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He’s a Savior, Not a Role Model

October 6th, 2015

Conservatives follow Ronald Reagan the way conservative Christians follow Jesus: they say he’s their savior but then ignore 90% of the things he said and did.

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  1. Troy
    October 8th, 2015 at 22:46 | #1

    My already low opinion of Reagan dropped a lot when I read recently that he demagogued against California’s new nondiscriminatory housing law in the mid-60s.

    His: “If an individual wants to discriminate against Negroes or others in selling or renting his house, it is his right to do so.”

    is conservatism in a nutshell, private good over public good, got mine f- you.

    Liberals essentially want the state to stop conservatives from screwing people over, and conservatives of course want to disempower the state so that doesn’t happen.


    I was 12 when Reagan was elected — Dems had held the White House 12 of the previous 20 years and Congress for most of the postwar period.

    Since 1980 Dems have held the WH 16 out of 35 years, and were able to run WH & the Congress for the first two years of Clinton’s term and the first two years of Obama’s, though of course “veto proof” became the standard of controlling Congress thanks to GOP abuse of the filibuster, and Dems only had that for a matter of weeks in 2009.

  2. Troy
    October 8th, 2015 at 22:48 | #2

    “super-majority” for “veto-proof” in my above

  3. Troy
    October 11th, 2015 at 23:28 | #3


    is why things are screwed up here.

    If you’ve got single-issue voters, it’s pretty easy to cobble 40%+ of the population into a coalition.

    Say 10% of the population doesn’t want to get hit with pre-80s high marginal tax rates.

    The top 5% ($175k+) make 36.8% of the income and pay 58.9% of the taxes, so they can justify that pretty easily, and the 5-10% people ($125k ~ $175k) make 11% of the income and pay 11% of the taxes, and they can certainly say that’s fair and should be any higher.


    Anti-abortion people only have one part to turn to, the GOP. They’re 20%+ of the population:


    Gun rights, this is a 50-50 issue:


    and maybe half of the gun-rights column are hard-core “cold dead hands” absolutists.

    Christian fundamentalist nut jobs, they’re 30% of the nation and split 4/5 to the GOP, 25%.

    Keeping black people, mexicans, and muslims in their place, that’s a 30%+ contingent, too.

    There’s a lot of overlap of course so it’s not 10% + 20% + 25% + 25% + 30%, but I can see how the GOP gets their 40% support rating.

    Democracy can’t really work when we get so polarized like we are now. Things tend to get messy when neither side can talk to the other.

  4. Luis
    October 12th, 2015 at 01:28 | #4

    For me, the defining moment for Reagan was Lebanon. It was because it showcased his character in a key way. I already disliked him for his theatrics over substance, for his tax policies and crassness towards poor people (he started the drug war against minorities, after all, and really savaged welfare recipients), and a lot of other stuff. But Lebanon was an awakening for me.

    I am dismayed that the media did not take note of this, but I suppose, after all, this was how he controlled them, and so naturally they would not comment on it. Here’s what I remember happening:

    Many people forget that Reagan had his own Benghazi, except it was for real, and a hundred times worse than what happened in Libya. Reagan had sent the Marines there on a peace-keeping mission that was seen as indefinite and unachievable; worse, he ignored many warnings about how the US forces had become a target, and even left standing an order that the marines keep their weapons unloaded. The compound was left relatively open. There was pressure to get the forces out, but Reagan kept them in, and 241 soldiers died.

    Keep in mind that the Democrats, wholly unlike Republicans today, did not start multiple character-assassination investigations, with endless subpoenas and hearings so they could take Reagan down. Reagan was not being fired upon for no reason. But he was under fire, for very good reason, for putting the Marines in the line of fire, essentially laying them wide upon when there was a terrible threat, and ignoring warning that could have easily been heeded. That was on him.

    However, it was not that which awoke me to the real ugliness of politics. It was how Reagan ultimately played the sniveling coward. When he had the chance to step up and take responsibility after the attacks, he used the soldiers’ honor to cover his ass, deflecting any assertion that he had erred by berating the press for suggesting that the soldiers had died in vain. Only months later, when it became inevitable that he had to take the blame, after a Congressional report, which treated him with kid gloves but nevertheless pointed out the wholly obvious conclusion that Reagan screwed the pooch—only then did he “take the blame,” but only because (1) he had no choice by then, and (2) he knew he would get a great deal of respect for saying it (exactly along the lines of this blog post exactly 9 years ago).

    Dubya Bush followed Reagan in this tradition in spades: anyone criticizing the horrifically bungled Iraq War immediately got buried by the Bush administration for “attacking the troops.”

    However, it was after seeing the unimaginably craven handling of the event, and even worse, Reagan’s obvious wag-the-dog move of invading Grenada two days after the bombing, that I realized the utterly unspeakable depths to which a politician could—successfully!—manipulate the media, and come out looking like a noble hero after essentially bungling hundreds of soldiers into their deaths.

  5. kensensei
    October 18th, 2015 at 07:35 | #5

    This “rant” sounds like the making of a new post, Luis.
    How about using the title:

    “Reagan’s REAL Benghazi”


    “Ask a Republican which President was responsible for 241 American deaths in Libya”


  6. Luis
    October 18th, 2015 at 11:11 | #6

    Ken: Well, yeah, but it’s been done quite a bit already.

    Not to mention that Bush had about 10-20 Benghazis, depending on how you count them. Nobody had 8 hearings to attack Condi Rice.

    Conservatives usually challenge this, saying that although they were attacks on U.S. embassies and consulates, only 10 Americans died, and none were ambassadors—as if that would have stopped Republicans from investigating Hillary were it under her watch! We’d be hearing non-stop about how there were more than 10 attacks, our embassies were under siege, our defenses are porous, etc. etc.

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