Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ronald Reagan: The Man and the Myth

Here is a new book recommendation: "Tear Down This Myth: How the Reagan Legacy Has Distorted Our Politics and Haunts Our Future," by Will Bunch. Just a couple of passages now:
"A more factual synopsis of the Reagan presidency might read like this: That Reagan was a transformative figure in American history, but his real revolution was one of public-relations-meets-politics and not one of policy. He combined his small-town heartland upbringing with a skill for storytelling that was honed on the back lots of Hollywood into a personal narrative that resonated with a majority of voters, but only after it tapped into something darker, which was white middle-class resentment of 1960s unrest....His 1981 tax cut was followed quickly by tax hikes that you rarely hear about, and Reagan's real lasting achievement on that front was slashing marginal rates for the wealthy - even as rising payroll taxes socked the working class. His promise to shrink government was uttered so often that many acolytes believe it really happened, but in fact Reagan expanded the federal payroll, added a new cabinet post, and created a huge debt that ultimately did in his handpicked successor, George H.W.Bush. What he did shrink was government regulation and oversight, which critics have linked to a series of unfortunate events from the savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s to the subprime mortgage crisis of the late 200s....[p. 17]"
"'The Cult of Personality is what happens when a political ideology becomes exhausted, when they have nothing to sell the voters and they recourse to a cult of personality for somebody's who's dead,' said Rick Perlstein, the author of Nixonland.'That's a canary in a coal mine for the movement. It's what the Democrats did in the 70s and 80s with John F. Kennedy, when every year a younger and more charismatic candidate was going to lead the Democrats out of the wilderness.'" [p.19]

Interesting stuff. More to follow, I think.

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