What would Reagan do? (& why Palin is cute)

Source: Wikipedia
Last Sunday Ronald Reagan would have turned pretty old. 100 years old, to be precise. More than two decades have gone by since he left office, but still remains a topic of excited and sometimes animated political banter. With recession after-shocks and crisis in the middle east, it's useful to look at the Regan years. But before that- our beloved Sarah Palin did it again :) This time she rubbed some of her own the wrong way. Consider this gem from the celebrated (for better or for worse) face of the Tea Party in November last year:

"Like, um, wasn’t Ronald Reagan an actor, wasn’t he in Bedtime for Bonzo—bozo, something…"

"Bedtime for Bozo"? Really?? Anyway, she is cute and we forgive her (as long as she stays away from anything cognitive). 

So what is Reagan being remembered for, on his birthday? Lots of things, but certainly for his  famous "Tear Down This Wall" speech. Diplomats were on the edge of their seats, hoping he would change his mind. He didn't and two years later the unthinkable happened - he proved wrong Honecker's prediction of "the wall would stand for a hundred more years". The wall came down and the world lived some more (Cold War, Iron Curtain... all that). It might come as a surprise, but the German Left prefers to praise Kennedy more than Reagan

He came a long way from his B-film and 10$-per-game radio career. Like Arnie he was a California Governor. President Obama was pretty frank in his praise, clearly setting him higher than Clinton and Nixon. Reagan liked to be liked. He had no choice but to be charming. How else can one get away with calling the Soviets an "Evil Empire" and then successfully start negotiating one of the most complex arms control treaty in history? No wonder Obama is reading his biography during this Egypt crisis. "What would Reagan do?" (By the way, as I write this post, Egypt has decided to move on).

So why do people bump heads over his report card? The man was unconventional and sometimes left-leaning in his definition of conservatism. That, at times, doesn't blend well with the traditional Republican code of ethics, but he was very clear right from his inaugural speech:

"Government is not the solution of our problem, government is the problem

Plain-talking works in a lot of ways and sometimes it comes back to bite you. One can see why he didn't have a room full of acting awards (and bagged a Razzie in '81). But he was a sport. And that's why people liked him, despite his flaws.

 "Our right hand doesn't know what our far right hand is doing

He was like Mike Tyson in matters of foreign policy. He openly and stunningly denounced economic sanctions on South Africa's apartheid government as "a historic act of folly". Like Obama, he landed right in the middle of what has come to be known as the "Reagan recession" and dealt with one of the highest unemployment rates in US history. He was not the most popular President in his first year, with a meager 35% approval ratings. He did turn that around.  

Source: Time.com
He was the only divorced, and by far the oldest American President to take office. I certainly remember him as a powerful, unconventional man who spoke his mind, sometimes too often. One could say "let the market decide" or "government should stay out of the way" are, in a way, Reagan's legacies which became popular during the Clinton era. We could argue both ways whether he won the cold war without firing a shot. But despite a lot of diplomatic, financial and military slips, I feel safer with fewer nuclear warheads