In the soft, comfortable afterglow of the celebration some of us reveled in, of Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday, a few days ago (February 6), let us
be thankful for the annually stronger push by the right to continually add more and more levels to the pedestal we are placing under this figment of
Americana, this grandfather of our country, this paragon of conservative virtue.
Um, but wait a sec. Let's take a quick look at some of the most interesting things about President Reagan's legacy … this courtesy of
Reagan lowered taxes … of course.
Not so much. He raised them every year in office, except for one - one year, eleven times! Yikes!
That Reagan … he was a budget balancer.
Depends on how you define "balancing the budget." If increasing the federal deficit by three times for a total that equalled the previous eighty
years does not work for you as a good definition, then you might be out of luck.
Conservatives like Reagan (to the extent that you believe Reagan was indeed a Conservative) create jobs and lower unemployment.
Unemployment reached over 10% during Reagan's office (more than it is right now!), following a much-lauded tax cut, which benefitted, in typical
Conservative fashion, the most well-off. Naturally, this would "trickle down" and the middle and lower classes would share the wealth. Except they
didn't. The separation between the upper and lower classes grew more pronounced and almost as bad as what Bush, Jr.'s years have wrought.
Easy enough to cut that evil federal bureaucracy though. This is a gimme.
Defense spending increased to over $100 billion. The Department of Education, a habitual target of the right even today, remained - and a whole new
federal department was created which currently employs 280,000.
Abortion … duh, duh, duh, dum!
As governor of California, Reagan signed into law liberal abortion legislation. As president, he appointed Sandra Day O'Connor who vowed never to
vote against Roe V. Wade. O'Connor, on behalf of the court, wrote "at the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence,
of meaning, of the universe and of the mystery of human life."
Reagan also hated immigrants.
Well, probably not. He signed law to grant amnesty to ALL illegal immigrants who had entered the country prior to 1982. This created millions and
millions and millions of new Americans.
Don't forget that Reagan supervised (though one can question the propriety of that word) the illegal sale of weapons to Iran and Nicaraguan rebels
(some would use the term "terrorists") in direct defiance of the U.S. Congress. Yes, our President sold arms to Iran.
But Reagan also was the top guy while the AIDS crisis developed into a full-blown epidemic. At least he could have appointed someone to look into
that … right? But he didn't. And his neglect of AIDS, with ramifications to this day, resulted in the death of thousands and thousands. This was
in the early stages of the disease when action and dissemination of information would have been incredibly impactful and would have saved lives.
Well, score one for Conservatives.
The idea being that it's interesting how Reagan has become the paragon of conservatism for the modern American Right when it seems pretty clear that
he wouldn't have like them … and they wouldn't have liked him. Were he to run now with the Palins and the Bachmans and even the Huckabees, et al,
he wouldn't stand a chance and he would have been chased out of the party a long time ago. Funny that, no? Revisionism is trippy.
Somebody's legacy's just itching for a national holiday. So let's add him to the month of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.