Talk:Ronald Reagan

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This United States politics related article has been awarded BRONZE status for quality. It's getting there, but could be better with improvement. See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.


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A question[edit]

If he's the least stingy of presidents after Dubya when it comes to government spending, is he really a fiscal conservative, or just a false idol, like his right-hand man and successor Papa "No new taxes" Dubya? (talk)

While Reagan is undoubtedly massively overrated and there are many legitimate reasons to hate him, this site is very unfair to him[edit]

First off: re the "Great Obfuscator" bit-yes, Reagan just read off teleprompters in his speeches. So did Eisenhower, so did Kennedy, so did Lyndon Johnson, Ford, Carter, both Bushes, Clinton, and Obama. The only President who could have used a teleprompter but didn't was Nixon. That's not because elections are "symbolic activities", it's because the President has to memorize a lot of long speeches in a limited amount of time, and sometimes they need a little help.

Secondly, re the "Angel of Death": Reagan's inaction regarding AIDS was, in my opinion, by far the most shameful part of his legacy and I will make no attempt to defend it. However, I would point out regarding his support for Pinochet, Saddam, apartheid, etc. that every Cold War president supported anti-Communist tyrants. I'm unwilling to say I agree with Reagan's invasion of Grenada, but it was certainly no worse than the actions of Eisenhower in Iran and Guatemala, Kennedy in Cuba, Johnson in Vietam, Nixon in Cambodia, or Bush I in Panama. Less than 100 people died and civilian casualties numbered 24 in total; as far as US military interventions go, that's nothing. Furthermore, Reagan at least had the decency to allow a democratic government to form once he had deposed the old one instead of propping up a puppet dictator like, say, Eisenhower might have done.

As for the Cold War, while there's no doubt that the right tends to give him too much credit, I do think he was important, and nearly all historians agree that at least in his second term he handled the situation incredibly well. Crediting him with merely being "in the right place at the right time" seems rather bizarre given that the events he is credited for happened while Bush I was in office. Yes, the Soviet economy was down the drain, but it had been for decades, and even if it was just failing, so what? North Korea has shown us a good example of how a collapsed economy does not mean a collapsed regime to a leader who will do anything to remain in power. It's important to understand the historical context in which Reagan came into power. Nobody really thought at the time that the Soviet Union was on the verge of collapse. The USSR was gaining effective control of territories at a rate of more than one country per year while never losing an inch to the West. During Reagan's term, this slowed to negative one country per decade. The nation when Reagan took power was divided between "doves" who supported a policy of détente and "hawks" who wanted to build up military spending to deter Soviet aggression, but both sides were in agreement that the USSR was here to stay, whether as potential ally or unbeatable adversary. Ronald Reagan criticized Communism and socialism harshly, not just because he felt they were immoral, but because they were impractical. Reagan was one of the few who actually believed that the USSR could be defeated, and to him the question was not of whether the USSR would collapse, but when. This was reflected in the changes in foreign policy he saw: Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson had focused merely on containing Soviet influence, while Nixon, Ford, and (up until the invasion of Afghanistan) Carter sought to build friendlier relations. Reagan implemented a new strategy: he set out not just to resist Communism in areas it hadn't reached, but to support anti-Communist movements in places that had already been taken over by Soviet influence; this was the motivation behind invading Grenada and illegally supporting rebel movements in Communist countries, and whatever one thinks of the methods, it did work. The article makes the claim, common in America at the time, that Reagan's arms race and rhetoric nearly led to disaster (the implication, I assume, being that they nearly caused a nuclear war), but I would debate this. Quotes from USSR officials like Yuri Andropov and Andrei Gromyko after Reagan ramped up defence spending show that Reagan was fully correct in his assessment that another arms race would ruin the Soviet Union and win the Cold War for America, and the Soviets knew it.

Those who seek to deny Reagan any credit often seek to credit Gorbachev as the real hero. Let me ignore for the moment that Gorbachev was actually seeking to preserve Communism and the USSR. The article discounts this by saying Gorbachev's attainment of power put Reagan in the right place at the right time, but then refutes itself in the next sentence. Most of Reagan's administration did not see Gorbachev as a genuine reformer and staunchly opposed any negotiations with the Soviets. William F. Buckley compared Reagan's decision to forging an alliance with Hitler. Reagan, despite his not-entirely-undeserved reputation as a bumbling idiot, was able to recognize that Gorbachev really was different in a way that many on the right didn't. At the same time, he maintained the belief that Gorbachev's ultimate aim of creating a functioning democratic socialist state was impossible, something many on the left held Gorbachev as a disproof of. Gorbachev, and the rest of America, soon found out that Reagan was right on both counts. That said, Reagan did not completely abandon his earlier foreign policy. He made it clear to Gorbachev that the latter had two options: resume the arms race they both know he would lose, or give up the struggle for global hegemony and establish peace with the West. The strategy worked, and in 1987 Gorbachev agreed to the INF Treaty. This was a historic moment-for the first time, the US and USSR had agreed to ban a specific type of nuclear weapons. Those who remained mistrustful insisted Gorbachev was sacrificing a pawn, but Reagan understood that he was really giving up his bishops and queen. At the same time, Reagan never forgot that his goal was to defeat the USSR. He encouraged Gorbachev's reforms against the advice of the hawks, but refused to reward Gorbachev with economic concessions as the doves wanted for fear of restoring the health of the "sick Soviet bear".

It is true that there were many factors involved in the collapse of the Soviet Union. It is true that, without someone like Gorbachev coming to power, Reagan may not have been able to peacefully resolve the Cold War. But I remember once my history teacher told me, while we were reading Winston Churchill's warnings about Adolf Hitler, "Boy, I would love to be that right about something", and I get a similar feeling reading Reagan's comments on the USSR. It is also true that a President who did not have the understanding of the situation Reagan had, and that most of the nation did not, wouldn't have been able to take advantage of being in the right place at the right time the way Reagan did. [EDIT: And I think this is shown very well by the fact that, when they talk about what ended the Cold War, both Reagan and Gorbachev emphasize primarily the actions of the other.]

Also-why the heck is he under "Crimes against humanity"? I don't see how even the worst of his acts fit the definition of the term.

I am not in the business of writing hagiographies. I am disgusted with the whitewashing of Reagan's faults that the right and even some on the centre-left, like Hillary Clinton, have perpetrated. I think Reagan did some horrible things and I hate the philosophy that he popularized. I believe he was one of the top Presidents and that his overall influence was positive, but I can understand how one could disagree. But this site holds him to a blatant double-standard because of his association with the current Republican Party.— Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

Oh yeah, and also, the claim that Reagan vilified organized labour is pure partisan bullshit. Reagan spoke repeatedly as President of how unions and collective bargaining were an essential part of democracy and had greatly improved the country. He gets far too much blame for what happened with PATCO: whether or not one thinks that public sector workers should be allowed to strike, KENNEDY was the one who banned it, Reagan was only enforcing pre-existing laws. The link used to prove Reagan (paraphrased) "started a downward spiral that tore apart wages" shows wages beginning to stagnate in the 1970s or 2000s depending on what metric you use. There isn't a single word in the article about Reagan.— Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

Right, so this has been up for a few weeks now and is at over +7000 and nobody has offered a counterargument, I think it may be time to start working on a rewrite.— Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

Ok...well, no one's stopping you. Go right ahead.Field Dreamer (talk) 12:53, 19 March 2022 (UTC)


So one section mentions that Reagan's defense spending helped the collapse of the USSR, while the very next basically says that he didn't have that much to do with it, and that the majority of the causes of the USSR's collapse were present before Reagan. So, which is it? RoninMacbeth (talk) 04:30, 23 November 2018 (UTC)

Late to the party, but it's definitely the latter. "We spent them into the ground" implies our spending has any control over another nation's. It's bad reasoning. The supporting evidence that the problems predated Reagan is good, but the argument the the right leaning people make about it make no sense on just a moment's thought. ikanreed 🐐Bleat at me 21:14, 25 February 2019 (UTC)

Presidential Pardon[edit]

A man was convicted of murder at the state level and sentenced to death. However, he was given life imprisonment at the federal level for other charges. Since the federal sentence must be served before the state sentence, he was safe from execution. Until Ronald Reagan pardoned him of the federal sentence, allowing (forcing?) him to serve his state sentence.

My searches are not revealing the identity of this man (and obviously no source), so I'm not ready to include it in this article. I could only find the full list of 406 pardons Reagan granted, but it doesn't catalog exactly which crimes were pardoned and thus finding the information I need would be very tedious. If anyone else has heard this story and could help, please let me know. --Vital Forces (talk) 00:06, 4 June 2019 (UTC)

Unfocused article[edit]

This is an uncharacteristically unfocused article. The first few paragraphs awkwardly hot potato between "Reagan was a terrible president" and "Reagan was good, but it's because he was liberal," all in this smug tone that sounds hollow and rushed with no actual confidence in its point of view to back it up. Also, what's with the article taking three separate stances on Reagan's role in the USSR's collapse? It seems to me like the article's editors are wrestling in their heads with the overwhelming consensus that Reagan was a good president, which the introduction just sort of brushes over in a one-liner, with their ideology that requires them to think everything this man did was evil. It's like a libertarian writing an article on the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Also, regarding the section about Reagan's foremost electoral impact being the Republican takeover of "evangelicals," "gun nuts," and "white nationalists--" he won 49 states during reelection. 49. If he moved the country rightward, it's probably because he sold them on his economic policies, not because he was a gun-slinging evangelical white nationalist. Msdalr1 (talk) 17:24, 9 April 2020 (UTC)

Came here to say something similar... the top section basically says he wasn't horrible and that today he would be considered center-left, but there are so many zingers. After reading this site for awhile, it's obvious when the consensus likes or dislikes somebody through the amount of "zingers" included. This article is all over the place. I get the feeling rationalwiki has no goal of being consistent, fair, or even entirely truthful (and that's fine) but... I dunno. I'm not gonna touch the article, just wanted to echo your sentiment. Mercster (talk) 15:53, 19 July 2022 (UTC)

“President Gas”—Psychedelic Furs[edit]

Has anyone here heard this song? It’s mainly about Ronnie, but it’s also a fitting theme for a few other American presidents. It’s a also just a great song to listen to; a sonorous snarky song. LeucippusSapere aude 01:48, 24 October 2021 (UTC)