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The Magnificent Myth of Ronald Reagan

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Riptide, Jan 2, 2016.

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  1. Riptide

    Riptide Well-Known Member



    Behind the Ronald Reagan myth: “No one had ever
    entered the White House so grossly ill informed”

    No one had ever entered the White House so grossly ill informed. At presidential news conferences, especially in his first year, Ronald Reagan embarrassed himself. On one occasion, asked why he advocated putting missiles in vulnerable places, he responded, his face registering bewilderment, “I don’t know but what maybe you haven’t gotten into the area that I’m going to turn over to the secretary of defense.” Frequently, he knew nothing about events that had been headlined in the morning newspaper. In 1984, when asked a question he should have fielded easily, Reagan looked befuddled, and his wife had to step in to rescue him. “Doing everything we can,” she whispered. “Doing everything we can,” the president echoed. To be sure, his detractors sometimes exaggerated his ignorance. The publication of his radio addresses of the 1950s revealed a considerable command of facts, though in a narrow range. But nothing suggested profundity. “You could walk through Ronald Reagan’s deepest thoughts,” a California legislator said, “and not get your ankles wet.”

    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.

    Behind the Ronald Reagan myth: “No one had ever entered the White House so grossly ill informed”
  2. Mr. Sunshine

    Mr. Sunshine Well-Known Member

    Fucking dog whistle for Yankee Fan. He's going to own you and this thread in no time.
    Songbird likes this.
  3. Riptide

    Riptide Well-Known Member

    I'm just shocked by what I read. Why, this man was our president!
  4. doctorquant

    doctorquant Well-Known Member

    Ronald Reagan was so fucking dumb that it took 35 years for Salon to sack up and tell the world.
  5. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    That's genrally accurate and that's why he was beloved and so missed now by the GOP. He didn't demand to know where the bodies were buried and indeed didn't know. He had extraordinary deniable plausibility and they loved him for it, as well they should, for he loved them. It was a big Ol GOP love fest in the 1980s.
    Ace likes this.
  6. Mr. Sunshine

    Mr. Sunshine Well-Known Member

    Guy's been dead for more than a decade and out of the public eye for twice that, but this was obviously an important piece that needed to be written. Once again proving TINMHITTMAL.
    expendable, old_tony and ChrisLong like this.
  7. Mr. Sunshine

    Mr. Sunshine Well-Known Member

    Damnit! My first post was going to reference the inevitable Alma drop-in.
    SpeedTchr likes this.
  8. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    If he intends to argue Reagan was plugged in, he won't own two pennies.

    Reagan was the anti Nixon by design. He was purposely in the dark on more than his share and ok with that.
  9. doctorquant

    doctorquant Well-Known Member

    Reagan's an interesting character, I'll grant you that. In many ways Reagan was the quintessential child-of-an-alcoholic, possessed of an extraordinary ability to will himself to believing/seeing what he wished to see (and vice versa, of course). Edmund Morris' writing about him is fascinating.
    Tweener and britwrit like this.
  10. Mr. Sunshine

    Mr. Sunshine Well-Known Member

    Maybe more presidential candidates should be forced to surround themselves with good people.
    expendable likes this.
  11. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    I don't understand going back in time to take shots at Reagan at this point. Same reason I don't understand people still basking in his presidency 25 years later.
    bigpern23, ChrisLong and SFIND like this.
  12. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    Hell, I knew it in 1970-71 when I was 13 years old and living in Michigan.

    I thought Nixon was a dick and a criminal, but not an idiot.

    Whatever else you hated about Nixon (and there was plenty to choose from), he would have French kissed Ted Kennedy before using ignorance/apathy/ incomprehension of an issue as an excuse.

    There were plenty of things I thought Nixon was wrong about, but I never got the idea he didn't know what the hell he was talking about.
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