Liberal Insights – 2011-02-07 00:46:04
The Massive (but under-reported)
Corruption of the Reagan Administration
Conservative Republicans are such paragons of virtue and truth that they claim that Bill Clinton’s administration was “the most corrupt administration in American history” despite the fact that history contradicts everything about that statement.
1. Despite the fact that the President and first lady, and many members of the Clinton administration were charged with crimes, their accusers fell flat on their faces when they had to prove their trumped up charges in court almost every time, because there was no credible evidence or witnesses to justify the charges brought by their Republican enemies and touted by their countless friends in the mainstream media.
2. Contrast that to the great numbers of the Republican administration of Ronald Reagan who were not just charged, but were found guilty, but which most Americans don’t remember because the so-called “Liberal media” rarely, if ever, make any mention of them. See the actual names & crimes below.
3. The contenders for the title of “the most corrupt administration in American history” are all Republican administrations. It may be hard to order them exactly, but the contenders for the first, second, third & fourth “most corrupt administrations in American history” are the Republican administrations of Grant, Harding, Nixon and Reagan.
Ronald Reagan’s Criminal Administration
“By the end of his term, 138 Reagan administration officials had been convicted, had been indicted, or had been the subject of official investigations for official misconduct and/or criminal violations. In terms of number of officials involved, the record of his administration was the worst ever.” (From page 184, Sleep-Walking Through History: America in the Reagan Years, by Haynes Johnson, [1991, Doubleday], as are the examples below):
1. James Watt, Reagan’s Secretary of the Interior was indicted on 41 felony counts for using connections at the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help his private clients seek federal funds for housing projects in Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Watt conceded that he had received $500,000 from clients who were granted very favorable housing contracts after he had intervened on their behalf. In testifying before a House committee Watt said: “That’s what they offered and it sounded like a lot of money to me, and we settled on it.” Watt was eventually sentenced to five years in prison and 500 hours of community service.
2. Although not convicted, Edwin Meese III, resigned as Reagan’s Attorney General after having been the subject of investigations by the United States Office of the Independent Counsel on two occasions (Wedtech and Iran-Contra), during the 3 short years he was in office.
3. E. Bob Wallach, close friend and law classmate of Attorney General Edwin Meese, was sentenced to six years in prison and fined $250,000 in connection with the Wedtech influence-peddling scandal.
4. Lyn Nofziger — Convicted on charges of illegal lobbying of White House in Wedtech scandal.
5. Michael Deaver received three years’ probation and was fined one hundred thousand dollars after being convicted for lying to a congressional subcommittee and a federal grand jury about his lobbying activities after leaving the White House.
6. The Iran-Contra scandal. In June, 1984, at a National Security Council meeting, CIA Director Casey urged President Reagan to seek third-party aid for the Nicaraguan contras. Secretary of State Schultz warned that it would be an “impeachable offense” if the U.S. government acted as conduit for such secret funding. But that didn’t stop them. That same day, Oliver North was seeking third-party aid for the contras. But Reagan, the “teflon President” avoided serious charges or impeachment.
7. Casper Weinberger was Secretary of Defense during Iran-Contra. In June 1992 he was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of concealing from congressional investigators and prosecutors thousands of pages of his handwritten notes. The personal memoirs taken during high level meetings, detailed events in 1985 and 1986 involving the Iran-Contra affair. Weinberger claimed he was being unfairly prosecuted because he would not provide information incriminating Ronald Reagan.
Weinberger was scheduled to go on trial January 5, 1993, where the contents of his notes would have come to light and may have implicated other, unindicted conspirators. While Weinberger was never directly linked to the covert operations phase of the Iran-Contra affair, he is believed to have been involved in the cover-up of the ensuing scandal.
According to Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh, Weinberger’s notes contain evidence of a conspiracy among the highest ranking Reagan Administration officials to lie to congress and the American public. Some of the notes are believed to have evidence against then Vice-President George Bush who pardoned Weinberger to keep him from going to trial.
8. Raymond Donovan, Secretary of Labor indicted for defrauding the New York City Transit Authority of $7.4. million.
(Republicans will point out that Donovan was acquitted. And that really matters in Donovan’s case, because he was a Republican. But it didn’t matter for Clinton or any of his cabinet, most all of whom were acquitted, because they were Democrats!)
9. Elliott Abrams was appointed by President Reagan in 1985 to head the State Department’s Latin American Bureau. He was closely linked with ex-White House aide Lt. Col. Oliver North’s covert movement to aid the Contras. Working for North, Abrams coordinated inter-agency support for the contras and helped solicit illegal funding from foreign powers as well as domestic contributors. Abrams agreed to cooperate with Iran-Contra investigators and pled guilty to two charges reduced to misdemeanors. He was sentenced in 1991 to two years probation and 100 hours of community service but was pardoned by President George Bush.
10. Robert C. McFarlane was appointed Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor in October 1983 and become well-known as a champion of the MX missile program in his role as White House liaison to congress. In 1984, Mc Farlane initiated the review of U.S. policy towards Iran that led directly to the arms for hostages deal. He also supervised early National Security Council efforts to support the Contras. Shortly after the Iran-Contra scandal was revealed in early 1987, McFarlane took an overdose of the tranquilizer Valium in an attempt to end his life.
In his own words: “What really drove me to despair was a sense of having failed the country.” McFarlane pled guilty to four misdemeanors and was sentenced to two years probation and 200 hours of community service. He was also fined $20,000. He received a blanket pardon from President George Bush.
11. Oliver North — Convicted of falsifying and destroying documents, accepting an illegal gratuity, and aiding and abetting the obstruction of Congress. Conviction overturned on appeal due to legal technicalities.
12. John Poindexter, Reagan’s national security advisor, — guilty of five criminal counts involving conspiracy to mislead Congress, obstructing congressional inquiries, lying to lawmakers, used “high national security” to mask deceit and wrong-doing.
13. Richard Secord pleaded guilty to a felony charge of lying to Congress over Iran-Contra.
14. Alan D. Fiers was the Chief of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Central American Task Force. Fiers pled guilty in 1991 to two counts of withholding information from congress about Oliver North’s activities and the diversion of Iran arms sale money to aid the Contras. He was sentenced to one year of probation and 100 hours of community service.
Fiers agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for having his felonies reduced to misdemeanors and his testimony gave a boost to the long standing criminal investigation of Lawrence Walsh, Special Prosecutor. Fiers testified that he and three CIA colleagues knew by mid-1986 that profits from the TOW and HAWK missile sales to Iran were being diverted to the Contras months before it became public knowledge. Alan Fiers received a blanket pardon for his crimes from President Bush.
15. Clair George was Chief of the CIA’s Division of Covert Operations under President Reagan. In August 1992 a hung jury led U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth to declare a mistrial in the case of Clair George who was accused of concealing from Congress his knowledge of the Iran-Contra affair. George had been named by Alan Fiers when Fiers turned state’s evidence for Lawrence Walsh’s investigation. In a second trial on charges of perjury, false statements and obstruction of justice, George was convicted of lying to two congressional committees in 1986.
George faced a maximum five year federal prison sentence and a $20,000 fine for each of the two convictions. Jurors cleared George of five other charges including two counts of lying to a federal grand jury. Those charges would have carried a mandatory 10 months in prison upon conviction. Clair George received a blanket pardon for his crimes from President George Bush.
16. Duane R. (Dewey) Clarridge was head of the CIA’s Western European Division under President Reagan. He was indicted on November 29, 1991 for lying to congress and to the Tower Commission that investigated Iran- Contra. Clarridge was charged with five counts of perjury and two counts of making false statements for covering up his knowledge of a November 25, 1985 shipment of HAWK missiles to Iran. Clarridge was also suspected of diverting to the Contras weapons that were originally intended for the Afghan mujahaddeen guerrillas. Clarridge received a blanket pardon for his crimes on Christmas Eve 1992 from President George Bush.
17. Environmental Protection Agency’s favoritism toward polluters. Assistant administrator unduly influenced by chemical industry lobbyists. Another administrator resigned after pressuring employees to tone down a critical report on a chemical company accused of illegal pollution in Michigan. The deputy chief of federal activities was accused of compiling an interagency “hit” or “enemies” list, like those kept in the Nixon Watergate period, singling out career employees to be hired, fired or promoted according to political beliefs.
18. Anne Gorscuh Burford resigned amid accusations she politically manipulated the Superfund money.
19. Rita Lavelle was fired after accusing a senior EPA official of “systematically alienating the business community.” She was later indicted, tried and convicted of lying to Congress and served three months of a six-month prison sentence. After an extensive investigation, in August 1984, a House of Representatives subcommittee concluded that top-level EPA appointees by Reagan for three years “violated their public trust by disregarding the public health and the environment, manipulating the Superfund program for political purposes, engaging in unethical conduct and participating in other abuses.”.
20. Neglected nuclear safety. A critical situation involving nuclear safety had been allowed to develop during the Reagan era. Immense sums, estimated at 200 billion or more, would be required in the 1990s to replace and make safe America’s neglected, aging, deteriorating, and dangerous nuclear facilities.
21. Savings & Loan Bail-out. Hundreds of billions of dollars were needed to bail out savings and loan institutions that either had failed during the deregulation frenzy of the eighties or were in danger of bankruptcy.
22. Reckless airline deregulation. Deregulation of airline industry took too broad a sweep, endangering public safety.
23. Richard Allen, National Security adviser resigned amid controversy over an honorarium he received for arranging an interview with Nancy Reagan.
24. Richard Beggs, chief administrator at NASA was indicted for defrauding the government while an executive at General Dynamics.
25. Guy Flake, Deputy Secretary of Commerce, resigned after allegations of a conflict of interest in contract negotiations.
26. Louis Glutfrida, Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency resigned amid allegations of misuses of government property.
27. Edwin Gray, Chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank was charged with illegally repaying himself and his wife $26,000 in travel costs.
28. Max Hugel, CIA chief of covert operations who resigned after allegations of fraudulent financial dealings.
29. Carlos Campbell, Assistant Secretary of Commerce resigned over charges of awarding federal grants to his personal friends’ firms.
30. John Fedders, chief of enforcement for the Securities and Exchange Commission resigned over charges of beating his wife.
31. Arthur Hayes, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration resigned over illegal travel reimbursements.
32. J. Lynn Helms, chief of the Federal Aviation Administration resigned over a grand jury investigation of illegal business activities.
33. Marjory Mecklenburg, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources resigned over irregularities on her travel vouchers.
34. Robert Nimmo, head of the Veterans Administration resigned when a report criticized him for improper use of government funds.
35. J. William Petro, U.S. Attorney fired and fined for tipping off an acquaintance about a forthcoming Grand Jury investigation.
36. Thomas C. Reed, White House counselor and National Security Council adviser resigned and paid a $427,000 fine for stock market insider trading.
37. Emanuel Savas, Assistant Secretary of HUD resigned over assigning staff members to work on government time on a book that guilty to expense account fraud and accepting kickbacks on government contracts.
38. Charles Wick, Director of the US Information Agency investigated for taping conversations with public officials without their approval.
As of March 27, 2007, it was only an indictment, but Bloomberg News was reporting that David Stockman, President Reagan’s budget director, was indicted on charges of defrauding investors and banks of $1.6 billion while chairman of Collins & Aikman Corp., an auto parts maker that collapsed days after he quit.
Two types of problems typified the ethical misconduct cases of the Reagan years, and both had heavy consequences to citizens everywhere. One stemmed from ideology and deregulatory impulses run amok; the other, from classic corruption on a grand scale.
* The Pentagon procurement scandal, which resulted from the Republicans’ enormous infusion of money too quickly into the Defense Department after the lean Carter years .
* Massive fraud and mismanagement in the Department of Housing and Urban Development throughout Reagan’s eight years. These were finally documented in congressional hearings in spring 1989, after Reagan left office. Cost the taxpayers billions of dollars in losses. What made this scandal most shameful was that Reagan’s’ friends and fixers profited at the expense of the poor, the very people HUD and the federal government were pledged to assist through low-income housing. . .
Despite their many public lies about the matter, it was eventually proven that the Sales of weapons to Iran, followed by illegal financial support of the Central American Contras were carried out with the knowledge of, among others, President Ronald Reagan, Vice President George Bush, Secretary of State George P. Shultz, Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger, Director of Central Intelligence William J. Casey, and national security advisers Robert C. McFarlane and John M. Poindexter. Of these officials, only Weinberger and Shultz dissented from the policy decision.
Weinberger eventually acquiesced and ordered the Department of Defense to provide the necessary arms. Large volumes of highly relevant, contemporaneously created documents were systematically and willfully withheld from investigators by several Reagan Administration officials in an attempt to cover up the administration’s extensive corruption.
The Views of Some of his Peers and Associates
* Jim Cannon (an aide to Howard Baker) reported that Reagan’s underlings told him:
“They told stories about how inattentive and inept the President was…. They said he wouldn’t come to work — all he wanted to do was to watch movies and television at the residence.” (“Landslide: The Unmaking of the President: 1984-88.”)
* Indiana Rep. Lee Hamilton in an interview with Haynes Johnson:
“Reagan’s only contribution [to the subject of the MX missile] 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 WarGames, the movie. That was his only contribution.” (Sleepwalking Through History: America in the Reagan Years.)
* Columnist Richard Cohen:
“This President is treated by both the press and foreign leaders as if he were a child…. It is major news when he honors a political or economic discussion with a germane remark and not an anecdote about his Hollywood days.”
* President Mitterand of France asked Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau about Reagan:
“What planet is he living on?”
* Mark Hertsgaard, wrote that:
“During Mr. Reagan’s trip to Europe…members of the traveling press corps watched him doze off so many times — during speeches by French President Francois Mitterrand and Italian President Alessandro Pertini, as well as during a one-on-one audience with the Pope — that they privately christened the trip ‘The Big Sleep.'” (On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency.)
* David Nyhan, Boston Globe columnist:
“He demonstrated for all to see how far you can go in this life with a smile, a shoeshine and the nerve to put your own spin on the facts.”
* Reagan’s good friend, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher:
“Poor dear, there’s nothing between his ears.”
* Columnist David Broder:
“The task of watering the arid desert between Reagan’s ears is a challenging one for his aides.”
* Patti Davis (formerly Patricia Ann Reagan) talking about her father:
“He has the ability to make statements that are so far outside the parameters of logic that they leave you speechless.” (The Way I See It.)
* Larry Speakes, Reagan’s former Press Secretary, describing what it was like preparing the President for a press conference: “…like reinventing the wheel.” (Speaking Out: The Reagan Presidency from Inside the White House.)
* Mark Green:
“This loathing for government, this eagerness to prove that any program to aid the disadvantaged is nothing but a boondoggle and a money gobbler, leads him to contrive statistics and stories with unmatched vigor.” (Reagan’s Reign of Error.)
* Former president Jimmy Carter, March 6, 1984:
“President Reagan doesn’t always check the facts before he makes statements, and the press accepts this as kind of amusing.”
* James David Barber, presidential scholar:
“Ronald Reagan is the first modern President whose contempt for the facts is treated as a charming idiosyncrasy.” (On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency, Mark Hertsgaard.)
* Simon Hoggart :
“His errors glide past unchallenged. At one point…he alleged that almost half the population gets a free meal from the government each day. No one told him he was crazy. The general message of the American press is that, yes, while it is perfectly true that the emperor has no clothes, nudity is actually very acceptable this year.” in The Observer (London), 1986.
[An article posted on Geocities.com] shows that the Reagans’ idea of “Divine Guidance” was fortune-tellers:
“Virtually every major move and decision the Reagans made during my time as White House Chief of Staff was cleared in advance with a woman in San Francisco who drew up horoscopes to make certain that the planets were in a favorable alignment for the enterprise.”
* Donald Regan (Reagan’s former chief of staff), For the Record: From Wall Street to Washington
“It wasn’t widely circulated until the publication of Donald Regan’s memoir, For the Record in 1988, that President Reagan and his influential wife sought the advice of an astrologer. Time magazine would later identify Ron and Nancy’s chart reader as being San Francisco astrologist Joan Quigley. Quigley was not the first astrologer the Reagans had consulted. Ronald and Nancy Reagan had a long history of involvement with astrologers and psychics.
During the 1950’s and 1960’s, Ron and Nancy enlisted the services of Hollywood astrologer Carroll Righter, and later Jeane Dixon. In his 1965 autobiography, Where’s the Rest of Me?, Reagan said that he and Righter were friends, and that he and Nancy read Righter’s column “regularly.” (It was on Righter’s advice that Reagan postponed his inauguration as governor of California for 9 minutes until the auspicious moment of 12:10 a.m.)”
“For fundamentalist preachers like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell — who proclaimed Reagan a standard-bearer of Christian righteousness — the astrology matter should have been of particular concern. Astrology is a branch of the occult and is inimical to Christianity. However, if the fundamentalist leaders were concerned or embarrassed by the astrology revelations, they didn’t show it. (They also ignored the fact that Reagan rarely attended church.)”
Ronald Reagan’s Record “Firsts”
1. First to serve as Governor on a “conservative” platform and increase spending by 112%.
2. First Governor to increase personal income taxes by 60%, increase the cigarette tax by 200%, and increase state tax collections by 152%.
3. First to have a popularity rating of only 35% after his first two years in office.
4. First to have had a shotgun wedding.
5. First president to have been divorced.
6. First to increase spending by 80% — in only 8 years.
7. First to spend more in eight years than was spent in prior 50 years.
8. First to cut taxes by 60% for his rich pals.
9. First to have increased the national debt faster than growth of national income.
10. First to “almost”: triple the national debt.
11. First to increase the national debt faster than growth of GDP.
12. First to double the deficit.
13. First to turn America into a debtor nation.
14. First to set a record for the largest one day percentage decline in the DOW in history. 10-19-87.
15. First to have “real” interest rates of 8% after averaging 1% over 35 years.
16. First to keep prime interest rates at 20%.
17. First to have home loan interest rates as high as 16%.
18. First to allow the savings and loan industry to be raided after signing a deregulatory bill and proclaiming “I think we have hit the jackpot”. Come and get it the vaults are unguarded.
19. First to send an autographed Bible to a man he called “The Satan of Terrorists”.
20. First to have an admiral plead the Fifth Amendment.
21. First to have a stealing, lying, gutless wife abusing Marine LT. Colonel plead the Fifth Amendment.
22. First to have a sitting cabinet member indicted.
23. First to have an Assistant Secretary of State indicted.
24. First to have an Asistant Secretary of Defense sent to prison.
25. First to have over 100 members of an administration charged with crimes.
26. First to have more members of his administration charged with crimes than the cumulative total of all other presidents in the twentieth century.
27. First to testify “under oath” 130 times that “I don’t remember”.
28. First to have an Admiral with a photographic memory testify 128 times ” I don’t remember”.
29. First to repeatedly falsify his wife’s age, as though anyone cared.
30. First to promote his religious faith and while never having an active membership in any church.
31. First to never use the term Jesus Christ in speeches.
32. First to have unemployment at 10.8% since great depression.
33. First to attack a small, unprotected nation with 88,000 inhabitants [Grenada] and 10,000 bb guns, and then proclaim “America stands tall again.” “We have whipped the Vietnam Syndrome. We have defeated communism”.
34. #1-in farm foreclosures.
35. #1-In bank failures.
36. #1-In Savings and Loan failures.
37. #1-In percent increase in personal bankruptcies.
38. #1-In having servicemen killed during peacetime.
39. #1-In largest drop in popularity in one week.
40. #1-In being first to honor Nazi Storm Troopers by calling them” Innocent Victims”.
41. First to lie — over and over- to reporters “I do not dye my hair; my barber uses a special shampoo.”
42. First to have a wife who “forced” him to wear three suits in one day.
43. First to boast “Not bad for a dumb guy who worked only 20 hours per week”.
44. First to have his wife sit nearby and whisper answers to questions.
45. First to have his press secretary remove him from the microphone when he could not answer questions. (When the reporter shouted out “answer my question”, the president replied “my handlers won’t let me speak”).
46. First to have a Special Assistant say on national TV “sometimes you had to hit him on the head with a 2 x 4 to get his attention”.
47. #1-In needing a staff person standby during press conferences to tell the press “what he really meant”.
48. #1-In recorded misstatements.
49. #1-In never having a single press conference in which he did not make incorrect statements.
50. First to invite the Pope to visit the White House and “bring the wife and kids”.
51. First to fall asleep while the Pope spoke.
52. First 20th Century president to have historians rate him below every president of the 20th except for Richard Nixon. 1994 Poll.
53. First to have been openly alienated from his children.
54. First to suggest his eldest son undergo psychiatric examination.
55. First to have been voted in British polls (twice) as the “most feared leader in the world” sic em Rambo.
56. First to have his official biographer state on national TV: ‘After he was shot in 1981, he got slower and slower each year. His speech got slower. He deliberated more and he hesitated more when he spoke. He lost his physical quickness and would not make decisions on the spot. It was a very, very slow and steady mental and physical decline”.
57. First president to have the Geriatrics Department of a major university study his behavior and conclude that after three years in office he had Alzheimer’s.
58. First to have over $10,000,000 increase in wealth from serving for 8 years as president.
The Real Reagan Legacy
Debunking Myths About Reagan
Mike Hersh / Political Sanity / APJP
(March 19, 2002) — Let’s begin our examination of the real Reagan Legacy by taking a look at myth number one:
Democrats dominated Congress all through Reagan’s terms, and called all his budgets Dead On Arrival.
That’s numerically and historically false. Reagan’s people shoved his program through the Congress during the early Reagan years. James A. Baker, David Stockman and other Reaganites ran roughshod over Tip O’Neill and the divided Democrats in the House and Senate, and won every critical vote. This is because of the GOP majority in the Senate and the GOP-“Boll Weevil” (or “Dixiecrat”) coalition in the House. Phil Gramm was a House Democrat at the time, and he even sponsored the most important Reagan budgets.
Only after the huge Reagan recession — made worse by utterly failed Reagan “Voodoo Economics” — did Democrats regain some control in Congress. They halted some Reagan initiatives, but couldn’t do much on their own. That was a time of gridlock.
Six years into Reagan’s presidency, Democrats took back the Senate, and began to reverse some of Reagan’s horrendous policies. By that time, Reaganomics had “accomplished” quite a bit: doubled the national debt, caused the S&L crisis, and nearly wrecked the financial system.
Which brings us to myth number two:
Jimmy Carter wrecked the economy, and Reagan’s bold tax cuts saved it.
This is utterly absurd. Economic growth indices — GDP, jobs, revenues — were all positive when Carter left office. All plunged after Reagan policies took effect.
Reagan didn’t cure inflation, the main economic problem during the Carter years. Carter’s Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker tried when he raised interest rates. That’s the opposite of what Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan has done to keep inflation low.
Carter’s policies and people fought inflation, but maintained real growth. On the other hand, Reagan’s policies helped cause the worst recession since the Great Depression: two bleak years with nearly double-digit unemployment! Reaganomics failed in less than a year, and it took an entire second year for the economy to recover from the failure.
Carter didn’t cause the inflation problem, but his tough policies and smart personnel solved it. Unfortunately for Carter, it took too long for the good results to kick in. Not only didn’t Reagan help whip inflation, he actually opposed the Volcker policies!
Another major myth:
Reagan cut taxes on all Americans, and that led to a great expansion.
Here’s the truth: the total federal tax burden increased during the Reagan years, and most Americans paid more in taxes after Reagan than before. The “Reagan Recovery” was unremarkable. It looks great only contrasted against the dismal Reagan Recession — but it had nothing to do with Supply Side voodoo.
With a red ink explosion — $300 BILLION deficits looming as far as the eye could see — GOP Senators, notably including Bob Dole, led the way on tax hikes. The economy enjoyed its recovery only after total tax increases larger than the total tax cuts were implemented. Most importantly, average annual GDP growth during the Reagan 80s was lower than during the Clinton 90s or the JFK-LBJ 60s!
Enough about the economy. Here’s the biggest myth of them all:
Ronald Reagan won the “Cold War.”
In reality, Reagan did nothing to bring down the Soviet Union.
By 1980, the Soviet Union was trying to cut its own defense spending. Reagan made it harder for them to do so. In fact, Reagan increased the possibility of a nuclear war because he was — frankly, and sadly — senile. He thought we could actually recall submarine-launched nuclear missiles (talk about a Reagan myth), and bullied the Soviets to highest alert several times.
Critically, Reagan never even tried to bring down the Soviet Union.
Wasteful overspending on defense didn’t end the Soviet Union. In fact, it played into the hands of authoritarian “Communist” hard-liners in the Kremlin. Reagan thought the Soviet Union was more powerful than we were. He was trying to close what he called “the window of vulnerability.” This was sheer idiocy. No general in our military would trade our armed forces for theirs. If it were to happen, none of the Soviet military command would turn down that deal. We had better systems, better troops, and better morale.
Here’s the truth: we’d already won the Cold War before Reagan took office. All Reagan needed to do was continue the tried-and-true containment policies Harry S. Truman began and all subsequent presidents employed. The Soviet Union was Collapsing from within. The CIA actually told this to Reagan as he took office.
Here’s an example: the Soviet Union military couldn’t deal with a weak state on its own border, the poor, undermanned Afghanistan. Most of the Soviets’ military might had to make sure its “allies” in the Warsaw Pact and subjects along the South Asian front didn’t revolt. Even Richard Nixon told Reagan he could balance the budget with big defense cuts.
Reagan ignored this, and wrecked our budget.
We didn’t have to increase weapons spending, but Reagan didn’t care. He ran away from summits with the dying old-guard Soviets, and the new-style “glasnost” leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev baffled the witless Reagan and his closed-minded extremist advisors.
Maggie Thatcher finally cajoled the Gipper into meeting Gorby, and Gorby cleaned Reagan’s clock. Reagan’s hard-right “handlers” nearly had to drag Reagan out of the room before he signed away our entire nuclear deterrent. Reagan — and the planet — was lucky Gorbachev sought genuine and stable peace. Had Yuri Andropov’s health held, Reagan’s “jokes” and gaffes might have caused World War III.
Eventually Reagan even gave Gorbachev his seal of approval. Visiting Moscow before the August Coup, Reagan said the Soviet Union was no longer the “Evil Empire.” He predicted his friend Gorbachev would lead the Soviet Union for many years to come.
As usual, Reagan was wrong. A few months later, disgruntled military officers kidnapped Gorbachev, throwing him out of power forever. Reagan remained disengaged: nothing he did caused the coup, and nothing he did made the Soviet military support Boris Yeltsin over their superiors.
We’re all fortunate things happened as they did — but once again, Reagan did nothing to make this fluke more likely.
All this is vintage Reagan. Reagan took credit for others’ hard word and hard choices, and blamed them for his failures. Reagan even blamed Jimmy Carter for Reagan’s foolish, fatal, and reckless decision to leave 243 Marines stationed in Beirut, helpless and unguarded.
Reagan hired over 100 crooks to run our government, and broke several laws himself. His policies were almost uniformly self-defeating, wrong-headed, immoral and unfair.
Reagan was an actor playing the part of the president. He was style over substance; lucky, not good.
And once the myths are stripped from the “legacy,” the truth becomes obvious:
Reagan was by far the most overrated man in American history.
For More on the Reagan Legacy, go to:
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