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President Reagan – A spiritual leader passes

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President Ronald Reagan has finally passed away after years of suffering the indignities of Alzheimer’s.

At the time, I didn’t appreciate him so much. As a perhaps somewhat strident young libertarian, I objected to him largely for exactly the opposite reasons as his more numerous and vocal liberal opponents. He did NOT in fact slash or really even trim the federal budget generally or welfare programs. (Bill Clinton, of all people, would get more credit for that one.) I enjoyed the pure blind fury that his mere existence gave many of his opponents, but I never voted for him.

You have to give him some credit for his early tax cut, though. “Tax cut” might be somewhat the wrong phrase, in that it absolutely generated MORE tax money by stimulating economic growth. It would be more apt to describe it as a modest “tax reform” largely by lowering the ridiculously high upper tax brackets. What moron thought that a 90% tax bracket was either moral or practical?

In the years since his retirement, though, his greatest value has shown through- something surpassing particular legislative achievements and shortfalls.

I’ve come to see him as something of a secular spiritual leader. He wasn’t going on about God all the time, or such foolishness- Jimmy Carter would have come closer to that. There was a bigger sense of vision, though. He really MEANT that “morning in America” stuff.

Reagan felt this optimism in his soul, and offered it to us all. It didn’t entirely make up for all the budget deficits and such what, but then maybe it did. The system pretty strongly tends to roll along no matter what a couple of monkeys at the top think they’re going to reform. He couldn’t do everything.

He did, however, keep a steady hand on the wheel during the demise of the Soviet Union. Many critics absolutely screamed blue bloody murder at the time over his assured insistence that we were the good guys, and the Soviet government were the bad guys. But a belief in our own goodness is necessary to our ability to think and act rightly: the Soviet Union was absolutely an “evil empire.”

Between the evil moral relativists and the weaklings fearful of the wounded Russian bear lashing out, there was a great deal of pressure for appeasement, capitulation and even financial support from America for the dying empire. Reagan had the good judgment mostly simply not to prop the evil bastards up.

He was not belligerent, nor did he in fact make any move to promote some military conflict with the Soviets, as he was so constantly and ridiculously accused of. He simply made it clear that we were standing our ground, perfectly willing and able to spend the money and defend ourselves.

Reagan shouldn’t get credit for ending the Soviet empire. That’s too much. The Soviet Union collapsed under it’s own weight eventually because communism doesn’t work. Praise be, though, that as that time came we had a president with the good sense not to cower or prop them up for another ten years with OUR wealth.

From the top, Reagan masterfully projected his vision that America is good and strong and moral- the shining city on the hill. Introspection and self-doubt are important things- in moderation- but you can’t live on that stuff.

Nor should we have to. America IS the shining city on the hill.

Reagan’s best and worst moments

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  • Glenn Contrarian

    Braaaains! Braaaaaaaaaaaaainsss!

  • Igor

    Holy zombie thread, Batman!

  • Well, if grandpa was a Klansman, or Strom Thurmond, I’d just have to understand that he’d really earned some hostility, and accept that.

    On the other hand, if grandpa was a good guy who tried to be nice to everybody as much as possible-like Reagan, then I’d naturally be more expecting of basic respect.

  • Good analogy! The twisted grandpa theory…

  • Okay, Doug. I might have been piling on you somewhat for the sins of all the haters that have been out since he passed.

    I’m personally ambiguous about his tenure in office, and I particularly disliked his entirely wrongheaded war on drugs, and the constitutional abuses generated thereby.

    Nonetheless, he was obviously a very nice man trying to do the right thing. Politics aside, it’s really ugly to see people talking about him like he was Hitler or Pol Pot.

    It’s like someone hating on my ol’ grandpa who never had a harm word to say about anyone.

  • Sorry Al, the question of drug use was meant to be a positive. I always figured that his ‘Boy Scout’ image came about because he saw the downfalls of drug use during his Hollywood days, therefore taking a hardcore stance against it. That was my theory 20 years ago.

    In all reality, the guy was great for international relations, but domestic issues sucked. His acting skills payed off. Like attorneys who take acting classes.

    The value of his tenure will take time, much like Richard Nixon. I’m still baffled about all the hype though. A Hollywood thing I guess.

    Sorry about that Chief (in a Maxwell Smart voice) but the drug reference was meant to be a positive…


  • Douglas, why are you even scratching for such mean crap? Reagan had absolutely no reputation whatsoever for chemical abuse. Not that it necessarily makes him all morally superior, but I doubt he ever so much as puffed a joint. He had no reputation for drinking. Did he ever even smoke a cigarette?

    The guy really was pretty much of a Boy Scout. You may disagree with whatever you think his policies were, but he was a clean living guy who tried to do right.

    Also, by any objective measure, helping to drive the collapse of the Soviet Union did much more to advance human liberty and human rights than anything coming from the bleeding heart of Jimmy Carter.

  • One thing I have wondered about Reagan from the beginning of his life as a politician: since his start was in Hollywood, How many drugs has he done? He could have Bush beat in that department…


  • Oh man. How is Reagan getting all this hype upon his death. In punk rock days here in the northwest neck of the woods one would find spray painted walls that say “Raygun = Nazism”. Then my old man (a Republican liberal) defended Reagan, thinking he was a great President.

    Sure he finished icing the cake of the cold war. Very crafty, he went and bankrupt Russia. They didn’t see that one coming. Domesticly, the guy was horrible. He really shifted the tax burden of this country to the middle class. Who really got tax cuts?… Civil, human right? Trickle down? Oh god…

    I can’t wait till the scandle is exposed. U.S. agents and PR creating false hype to glorify RR upon his death.


  • Simple, I like Hate, and hate everything else.

    Since, in Canada, we have a parliamentary system, I do not vote for the leader of any party. I vote for the candidates in my riding. In this case, I’m voting for the NDP candidate since the Gliberal candidate is a do-nothing former city councillor who stole the nomination from the long time incumbent who didn’t back Martin in his leadership campaign.

    I don’t want ideologues, I don’t want some self-serving cult of personality or power-mad greed-heads. I want competant administration and transparent good governance which best provides the services which makes a society worth living in.

    In short, solid Canadian values, peace, order and good government.

  • Jimmy-boy:

    Ok, you hated Mulroney. Do you hate Martin too? How about Cretin [or whatever his name was…]?

    Who DON’T you hate?

  • A recent broadcast I heard about, apparently from Fox News claims one of the landmarks Reagan initiated was to make the USA #1 in venereal disease. In particular syphilis, which apparently is a requirement to hold office in the Cabinet.

    Reagan had a memo which required infection with VD as a sign of good faith in his agenda, since there’s nothing like the gift which keeps on giving.

    Nancy will be holding a memorial “Clap for Ronnie” at the Hollywood Bowl later in the summer.

  • Brian Mulroney was the last decent political leader you Canucks had (at least until the current fellow [Paul Martin is it? It’s not really important…] took office).

    RJ, since you are obviously an ignorant goof-ball who doesn’t know anything about our government, I’ll just mark this down as a comment from a raving fascist pedophile or necrophile, or whatever it is that you zombies are.

    Y’know, casually insulting and abusing people doesn’t make you attractive or interesting. Instead, they just hate you more as an abusive thug.

    Well, if that is how the USA wants to be percieved by the rest of the world, so be it. Uniform Strident Arseholes — USA #1

  • flamable piss sounds like a great name for a band.

    jack e. jett

  • They pee flammable piss in Newfoundland? Wow, those are some hard drinkers.

    Actually, that’s not much of an exaggeration. I once spent three weeks in St. Johns and almost died of the drink. At that time, they didn’t have opening and closing hours, only how many consecutive hours you could stay open, so at any given time there was a bar open.

    I was at one place where a fight broke out, the pugilists got thrown out (and the place had one of those speakeasy sliding little metal traps in the door), a while later the bouncer announced, “I don’t want to alarm nobody, but buddy has come back with a shotgun”. We exited stage-left out the back door down the alley.

    If you’ve ever tasted Screech, you’d know the Newfanese piss fire.

  • Brian Mulroney was the last decent political leader you Canucks had (at least until the current fellow [Paul Martin is it? It’s not really important…] took office).

    I say Alberta should secede and join the US. Quebec should secede and join France. Nunavut should secede and become an independent country. And what’s left of Canada can continue to send their sick to the US, where they’ll actually receive some medical treatment in less than 180 days.

    Oh, and fuck the Calgary Flames. Another Florida team (Tampa Bay0 wins a championship in a major sport.

    My money is on the Miami Heat next season…

  • JR

    They pee flammable piss in Newfoundland? Wow, those are some hard drinkers.

  • Y’know most places in Canada, if you said this:

    You’d get the everloving shit kicked out of you, then they would take what is left and use it as a puck for a game of arse-hole shinny.

    Except in Newfoundland, where they’d just piss on you, set you on fire and throw you in the bay. That’s how much we hate that arsehole.

  • RJ, if you don’t hate Canadians, you aren’t trying hard enough, but I know that self-love/abuse habit is really hard to break. Just give us a chance and we’ll kick you right in the prunes, all the while saying, sorry.

    Spend less time shaking your fist at the ex-girlfriend, and more time on the internet reading about strange lands outside the UnNatural Preserve which is the US of A.

    Y’know, your country might be nice if your Homeland Security storm troops concentrated on arseholes, forcing them to march cross country on what will probably be called the Honkey-tonk Trail of Tears to spend their days looking after nuclear waste in Nevada. Where they will serve as an eternal warning: Look out, only arseholes here. Go away, we only want our kind.

  • “Fuck Ronald Reagan. He was the figurehead who taught me to hate the US government as a bunch of power-mad psychotics.”

    Jim, you seem to hate everything about the US, not just its gov’t.

    I’m a better person than you. I don’t hate all Canadians.


  • “[W]ith his casual nuclear brinkmanship, he tried to kill me. I spent almost all of the 80s with the definite dread that he would start a nuclear war any time now.”

    That’s because you’re unhinged.

  • JC is a carpenter, he builds houses for people. Which is more than you can say for that fake, murderous supporter of terror in Iraq, Iran, Indonesia, Philippines, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Cambodia, Malaysia, Columbia, Peru, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, and so on.

    Plus, with his casual nuclear brinkmanship, he tried to kill me. I spent almost all of the 80s with the definite dread that he would start a nuclear war any time now.

    I watched “Miracle Mile” last week, and was reminded how omnipresent the reality that a contrail was a nuclear missile going overhead.

    Fuck Ronald Reagan. He was the figurehead who taught me to hate the US government as a bunch of power-mad psychotics.

  • I see no comment rebuild delay — try refresh.

  • Eric Olsen

    this comment rebuild delay is driving me insane

  • Eric Olsen

    It all seems weirdly disconnected from reality since he has really be “gone” for some time, the ceasing of biological function seems less important than when he became nonfunctional.

  • John-z

    Question: Where do all of you left extremist rate the lame ass Jimmy Carter?

    He had to have had the smallest balls of any President. President is actually a strong term for the peanut man.

  • this entire reagan funeral is turning out to be like something from
    EVITA. i am expecting nancy to appear on a balcony soon and workers lining the street shouting…..ray gun
    ray gun…
    as i understand it they will bury him in late january.


  • bhw

    It doesn’t make him a great president. It makes him historically noteworthy or “important.” Great, however, is not a term that applies simply because you think he led some sort of “revolution.”

  • Ironically, one of the liberals’ favorite Presidents (JFK) was the one who slashed tax rates from an absolutely obscense percentage to a more reasonable one.

    Reagan’s economic policies clearly helped the US economy. Yes, they also helped create a massive budget deficit. Nothing is 100% all-good…

    Anyway, Reagan was truly a revolutionary. A good chunk of the population disagreed with the direction the “Reagan Revolution” took, but he DID manage to change the entire political calculus of Washington DC.

    That alone makes his a “Great” President. Whether you think he was a “Good” President is fully subjective…

  • Hmmmm … interesting research.

    The point is that those tax rates certainly weren’t in effect when Reagan took office. I would venture to say that those rates probably applied to the very, very wealthiest 1% of corporations and the very few families who were extremely wealthy in that era. I’m not an accountant or tax lawyer, but I’m certain there are other qualifications as well.

    That is all.

  • Thanks. But, honestly, it only took about 15 seconds on Google…

    (Anything requiring deeper research, I tend to pass on to others…) πŸ˜‰

  • bhw

    Good job on doing the research, RJ.

  • BHW:

    I was simply pointing out that BAB was wrong in his comment.

    That is all. πŸ˜‰

  • bhw

    Was Saint Ronnie president in 1964?

    And yes, 91 percent is obviously ridiculous.

  • “he died at the age of 92 in bel air.”

    93, actually.

  • BAB:

    “World War II – the bottom income tax rate climbs from 4 to 19 percent between 1940 and 1943. Top income tax rate climbs to 88 percent by 1943. By 1945 it hits 91 percent, where it remains until 1964.”


  • mr. reagan lived a much longer life than many of my friends that passed away from aids in the 80’s. as leader of this country, i think he uttered the word aids once. i know it is my own fu**ed up head that blames him. i know that i will go to hell for not mourning his death. he died at the age of 92 in bel air.

    howver, out of respect for the ray guns, i am saying no to drugs tonight.

    jack e. jett

  • I know Al Barger has avoided all books not wirtten by Ayn Rand. He prides himself on saying so. However, I am going to lobby on the behalf of someone sending a dictionary and thesaurus to the farm in Kentucky. ‘Spiritual’ is the very antithesis of what Ronald Reagan was. He was the master of seeking out the lowest common denominator in any area of national life and exploiting it. Obsession with money and power, and contempt for everything else, was the hallmark of the Reagan administration.

    I expected to see much more bloviation about the despicable old goat at Blogcritics than I do. Perhaps the weekend and the server problems are keeping the dust down. However, I suspect the dittoheads, the one’s who did not go catatonic at the thought ‘Daddy is dead’ anyway, will make up for the sparsity in the coming week.

  • YOU may think Rice Dream sucks… so don’t YOU drink it. I HATE soy so I don’t drink it.

    I’ll manage to do what I want and drink what like without your advice… thanks.

    And Jim is VERY funny sometimes, even if he pisses me off at others.

  • I think the title of this post is quite ironic and revealing. “Spiritual leader?” Where’s that familiar from? We usually hear that as a vaguely pejorative term in reference to some Imam or Muslim cleric.

    I don’t have the time or energy to blog out something obvious about the irony of one absolute worldview pitted against the “threat” of another, but here’s a link to an interesting article:


    If I were a poor writer like some of my friends here, I’d quote this article extensively and “blog” some weak summarization of it under the misleading title “Analysis.” But I don’t think that’s particularly worthwhile. It speaks for itself.

    I don’t know how accurate the reporting is, but some interesting revelations, particularly about Tenet. I’m sure there’s been other good stuff written about the influence of Bush’s religion on policy and White House operations — I heard there was a PBS Frontline special on this that I missed. Anyone who saw that care to give some highlights?

    I think much Bush bashing is trite. I don’t particularly condone the dancing on Reagan’s grave. There’s a lot to criticize politicians for aside from their mortality. Expressions of personal hatred kind of miss the point.

    Rice Dream sucks, Tek. Be a good hippie and drink soy. Your friend is unfunny.

    That is all.

  • LMAO @ Jim

    omg… you made my “hippy, liberal, pinko, commie” rice milk drink dribble out of my nose I laughed so hard after reading that!

    I just had my friend say “Hell is going to brust wide open in a moment because they need to make room for Reagan.”

    Too funny! =)

    And nope, I’m not mourning… well maybe over the fact that it isn’t Dubya instead- but in general, I DON’T GIVE A FUCK.

  • Shark

    Carruthers, yer rather hard on the old boy.


    I think…

    Ronald Ray Gun was a “spiritual leader” only in that he gave birth to the idealogical nightmare that was later responsible for squirting another pus-filled sack of shit from the womb of Satan (and his heir to the puppetdom) — that little Evil Weasel, GW. Bush.

    America will be paying for the sins of those two marionettes for decades.

    But the guy made some GREAT movies.


  • Terrible piece.

    There are so many errors in your vapid thought I don’t even know where to start:

    First, there’s no “A” in BELLIGERENT.

    Secondly, there was never a 90% income tax for anyone in this country. Find me proof of that — cite an actual academic text. Please. I beg you. You’re off by a good 40% at least. I understand your desire to pick a red herring due to your weak logic and argumentation skills, but you don’t have to make up such wild claims to garner agreement. No one could ever be agreeable toward your writing, so don’t try so hard.

    Third, Reagan virtually dismantled HUD and job training programs and various other parts of the social safety net. While it’s true that Clinton’s was the first major legislation addressing the overall structure of welfare programs, there is plenty written about Reagan’s budget priorities toward the urban poor.

    That is all, dummy.

  • Criminy, Jim, give that evil in your soul a rest for just a minute while we mourn our fallen leader. Thanks.

  • kuros

    in true empire fashion
    will the senate
    that Ronald Reagan
    be made

    It was the custom to consecrate popular emperors after their deaths, declaring them a minor god. Vestavia (23 AD) was heard to say as he was about to die, “Oh my, I fear I am about to become a god!”

  • I hope they remember to stuff his mouth with garlic, drive a wooden stake through his heart and cut his head off before burial. It’s what that evil, poison bastard deserves.

    Reagan was the supreme turning point in the corruption of ‘murrican politics, taking it away from the citizens, and turning it over to the corporate state of happy fascism.