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Obama on the Lesson of the Reagan Revolution
In an hour-long interview conducted on Monday with the Reno Gazette-Journal
, Barack Obama had this to say about the era of President Reagan:
"I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt... with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown, but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think... he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was [that] we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing."
On Thursday, John Edwardsin part, mindful of the power hand of unions in Democratic politics in Nevada
took strong exception, addressing economic and environmental policies of the Reagan Administration:
"I would never use Ronald Reagan as an example of change. You think about what Ronald Reagan did, to America, the American people, to the middle class, to working people. He was openlyopenlyintolerant of unions and the right to organize. He openly fought against the union and the organized labor movement in this country. He openly did extraordinary damage to the middle class and working people, created a tax structure that favored the very wealthiest Americans and caused the middle class and working people to struggle every single day. The destruction of the environment: you know, eliminating regulation of companies that were polluting and doing extraordinary damage to the environment."
Hillary Clinton, constructing broader themes about Obama's statement, had this to say
"My leading opponent the other day said that he thought the Republicans had better ideas than Democrats the last 10 to 15 years. That’s not how I remember the last 10 to 15 years."
The mainstream media is representing as controversial Barack Obama's claim that the election of Ronald Reagan twice as President was an expression of desire by the American electorate for change. Whether or not voters see it that way is another matter: certainly, to this day Ronald Reagan stirs deep feelings in those who were alive during the Reagan years. Many progressives, liberals, and Leftists still harbor powerful resentment, even bitterness, for Reagan-era policies they consider anathema to their interests, will, and vision of the country, while many conservatives and Right-wingers see those same Reagan-era policies as entirely correct, proper, and beneficial to the nation.
Ultimately, it is not the voters of 1980 and 1984 who will assess the worth of candidates in the 2008 campaign for the White House, nor will it be a now-deceased President of that time who will win the coming election; it remains to be seen, however, if that same now-deceased President can cause the uncautious candidate of the present day to lose.
Nice and quiet in this diner this evening, huh? I like quiet.
I wish there was another poll option: I kinda, sorta agree, somewhat. :0)
I viewed Obama's remarks as neither support for nor as admiration for Ronnie, so I have been reading a lot of comments on different blogs on this. The only conclusion I can make is that those who don't like Obama think it an awful statement, and those who do like him agree that what he said about Reagan moving the country in ways different than how Nixon and Clinton did is valid because things did change... either way, it gives those both for and against more fuel for their fires. Nixon and Clinton, it seems, worked more with both parties, and didn't try to change their own. Reagan was the start of too many changes in his party.
IMO, Reagan was the beginning in the surge of corporate greed and GOP corrupt cronyism and the start of the demise of the working and middle classes. Reagan brought forward a different kind of politician. Yes, he moved the country in a whole different direction… and not for the good. And we're still paying. Why that man is praised or admired is beyond my comprehension.
There is also Obama's reference to politicians taking advantage of the voters desire for change back then (the so called Reagan Democrats, maybe), an allusion to the fact that some changes were not necessarily what people had expected? And, understatedly, capitalizing on and signaling to the voters that changes are needed now.
It is amazing to read how many have jumped in to say, "This is what Obama meant" or "No, this is what he meant" when they don't seem to actually read or listen to what he did say. So many pundits, so many translations; what he said has been interpreted and analyzed every which way from Sunday. Nor has Obama come back and said, "Look, THIS is what I meant." Cagey stratergy? I dunno.
Then, there seems to be more than a few who think this is a sort of pandering, meant to appeal to the republics. (Let's play both sides against a middle?) Sheesh.
I'll vote for whoever wins the Democratic nomination. For me, it's about getting the GOP the hell out of office and getting the Dems in, no matter who ends up being the candidate. Bi-partisanship, my ass.
Way quiet...you'd think some folks had gotten a life or sumpthin'.
I had to vote that I agreed with Obama's statement...people voted for Reagan because he was the quintessinel optomist. I voted for him because he a)had my pick for pres as Veep, b) had picked decent advisors for him to be figurehead to in CA. and c) It was 1980, and the Mckinley curse was due. I would say that I did not, nor do I in hindsight, find much good at all in Reagan's policies. Yet the Dems managed to put me in the position of voting for bad(Reagan) or worse (them).
Yeah MoodyBlue, Obama put his foot in it...he made a thoughtful, accurate analysis and both sides are gonna spin it to his detriment. The electorate as a mass does not buy into thoughful analysis. They vote with their guts (well, so do I, but my guts are a lot better judges than most folks...haven't missed yet on a gut feeling about any political candidate :), want someone they can picture having a beer with at the bowling alley , you know, jest plain folks. Nevermind that these "folks" can buy you out of their pocket money and never notice.
Reagan was an extraordinary president in that he could "connect". For that, he deserves some of the legacy that has grown up around him. For his policies that came out of either ignorance or stupidity ( I actually don't believe malice on his part-Nancy's maybe-unlike our current president), he deserves to be rated as no more than fair. He was able to sell folks on his voodoo economics because folks found him compelling, found him sincere, and because one would like to believe in the honesty of the movers and shakers of big business. Trickle down _would_ work in a perfect world. The owners and CEO's would reward the workers that made the whole thing profitable. I quit believing in Ayn Rand's brand of economics when I got old enough to recognize that some folks are just greedy SOBs. The whole culture has gone that way in business. On line, I know a couple conservatives with the attitude "I got mine. You want yours, go out and start a business". Doesn't matter what individual circumstances are. 20 years ago, I could have done the small business owner thing and worked 80 hours a week to make it pay. I physically can't now, so I guess because I haven't "made it", I deserve to live in poverty when I retire. Well, spork them.
A bunch of true liberals/progressives could make trickle down work, and it would work well for about one business generation. Look at what has become of Wal Mart under Sam's children. Some people have an innate sense of justice and fairness and empathy toward others, others can learn it, and others are just greedy for money or power. So in any society, you will ahve close to 50% willing to share their toys, while the other 50 either never learned how or is innately incapable without being forced. It is why pure communism won;t work above a tribal level, pure socialism, capitalism, anarchy-none of them will work in the macro society, however good it sounds on paper.
Yes, it really is dead around here tonight. Maybe it's too quiet. That could mean trouble is waiting to happen.
Anyway, that aside, I honestly think there isn't a blog on this side of the planet that gets the quality of commentary that occurs at this diner.
The Dark Wraith usually reduces the quality of that commentary every time he comments, of course.
And by the way, good people, I have been working furiously on a new project that I'll be unveiling within a few days, provided I can shake out the last of the problems I've encountered by the truckload.
I knew I was going to have to do this new trick sooner or later. I'd been postponing it for months, but I finally accepted the reality that what I had kept hoping was just a passing fad was considerably more, so now I'm forcing myself to get up to speed on yet another aspect of this infuriatingly Web-based information age.
The Dark Wraith will be glad when civilization collapses so he can get a respite from learning new things.
Then, there seems to be more than a few who think this is a sort of pandering, meant to appeal to the republics. (Let's play both sides against a middle?) Sheesh.
Unfortunately for me, cynicism has grab'd hold my heart, and I kinda lean towards the pandering version. I have a hard time seeing Obama as anything other than the triangulator a la HRC, only nicer about it.
This is more of a free-association exercise than a true election decision...I could change my mind about it with more input. Real data is hard to find, however.
...upon later reflection, Wild Clover and Moody Blue both have me in their thrall, nodding affirmatively more than once. Looking back, I remember my impressions as him being warm, humorous, and when he struck a pissed off pose, he sold that sumbitch. I was ready to go tear that fuckin' wall down with Gorby's head. Mebbe sand some of that map off while I was at it. While I was aware of his unhinged slashing at the ties holding up the safety net, and cutting the unions off at the knees, I, I, I, was the focal point at the time, for me(I). My lack of ladder climbing had nothing to do with opportunity, so I admit that I was not really threatened by policies of his now-apparent to me wingnut advisors.
Moody Blue, I now realize that I basically repeated what you said, so like minds, I reckon.
Good morning, Dark Wraith.
I agree with Obama's statement. Reagan certainly did change things in this country. And a great many people, as I recall, were ready for change. Unfortunately, things didn't necessarily change for the better. Which brings to mind the old song, "Be Careful What You Wish For".
I never voted for Reagan, either time, and 1980 was my first Presidential election. Once I thought a little about what he was saying, it just didn't seem right (for lack of a better word) to me. But boy, when he spoke, it was like listening to your Granddad tell you how things were and how to live your life.
It's making me wonder why Obama would bring him up in the first place. It could be pandering, but it might be more than that - I think I need more coffee to figure it out.
Obama really blew his foot off with this one.
What I remember most about the ray-gun was a ridiculously funny editorial cartoon by the late George Fischer. It was during the summer of 1976 and in the gipper's desperate attempt to grab the repub nomination he picked Senator Richard Something-or-other (PA I think) who was considered a "liberal" repug at the time to be his VP running mate before the convention.
Of course Gerald Ford won that and we ended up with Jimmy Carter.
Anyway, the cartoon showed a fiercely determined gipper plunging off the high dive board with the running mate held in his grip looking obviously clownish, but the pool was empty.
The caption read "Going for the gold". The '76 Olympics, indubitably.
It is not just dead around here, but it seems more than a little dead around them internet tubes all over the place.
But I have a cure, and for some, it may be predictable.
Pickled eggs, and the confines of a well sealed room with lots of people.
That should get the conversation fired up.
Then just sit still and act innocent and offended.
From Maureen Dowd (Yeah, I know...so sue me.) :
Like the president, Citigroup and Merrill Lynch came with tin cups to Middle Eastern, Asian and American investors last week, for a combined total of nearly $19.1 billion, after the subprime mortgage debacle blew up their books.
Citigroup, which raised $7.5 billion from Abu Dhabi in November, raised another $12.5 billion, including from Singapore, Kuwait and Saudi Prince Walid bin Talal. Merrill Lynch gave $6.6 billion in preferred stock to Kuwait, South Korea, a Japanese bank and others.
(While the great sage Bob Rubin was advising Hillary Clinton on sound fiscal policy, he seemed to be asleep at the Citigroup switch.)
It occurred to me that while we complain about the neo-conservative scum driving Dimbulbya, the ones behind other candidates might deserve more scrutiny.
It occurs to me that while I have been half expecting a long (and long overdo) economics treatise by the professor, I may be waiting for something that's been here all along. Many of the Nation's problems popping up on my viewscreen, like acne on a 15 year old, seem like I've read about before. I wonder if I were to re-read some ol' Cranky's past diatribes, would I see the the seeds of today's bitter harvest being lovingly sown by our far-seeing host? You betcha.
A cold and blustery good morning to all from the left coast,
Obama has opened a can of worms that might ultimately screw the pooch for him. Whether he was being totally honest in his assessment of Ronnie Rayguns OR just trying to reach out to the other side of the aisle(aka pander to) is the question for me.
"I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not".-This part is true as far as I can tell. Its a fact that Raygun totally changed our course..for the worse IMO.
"He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it."- This is his pov, and I do not agree with it, I think Raygun bullshitted the 99% of American's that work for a living. Everyone wants to believe they can attain the American Dream of riches and wealth..well most folks do..delusional as that thought is.
"I think they felt... with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown, but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating."- I think Obama is full of shit here and again projecting his personal beliefs. The war ended and America breathed a sigh of relief, in my humble and probably uninformed opinion plus women started to leave the kitchen and go en mass, into the workforce, which pissed off a helluva lot of males that weren't ready for that movement. Also, didn't we have the first oil scare and subsequent rising of the price of gas into the stratosphere? And finally..
"I think... he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was [that] we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing."- Tapped into? Hell, Raygun played us like the proverbial fiddle. As a resident of Cali, I knew the man was trouble since I lived under his iron-fisted rule. Raygun was a great orator, which said more about his acting ability than his leadership qualities. He lied to Californians when he raised taxes and cut services in order to balance the budget. That was the easiest way and he took it without blinking an eye. He balanced the damn budget on the backs of the working class.
So much of what Obama said was his personal pov and I do not agree with his pov at all.
All the comments here are wonderful, well thought out ones..hopefully mine will not be considered an idiot-child's response.
A frosty good morning (early afternoon, really) from Michigan.
Obama was naive enough to say in public what Hillary is adept enough to say in private to the minions of the Chicago School.
This $election is filled with re-runs of Happy Days, when what the nation really needs is a re-run of the New Deal.
Dusty and kelley b, well said.
He lied to Californians when he raised taxes and cut services in order to balance the budget. That was the easiest way and he took it without blinking an eye. He balanced the damn budget on the backs of the working class.
Exactly. When they realized (I have a hard time picturing one guy as the culprit alone, when it comes to political misadventures. Bush, on the other hand, is a diff'rent anumule altogether.) that the infrastructure needed to keep the workers humming along was underfunded, he made the workers pay for it, rather than the corporations that drew them. Admittedly, his mostly Democratic opposition did little to help stop the money from coming in, once they started running in the black.
From Answers.com, here's sumpin that, had I just started reading these paragraphs, would have thought they were describing another president; R. Reagan's fuck up parade on steroids:
Reagan's accession ushered in a short-lived period of popular acceptance of supply-side economics at home and bellicosity abroad. The normal political "honeymoon" given to a new President was lengthened by a failed assassination attempt in March of 1981. In domestic policy, with the support of conservative southern and western Democrats, a programme of large, phased tax cuts and increased defence expenditure was instituted. Cuts in welfare and education budgets were partially accepted by Congress as was a programme of business deregulation and tightened control over the supply of government information. Admirers of the British Official Secrets Acts, Reagan's staff contemplated similar legislation until they realized that they themselves would have to take loyalty oaths and lie detector tests.
In foreign policy allies and enemies alike were alarmed by the frank triumphalism of American rhetoric and the seeming determination of the administration to impose American leadership and priorities everywhere. NATO partners were pushed into increased defence expenditure and military readiness. Even Margaret Thatcher, a staunch supporter, was affronted by Reagan's willingness to sell grain to Russia — pleasing his agribusiness sector — while trying to use subsidiaries of US companies in Europe and technology licences to prevent Western Europe importing much needed Russian natural gas. When such policies were accompanied by a potential invasion of Nicaragua and an actual invasion of Grenada — a British Commonwealth state — without informing London, North Atlantic relationships were in real disarray. Only when Reagan agreed to resume serious arms limitation talks with the Russians, and toned down bellicose rhetoric, did fears of nuclear was recede and matters improve. The summits with Gorbachev at Geneva and Reykjavik marked this progress.
I think Obama likes Ronnie Raygun because he is cut from the same cloth..meaning he doesn't have a history in running shit and therefore will depend on the advice of others to run our nation. Not to mention the 'great orator' part..
We need more than a good speaker..because actions speak louder than words in the long run.
Too bad the general population doesn't have a friggin clue.
The major reason I don't support Obama is his total lack of experience in guiding a city or state, plus he hasn't been part of Congress long enough to know how to play 'that game'. He will have to depend on others to figure how what needs to be done..and we don't elect those fools now do we?
At least sHillary knows how the game is played between Congress and the White House..although I would never vote for her, she at least has that going for her.
Paul Krugman, obviously writing after conferring with our beloved teacher, has laid it out why Obama did the progressives no favors. here's the money quote:
Now progressives have been granted a second chance to argue that Reaganism is fundamentally wrong: once again, the vast majority of Americans think that the country is on the wrong track. But they won’t be able to make that argument if their political leaders, whatever they meant to convey, seem to be saying that Reagan had it right.
The real trick when in over your head is to pick qualified people to staff your operation, and watching them like a hawk. As a boss, spelled backwards that is double SOB, let the qualified people you have do their jobs, watch and learn, but don't be shy if they get out of control.
Also as the double SOB, never forget that all you set is the tone of the operation. Never succumb to the temptation to micromanage the people around you who may have more sense.
Bejeebus, all you really have to do is manage. And pay attention, that's the hard part.
Your subs do the really hard work, and never forget either to give them praise on a regular basis. Recognition and a raise from time to time also helps.
Watch Captain Kirk for how to treat your crew, he mostly got it right.
Well, Obama has addressed this thing.
Debate transcript - Part 1:
CLINTON: You talked about admiring Ronald Reagan and you talked about the ideas...
OBAMA: Hillary, I'm sorry. You just...
CLINTON: I didn't talk about Reagan.
OBAMA: Hillary, we just had the tape. You just said that I complimented the Republican ideas. That is not true.
What I said -- and I will provide you with a quote -- what I said was is that Ronald Reagan was a transformative political figure because he was able to get Democrats to vote against their economic interests to form a majority to push through their agenda, an agenda that I objected to. Because while I was working on those streets watching those folks see their jobs shift overseas, you were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board at Wal-Mart. [...]
OBAMA: I was fighting these fights. I was fighting these fights. So -- but I want to be clear.
So I want to be clear. What I said had nothing to do with their policies. I spent a lifetime fighting a lifetime against Ronald Reagan's policies. But what I did say is that we have to be thinking in the same transformative way about our Democratic agenda.
We've got to appeal to Independents and Republicans in order to build a working majority to move an agenda forward. That is what I said. [...]
OBAMA: Now, you can dispute that, but let me finish.
Hillary, you went on for two minutes. Let me finish.
The irony of this is that you provided much more fulsome praise of Ronald Reagan in a book by Tom Brokaw that's being published right now, as did -- as did Bill Clinton in the past. So these are the kinds of political games that we are accustomed to.
CLINTON: Now, wait a minute.
Wolf, wait a minute. Wait a minute. Just a minute. [...]
CLINTON: Now, I just -- I just want to be clear about this. In an editorial board with the Reno newspaper, you said two different things, because I have read the transcript. You talked about Ronald Reagan being a transformative political leader. I did not mention his name.
OBAMA: Your husband did.
CLINTON: Well, I'm here. He's not. And...
OBAMA: OK. Well, I can't tell who I'm running against sometimes. [...]
CLINTON: Well, you know, I think we both have very passionate and committed spouses who stand up for us. And I'm proud of that.
But you also talked about the Republicans having ideas over the last 10 to 15 years.
OBAMA: I didn't say they were good ones.
CLINTON: Well, you can read the context of it.
OBAMA: Well, I didn't say they were good ones.
Debate transcript - Part 2
Debate transcript - Part 3
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