IS OBAMA THE NEW REAGAN?

My short answer is…NO. My short answer with qualification is…NO, Obama is better.

I hear the cries now,”UMOC, you got some ‘splaining’ to do!”

Well, let me begin my ‘splainin’.

President Obama has been called a socialist and worse. He has been accused of being willing to deal with the dictatorship in Iran. He has been accused of being soft on terror and his public stance against torture of terror suspects has been claimed to be unrealistic.

If, however, if one looks at the two Presidencies objectively, many of the criticisms hurled at Obama could also, and may also have been made against Reagan.

On Jan. 31, in the Morgantown Dominion Post a letter to the editor made several assertions about the state of the country including that abortions are at an all time high and that government has grown exponentially and deficit spending become the norm.

http://ee.dominionpost.com/Repository/ml.asp?Ref=RFBvc3QvMjAxMS8wMS8zMSNBcjAwODAx&Mode=Gif&Locale=english-skin-custom

No matter what one’s views on abortion are, the fact is the peak for them in the U.S. was in 1990 and they have leveled off to a number several hundred thousand fewer than the peak. In fact I replied to the subject letter with just those facts.

While Reagan is adored by the culture conservatives, the fact is that while Governor of California, and before Roe v Wade, he approved the legalization of abortion in that state. As President he also appointed Sandra Day O’Connor to The Supreme Court where she was a consistent vote in upholding the legality of abortion.

As to Iran, not only did Reagan deal with the tyrannical government of that nation a scant few years after American citizens were held hostage there for 444 days, he did so by providing arms to them for their war against Iraq (and don’t get me started on Iraq) which was against federal law and probably an impeachable offense.

For some strange reason Obama has come under fire for using a teleprompter during some public orations. Yet, Reagan, and all other Presidents in the interim between the two, have used such devices.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-4848259-503544.html

Now February 6 will be the 100th anniversary of Reagan’s birth and celebrations will be widespread. On the occasion of  his 90th birthday, Michael Kinsley produced a two part critique of the Reagan Presidency that shatters many of the widespread views of him held by admirers.

1http://www.slate.com/id/100474/

http://www.slate.com/id/100979/

Here is an excerpt from the first part:

The nutshell case for Reagan’s greatness is: 1) He ended the crisis of stagflation and malaise, restoring our country to prosperity and self-confidence. 2) He cut taxes and reduced the size of government. 3) He rebuilt America’s military strength and won the Cold War. 4) He lent dignity to the office, unlike a more recent ex-president one could name

Likewise in the Washington Post Will Bunch has written a piece debunking the myths surrounding Reagan’s accomplishments.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2011/02/04/ST2011020403674.html?hpid=topnews

Among the facts on the historical record noted by these writers are that Reagan signed a treaty forbidding the use of torture. Also he and others in his administration felt the best course of action against terrorists was to treat them as what they are…criminals. Doing otherwise gives them credibility in the eyes of their followers they do not deserve.

Of course there was   a huge outcry when Obama proposed to do just that with the remaining Guantanamo detainees and he has backed off that position. I, of course, recently took this decision to task. See this:http://wp.me/pS6ry-5P

Those articles also put the lie to the notion that Reagan was all about cutting taxes, the size of government, and government spending and the deficit. All went up during his reign…er…administration

Now along comes the Wasilla Half-Governor Wonder who declared at an observation of Reagan’s anniversary in California that we have gotten away from Reagan’s legacy. To that I say—THANKS.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41435016/ns/politics-more_politics

Full disclosure, as if it were not evident…I did not vote for Ronald Wilson Reagan for President. I did vote for the current occupier of the Oval Office.

I have heard a favorable comparison of the two in one aspect and that is as communicators. Reagan, of course, was deemed The Great Communicator. I always considered that appellation hogwash. I found much of Reagan’s rhetoric to be obfuscatory if not deliberately misleading. He often created anecdotes to support a point out of whole cloth or presented broad characterizations that had barely a scintilla of actual fact attached such as the myth of the woman driving her “welfare cadillac”.

As an aside  in retrospect one can speculate that many of Reagan’s memory gaffes were due to the Alzheimer’s that eventually consumed him. That disease is a scourge which I would wish on no one. I do recall at times having vague questions about Reagan’s mental competency during his later years in office. Absent a confession by an administration insider, I doubt we will ever know if that were the case.

Others have credited Reagan with almost single-handedly winning the Cold War and causing the collapse of the Soviet Union by forcing the Soviets to spend far beyond their means to keep up with the U.S. in the arms race. The truth is far more mundane, and compatible with Reagan’s own view, that the Soviet Union actually collapsed due to its own internal excesses and structural fallibilities.

But to me, and what I am mostly focused on here, is the irony of how President Obama has been attacked by the right, especially the far right and the Tea Party, for policies and actions that Ronald Reagan, the object of their admiration that verges on worship, was actually guilty of to at least the same, if not a greater extent than Obama is.

As it develops that he fits in with their political idol more than would be thought, perhaps in 2012 Barack Obama can be cross-nominated for re-election as President by not only the Democrat Party but also the Tea Party. Now THAT would produce an interesting campaign.

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