Tuesday, December 29, 2015

New book called "The American President" on Ronald Reagan: "No one had ever entered the White House so grossly ill informed."

Courtesy of Salon:

In all fields of public affairs—from diplomacy to the economy—the president stunned Washington policymakers by how little basic information he commanded. His mind, said the well-disposed Peggy Noonan, was “barren terrain.” Speaking of one far-ranging discussion on the MX missile, the Indiana congressman Lee Hamilton, an authority on national defense, reported, “Reagan’s only contribution throughout the entire hour and a half was to interrupt somewhere at midpoint to tell us he’d watched a movie the night before, and he gave us the plot from War Games.” The president “cut ribbons and made speeches. He did these things beautifully,” Congressman Jim Wright of Texas acknowledged. “But he never knew frijoles from pralines about the substantive facts of issues.” Some thought him to be not only ignorant but, in the word of a former CIA director, “stupid.” Clark Clifford called the president an “amiable dunce,” and the usually restrained columnist David Broder wrote, “The task of watering the arid desert between Reagan’s ears is a challenging one for his aides.” 

No Democratic adversary would ever constitute as great a peril to the president’s political future, his advisers concluded, as Reagan did himself. Therefore, they protected him by severely restricting situations where he might blurt out a fantasy. His staff, one study reported, wrapped him “in excelsior,” while “keeping the press at shouting distance or beyond.” In his first year as president, he held only six news conferences—fewest ever in the modern era. Aides also prepared scores of cue cards, so that he would know how to greet visitors and respond to interviewers. His secretary of the treasury and later chief of staff said of the president: “Every moment of every public appearance was scheduled, every word scripted, every place where Reagan was expected to stand was chalked with toe marks.” Those manipulations, he added, seemed customary to Reagan, for “he had been learning his lines, composing his facial expressions, hitting his toe marks for half a century.” Each night, before turning in, he took comfort in a shooting schedule for the next day’s television- focused events that was laid out for him at his bedside, just as it had been in Hollywood. 

His White House staff found it difficult, often impossible, to get him to stir himself to follow even this rudimentary routine. When he was expected to read briefing papers, he lazed on a couch watching old movies. On the day before a summit meeting with world leaders about the future of the economy, he was given a briefing book. The next morning, his chief of staff asked him why he had not even opened it. “Well, Jim,” the president explained, “The Sound of Music was on last night.”

The rest of the Salon article is just as damning as the excerpt up above and of course it simply reinforces what most of us who lived through the Reagan presidency already know to be true.

In fact Reagan was essentially the perfect Republican president. An empty vessel that the conservative puppet masters could use to put forth their message, and implement their policies, in the most amiable way possible.

After all even Ronald Reagan's detractors were often charmed by the man.

And if you think about it the GOP has been looking for a similar standard bearer ever since.

We all know that George W. Bush was at least as ignorant and easily manipulated as Reagan, and I have little doubt that Mitt Romney seemed to them the perfect mannequin to voice the policies that were fed to him by the real power behind the office.

I would think that John McCain would be less likely to play ball, but then they had Sarah Palin waiting in the wings didn't they?

Anybody else just get a cold chill run up their back?

68 comments:

  1. Anonymous12:10 PM

    Years ago, a Reagan worshipping relative told me about how Ronnie respected the presidency so much that he never stepped foot into the oval office wearing less than a suit and tie. I told him that it had nothing to do with "respect". To Reagan it was merely 'wardrobe' and even a 'B' movie actor knew the importance of make up, wardrobe and hitting your marks!

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  2. Anonymous12:23 PM

    Wow, no wonder President Obama has met with such obstruction! A brilliant man, not one to manipulate. How lucky good ole USA has been.

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    1. Anonymous9:09 PM

      Anonymous 12:23, yes, the republicans are used to manipulating even their OWN candidates, but conning, rolling over, and even destroying their opponents. Obama is a first for them; he has succeeded at something that not only has not happened before with this degree of success (making end-runs around Congress all while retaining his voter popularity), but in their eyes it's doubly unfair because, "how DARE the black guy not just roll over and play dead for us???!!!"

      Delete
  3. Anonymous12:27 PM

    My Father knew Reagan. My Dad was recently divorced.This was years before he met my mom and this was when Reagan was the sportscaster known as Dutch Reagan, There was a bar in Des Moines that my Dad said he was in more often than he should be,but Reagan was in there every night drunk . He drank until he passed out and they had a room upstairs where they would carry him to let him sleep it off.My Dad said he was too stupid to have a conversation with. When Reagan was elected President he was appalled.

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  4. Anonymous12:28 PM

    I have always believed that Reagan's dementia began several years sooner than anyone ever admitted. Perhaps I was wrong, and he was just so stupid he seemed to be suffering from confusion that was just normal for him. And of course no discussion of it was ever started by the corporate media, just as they never mentioned the consistently slurred speech of known alcoholic Bush43. If the Republican party is killed by its own hand after its embrace of anti-intellectualism, radical religionists and racists, it will be a good riddance.

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    1. Anonymous12:45 PM

      My elderly parent was just diagnosed with Alzheimers, but it's been obvious to the family that the problems began a decade ago. Throughout Reagan's reign, I was a teenager and even I knew the man wasn't all there.

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    2. Anonymous12:45 PM

      Aided no doubt by his life long love of the bottle....

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    3. Anonymous12:51 PM

      I saw Reagan's son, Ron, Jr., in a video where he expressed his opinion that his father suffered from early signs of Alzheimer's from the time he began his presidency.

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    4. Anonymous1:50 PM

      It can be hard to know if someone's memory is failing if they don't know anything in the first place.

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    5. Anonymous2:14 PM

      Apparently they've discovered that the signs of Alzheimer's in the brain can begin years, even decades, before the typical behaviors start manifesting in an obvious way.

      In Reagan's case, I think it's pretty reprehensible of those who presumably knew him well for a long time, to allow such a state of affairs to continue.

      His confusion (I don't necessarily mean politics, although IMO that too)was plain enough during his second term that even people in the general population were wondering.

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    6. Anonymous4:58 PM

      The republicans want us to forget RR's actual, terrible presidency by creating a mythical RR. It's been very successful, Grover Norquist had a plan to name something after RR in every county in the country.
      People know and believe in the myth, they know VERY LITTLE about his real legacy. Ronald Reagan had one of the most corrupt administrations in history with 138 officials either convicted, indicted or investigated including his Attorney General, Ed Meese III.

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    7. Anonymous9:11 PM

      Anonymous 4:58 said it all. After all, the "boss wasn't looking (or even capable of supervising)", so why not?

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    8. More like he was so stupid they couldn't tell the difference between Alzheimer's and his natural behavior.

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  5. Anonymous12:29 PM

    Reagan was a god to the right and still is. Another false prophet err profit.

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    Replies
    1. "Honey, I forgot to duck."
      Revelation 13:3

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  6. Anonymous12:29 PM

    Yes, when Sarah Palin was “discovered” in Juneau by the floating GOP clown car she was exactly what the clowns were looking for! Dumb, vain, narcissistic, easily managed (yes! even for we Dems in the AK legislature during her joke of an administration!).

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    1. Anonymous1:26 PM

      I disagree with one thing. She was not easily managed. If she had been, she proably would have gotten a lot closer to being vice president. But she was even too stupid to be managed.

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    2. Anonymous7:47 PM

      She was "managed" when Leiberman pushed her away to even touch our President WHCD.

      Delete
  7. Anonymous12:34 PM

    Reagan was the precursor to Palin's, "Can I call you Joe?", wink, wink, folksy talkin' bullshit. Dress it up and prop it up.

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  8. Anonymous12:37 PM

    Which is why the repubs are so behind the likes of Trump, Cruz, and the rest of the chimps on the right.

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  9. Anonymous12:41 PM

    Who exactly are the conservative puppet masters?

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    Replies
    1. Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, Grover Norquist etc.

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    2. Anonymous1:45 PM

      Idk,they are just citizens like you or me, albeit very wealthy. Seems to me there has to be an organized group. Who would that be?

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    3. Anonymous2:25 PM

      Wealth buys politicians and policy.

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    4. SallyinMI7:15 PM

      ALEC is one...the GOP state legislatures pay dues to attend their fancy meetings (often using state money, illegally) and then when they go, they are told what issues to push and handed pre-written bills to ram through their Houses. It got Michigan the emergency managers, cuts to schools, more money to corporations, and no road monies. They are evil.

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    5. Cracklin Charlie9:56 PM

      Puppet masters stay behind the curtain. They are certainly not going to let everyone back there, and tell you they are the puppet masters and make a target of themselves. Especially if there is a big group of them.

      Just because someone is a citizen, wealthy or not, doesn't mean they're not a puppet master.

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    6. Anonymous1:30 PM

      Bingo, Sally! That is why the republicans have done well locally and in the States. We have to be diligent at the local level!!! That's how they hide Charlie. I guarantee if you ask your neighbor who or what ALEC is they won't have a clue.

      Delete
  10. Anonymous12:49 PM

    Hopefully, the internet ensures that we are never again duped

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    1. We, who read the progressive information on the internet, are not the ones who ever were or are duped
      -- it's the low-information Fox News viewers who can vote that continue to be duped because they don't read or watch anything that does not confirm their prejudices. They continues to be told any truth is just a Liberal lie.

      How do we combat or change that mentality? Nobody seems to have an answer. And the mainstream TV networks won't ask tough questions often enough (or at all), or call out the GOP candidates when they lie.

      It is a grid-locked, destructive, governmental partisan standoff and if Hillary wins, Congress (unless by a miracle it is regained) will obstruct her just as they did Obama.

      American governance is in statis -- being a state or condition in which things do not change, move, or progress -- in other words, dead.

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    2. Anonymous2:25 PM

      Completely agree Barbara.

      Sheesh

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    3. Anonymous3:04 PM

      You nailed it, Barbara!

      Delete
    4. Anonymous8:00 PM

      Barbara - You are absolutely correct.

      I've been reading a lot of comments lately from Trump supporters who, when presented with actual racist quotes and the video links for the speeches he made them in, insist that it's just that damn librul media makin' stuff up again. They won't believe it even if they see video of the words coming directly from Trump's creepy mouth.

      On one story I was reading today, there was a commenter who kept asking for proof that Trump was racist. People kept giving him link after link to videos, but he just kept repeating his demand for proof, obviously having no intention of looking at any of the links. It was infuriating!

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    5. Cracklin Charlie9:47 PM

      Barbara, the only point with which I would disagree is that our government has "become" this way. It has always been this way.

      Yes, they will obstruct a future President Clinton. They are a one trick pony...obstruction is all they have. And they will play it to the hilt.

      They are regressives, always ready to stand in the way of progress. They obstructed Lincoln, they obstructed both Roosevelts, Truman, and Johnson.

      They exist at the federal level, the state level, and the local level. They sit and pontificate from stools bellied up to the bar at your neighborhood watering hole.

      My dear old auntie, who bore an uncanny physical resemblance to the Sarah Palin of 2008 (pre-surgery), had a great name for these people. She called them "the a'ginners". They're always a'gin (against) everything.

      They romance their followers with nostalgic tales of some mythical "good ole' days", that never really existed. They sell people stories that the people want desperately to believe, and a lot of them are pretty good salesmen.

      These stories allow the a'ginners to feel more comfortable about turning their hatred onto someone else, instead of themselves.

      There's nothing new about it, really. But it does get tiresome.

      March On, Democrats!

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  11. Anonymous12:58 PM

    Wow...pretty scathing info. Reagan was an actor and nothing more but I am surprised at how he is characterized as somewhat of a simpleton or 'amiable dunce'.

    Sheesh

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    1. Cracklin Charlie9:21 PM

      I wouldn't mind having an "amiable dunce" for a president, if whoever was pulling the dunce's strings would keep their paws out of the United States Treasury!

      Amiable dunces are so hard on the pocketbook.

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  12. Anonymous1:03 PM

    My husband was calling Reagan a senile old goat 30+ years ago. Guess he was right .

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  13. I take one exception to your analysis. If you think John McCain knew anything about policy you are a victim of years of media hype. Mitt Romney might have been a charmless robot, but there's no evidence that he is stupid or lazy. I think he would have read briefing books had he been elected.

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    1. Anonymous2:05 PM

      Plus, perusing his binder full of women.

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    2. Anonymous3:54 PM

      I don't think that McCain was all that bright either. Remember his almost the lowest possible ranking in his class at the Naval Academy and all those planes he single handedly destroyed. And then there's George W. The GOP has been working very hard to destroy this country for decades now. Let's take the whole kit-and-caboodle away from them in November.
      Beaglemom

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    3. Anonymous7:13 PM

      I don't think he would have read anything. Romney des not seem like the inquisitive type. Hillary wants to know everything and everyone. I was so impressed with her Charlie Rose interview..she knows more about Middle East history than ISIS does. The GOP men are basically rich and lazy. They have minions to cater to their needs, read their reports, and tell them what to say and think. Mitt may have all his brain cells working, but he is not nearly as intelligent as Hillary or Bernie. I am looking forward to the GOP getting through this dumb primary crap and naming their candidate. And watching Hillary devour them.

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    4. Anonymous9:16 PM

      Romney inquisitive or intellectual? A Mormon inquisitive? Seriously??? That would be an oxymoron, or in his case, an oxymormon.

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  14. Anonymous1:46 PM

    Different Journalists were telling when Reagan was President they'd go to The White House and they would be warned He won't recognize you. Don't ask him any questions and keep this information quiet and they did. The public had every right to know of his mental incapacity but they were deliberately mislead by the media.
    Right after he left office Barbara Walters interviewed Nancy and Him. BW asked him a question and he started rambling about abortion a totally different subject than the question asked. BW looked perplexed and Nancy piped up that he was so concerned about abortion. Nancy was obviously trying to cover his ass.You could tell during that interview there was something wrong with him.This was immediately after he had left office. Ron Jr said he noticed his fathers'confusion during RR first term.

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  15. Anonymous1:50 PM

    And yet he has is now revered by the right wing. There are some mighty ignorant folks on the right. (Palin's base)

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  16. I was born and raised in California. I remember Reagan very well~he almost ruined my state. Never, ever in a million years did I believe that he would be elected to the presidency.

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    1. Anonymous2:12 PM

      Never in a million years did the GOP think Trump would get this far in the campaign, but what can they do about it? They did nothing about Palin except maybe threaten her with "outing" if she ran for anything.
      Threaten Trump and he'll sue the GOP puppet-masters' pants off. They have as many "bodies buried" as Trump does.

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    2. Cracklin Charlie9:15 PM

      He committed treason to win the presidency.

      Probably why they love him so much. The Republicans ALL cheat...it's the only way they can win. He was the best cheater, because he cheated all the way to the White House.

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    3. Anonymous9:17 PM

      The GOP has been sowing the seeds of stupidity for so long that the memory of man knoweth not to the contrary.

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    4. I am also in California and that was the first election in which I could vote (I think) I made sure that whoever Reagan was running against, that was the guy that got my vote. Reagan wasn't fit to be dog catcher. He was a lousy governor and ruined our state. We knew if he was elected president it would be a disaster. And it was. Just took a lot longer for the damage to become apparent. And the GOP makes sure to deflect the blame away from Saint Ronnie.

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  17. Anonymous1:57 PM

    I was a teen in the 80's and as all I remember about Ronald Reagan was the HBO show "Not Necessarily the News" that constantly made fun of him for being daft and senile.

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  18. Anonymous2:15 PM

    I grew up in California when he was governor and I remember then he was 'off.' And I paid attention when he was president and I knew he was off then also. But he is the Republicans' big hero. And he isn't worth hero status.

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  19. Anonymous2:22 PM

    And yet stupid Sarah, while talking about how much she reveres Reagan, got his alma mater wrong (while speaking at California State University, Stanislaus). Sarah is a special blend of stupidity, ignorance, and dishonesty. Even with the onset of Alzheimers, Reagan was light years ahead when it came to fooling people. Sarah just puts her idiocy out there.

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  20. The republicans sure like their presidents dumb. That's why Jeb! is Perfect!

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    1. Anonymous9:19 PM

      Slipstream 2:29 PM, very good point. He would have been the perfect, blank-minded, puppet-master-controlled buffoon, except for one thing: the public caught on very early in the act. The internet has made a huge difference in the con factor.

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  21. James Garner knew this as well: he was the VP when Reagan was the president of the screen actors guild. He said that Reagan said and did whatever they told him to. He was a puppet even then.

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    1. Anonymous9:24 PM

      Aragon64 3:02 PM, I had forgotten about that until you mentioned it. Yes, even his fellow actors way-back-when knew, and that was before he even became governor. The thought of taking someone who is both dull minded and the victim of decades of alcoholism, and then choosing to propel that person into world leadership is, in fact, mind-blowing. It's the antithesis of patriotism.

      Delete
  22. Anonymous3:27 PM

    I just cannot understand the type of people that Republicans consider to be qualified for the top levels of politics.

    Trump's spokesperson, Katrina Pierson, recently made the news for wondering why we have nuclear weapons if we're not chomping at the bit to fire those puppies up and nuke us some bad people. Today, she appeared on CNN wearing a necklace made of bullets. Between all the mass shootings, people killed by police, and on-air murders of journalists that have taken place in recent months, this is simply repulsive.

    http://crooksandliars.com/2015/12/trump-spokeswoman-appears-cnn-bathed

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  23. Anonymous3:58 PM

    Somebody dared call me a troll on c4p.

    They'll have problems proving that. 😈

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    1. Anonymous5:39 PM

      What are you even doing on that website? I didn't even know it was still "a thing".

      Delete
  24. ibwilliamsi4:36 PM

    It was obvious from day one that Reagan was incompetent, and I was only 19 years old. Don Regan - not Ronald Reagan - was President.

    "I would think that John McCain would be less likely to play ball, but then they had Sarah Palin waiting in the wings didn't they?

    Anybody else just get a cold chill run up their back?"

    McCain must have been a special kind of stupid to think that the power behind the Republican party wouldn't have offed him and installed Sarah at the first opportunity.

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  25. Anonymous4:41 PM

    No wonder you know who was so proud to visit his library and ranch. She couldn't read anything, but made money whoring out a photo of her on some horse. I'm with those who believe he had dementia long before it was made public, like when he divorced his first wife and married his second.

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  26. Anonymous6:08 PM

    What a fascinating book! I'm going to get it asap!!

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  27. Anonymous6:27 PM

    An intelligent, all neurons firing properly, president scares the shit outta the puppet masters.

    The US has been a fascist oligarchy for a VERY long time.

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  28. Anonymous7:01 PM

    During grad school, I had a friend who worked for someone in Reagan's White House. He told us that during Cabinet Meetings, Ronald was fast asleep and never responded to anything.

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  29. Anonymous10:35 PM

    So why, then, do so many Americans believe Ronald Reagan is such a great president? Because of the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project headed up by Grover Norquist.

    Thom Hartmann explains it all...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5Hu0WuhYKQ

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  30. I'll bet Aaron Sorkin is livid they have entitled this book The American President. Wasn't that the title of his movie?

    And I'm not surprised about Reagan. He destroyed our public school system when he ordered the "Nation at Risk" report to be written and that they just make stuff up in order to get the results they wanted. The debunking was suppressed by Bush I and there are still those out there that believe that load of crap. But it doesn't matter. He got what he wanted. Maybe not the vouchers and full privatization, but he basically destroyed one of the best school systems in the world. I think we're 37th now.

    Reagan was not one of the worst presidents ever but he certainly was not one of the best either.

    As a politician Reagan was a great actor. He looked good, could make great speeches someone else wrote, but he knew diddly squat. He was a figurehead. And empty talking head, a puppet.

    Whether he was just plain stupid or already suffered from Alzheimer's before he was elected for his first term doesn't really matter. The results were the same.

    If only the Republican party could acknowledge that and apologize for some of the crap they've undermined this country with (like that trickle down bullshit) maybe we can start to heal and then start to fix everything that Reagan broke.

    But you know that isn't going to happen. The powers behind the throne loved that Reagan was just an actor that read their speeches and hit his marks. I'll bet they would love nothing better than to be able to put Arnold Schwarzenegger on the ticket. Another actor they could control and with the name recognition, looks and manner to sway a lot of voters. Thank doG he can't run and they'll never get the votes to change the Constitution so he can.

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  31. Anonymous1:05 AM

    If only we could stop trying to name things like buildings ,airports & roads after him.

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  32. My husband and I REFUSE to call National Airport "Reagan National Airport"... everyone learns that in a hurry should they want to get picked up there!

    As a child, I felt extremely guilty when Reagan was elected governor of my home state. If only I'd knocked on more doors, I lamented (despite my all-white, far-right-wing home town)... I am still grateful to have graduated from Berkeley before the infamous Prop. 13 did its worst to gut the state's public education system.

    Reagan, PTUI!!! N

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    1. That wasn't the worst of it.

      Before Reagan the Ed. Budget was separate. Reagan lumped the Ed. Budget in with the general fund and ever since that time, education has received less and less money. The consolidation was meant to hide this fact. Ever since we have been trying to make up for the shortfall with the Lottery and Prop. 52 and other attempts. End runs have been made around them all.

      Only now have the worst loopholes of prop 13 making themselves obvious to even the most obtuse. Two attempts have been made to fix it and both failed since those that would have to pay (corporations) are those with the most money to fight it.

      Reagan had "A Nation at Risk" made up to justify the GOP's lies about and destroy public education on a national scale. They wanted the education tax dollars. Didn't work so Bush gave us NCLB. They finally succeeded.

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