Reagan was a charismatic and lovable president. Like Obama in that sense, as a performer of modern political art. But for all his devotion to limited government, his track record was not consistent with that as a goal. I can't resolve his 'grand compromise' with O'Neill--a little -more- guns in exchange for a lot -more- butter; there is no 'limited' government to be found anywhere in that grand compromise. there is nothing but 'more' as far as the eye can see.
His 'a little more guns' was quickly leveled off. His goal of a '600 ship navy' didn't make it past the early 90s and Clinton's roll back. And yet...the 'alot more butter' remains. Reagan paid the price for his 600 ship navy and a little more guns, but didn't realize the payoff. O'Neill and the Democrats, in the long run, totally out maneuvered him. He was taken to the cleaners.
I accept that he believed he had to make that compromise and that he had access to way better information than any of us. And he was shaped by his assessment of the Cold War period. It is only in retrospect that we in the peanut gallery look back and wonder, was the piling on via a defense spending race necessary at that point in the 80s, or was their system already self-imploding largely on its own? Because that 'piling on' came at a heavy cost to America -- his compromise with O'Neill-- one we are living with today. It has set a demographic 'wreck on rails.' Towards what end? Because what has leaked out of our always seems to be slightly at odds with popular reality intelligence comminity since then is that 'they knew the Soviets were farming with ox carts in the 80's and it was only a matter of time.' (This according to Sen Bob Kerrey, who was then on the Senate Intelligence Committee, as divulged in March 2003 at a talk at the JFK Library Foundation, starting with "I could go to jail for saying this, but...")
So did Reagan, the POTUS, know this then? Or were the usual weasels in suits standing around quietly whispering in his ear "Oh yeah, they are a huge threat, and we need a bigger budget; go get 'em Ronnie..."
Did we win the Cold War? Or did we catch the Cold? Because ever since, "It's the economy, stupid!" is driving our national politics. We didn't look at the failure of centrally planned command and control 'the economy' running and shudder, saying 'there but for the grace of Ronnie Reagan go us.' America embraced that shitty idea and said "We can do it better." I don't find anything the least bit Reaganesque in America's current -- since Clinton, Bush 43 and Obama -- love affair with the national government 'running the economy.'
Forget Fusion: if we can harness Reagan spinning in his grave, America's energy future is bright.