Mr. Republican: Tear Down This Myth!

Conservatives Seem Bent on Making Reagan Everything He was Not

Opinion | Sean Delaney | February 2008


It is hard not to be dumbfounded by the Republicans’ love of Reagan. Some of my Republican friends talk about wishing they could vote for Reagan today. If he were alive, they assure me, he would be elected again. Most of these people were children when he was in office, yet they look back on a time they claim to know, with something approaching reverence. Recently, even Barack Obama tipped his hat to Reagan, though this was probably to appeal to conservatives.

I will not speak of Reaganomics or the chicanery of the promised trickle-down effect that never happened: For that you can turn to Paul Krugman’s recent article in the New York Times, "Debunking the Reagan Myth."

For me, Reagan was the man who, in 1980, went to the Bronx and standing in front of stenciled graffiti that read "Falsas Promesas – Broken Promises," made a speech that was near verbatim recitation of one President Jimmy Carter had given in 1977 in the same place:

"I’m impressed with the spirit of hope and determination by the people, to save what they have," Reagan said. Clearly the irony was lost on him, or perhaps he did not care, or worse, the senility had already set in.  This was iconic of the man’s presidency.

For me, Reagan was the man who presided over Iran Contra and covert weapons trading with a declared enemy, whose profits were used to fund death squads fighting in Nicaragua.

For me, Reagan was the man who, to the chagrin of Neo-Con and Radical Conservative revisionists, did not indeed ‘bring down the wall.’ Though Reagan might have had something to do with the fall of the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union itself had much more to do with its own destruction.

Beyond that, Margaret Thatcher was the real Western leader that put much of the external pressure on the Soviet Union, Reagan went along for the ride, and afterwards claimed victory for himself.

For me, Reagan was the man who cut spending on social services, such as child welfare, funding for the chronic mentally ill, the disabled, and the elderly and low-income families. All the while, military spending increased.

Reagan spoke of living just across from the wrong side of the tracks during the great depression, so close that he could hear the scream of the whistles. Yet he systematically under funded or cut altogether programs that had probably helped support his own family during an earlier time.

So what was it that was so great about Ronald Reagan, I wonder? And furthermore, why does the current lot of Republican candidates rally around him?

Is it because they have no one else?

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