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June 11, 2004

Two Tributes to Reagan

One's a parody. One's almost a parody, but is perhaps the most glowing tribute of all.

First, the parody. IowaHawk celebrates "Mr. Happy," the bumbling dolt who put an idiot-smile face on the misery of the 1980's:

Although I never actually voted for him, I think it's really no mystery why we are seeing such a public outpouring of affection for Ronald Reagan," said longtime Washington Post reporter Haynes Johnson. "His rosy, almost narcotic optimism must have provided a needed tonic for the tens of millions of Americans he threw into wretched starvation in the '80s."

Johnson, whose 1983 book On The Brink: Bonzo's Dangerous Bloodlust for Global Armageddon was an early lighthearted look at the Reagan administration, said that the key to Reagan's popularity was his sunny disposition.

"It's really rather remarkable how ordinary Americans were enchanted and beguiled by Ronald Reagan's cheerful attitude and dazzling smile," said Johnson. "It really is amazing how history, for good or evil, can be affected by good dental hygiene."

"Like the rest of the country, we in the press will never forget Ronald Reagan's bright, bouyant affability, especially the happy-go-lucky way he sold his optimistic vision of worldwide nuclear holocaust," said CNN political analyst Bill Schneider.

And now, the almost-parody.

This is probably the greatest tribute to Reagan ever written. It's by an academic at CUNY, obviously a left-liberal, attempting to draft Reagan into the leftist pro-appeasement camp and thereby call him one of their own. The writer attempts to claim that the neocons (bad) were actually the sworn enemy of Ronald Reagan (good, in this morality tale-- can you believe it?):

Almost everywhere in the press one reads that President Bush sounds an awful lot like Ronald Reagan. Commentators and politicians alike have drawn the comparison between Mr. Bush's "muscular" foreign policy and the Reagan doctrine. However macho and aggressive Mr. Bush's foreign policy may be, when it came to the Soviet Union, Mr. Reagan's was anything but.

In 1985, Mr. Reagan sent a long handwritten letter to Mikhail Gorbachev assuring him that he was prepared "to cooperate in any reasonable way to facilitate such a withdrawal" of the Soviets from Afghanistan. "Neither of us," he added, "wants to see offensive weapons, particularly weapons of mass destruction, deployed in space." Mr. Reagan eagerly sought to work with Mr. Gorbachev to rid the world of such weapons and to help the Soviet Union effect peaceful change in Eastern Europe.

This offer was far from the position taken by the neoconservative advisers who now serve under Mr. Bush. ...

Not only did the neocons oppose Mr. Reagan's efforts at rapprochement, they also argued against engaging in personal diplomacy with Soviet leaders. Advisers like Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld, now steering our foreign policy, held that America must escalate to achieve "nuclear dominance" and that we could only deal from a "strategy of strength." Mr. Reagan believed in a strong military, but to reassure the Soviet Union that America had no aggressive intentions, he reminded Leonid Brezhnev of just the opposite. ...


That should settle the historical debate over Reagan. When left-liberals begin embracing him (even in a cynical and transparent ruse to discredit the current administration), close the book. History's judgment has been rendered.

Republicans use John F. Kennedy's legacy to sell tax cuts. We don't use Jimmy Carter's legacy to sell anything (except by using his legacy as an example to be feared).

So-- who knew? Ronald Reagan was a liberal Democrat after all, a dedicated multilateralist on foreign policy, a gunshy dove on issues of war. The sort of man who'd like nothing better than to spend a quiet weekend at Jacques Chirac's country estate and speak in the only real language of diplomacy, French.

When your enemies start twisting themselves into pretzels to claim some of your legacy, you know you've won.

Congratulations, Mr. President.

Update: Steven den Beste has a long analysis of Diggins' moronic alternative-history fantasy.

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posted by Ace at 08:24 PM

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