Blogger Note, the following is by Ian Tanner, a blogger at the Progressive Republican.

Reagan Bowling

Reagan Bowling

I was sitting in my office listening to Pandora,when I heard a song that started me thinking. The song was called “1985” by the band Bowling for Soup. The song got me thinking about the current shape of the GOP with regards to the newest generation of voters, the millennials. In case no one is familiar with the lyrics, here is the passage that struck me the most:

Springsteen, Madonna
Way before Nirvana
There was U2 and Blondie
And music still on MTV
Her two kids in high school
They tell her that she’s uncool
Cuz she’s still preoccupied
With 19, 19, 1985

The Republican Party of today is stuck in the 1980’s. I think every candidate who ran for the republican nomination somehow, one way or another, referenced the presidency of Ronald Reagan. I understand that Reagan was an idol/rock star to a lot of the politicians on the GOP side, but its one thing to pay respect to his leadership skills and another to be the “next” Reagan. I’m not the only GOPer to think that Regan needs to be left on the sideline in future political discussions. People like former Florida GovernorJeb Bush, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty , and even an unknown GOP senator.

Ronald Reagan was a great president, we understand that. We understand he helped us with the cold war. We understand that he is in the past. My generation was born in the middle to late 1980’s and beyond. Not many of us were even born in the Reagan-era. We barely remember the first President Bush. The GOP is still stuck back in 1985 way before Nirvana, Madonna was still the Material Girl, and I’m not even sure if there was an MTV. If the GOP wants to “modernize,” meet the needs of a diverse millennial generation, or in Michael Steele’s words “hip-hop makeover” to the GOP, Ronald Reagan needs to be left on the sideline. We need to move on before our party will ever move up.

Crossposted at the Progressive Republican

Dennis Sanders
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Copyright 2009 The Moderate Voice
  • sheesh. Reagan was a confessed traitor to the USA. He sold weapons to the enemy. He also engineered the GOP migration to “borrow and spend” laying massive debt on future generations (he quadrupled the national debt). Revisionism is rampant in that morally bankrupt party, idolizing a man who handled the press and public well while robbing them blind and betraying their country. Some will say it was the Dems in Congress who are responsible, but had Reagan’s plans been fully implemented, it would have been even worse for the economy (by the Reagan administration’s admission from the OMB).

  • vwcat

    You are right in saying it’s one thing to pay respects and another to try to be the next Reagan.
    Honestly, Reagan was a man for his own time. I think today he would not be as effective. Just as FDR was right for his time.
    I have seen FDR as my ideal president for 20 years. But, I also know it would not be the same thing today as back in the 30s.
    For one, neither man would be held in the same light with 24 hr cable news and it’s shallow gotcha journalism that dwells on taking people down and silly gossip as well as the silly left v right segments staged like prize fights.
    Just as the democrats honor JFK and FDR but know new faces and ideas are needed for different eras after the same stumbles the gop is making today, the republicans now need to learn this lesson with Reagan.

  • tidbits

    GD – First, confession of bias. I met Reagan a few times, have had some dealings with Nancy and was a friend of Maureen Reagan prior to her death.

    Treason was not in RR’s DNA. His administration got entangled in the Iran-Contra mess, but treasonous intent was not behind it. Whether Reagonomics works is still in some dispute, though I tend to agree that it does not, any more than tax and spend works.

    From your perspective, please appreciate that RR appointed Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court, saving Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose for a generation. He forged the first nuclear arms reduction treaty, and played a significant role in bringing a successful conclusion to the cold war (though some of his admirers suggest that he should, wrongly, be given sole credit to the exclusion of other presidents). He withdrew our troops from Lebanon rather than get enmeshed in a civil war in that country. He worked, and compromised, effectively with a Democratic congress on domestic policy. He was, in the end, more pragmatist than ideologue.

    Instead of idealizing him as some do, or demonizing him as others do, perhaps we should recognize the humaness of the man, giving credit for his successes, putting in context his achievements, and understanding his shortcomings.

  • DLS

    Reagan rescued this country. He was the subject of vile hatred as well as the commonplace Surly Losers who hated US rejection of liberalism after decades of it, similar to the cheaper, more vile hatred directed at George W. Bush (for being able to beat Al Gore — and a handy scapegoat for 2000 and evasion of Al Gore’s failures in that campaign).

    What the real issue is, is that the GOP has long strayed from what Reagan represented as well as advocated, and that the GOP can’t rely on nostalgia and a man no longer with us to win elections.

  • RJGarfunkel

    Here’s a letter I wrote about the “real” Ronald Reagan, who is loved by the idiotic right wing of this country. He has the most fraudulent reputation of any that has ever served in public office. He was certainly genial, a decent guy, a 3rd rate actor that had his career revived by the advice by his new father-in-law, Dr, Davis (a supporter the John Birch Society) “Go where the money is!” In other words flack for 20 Mule Team Borax and GE. This confused guy even voted for FDR four times by his own admission. He learned that it was “good business” to give up a lifetime of supposed ideals. He was a quick study, but basically a “dope” who was lost without a script. One day Jack Benny went into a theater where his “rival” Fred Allen was doing a remote for his radio program. Allen was giving out cheap Depression glass plates to the audience. All of a sudden Benny stood up and demanded a plate. Allen seeing the opportunity to score on his rival, said, “There is Jack Benny, one of the richest men in America trying to huckster a plate from you people.” Allen kept up the barraging harangue and finally the frustrated Benny yelled out, “You wouldn’t say that if my writers were here!” Well that fits Reagan to a tee. He even thought that the co2 from a tree was equivalent to a car’s emissions. He was a “stiff” built up by his handlers. His last term was a disaster, and to cap it off during the Poindexter and McFarlane Trials he said under oath over 400 times that he did not remember! With a history of Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, and Nixon I can understand easily that the “flat-earth” Luddites of the new GOP love to worship the memory of the “Gipper” whose understanding of the problems of this country matched his inability to answer a question “off the cuff.” Maybe that’s why he ran out after every press conference yelling over his shoulder. They couldn’t wait to get him away.

    Richard J. Garfunkel
    Host of The Advocates
    wvox Radio 1460 Am
    New Rochelles, NY

  • RJGarfunkel

    So we have seen what has happened. The GOP/Right has encouraged the lowering of taxes, the conglomeration of industry, the exporting of jobs overseas, the deregulation of industry, and the accumulation of greater money in fewer hands. Now, as in 1929, less people own more of America! In the midst of this incredible increase in executive compensation, Ronald Reagan’s administration lowered the highest tax brackets by more than 60% from 71% to 28% in 1986, while raising the bottom tax rate from 11 to 15%. In reality the Reagan Administration created two tax brackets. The poorest earners paid up to 15% and multi-millionaires paid a little more than double? Did this increase revenue to the Treasury? No! No wonder we experienced record deficits. Did it increase wealth to the wealthiest? Yes! Recent articles have debunked the “urban myth” promulgated by the flat-taxer’s and other anti-tax groups that tax cuts increase revenues. In fact, tax cuts without expense reductions create greater deficits. With that in mind, the Reagan years offered some of the biggest deficits, (tripling the National Debt), continued high unemployment, averaging over 7% in his tenure, and great private sector increases in wealth.
    On the March 17, 2006, broadcast of the PBS’ The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, New York Times columnist David Brooks falsely claimed that “in the Reagan years, unemployment went from 13 percent to 5 percent.”

    In fact, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 1981, Ronald Reagan’s first year in office, the U.S. average unemployment rate stood at 7.6 percent. During Reagan’s presidency, it reached a high of 9.7 percent, and had declined to a level of 5.5 percent when Reagan left office. The rate from when Reagan entered office through his last year declined by 2.1 points, far less than the eight-point drop for which Brooks credited Reagan. (Besides that obvious reality in November of 1981, ten months into the Reagan Administration, unemployment had risen to 8.5% and continued to rise to almost 10% through February of 1983.)

    Richard J. Garfunkel
    Host of the Advocates
    WVOX Radio

  • RJGarfunkel

    Reagan and the real fall of the Soviet Union

    Not long ago, in the wake of the public mourning of Ronald Reagan, our 40th President of the United States, his supporters made certain claims. One of these claims was that he was responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union. As an avid student of history and a witness to those events I must beg to disagree. The process that led to its welcomed collapse was in the works long before he was elected. In a sense it was a result of the confluence of disparate events and circumstances. In 1982 after 13 years of litigation against ATT by the Justice Department, the case was settled, and ATT agreed to give up their 22 Bell Systems and their subsequent monopoly over technology. This “breakup” began a “golden age” of communication that eventually resulted in fax machines, cable television, cell phones and the Internet. Meanwhile in Poland, after 2 months of labor turmoil at the Lenin Shipyards, Gdansk, in 1980 that had paralyzed the country, the Polish government gave into the demands of the workers. This of course was before Ronald Reagan was elected. Over the next few years, Poland, in need for “hard” foreign currency was starting to invite Polish-American retirees from the steel industry to come back and live in Poland. With their large union pensions they were able to buy “dachas”, or country houses and live like princes. This reality was not lost on Walesa, who saw his workers starving, as opposed to American steel workers who were “rich” and now “landed gentry.”

    Others soon became aware of this reality and eventually through the lowering of phone rates, and the development of the fax machines, etc, communication between citizens of the Eastern Bloc and the West opened up. Hungary started to liberalize in 1989 and a flow of East German citizens started to circumvent the Berlin Wall as they traveled through Hungary to West Germany. So the proverbial “flood-gate” was opened, and it could not be shut. By 1991 the old Warsaw Pact countries had removed their Communist bosses and Soviet troops finally went home. Without their client states, the Soviet system was finally exposed as the economic “basket case” it was, and they shut down the whole bankrupt operation. All in all, his real credit should be for the following; the useless and expensive 600 ship navy, the invasion of tiny Grenada, SDI, the Strategic Defense Imitative (Star Wars), Iran-Contra scandal, the death of 240+ Marines in Beirut, the stock market collapse of 1987, and the tripling of the National Debt, vetoing sanctions against South Africa, the speech at the SS cemetery in Bitburg, backing military dictatorships in Argentina, Chile, and the Philippines, arming Sadaam Hussein, voodoo economics (George Bush’s phrase), inaction against the AIDS epidemic, the nearly 200 members of his administration that faced indictment and prosecution, his appointment of Antonin Scalia to the Supreme Court, the S & L scandal that stuck the taxpayers with a bill approaching a trillion dollars, his relentless attacks on affirmative action, his deregulation of broadcasting gave rise to today’s monopolistic media industry, and a host of other wonderful accomplishments. Ronald Reagan got the last laugh in the end. He is still fooling the impotent media with his “teflon” image that was carefully crafted by his handlers, apologists and sycophants.

    What’s the real legacy of Ronald Reagan: the man who voted for FDR four times, the Gipper or the star of Bedtime for Bonzo?

    Richard J. Garfunkel
    Host of the Advocates

  • RJGarfunkel

    Something I wrote about my thoughts on a GOP debate two years ago! Funny who is still left standing, who got the nomination and that Sarah Palin is still in the mix! Could this be the end of the GOP and the need for another party to emerge? What struck me was their drooling over the Reagan legacy!

    I did something that I have rarely done in the past; I listened to a group of Republicans debate. There is certainly a vast difference between these men and their philosophy and the Democratic hopefuls. For starters, I was impressed with some of their perspectives on our porous borders. Unfortunately, the President, who is their leader, not mine, has had an “open border” policy for six years, and it has failed miserably. Aside from the immigration issue, one thing for sure that came across to me, any supporters of women’s issues or rights, should better watch out with this group of flat-earth, creationists and flat-taxers.

    These cooking cutter conservatives bent over backwards to leap into the sarcophagus of the “Great Communicator,” who when he testified at the McFarlane-Poindexter trials, stated, under oath, that he couldn’t remember over 400 times. The ghost of Ronald Reagan has now completely replaced the fetid image of the GOP as the party of “McKinley and Hoover,” who brought us imperialism and depression. Against this field, even old “Tricky Dickie” seemed like a colossus.

    Meanwhile how about a library with “Air Force One” hanging from the ceiling? I was sort of hoping that it would fall on the whole crowd! But seriously, these guys are frightening. They want to suspend government, turn the clock back on rights, eliminate inheritance taxes, fight until the last drop of some one else’s blood, and bomb Iran. I was also incredibly amazed that some of this “gang of ten” did not believe in “evolution.” Maybe they should see “Inherit the Wind.” I was also impressed with the utter idiocy of the “out-of-step” candidates Brownback, Huckabee and Tancredo. Those three could easily audition for a revival of the “Three Stooges Morph into the Three Blind Mice.” Therefore, since they are out of the equation, as much as Congressman Paul, who is a total non-entity, nothing more should be said about them. Former Governors Thompson and Gilmore came across as a bit more earnest, as they compared veto records on taxes. Of the two, I leaned to Gilmore as a bit more stable and sensible, if that were possible. Congressman Duncan Hunter, who seems like a pleasant sort, was lost in the back some place and though not as dense as the “Three Stooges,” he is also forgettable.

    Therefore we, the public, were left with the big three: Giuliani, McCain and Romney. This trio has flip-flopped on many social issues, and their stances on foreign policy, vis-à-vis Iraq, has been confusing to say the least. McCain, the biggest critic of the Bush administration’s incompetence, seems to be the biggest and most vocal supporter of the so-called “surge.” McCain to me looked old, and old hat. He has the most schizophrenic record of the “gang of ten.” He is has the most consistent rightwing voting record, but seems to be the most unreliable Republican in Congress. Paradoxically, he has been a loose cannon, can work with the Democrats, and is the least progressive. Rudy Giuliani is, in reality, an opportunist and a hypocrite. He spent eight years in New York City as Mayor, and through most of those years he was well liked and respected by many. He was decently accommodating to the uniqueness of liberal New York, and therefore came across as quite pragmatic. In the last few years before 9/11, he got bogged down with the Brooklyn Museum and other silly issues, became quite testy with the press, the public and protesters, and had squandered most of his good will and political currency. Certainly, with regards to race and race relations, he failed. That flaw doesn’t seem to affect his standing with the average “yahoo” in the “Red States.” Rudy will get more heat in the coming days from his previous thoughts and actions regarding, abortion, the religious right, government’s role, his connections with Bernard Kerik and corruption, and his own three marriages, his estranged son, and his obvious inconsistent morality. Just ask Donna Hanover!

    We are left with, it seems, the inevitable candidate, the former Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney. Many may have forgotten his father, George, who was once the head of the now defunct American Motors and a three-time governor of Michigan. George, who was born in Mexico and was descended from polygamous Mormon grandparents who fled America, also wanted to run for President. Upon his return from a “fact-finding” trip to Vietnam in 1967, he claimed that he was the victim of “the greatest brainwashing that anybody can get.” Later on he opposed the war. But the “brainwashing” issue stuck, and he faded from consideration. His son, the super-rich, Mitt Romney looks downright Reaganesque with his full head of combed back, Brylcreme-coated hair. He came across well poised, prepared and presidential. He was able to skirt the issues of his philosophical inconsistencies, and his ability to be an affective manager came across. So for my money he’s on the move! One thing for sure, you won’t hear the term “brainwashed” from his mouth.

    But in retrospect what really happened? Romeny shot himself in the foot so often that he had no toes, and John McCain, too old, too sick and too stupid inherited the nod. His candidacy was one of the worst in history, his second choice was the worst in history, and he has proven to be the worst nominee of a major party since Harding. Just google his profile in “Rolling Stone” and read about his social life, education, and his treatment and laguage directed to his beer baron heiress wife. Of course I am sure she knows how many houses and cars they both own. Or maybe she owns! Oh, by the way I voted for Hillary in the primary and think Obama is doing a grand job. Can you imagine McCain relating to the youth of America, or the rest of the multi-cultural world?

    Richard J. Garfunkel
    Host of The Advocates

  • kritt11

    First, I voted for Jimmy Carter and was never a fan of Ronald Reagan. I thought Reaganomics was just a scam to allow the rich to keep their wealth without the necessity of using tax shelters. (actually I still think this) Trickle down economics never seemed to actually spread any wealth to the lower 90% of American workers.

    At the time he was in office, I blamed Reagan for supporting coups and right wing death squads in Latin and South America. And Iran-Contra was a shameful boondoggle.

    On the plus side, he did know when to negotiate with our enemies, when to fight and when to pull back. He was smart to push Gorbachev and smart to pull out of Lebanon— I guess that would be cutting and running today! I do think he was smart enough not to entangle US forces in battles that we couldn’t win. Reagan was a fervent anti-Communist who would not have succeeded in fighting the nebulous battles against Muslim extremism.

    He was known as the “Great Communicator” and had enough charm that even his enemies enjoyed his personality. But that was before partisanship had poisoned the well in Washington.
    The GOP needs to focus on problem-solving for the majority of Americans in today’s world and give up on the search for the next Reagan. By the next election, many voters won’t even remember Reagan– and those who are pale imitations will fail miserably.

    One of Bush 43’s problems is that he tried too hard to be like Reagan and too little to be like his own father. He lacked the communication skills of Reagan — so his cowboy diplomacy was ill-considered and badly received in other parts of the world.

    I would be terrified of a president who was under pressure from his party to imitate Reagan– instead of using his own judgment and problem-solving skills.

  • RJGarfunkle, thanks for all that perspective, and you too Kritt. Good discussion. Isn’t it curious how different people’s views can be of someone who has left mountains of historical evidence, yet still enjoys a sparkling revisionist history as our greatest GOP President.

  • RJGarfunkel

    Reagan’s legacy, for better or worse, will have to stand the test of history. Many people loved McKinley and Harding in their time, and because of their deaths in office they were lionized. In the same sense JFK, being struck down at a young age, was mourned almost universally. In a sense, every one emoted regarding the death of JFK. They saw in his death, the loss of innocence and youth. But, JFK’s legacy of Camelot and the new Frontier, had a greater half-life then Harding’s or McKinley’s, and for obvious reasons. Reagan was a genial guy, whose familiar visage was pleasing to many. No doubt, the fact that he survived an assassin’s bullets endeared him to many. He was seen as a survivor, and most thought he had a decent self-effacing sense of humor. But, all in all, the GOP has needed heroes.

    All in all the GOP’s has been desperate for heroes. McKinley was seen by history as a white man’s burden imperialist who was all for business at the expense of the working man. Teddy Roosevelt was too progressive and abandoned the GOP as he scuttled the 2nd term aspirations of the ineffectual William Howard Taft. Harding, Coolidge and Hoover were seen as failures, which they were. Eisenhower, though a WWII icon, failed to move us forward. Three recessions, failure on the farms, diplomatic mistakes and a crumbling infrastructure, doomed Eisenhower to mediocrity. Nixon was impeached and though sharp, more moderate then any of his GOP predecessors was done in by his paranoia and lack of core values. Just listen to the guy’s own words on tape! So we are left with the two Bushes, the first one, a Peter-Principle fool, who even squandered the popularity and success of a war, and the second an utter disaster and maybe our worst president. So the GOP is left with the Great Communicator! For my money he was an uniformed dolt, who was manipulated by his handlers, and finally was set straight by his concerned, loving, and mixed-up politically-speaking wife, who saw how his staff had abused him!

    Richard J. Garfunkel
    Host of the Advocates