|Chris, you are free to express your opinion, however distasteful. Maybe you didn't live through or don't remember the cold war. Maybe you didn't live through or don't remember the Vietnam era. Maybe you didn't live through or don't remember the sad, dejected spirit in the country during the Carter years. I did. |
I saw first hand JFK's New Frontier, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban missile crisis, and his assassination which put our nation in a state of shock. I saw Johnson's War on Poverty, Medicare, Medicaid, the Watts Riots and Vietnam - 50,000 young men of my generation came home in body bags and those that were able to walk off the planes were spit on. I saw Nixon's wage and price controls, taking the country off the gold standard, more Vietnam, and the Watergate scandal. I saw the well-intended, bumbling of Ford who pardoned Nixon saying "we all share in this guilt" referring to a criminal break-in Nixon okayed, and the incompetence of Carter and his failed attempts to do anything while our Embassy and staff were held hostage in Iran for nearly a year and a half, his give-away of the Panama Canal, double-digit inflation, creation of the Department of Energy, and putting the federal government into environmental issues business.
You don't have to have lived through an era to hold intelligible opinions about it, but that is the context that a reasonable person holds in their mind when evaluating Reagan.
Imagine if you will the way it felt to see the economy staggering under one recession after another, gas shortages, double-digit inflation, a country feeling like a whipped dog after losing the Vietnam war, very real fears of nuclear war as a part of everyday life at the height of the cold war, welfare programs sprouting like weeds, and the embassy and its staff still in the hands of student terrorists. The preceding period had produced mostly dishonest or incompetent presidents. The sixties with the student revolution has torn the country in two along generational lines and a sense of innocence and rightness had been lost. That was the context when Reagan took office.
I have no problem in seeing where my opinion differs from another. I am more attentive to where the difference is one of principle rather than interpretation. But, more important, to me, are questions of character. And Reagan had character.
The first job of a president is to lead - he opens his mouth and speaks and you judge his effectiveness by the direction it takes the country and the enthusiasm that's felt. He was the first president since.... Hell, maybe since Jefferson that really championed individual freedom, he gave America heart, his tax cuts turned around an economy that had in the toilet for decades, he fired the traffic controllers and took us out of a period where big labor abused laws and cowed corporate America and government both, Iran gave up the embassy immediately, he called the USSR the "Evil Empire" and stood in front of a hall filled with students at the major university in Moscow, the headquarters of communism, and delivered a speech on the virtues of capitalism, the GDP grew at nearly 4% per year during his presidency, he made massive reductions in the regulations and in the spending in Medicaid, federal education programs, food stamps, and EPA, and brought down the Soviet Union. He is the only president in this person's living memory that spoke out for free enterprise as moral and right and was unapologetic in his condemnation of totalitarianism.
He, and many others, were very disappointed that spending soared, and that deficits went through the ceiling. Some of that was in rebuilding the military which had sunk to new lows under Carter and from the bad taste in America's mouth after Vietnam, but most of it, I suspect was in hoping that "supply side" economics would do more than it did and in only being able to battle on so many fronts at a time. I was opposed to many of the positions he took but have enormous respect for that man.
I'm unimpressed by shrill, one-dimensional attacks that show little understanding of the context, assume unreal expectations and come across as mean spirited.
(Edited by Steve Wolfer on 9/04, 6:32pm)