Ron Reagan Jr

The Age Issue In The Presidential Campaign

This blogger has discussed before the reality that we are likely to have the oldest President in American history being elected in the Presidential Election of 2016.

Only Ronald Reagan and Dwight D. Eisenhower were past 70 when President, with Ike only three months beyond 70 when he finished his time in the White House, while Reagan was just weeks short of 70 when elected, and almost 78 when he left office after two terms.  Of course, Reagan showed signs of mental decline in his second term, as his son Ron Jr testifies to, and there were many hints that there was concern of his staff and his wife about his ability to deal with the responsibilities, and efforts to “protect” and “shelter” him.

The point is that there is no question that anyone beyond the age of 70 is more likely to have a health crisis, such as a heart attack, a stroke, Alzheimer’s, or cancer, than someone under the age of 70.

Yes, we live in a time when many people continue to work full time, including Supreme Court Justices, US Senators and Congressmen, corporate leaders, media figures, actors and musicians, and average Americans.

And yes, many “senior citizens” work part time, some because they need to in an economic sense, and others because they wish to keep active and engaged.

No one is saying that people over 70 should be “farmed out to pasture”!  But the pressures of the Presidency are greater than any other job, and affect all of us in the country, unlike any other job.  And that makes it ever more important that the best possible Vice Presidential candidates are chosen, and that he or she be substantially younger than an elderly President, since the odds of a Presidential succession during a term of office is far greater statistically.

Also, we have not had a Presidential succession in 41 years since Richard Nixon resigned, and 52 years since a President died in office (John F. Kennedy), so we are fighting against the tides of history, and more so with a President over 70!

Ronald Reagan: The Unvarnished Truth! Myth Versus Reality!

Ronald Reagan is treated as a saint by the conservative movement and the Republican Party, as a man and a President who could do no wrong, but the truth is otherwise.

Of course, no President and no human being is perfect, and all commit mistakes or show lack of sensitivity, but the point is that the 40th President’s image and historical record needs to come down to earth, on this, the 104th anniversary of his birth, and a quarter century after his leaving office.

So what should Americans and others know about Ronald Reagan, that is not general knowledge?

As California Governor and as President, the issue of mental illness was dealt with by cutting spending, and throwing mental patients onto the streets of America, creating a great increase in homeless population.

As head of the Screen Actors Guild in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Reagan cooperated with the House Unamerican Activities Committee investigation of Communists; worked with Senator Joseph McCarthy during the Red Scare; and was an FBI informant for J. Edgar Hoover, all to protect his own image and security as he had been a strong liberal Democrat, and supporter of the New Deal.

Reagan sold illegal arms to Iran, what became known as the Iran-Contra Scandal, as he worked to overthrow the government of Nicaragua, despite Congressional admonitions banning such activities.

Reagan backed the apartheid government of South Africa, despite its horrific violation of human rights, and vetoed a sanctions law, which was passed over his veto in 1986.

Reagan’s Presidency saw the greatest amount of scandals of all sizes, only surpassed by the administrations of Richard Nixon, Ulysses S. Grant, and Warren G. Harding in overall malfeasance.

Reagan’s record on the environment is regarded by scholars as the absolute worst of all Presidents since 1900, and a big letdown after Jimmy Carter, who had one of the top three performances on that issue in American history.

Reagan ignored the AIDS crisis until 1987, and ridiculed the “gay plague”, only taking any interest when young hemophiliac Ryan White, and actor Rock Hudson, were revealed to have the disease in 1985.

Reagan supported backing the groups which fought Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, including such future terrorists as Osama Bin Laden; and also gave support to Saddam Hussein of Iraq in war with Iran, while still supplying arms to Iran.

The high ethical and moral standard said to be part of Reagan’s persona has now been revealed to be inappropriate, as he has been shown to have cheated on his first wife, Jane Wyman, and to have had affairs with dozens of actresses, including Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, and Doris Day, among many others.

For a man who professed “family values”, Reagan and his wife Nancy ignored their children, Patti and Ron, Jr; and hardly saw their grandchild from Reagan stepson Michael; and hardly ever attended church services, although flirting with the Christian Coalition and Moral Majority of the Reverend Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.

So the truth about Ronald Reagan is far from the myth that has been promoted!

David Stockman And Bruce Bartlett, Former Reagan Economic Policy Advisers, Condemn The Romney-Ryan Republican Ticket As Out Of Mainstream!

The Republican Party loves to invoke Ronald Reagan as their patron saint, even though his record clearly shows he would not be very happy with the trend in the GOP, as even his son Ron Reagan Jr claims.

But beyond Ron Reagan, Jr., two leading economic policy advisers under President Reagan, Bruce Bartlett and David Stockman, have condemned the Republican Party and its candidates and economic policies as out of the mainstream of American politics.

Bartlett says the party has gone insane, dreams of anarchy and the end of government, and has lost all reasonableness.

Stockman has ridiculed the Ryan budget plan, and condemns the idea of Ryan that more defense spending is necessary, and more tax cuts to the wealthy, while the middle class and the poor are victimized. Stockman see the Ryan Plan as not serious, and lacking any common sense!

It is not just Bartlett and Stockman who are critical of the Ryan Plan, and of the turn of events in the Republican Party.

Many past Republican leaders are privately shaking their heads, and see an electoral disaster coming, and we are seeing moderate conservative Republican Senators such as Olympia Snowe of Maine, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, and Richard Lugar of Indiana, all three leaving, with Lugar not by his own choice, bemoaning the turn of events toward unreasonable extremism, and failure to be willing to cross the aisle for support from Democrats.

Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee is one of many former Republican leaders who have promoted that states led by GOP Governors stop fighting ObamaCare, and to start exchanges for the uninsured, required under the law by 2014, or else the federal government will do so for those states against their will. Frist, himself a surgeon, says these Republicans leaders are misguided, and that the Obama plan was originally a Republican idea in the mid 1990s., an absolutely true statement!

Former Senator Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson is another Republican who has condemned present Republican attitudes, and many former George H. W. Bush aides quietly have joined the Reagan former advisers in calling for an end to the extremism of the present Republican Party.

But, as in 1964, when we had an ideological election defeat for the GOP with Barry Goldwater, it is clear that there will be a need for a defeat of the ideological environment that Mitt Romney has provoked by selecting ideological Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate!

The Centennial Of Ronald Reagan: Myth And Reality

Today is the centennial of President Ronald Reagan’s birth, and it begins a year of commemorative events relating to our 40th President.

Ronald Reagan was a very charismatic leader, handsome even at an older age than any other President, and very charming and personable. It was hard not to like Reagan as a human being, and he could be very funny, and played the ceremonial role of the President as if he was the Queen of England!

But many myths have been built up around Ronald Reagan in the years since he left the Presidency, and particularly in the years since his death at age 93 in June 2004.

The myths have sustained the Tea Party Movement of the past two years, and have motivated the ignorant, poorly educated Sarah Palin, who was the absolutely wrong person to speak at commemorative events this weekend in southern California! It is a travesty to assert, as some do, that Sarah Palin is the heir to Ronald Reagan, as she has no clue as to his accomplishments, shortcomings, and motivations. Reagan would be shocked that Sarah Palin is speaking in his honor, a point well made by son Ron Reagan, Jr.!

Ronald Reagan restored our defenses which helped to lead to the breakdown of the Soviet Union. Ronald Reagan restored a sense of patriotism and honor after the difficult years following the Vietnam War’s sad ending. And Ronald Reagan was an inspirational leader in his rhetoric, stimulating the American people like no one since John F. Kennedy.

But Ronald Reagan had many shortcomings and failures, which are conveniently forgotten by his supporters in the Republican Party and Tea Party Movement, or better still, many are totally unaware of the reality of his record in office!

This is a man who tripled the national debt, beginning the long downhill trend in responsible economic policy which has led to the present massive national debt problem that is the leading economic crisis since the Great Depression!

This is a man who set back civil rights, labor rights, the environment, and worsened the plight of the poor, while promoting the rich getting richer, and the middle class becoming poorer, via giving major tax cuts to the rich, but adding to the tax burden of the middle class!

This is a man who ignored human rights in many countries, and allied with Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden, who both turned against the United States after we armed both of them so readily!

This is a man who reacted to a terrorist attack on our troops in Beirut, Lebanon, by withdrawing from the Middle East, something his supporters try to make believe did not happen!

This is a man who talked about the social issues of the Moral Majority led by Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, and yet never followed through on them more than rhetoric, and hardly ever went to church or associated with his children, preferring to spend his personal time with his wife Nancy without their children!

This was a man who was tough with the Soviet Union, but negotiated significant arms agreements with Mikhail Gorbachev in the late 1980s, and had a vision of banning nuclear weapons worldwide over the long haul!

This was a man who talked about smaller government, but actually increased the size of the government, and created a new cabinet agency of Veterans Affairs and backed off on a campaign pledge to eliminate the Departments of Education and Energy, which many Republicans today would love to destroy!

And the myth that is probably most believed is that Ronald Reagan was supremely popular throughout his time in the Presidency, which is the furthest thing from the truth, as he was more popular AFTER his Presidency, particularly after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 1994. Much of the time during his eight years in office, his public opinion ratings floundered. John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson, and George H W Bush were all more generally popular in the polls than Ronald Reagan, as hard as that is to believe!

Ronald Reagan may be the patron saint of the far right today, but in many ways, it is clear that he would not approve of the inflexibility of his party in Congress, and the loony, nutty behavior of many of its top leaders, as well as the right wing talk show hosts on radio and Fox News Channel!

Historians will be writing about Ronald Reagan for all time, and he will continue to be one of the most fascinating and significant Presidents we have had, but the concept that he was an ideal President who mostly succeeded in making the country a better place will continue to be contested by those who wish to look at reality, rather than promote a myth!

But then, mythology around Presidents is a popular activity, and it makes the job of historians only the more important, to separate truth from propaganda. So the work of demythologizing Ronald Reagan continues in earnest!

The Trivialization Of Ronald Reagan On His 100th Birthday This Sunday! :(

President Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday will be celebrated this coming Sunday, and the government will be giving extra attention to the historical significance of the 40th President over the next year.

It is understandable that such recognition would be given, as Reagan, for good and for bad, was indeed a very significant President in the years from 1981-1989.

But, unfortunately, much misinformation is being spread as to the record of the Reagan Presidency, which is indeed much more complex and often contradictory than the supporters of Reagan want to believe!

The dispute between his two sons from different marriages–Michael and Ron, Jr.–are telling, as they see their dad in different ways, but historians already see the complexity of Reagan, that not everything conservatives, Republicans and even Tea Party people say about Reagan, is the true and complete story!

So in the midst of debate about the legacy of Ronald Reagan, the Young America’s Foundation, is sponsoring two days of festivities at the Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara, California this Friday and Saturday, February 4 and 5.

That is all fine and good, but the decision of this organization to invite former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to give the keynote speech on February 4 is a true distortion of the whole concept of Ronald Reagan! 🙁

Her presence, with the thin, unaccomplished record she possesses in public life, and her constant display of lack of knowledge or insights on ANY topic, makes one wonder about the political motivations of the group. Do they REALLY believe that Sarah Palin is the true successor to the man they love and admire? Would Reagan look at Sarah Palin as his heir apparent? 🙁

To make Sarah Palin a star of this event this coming weekend is to trivialize Ronald Reagan and to embarrass anyone who has any knowledge about Reagan and the conservative movement in America, as it is clear “Sarah Palin ain’t no Ronald Reagan!” 🙁

It can also be said that Sarah Palin “ain’t no Barry Goldwater” and that she “ain’t no Robert Taft”, earlier icons of the conservative movement! One wonders if she even knows of their contributions to the Republican Party and conservatism in America! 🙁

Sarah Palin could not walk in the shoes of Reagan, Goldwater or Taft, or really anyone else of substance, and it is a shame that Reagan’s memory, for good and for bad of his record, is being sullied by the involvement of this woman who proves that one does not need qualifications or education or intelligence to be a public figure! 🙁

The Founding Fathers are crying loudly in mourning, and the author suspects, so is Ronald Reagan in the after life! 🙁