It’s about time a few people in the media broke away from the chorus of unthinking praise being heaped on Ronald Reagan. (Anyone with any remaining illusions about the “liberal media” must have missed the NPR segment on Saturday that said Reagan had inspired the economic boom of the ’80s by firing the air traffic controllers.) Not that we should trash the dead, but let’s not completely lose sight of reality.
Clyde Haberman reminded us about Reagan’s anti-city politics, and Paul Krugman reminded us that many of the canards about Reagan are just that (Clinton was both more popular and presided over a larger economic boom) but also notes he at least learned from reality:
President Reagan, confronted with evidence that his tax cuts were fiscally irresponsible, changed course. President Bush, confronted with similar evidence, has pushed for even more tax cuts.
So, Reagan will be missed — he was a more Presidential figure than W. could ever be. His “big picture” approach did seem to be driven by a consistent vision: Just compare “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” with Bush prancing around on an aircraft carrier. And Reagan’s scandals were the real thing — secret deals with terrorists are much more fun than stained dresses. But at least Elliot Abrams is back in government.
Reagan was never a big fan of the press, and by dying on Saturday, he must have made a lot of journalists’ lives miserable. Perhaps that’s why Time and Newsweek both managed to choose the exact same photo of him for their covers this weekend.