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Excerpt: "The press flattered him endlessly and vastly exaggerated his popularity and his achievements, starting with the nonsense that he 'ended the Cold War'. He did nothing of the sort, the Soviet Union's sclerotic economy having doomed it long before Reagan became president."

Ronald and Nancy Reagan. (photo: unknown)
Ronald and Nancy Reagan. (photo: unknown)

The Cult of the Reagans

By Jeffrey St. Clair and Alexander Cockburn, CounterPunch

20 March 16


The queen of head is dead. At 94, the life of Nancy Reagan, the pin-up girl for the genocidal War on Drugs, finally blinked out. Rat Pack actor Peter Lawford, who frequently appeared on Ronald Reagan’s General Electric Theatre, wrote in his memoir that Nancy gave the best blowjobs in Hollywood. It’s one of the most benign things you could say about the woman who saw herself as a kind of Catherine the Great for the American Imperium.

Already the airwaves are throbbing with misty tributes to the Reagan years, an age than never really was. Here then is a corrective to the manufactured history of Ron and Nancy and their court that Alexander Cockburn and I wrote on the centenary of Reagan’s birth.

he script of the recurring homages to the Reagans remains unchanging: with the Gipper’s straightforward, sunny disposition and aw-shucks can-do style the manly Reagan gave America back its confidence. In less flattering terms, Reagan and his PR crew catered expertly to the demands of the American national fantasy: that homely common sense could return America to the vigor of its youth and the economy of the 1950s.

When Reagan took over the Oval Office at the age of 66 whatever powers of concentration he might have once had were failing. The Joint Chiefs of Staff mounted their traditional show-and-tell briefings for him, replete with simple charts and a senior general explicating them in simple terms. Reagan found these briefings much too complicated and dozed off.

The Joint Chiefs then set up a secret unit, staffed by cartoonists. The balance of forces were set forth in easily accessible caricature, with Soviet missiles the size of upended Zeppelins, pulsing on their launch-pads, with the miniscule US ICBMs shriveled in their bunkers. Little cartoon bubbles would contain the points the joint chiefs wanted to hammer into Reagan’s brain, most of them to the effect that “we need more money”. The president really enjoyed the shows and sometimes even asked for repeats.

Reagan had abolished any tiresome division of the world into fact or fiction in the early 1940s when his studio’s PR department turned him into a war hero, courtesy of his labors in “Fort Wacky” in Culver City, where they made training films. The fanzines disclosed the loneliness of R.R.’s first wife, Jane Wyman, her absent man (a few miles away in Fort Wacky, home by suppertime) and her knowledge of R.R.’s hatred of the foe.

“She’d seen Ronnie’s sick face,” Modern Screen reported in 1942, “bent over a picture of the small, swollen bodies of children starved to death in Poland. ‘This,’ said the war-hating Reagan between set lips, ‘would make it a pleasure to kill.’” A photographer for Modern Screen recalled later that, unlike some stars who were reluctant to offer themselves to his lens in “hero’s” garb, Reagan insisted on being photographed on his front step in full uniform, kissing his wife goodbye.

Years later Reagan boasted (that is: lied) about liberating the Nazi death camps, even as he was forced to defend his deranged decision to bestow presidential honors on the dead at the cemetery in Bitburg, Germany, final resting place for the blood-drenched butchers of the Waffen SS. Reagan possessed a special talent for the suspension of disbelief when it came to the facts of his own life. Perhaps, if the earth in Simi Valley ever decides to disgorge his corpse, the custodians of Bitburg could erect a cenotaph for Reagan on those chilly grounds.

The problem for the press was that Reagan didn’t really care that he’d been caught out with another set of phony statistics or a bogus anecdote. Truth, for him, was what he happened to be saying at the time. When the Iran/contra scandal broke, he held a press conference in which he said to Helen Thomas of UPI, “I want to get to the bottom of this and find out all that has happened. And so far, I’ve told you all that I know and, you know, the truth of the matter is, for quite some time, all that you knew was what I’d told you.” He went one better than George Washington in that he couldn’t tell a lie and he couldn’t tell the truth, since he couldn’t tell the difference between the two.

His mind was a wastebasket of old clippings from Popular Science, SF magazines (the origin of “Star Wars”, aka the Strategic Defense Initiative) lines from movies and homely saws from the Reader’s Digest and the Sunday supplements.

Like his wife Nancy, Ronnie had a stout belief in astrology, the stars being the twinkling penumbra of his incandescent belief in the “free market,” with whose motions it was blasphemous to tamper. He believed Armageddon was right around the corner. He also believed tomato ketchup could be classified as a school meal, striking back at the nose-candy crowd who, as Stevie Earle once said, spent the Seventies trying to get cocaine classified as a vegetable.

Reagan’s view of Nature was strictly utilitarian. When Reagan was governor of California, David Brower, the great arch-Druid, goaded him into making his infamous declaration: “Once you’ve seen one redwood, you’ve seen them all.” That Zen koan-like pronouncement pretty much summed up Reagan’s philosophy of environmental tokenism. Later, Reagan propounded the thesis that trees generated more air pollution than coal-fired power plants. For Reagan, the only excuse for Nature was to serve as a backdrop for photo-ops, just like in his intros for Death Valley Days, the popular western TV series that served as a catwalk for the rollout of the B-movie actor as a national politician.

To execute his rapine environmental policies, Reagan turned to his Interior Secretary James Watt, whose approach to the plunder of the planet seethed with an evangelical fervor. He brought with him to Washington a gang of libertarian missionaries, mostly veterans of the Adolf Coors-funded Mountain States Legal Foundation, who referred to themselves as “The Colorado Crazies.” Their mission: privatize the public estate. Many of them were transparent crooks who ended up facing indictment and doing time in federal prison for self-dealing and public corruption. They gave away billions in public timber, coal, and oil to favored corporations, leaving behind toxic scars where there used to be wild forests, trout streams, and deserts. These thieves were part of the same claque of race-baiting zealots who demonized welfare mothers as swindlers of the public treasury.

Watt, who was himself charged with twenty-five felony counts of lying and obstruction of justice, never hid his rapacious agenda behind soft, made-for-primetime rhetoric. He never preached about win-win solutions, ecological forestry, or sustainable development. From the beginning, James Watt’s message was clear: grab it all, grab it now. God wills it so.

Hearing all the cosy talk about the Gipper, young people spared the experience of his awful sojourn in office, probably imagine him as a kindly, avuncular figure. Not so. He was a callous man, with a breezy indifference to suffering and the consequences of his decisions. This indifference was so profound that Dante would surely have consigned him to one of the lowest circles of hell, to roast for all eternity in front of a TV set on the blink and a dinner tray swinging out of reach like the elusive fruits that tormented Tantalus.

It was startling, back in 2004 when he died, to see the lines of people sweating under a hot sun waiting to see Reagan’s casket. How could any of them take the dreadful old faker seriously? The nearest thing to it was the hysteria over Princess Di.

The explosion of the Challenger space shuttle of January 28, 1986, a disaster that prompted one of the peak kitsch moments in a presidency that was kitsch from start to finish. Reagan ended his address to the nation thus: “We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved good-bye and ‘slipped the surly bonds of earth’ to ‘touch the face of God’.”

In fact it was the White House that had doomed Christa McAuliffe and her companions to be burned alive in the plummeting Challenger. The news event required the Challenger to go into orbit and be flying over Congress while Reagan was delivering his state of the union address. He was to tilt his head upward and, presumably gazing through the long-distance half of his spectacles, (one lens was close-up, for speech reading,) send a presidential greeting to the astronauts. But this schedule required an early morning launch from chill January Canaveral. Servile NASA officials ordered the Challenger aloft, with the frozen O-ring fatally compromised.

Reagan dozed through much of his second term, his day easing forward through a forgiving schedule of morning nap, afternoon snooze, TV supper and early bed. He couldn’t recall the names of many of his aides, even of his dog. Stories occasionally swirled around Washington that his aides pondered from time to time whether to invoke the Twenty-fifth Amendment. Reagan’s sons, Michael and Ronnie, disagreed whether or not his Alzheimer’s began when he was president. “Normalcy” and senile dementia were hard to distinguish. The official onset was six years after he left Washington DC.

As an orator or “communicator” Reagan was terrible, with one turgid cliché following another, delivered in a folksy drone. His range of rhetorical artifice was terribly limited.

The press flattered him endlessly and vastly exaggerated his popularity and his achievements, starting with the nonsense that he “ended the Cold War”. He did nothing of the sort, the Soviet Union’s sclerotic economy having doomed it long before Reagan became president.

He lavished money on the rich and the Pentagon. The tendencies he presided over were probably inevitable, given the balance of political forces after the postwar boom hit the ceiling in the late 1960s. Then it was a matter of triage, as the rich made haste to consolidate their position.

It was a straight line from Reagan’s crude attacks on welfare queens to Clinton’s compassionate chewings of the lip (same head wag as RR’s) as he swore to “end welfare as we know it”. As a PR man, it was Reagan’s role, to reassure the wealthy and the privileged that not only might but right was on their side, and that government, in whatever professed role, was utterly malign. your social media marketing partner


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+46 # ChrisCurrie 2016-03-20 10:20
One of the noteworthy accomplishments of the Ronald Reagan Administration was that they got our nation's economy running well again by using "deficit spending" to balloon our nation's military industrial complex (which created millions of good-paying jobs). But in that process, they doubled our nation's "national debt" which our present highly hypocritical Republicans would adamantly demonize.
+29 # Jim Rocket 2016-03-20 10:31
On the March 18th edition of Bill Maher's show he ran a clip of a presidential debate between Reagan and Bush the First on the issue of illegal immigration. It was shocking to see because of both men's compassionate and intelligent arguments... Reagan wanting to integrate them all into the legal Society. It was shocking because the Republican discourse has fallen so far down a hole that both these men would be pilloried by the current party as raving leftists.
+18 # madams12 2016-03-20 10:55
True! hearing Bush and Reagan campaigning in 1984 talking about compassion for immigrants and it was "shocking" to hear their dulcet tones concerning the humanity of those families who were seeking work and hope for their families. It should be seen /heard by Americans who are never educated by US msm that Mexican immigration has profoundly dropped in the US since 2005 especially since so many US corporations relocated there (thanks in large part due to trade agreements & congress working to "spare" painful taxes on them) the majority of US immigrants are Asians who tend to be academically superior and tend to be harder working employees, comparatively speaking. They 'talked the talk' but their compassionate conservatism was only an over used cliche as we well know.
+10 # kyzipster 2016-03-21 06:04
Bill Moyers did an excellent show on this issue. He proved that the Kennedy/McCain immigration reform bill, endorsed by Bush Jr, was derailed by Rush Limbaugh and the like. A bill that would simply give legal status to millions of illegal workers. Limbaugh and his followers were more influential in persuading Congressional Republicans than a sitting Republican president. A preview of what was to come, Trump.

Bush Jr received 40% of the Hispanic vote, Republicans have lost this support from the largest minority in the country because of the hate and division. They're on a suicide track.
+44 # reiverpacific 2016-03-20 10:22
"How could any of them take the dreadful old faker seriously?"
I hate to keep repeating this but does "Panem et Circences" sound familiar?
Reagan used the celebrity factor (he was as bad an actor as a politician and president) combined with the "Aw-shucks", folksy, "Give 'em what they want to hear and to Hell with substance" approach which the US owner-media STILL loves, to keep its continuous commercial ad' revenues and ratings up reporting Drumpf's every utterance, no matter how vile or ludicrous.
I remember the day RR was elected; I was working for a large multi-national Engineering and Construction firm in Boise Idaho with a heavy Mormon contingent and those of us with a lefty view of the world were convinced that Armageddon was at hand -one lady draftsman was so near-hysterical with grief, she kept saying between sobs "He's going to get us all killed in a nuclear war!" I had to take her home as being "sick" and call her husband or she'd have been fired.
The Mormons of course, were happy and crowing with "Victory" signs all over the place.
Ironically for one who stated that "Government IS the problem", he ended up boosting government spending by a record ±190% in office, mostly on the Military -and Corporate Socialism.
Between them, he and his counterpart Thatcher, set their respective countries and economies back several decades; -the British Tabloid press were solidly behind "there is no such thing a collective, only the individual" Thatcher".
+12 # bmiluski 2016-03-20 18:04
You are so right reiver....he was a B-list actor playing the role of president.
Just as he was not responsible for the freeing the Iran hostages, he was not responsible for the fall of the USSR. In both cases it was Jimmy Carter.
He worked behind the scenes with the Italian Communist Party, who withdrew their support of the Russian Communist Party.
+20 # reiverpacific 2016-03-20 18:35
Quoting bmiluski:
You are so right reiver....he was a B-list actor playing the role of president.
Just as he was not responsible for the freeing the Iran hostages, he was not responsible for the fall of the USSR. In both cases it was Jimmy Carter.
He worked behind the scenes with the Italian Communist Party, who withdrew their support of the Russian Communist Party.

Aye; and soon to be VP Bush the father, then head of the CIA, worked out a deal with the Iranian hostage-takers and keepers, to hold them a bit longer until Reagan's election was assured, whereas in fact Jimmy Carter had done all the hard work that Mr "Sleepwalking through his own history" got the plaudits for by a stupidly gullible electorate.
+18 # Radscal 2016-03-20 18:09
I was working in the very conservative Central Valley of CA shortly after Reagan was elected, and saw a Jerry Falwell special on TV.

Falwell was saying that not only should we not fear a nuclear war, but should welcome it (and perhaps encourage it) since that was the long-awaited Battle of Armageddon that would usher in the Second Coming.

From the time I helped my family build a fallout shelter about the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis until about 1970, I really expected nuclear holocaust, and was somewhat at peace with that fate.

But then, I came to realize that the trans-national corporations that really had the power (not nation-states) wouldn't want that since it would hurt their worldwide investments. So, I no longer feared nuclear war.... until I heard the good Reverend Jerry. Then I realized that religious extremists might actually do it.

Today, Cruz is the biggest threat from that side. But I also see the possibility that the psychopathic 0.01% (who keep harping on "excess labor" and over-production , over-population ) could see a little dust-up as a profitable venture.
+14 # fletch1165 2016-03-21 08:40
Cruz only recently found religion in his attempts to win the nomination. He has been courting fundamentalists and pretending to be pious. DO you actually think he has a relationship with God? Hardly any of them do. Jesus never called for Armageddon. They act not like JC, the actual requirement to be Christian in my humble opinion. These are Satanists by definition. American Taliban.
+11 # Radscal 2016-03-21 11:22
Cruz' dad is a Dominionist preacher. I see no reason to doubt that Teddy is also.

As far as defining a "real Christian," it doesn't matter what you or I believe. What matters is that Dominionists are Christian Taliban who want to take over the government, impose Biblical Law, unite Eretz Israel from the Euphrates River to the Nile, and then start their imagined Battle of Armageddon/WW III.

I see no reason to doubt they will do just that if allowed the political power.
0 # Cassandra2012 2016-03-27 00:39
And his daddy thinks that Teddy is the second coming [which means, i guess, that daddy thinks he himself is ....?]
+9 # fletch1165 2016-03-21 08:42
The new creation of smaller more "usable" nukes is testament to what you are saying. They want to market them internationally and have been. That much is clear. The enemies and true terrorists run corporations and are among us. They refuse to even allow anything close to World Peace and stability. They continue to profit off of chaos and war like no other.
+9 # Radscal 2016-03-21 11:35
Yes. The profiteers of the Military/Indust rial/Congressio nal/Financial Complex are the most dangerous, psychopathic terrorists. They are incapable of feeling empathy, so are ice-cold in calculating the maximization of profits.

These smaller "tactical"nukes (that HRC voted to develop) are promoted as suitable for "battlefield use" instead of the larger "strategic nukes" designed to destroy entire cities and regions.

Of course, that makes it more likely they would actually be used. There is some evidence that they have already been used.

Right now, the 0.01% psychopathic "rulers of the universe" are the most dangerous humans on the planet, because they do have control over so much power, including those nukes.

But, just like the trumped up fear of Muslim Extremists getting WMD, if Christian Dominionists get control of WMD, then they will instantly become the most dangerous humans on the planet.
+8 # Salus Populi 2016-03-21 10:40
[1st of 2]

The article only scratches the surface of the awful and fascistic, bloodthirsty policies and legacy of this terrible monster and hollow shell of a man.

One can add the Contras, the deliberate starving of the social contract, the avid interest in the atrocities, tortures and war crimes his beloved "freedom fighters" wreaked on the civilians of Nicaragua and the rest of Central America, the hypocritical, even malevolent "war on drugs" even as he facilitated the cocaine-soaked profit taking of those same Somocista executioners; his deliberate quadrupling of the national debt with the avowed purpose of making it impossible for the government ever to aid the populace in any way, forever; his hatchet man Meese's contempt for the law and for poor people, whom, echoing Anatole France's "La majestueuse égalité des lois, qui interdit au riche comme au pauvre de coucher sous les ponts, de mendier dans les rues et de voler du pain," he accused of sleeping on heating grates because they liked to -- even as his HUD Secretary, whom he confused with Mayor Berry of DC in a Cabinet meeting -- you know, all them n***rs look alike -- turned federal housing aid from a support for the poor to a gift to the middle class.

[Continued next post]
+10 # Salus Populi 2016-03-21 10:43
[2nd of 2]

Then there was the placement of Minuteman missiles only eight and a third minutes from Moscow, resulting in the Russian deterrent's being put on hair-trigger alert, prompting the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists to move their doomsday clock to two minutes before midnight, the closest it had been since the Cuban missile crisis.

His "Teflon coat" was a direct result of the media's fawning worship: a Teflon or even ordinary aluminum or iron pan that is never subjected to heat will retain its luster indefinitely. Mark Hertsgaard's "On Bended Knee: the Press and the Reagan Administration" quotes his aide Michael Deaver as saying that the press was astonishingly helpful and generous to the President; the late Walter Karp, in "Liberty Under Siege," contrasts the uniformly negative treatment of Carter by that same obsequious lapdog media.

The other essential player in giving the "Gipper" [which should be spelled with a 'y', with apologies to the Roma for the slur] his air of invincibility was the Democratic Party, which, ever since McGovern frightened the party poohbahs in 1972, had been moving to the Right as fast as its craven leadership could go.

In particular, Tip O'Neill anticipated Reagan's draconian cuts in social services by proposing even more drastic ones before the White House even sent its proposals over, and then puffed himself up in a Kabuki display of indignation for the rubes.

Reagan, in short, outdid Wilson to become the worst prez in history.
+8 # Radscal 2016-03-21 11:48
Spot on (again) Salus.

As David Rockefeller was quoted as saying in a speech before the Bilderberg Conference in 1991:

'We are grateful to The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time Magazine, and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years.

"It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subject to the lights of publicity during those years.

"But, the world is now more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determinat ion [read as 'democracy'] practiced in past centuries."

--June 5, 1991, Bilderberger meeting in Baden Baden, Germany (a meeting also attended by then-Governor Bill Clinton and Zbigniew Brzezinski).
+25 # Shades of gray matter 2016-03-20 10:42
Death Valley Days host Ron had broad image appeal, but his core strengths as a Reactionary were legitimizing GREED and RACISM. Budgets don't mater, most so called conservative ideology doesn't matter, racial hatred matters. Trump is Raygun minus the Will Rogers smiley face.
+35 # Reductio Ad Absurdum 2016-03-20 10:55
COMMUNISM and corruption and imperialism brought down communism — not conservatism. In fact, the first "dominoes" to fall were brought down by LABOR — led by a Gdansk Shipyard electrician LABORER and trade UNION organizer, Lech Wałęsa. The Beatles had more to do with bringing down communism than Reagan or Thatcher as the youth of the USSR yearned for western LIBERAL culture. American conservatives accused The Beatles of being communists and pointed to "Back in the USSR" as "proof." How ironic that, in reality, it was the culture of Levi's jeans and Lennon that defeated the ideology of Lenin. And what were conservatives in America trying to do to John Lennon? Deport him! Conservatives never learn from history because they insist on re-writing it to fit their own ideology.
+18 # reiverpacific 2016-03-20 11:23
Quoting Reductio Ad Absurdum:
COMMUNISM and corruption and imperialism brought down communism — not conservatism. In fact, the first "dominoes" to fall were brought down by LABOR — led by a Gdansk Shipyard electrician LABORER and trade UNION organizer, Lech Wałęsa. The Beatles had more to do with bringing down communism than Reagan or Thatcher as the youth of the USSR yearned for western LIBERAL culture. American conservatives accused The Beatles of being communists and pointed to "Back in the USSR" as "proof." How ironic that, in reality, it was the culture of Levi's jeans and Lennon that defeated the ideology of Lenin. And what were conservatives in America trying to do to John Lennon? Deport him! Conservatives never learn from history because they insist on re-writing it to fit their own ideology.

Well, you know what happened to Lennon in New York, right.
It's also probably that Conservatives or as they are these days, Reactionaries, -from my experience anyway- possess not whit of understanding of creatives nor the creative process and so tend to want to either "normalize" (eliminate) or rub out what they don't understand -which is rather a lot I think.
The linear mentality is something that I don't understand. I suppose that it's there to maintain the balance of the species but we have to watch out for its tendency to want to dominate on its own terms without compromise.
+32 # Shorey13 2016-03-20 13:13
I also went into mourning for my country when it became obvious in May, 1980, that the Republicans would nominate Reagan and that he would certainly be able to beat Jimmy Carter.
I have always called it the Reagan/Thatcher Devolution, because together they convinced the world (!) that safety nets made the poor "lazy" and high taxes to support them inhibited the desire of the rich to "create jobs." Since then, safety nets have been savagely shredded almost everywhere.

As for Nancy, her Stepfather was a right-wing nut case who was one of the founders of the John Birch Society. When she met "Ronnie" he was a registered Democrat and the President of the Actors Union. After convincing him to ditch his wife (Jane Wyman), she began brainwashing him (he was a simpleton, who had no real understanding of the political issues of the day) with her Stepfather's right wing paranoia. He was soon touring the country for GE, warning that Socialized healthcare would sell the country out to Soviet style communism. (If you check it out on You tube, you can see the images projected behind him as he spoke, of goose-stepping soldiers.) She was Edgar Bergan and he was alternating Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd (Bergan's puppets).

History will ultimately record the horrific role of these two women (and their Manchurian Candidate) in derailing our evolution toward more humane societies.
+15 # Merlin 2016-03-20 14:04
Shorey13 2016-03-20 13:13

Well said!

However, given the control of 90% of our media, I have little faith that history will reflect the reality and truth of those evil women or of "Mortimer Snerd."

I doubt that there is much comparison between Charlie and raygun. Charlie was 10 times sharper and a master of understanding any situation. He essentially "ran" Edger Bergan; not the other way around.
+5 # Radscal 2016-03-20 18:21
Hey Merlin! I've missed seeing your comments. Hope all's well and we'll be seeing/reading more of you now.
+17 # Radscal 2016-03-20 18:19
Yes. Reagan's declining position in Hollywood and Nancy's rabid ideology transformed him (though he had been fully onboard with the "Red Scare" HUAC hearings).

But the key to his 1980 election was the "October Surprise" manipulation. Had Reagan's team not secretly (and treasonously) negotiated with the Ayatollah to hold the Embassy hostages until after the election, Carter could well have won reelection.
+20 # reiverpacific 2016-03-20 18:39
Quoting Radscal:
Yes. Reagan's declining position in Hollywood and Nancy's rabid ideology transformed him (though he had been fully onboard with the "Red Scare" HUAC hearings).

But the key to his 1980 election was the "October Surprise" manipulation. Had Reagan's team not secretly (and treasonously) negotiated with the Ayatollah to hold the Embassy hostages until after the election, Carter could well have won reelection.

It's a little-known fact that Reagan was a hollywood fink for Joe McCarty's Red scare and had many of his peers hauled up before the "Un-American activities" witch hunts, ruining many promising careers and not a few lives.
He really was a total, unscrupulous and not very smart stinker!
+3 # fletch1165 2016-03-21 08:35
Nancy Reagan was labeled a card carrying Red. She met with Ronald Reagan, then head of the Screen Actor's Guild to clear her name. That is what he did. Abused power. That is how he got Nancy to begin with. He could have had her thrown in prison instead as a Red. Reagan was a Stalinist in the end. Stole everything he ever made through politics. B actor all the way through.
+6 # jsonix 2016-03-20 13:38
Ronald Reagan's economy benefitted from a singular moment of technical revolution, the explosion of the personal computer onto the marketplace, with the introduction of the IBM PC in 1981, and the Commodore 64 a year later. This brought the power of computing to individuals and small businesses. That one advancement fired the growth of the Internet, and provided the impetus for economic growth well into the Clinton administration. His administration was in the right place at the right time.
+6 # fletch1165 2016-03-21 08:31
The right time to create our first $5 trillion in debts, despite these economic boons and endless cheap oil available to safely drill unlike today's criminal deep sea drilling.
+31 # ericlipps 2016-03-20 13:43
Anyone who thinks Reagan's Alzheimer's began after he left office missed his rambling performance in the first 1984 debate. It was so bad that Nancy tried to explain it away by saying that his handlers had "tired him out" beforehand.

Who knows what medications were used to prop him up thereafter? But that performance was followed by the second term which gave us Bitburg, not to mention the Iran-contra scandal.
+11 # Radscal 2016-03-20 18:23
And recall that his hearing apparently went south right then, too. Because after that, he wore an earpiece for every press conference, and took to responding to their questions with long pauses and "Well....."
+7 # fletch1165 2016-03-21 08:29
They were both dead to me in the early 80's, shortly after inauguration. Overt traitors to democracy and the American way of life best describes these trolls revisionists paint as heroes.
+15 # old codger 2016-03-20 17:15
It was all done with special effects! Reagan was really a life sized 'Howdy Doody' puppet animated with remote control and voice over !
+9 # PABLO DIABLO 2016-03-20 19:09
Reagan is in Hell. Next let's get George H.W.Bush there with him. They both should have been in prison as war criminals.
+4 # ajd3dahm 2016-03-20 19:41
The Soviet Union fell, because they could not create a Microsoft or any similar enterprise. Credit to Reagan came after the fact.
+3 # RMDC 2016-03-21 20:41
ajd -- i don't agree with your statement. Or partially don't agree. The Soviet economy was not driven to produce consumer good -- any of them. It was not a consumer society like the US. Russians wanted Walkmen and Levis. The Soviets had commercial and military computers as good as those in the US.

But the biggest reason that the USSR broke up was internal subversion. Gorbachev, Yeltsin, Shevernadze and other sold the nation out to the US. It was they - a small cabal -- who collapsed the USSR. All of them were working for various agencies of the US regime. Reagan's regime did have a lot to do with that but it is not likely he knew anything about it. By then he was so demented he hardly knew which planet he was living on.
+13 # NAVYVET 2016-03-20 20:19
Did Reagan have a wife number 1, and an early divorce he kept hidden from the public? If so, it all happened before I was born or when I was an infant. So I don't know--but my dad was stringently honest and couldn't stand liars.

Dad was in the DesMoines, Iowa JayCees (before he lost a small appliance store in the Depression) when Reagan graduated college and took a job as a radio sportscaster in Des Moines. Because Reagan had a couple of friends who were JayCees, he and dad met at some of the JayCee picnics and banquets when members were encouraged to bring wives and friends. My mother attended but didn't remember Reagan very well. However, both remembered a stunningly lovely young woman whom Reagan introduced as his "wife." This was years before Hollywood and Jane Wyman, even more years before Nancy Davis. Were Jane & Nancy really wife 2 and 3?

All I know is that my dad detested Ronald Reagan, characterized him as an obnoxious jackass, and made sarcastic remarks about Californians when they elected him governor. (Dad died 3 years before Reagan became president.)

Dad was born in 1899 and was an old-fashioned Victorian in some ways. Did he learn that Reagan and the young woman weren't married, but living together--which was a no-no in those days? Did he then view Reagan as a chronic braggart and liar? I never found out. He didn't want to talk about Reagan. Any comments about this?
+15 # dbrize 2016-03-20 20:43
Reagan biographer Lou Cannon who followed his career closely was once asked to sum up Reagan in a sentence:

"He was overestimated by conservatives and underestimated by liberals", was his reply.

The late Murray Rothbard offered a harsher take writing at the end of Reagans administration:

"Many recent memoirs have filled out the details of what some of us have long suspected: that Reagan is basically a cretin who, as a long-time actor, is skilled in reading his assigned lines and performing his assigned tasks. Donald Regan and others have commented on Ronald Reagan’s strange passivity, his never asking questions or offering any ideas of his own, his willingness to wait until others place matters before him. Regan has also remarked that Reagan is happiest when following the set schedule that others have placed before him. The actor, having achieved at last the stardom that had eluded him in Hollywood, reads the lines and performs the action that others – his script-writers, his directors – have told him to follow."
+12 # TLS 2016-03-20 21:30
As this article is about Nancy, I'm going to comment about her. I'm glad she is dead and gone--now the facts can come out about her husband and the horrible president he was because she won't be there to protect his image and legacy. She loved Baby Bush, because her "Ronnie" wouldn't be the worst president this country has ever had--he's now the 2nd worst. She wasn't all evil, but it was because of her greed for power and glory that the country got bagged with RR. She made sure his handlers had him saying the right things and she provided him his spine. Good riddance to both of them.
+9 # fletch1165 2016-03-21 08:26
The one thing we learned from the Cold War is that the debts and our trillions owed came from there. Russia did perestroika(res tructuring) and we kept right on escalating spending. That is why foreign bankers multi-national corporations now control the United States. That is Reagan's legacy. Our institutions sacrificed so a few filthy greedy elites could fleece our society like Al Capone fleeced the booze industry.
+4 # Radscal 2016-03-21 11:53
Hey, don't be so hard on Capone. He actually did provide a product the public wanted. And he was not nearly as murderous as Reagan.
+7 # ChrisII 2016-03-21 10:11
Wonderful to see some truth about Ronnie the Rat after the nauseating cover on TIME. "What happened to this party?" they ask rhetorically. Whatever caused the dissolution of a once respectable agglomeration began with Ronny and seems to be ending with Trump. Let's hope we don't end with him.
-10 # jpgarcesv 2016-03-21 16:38
This one-sided bitterness does nothing but magnify the memory of one of the most beloved Presidents of America.
+5 # reiverpacific 2016-03-21 19:10
Quoting jpgarcesv:
This one-sided bitterness does nothing but magnify the memory of one of the most beloved Presidents of America.

Beloved by who? -a somnambulist voter population who bought into his badly acted but beloved by the owner-media cheap-thrills milieu.
In any other country in the industrialized (but not yet civilized in the case of the US), he'd never have been taken seriously.
It's the same mentality that is now running Drumpf as a serous contender for the White House, in charge of the most overwhelmingly powerfully bloated Military ever known.
Bitterness is culled from experience and I feel lucky to have been working all over the World in the 1980's.
In fact Reagan did me a personal favor by increasing the tax-exempt status for overseas employees of a US company after a certain period.
But that little favor would never have made me vote for him -if I had the vote which I don't.
+4 # Candie 2016-03-22 15:29
The Ronald Reagan Teabaglicans seem to idolize today, and the Ron Reagan that was are 2 different people.

It just goes to show that with the proper handlers, a dementia patent could run this country and did for 8 years.

Now they are all gunning for the narcissistic ego maniac, it just goes to show they will vote for anyone thats out of their minds so sanity is not a requirement to run as a GOP candidate for president. The crazy beat goes on.

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