Monday, June 07, 2004

Some liberals are singing a strange tune this week on Ronald Reagan. The meme: the Gipper wasn't all that conservative after all, and thus really a pretty good guy all said and done thank you very much (so says Washington Monthly, and AngryBear, a few of my "house liberals"). He cut taxes in a big way in 1981-82 but then raised them repeatedly in the remaining six years; never shrank the size of government; "saved" Social Security; and negotiated important arms deals with those nasty Soviets to end the Cold War.

Nathan Newman helps us get past the nostalgia.
Reagan was the worst President of the 20th century with Bush Junior leading the charge to fulfill that role in the 21st.
In all the homages to Reagan this week, I haven't seen any mentioning his administration's role in pushing the "Washington consensus" on a prostrate Latin America during its "lost decade"; his policy of "constructive engagement" with apartheid; his crass invasion of Grenada to distract the US public from the fiasco of Lebanon; his nutty cabinet secretaries like James Watt and Bill Casey. Amazingly, a 7100-word obituary in the Washington Post by Lou Cannon didn't even mention Reagan firing the air traffic controllers' union PATCO, the salvo which opened capital's counter-revolution against labor in the United States.

You know, "Insane Anglo Warlord" is not an anagram of "Ronald Wilson Reagan" for nothing.


At 3:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you missed the point that Kevin Drum and PGL were making: When reality (tax cuts = less revenue) and ideology (supply-side tax cuts = more revenue) collided during Reagan's 1st administration, reality quietly, pragmatically trumped ideology.

Can the same be said of Bush43's administration, any context ?

-Patrick (G)

At 7:53 PM, Blogger Gen. Glut said...

Patrick, you're right on the "reality v. ideology" angle, but I think the reinterpretation of Reagan flows from the same beliefs about "conservatism" as expressed by Yglesias, Drum and DeLong last month -- namely that the ideology is just that rather than a movement to increase the power of capital. Tax cuts and size of government are in and of themselves meaningless. Taking these as the hallmarks of Reaganonimc is to badly miss the larger point.

Gen'l Glut


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