June 7, 2004

Ronald Reagan  

Everybody is doing it, so I might as well link to a couple of pieces on Reagan. First is Timothy Noah, who takes some of the cuddliness out of the Reagan legacy by picking at the unkept promise to decrease government spending. Then there's Juan Cole, who takes apart the Reagan legacy piece by piece with some much needed attention to Reagan's tragic, reductive dismissal of the effects of poverty during the 1980s. Finally, Slate republishes a great debate between EJ Dionne and Dinesh D'Souza about whether credit for the 90s boom belongs to Clinton or Reagan.

My own take on Reagan is mixed up with the nostalgia of growing up in a Republican household -- I can't help but rememeber him fondly because he was my father's hero. Our dog was even named after the man. Of course, a little education has helped me understand what his policies and ideologies (more the latter, I guess) meant, and what their consequences have been -- I'm certainly very sympathetic to the critiques above, especially those levelled at his handling of American poverty and the gross inequalities that have arisen in the past 20 years. (The revolution is coming.) I also blame Reagan for much of the disaffection Americans have today for American politics; running against Washington has had profoundly negative effects on the way Americans approach their government, and this is probably for the worst. In this context at least, his optimism failed.

By the way, I've been somewhat awed by the wall to wall coverage of Reagan's death, but (and not to say the coverage isn't deserved) there's a reason for it. Reagan's death has been anticipated by the media for years, and this content has been ready to go for some time. Similarly, when I worked at the Social Security office, I remember several of the employees complaining that Ronald Reagan was still alive. This was during that long stretch early in the year when there are no federal holidays, and they were hoping he would kick it so they could get a day off of work. I guess now they'll get their wish...

Haggai  {June 8, 2004}

You grew up in a Republican household? How about that. Not as surprising, though, as Jesse from Pandagon revealing that he was a Limbaugh-listening Republican in high school.

paul  {June 8, 2004}

Is it that strange for people to change their views when they reach adulthood?

I can't really say that I was a republican in HS... I was more one of those who didn't care one way or the other... and that continued through a good bit of college. I was much more interested in honing my views on literary style than figuring out politics.

Haggai  {June 10, 2004}

"Is it that strange for people to change their views when they reach adulthood?"

Heh, no, not really. It isn't that surprising when people's views differ from one or both of their parents. Now with Jesse, on the other hand, that was unexpected.

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