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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Saturday, June 05, 2004

 

President Reagan dies at age 93 http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A18329-2004Jun5?language=printer

posted by Aziz P. at Saturday, June 05, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
Rest in peace. He deserves kudos for his role in bringing about the fall of Communism and for being a leader that actually did unite our nation rather than the division that GOP candidates have sown since. His foreign and fiscal policies would be welcome by liberals today, in comparison to the extremism of the present Administration. But if his greatest legacy is that his example furthers the cause of research into Alzheimer's disease, with stem-cell technology, against the policy of the present Administration and the right-wing zealots who have dominated the GOP, then that will be a far greater acclaim than any other judgement history may provide.

UPDATE: If you read one speech by Reagan, make it two. The speech after the Challenger, and the speech where he dared Gorbachev to "tear down this wall."

beware the GOP attempts at revisionist history. Much of Reagan's success as President owed to some of his decidely non-conservative policies:

Reagan is, to be sure, one of the most conservative presidents in U.S. history and will certainly be remembered as such. His record on the environment, defense, and economic policy is very much in line with its portrayal. But he entered office as an ideologue who promised a conservative revolution, vowing to slash the size of government, radically scale back entitlements, and deploy the powers of the presidency in pursuit of socially and culturally conservative goals. That he essentially failed in this mission hasn't stopped partisan biographers from pretending otherwise. (Noonan writes of his 1980 campaign pledges: "Done, done, done, done, done, done, and done. Every bit of it.")

A sober review of Reagan's presidency doesn't yield the seamlessly conservative record being peddled today. Federal government expanded on his watch. The conservative desire to outlaw abortion was never seriously pursued. Reagan broke with the hardliners in his administration and compromised with the Soviets on arms control. His assault on entitlements never materialized; instead he saved Social Security in 1983. And he repeatedly ignored the fundamental conservative dogma that taxes should never be raised.
All of this has been airbrushed from the new literature of Reagan.


UPDATE: an excellent point which is also in danger of being papered over by modern GOP revisionists as an inconvenient fact, even though it is actually critical and profound:

So tonight, as we live in a world where the danger of nuclear war is much lower than it was in 1985, when Reagan and Gorbachev first met, let us praise Reagan for ignoring the advice of those who said bargaining with Gorbachev would endanger the safety of the free world, especially then-Defense Department official Richard Perle and then-Wyoming Congressman Dick Cheney.


UPDATE: Kerry's statement on the death of Ronald Reagan. It's a noble gesture of respect which all Democrats would be wise to heed.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.