Sunday, February 6, 2011
Across the country the 100th anniversary of Reagan's birth is being marked today. He has become larger than life and an icon of the conservative movement. Some even want to add him to Mount Rushmore. The facts, however, belie this tale of hero worship. While he was in office I remember thinking that Reagan was the worst president the nation had ever seen. Of course, I couldn't conceive of George W. Bush then, and in comparison Reagan seems only mildly bad, but from his backing of murderous militias in Latin America to his foolish "trickle-down" ideas in economics to his refusal to fight AIDS to Iran-Contra and more, Reagan was a disaster for America. Now we read in his son's memoir that the old man had likely begun to suffer from Alzheimer's while still in office. What was the difference from how he behaved before that?
Reagan's legacy may have done the most damage of all: a revived conservative movement. The country suffered through eight years of Bush Jr. and we are still trying to clean up that mess. Reagan's best acting job was as president, and today he has more people fooled than ever.