[Vision2020] Republicans Still Cling to a Mythical Ronald Reagan

Nicholas Gier ngier006 at gmail.com
Wed Feb 10 12:41:42 PST 2016

Dear Visionaries,

Last Saturday was RR's 115th BD, and each year I always like to wipe away
the cobwebs from the minds who still idolize him.

For those who don't get the DNews, here it is. A 3,000-word version is
attached and more at www.NickGier.com/ReaganMyths.pdf and /ReaganLiar.pdf.
A 1,700-word version was published in the Idaho State Journal on Sunday.

The campaign will be filled with references to RR, so be aware of the myths.


*Republicans Cling to Mythical Ronald Reagan*

By Nick Gier, The Palouse Pundit

            February 6 is former President Ronald Reagan’s 115th birthday,
and the myths about him continue to misinform far too many Americans.

The GOP presidential candidate who most often compares himself to Reagan is
Senator Marco Rubio. In the* American Spectator* (5/19/15) Paul Kengor
writes that some GOP candidates have “Reagan-like qualities, but Rubio
especially strikes me as the closest to Reagan.”

In a recent speech Rubio promised that “when I become president of the
United States, our adversaries around the world will know that America is
no longer under the command of someone weak like Barack Obama, and it will
be like Ronald Reagan where, as soon as he took office, the hostages were
released from Iran.”

The truth is that the Carter administration had done all the hard
bargaining for the release of the hostages, and as the Iranians disliked
Carter so much, they did not release them until Reagan came into office.

Reagan talked tough, but those threats were not always matched by decisive
action. Even though his advisers often encouraged him, Reagan refused to
invade Panama to remove dictator and drug trafficker Manuel Noreiga. The
invasion, which may have caused 3,000 civilian deaths, was undertaken by
the first President Bush in December 1989.

Much has been made about Reagan’s great challenge to the Soviets in 1987:
“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Four days after the Berlin Wall came
down in 1989, a poll, reported in Will Bunch’s *Tear down This Myth*,
showed that 43 percent of Americans believed that Gorbachev was responsible
for the wall’s demolition.  Only 14 percent gave Reagan credit—not
surprising as his general approval rating had dropped to 48 percent.

When it came to nuclear war Reagan was far from being tough.  Will Bunch
argues that after viewing *The Day After*, a powerful movie about a nuclear
holocaust panned by conservatives as peacenik propaganda, Reagan lost his
bearings about nuclear disarmament.

Reagan’s advisers were shocked when at the 1986 Reykjavik Summit, he
proposed the total abolition of nuclear weapons. When President Obama
envisioned a world without nukes a 2009 speech, his call for accelerated
disarmament was ridiculed by GOP leaders and Reagan’s putative heirs.

Obama has also been heavily criticized for negotiating a deal with Iran
that just led to the removal of 11 tons of 20 percent-enriched uranium and
the deactivation of a plutonium-producing reactor. Reagan promised that he
would never talk to the Iranians, but Oliver North and others arranged for
arm sales to Iran in hopes of releasing hostages held in Lebanon.

Reagan claimed that he had no knowledge of this, but after announcing to
the American people in November 1986 that the U. S. had not traded arms for
hostages, he was forced to return in March 1987 to admit that it was indeed
the case. This scandal resulted in Reagan’s approval rating dropping to 40
percent with 32 percent believing that he should resign.

Republican leaders boast about Reagan’s courage to cut taxes and still grow
the economy.  What they neglect to tell the American people is that Reagan
was forced to raise taxes seven times in eight years to avoid huge budget
deficits.  Even so, primarily because of huge, unnecessary military
expenditures, he tripled the national debt.

In 2014, calling on the name of Reagan, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback won
substantial tax cuts, claiming that they would lead to great economic
growth. When that did not occur, the Kansas Legislature reluctantly voted
for $432 million in new taxes, the largest increase in the state’s history.

The current GOP presidential candidates have called for major tax cuts.  If
any of them are elected president and the promised growth does not happen,
will they follow Reagan’s example, or will they subject the nation to
certain economic disaster?

Nick Gier of Moscow taught philosophy at the University of Idaho for 31

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they
shall never sit in.

-Greek proverb

“Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity.
Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance
from another. This immaturity is self- imposed when its cause lies not in
lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without
guidance from another. Sapere Aude! ‘Have courage to use your own
understand-ing!—that is the motto of enlightenment.

--Immanuel Kant
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