the rule of the military industrial complex.
Every competent historian acknowleges that the fall of the Soviet
Union is the direct result of the long-term economic deterioration
within the Soviet Union, and not because of Reagan's military buildup.
In fact, Reagan's commitment to SDI made it more difficult for
Gorbachev to persuade his officials that arms control was in the
Soviet interest. If anything, Reagan only helped to prolong the cold
war, while at the same time infusing a sense of gingoistic patriotism
that only leads to increased weapons spending, wealthy war contractors
and future wars.
7) As the oldest and least qualified president up to that point,
Reagan lowered the bar considerably and made it possible to elect even
less qualified candidates, like George W Bush. He also made political
extremism acceptable, so that a president no longer needs to do what's
in the interest of the entire nation, but just follow the wishes of
his narrow and extremist base, while at the same time collecting
enough bribes from the rich to get himself re-elected. As a direct
consequnce, sensing how the system has been rigged and corrupted, most
of the electorate has either stopped voting altogether, or else
retreated to the patriotic certainty of political propaganda on hate
radio or fox news, where they don't have to think about what's really
going on in America.