Didn’t see any celebrating going on among those who revere him as a saint, but yesterday was the 101st anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birthday. The man they called The Gipper left quite a legacy, though the details are mostly misremembered among his legion of conservative fans. So let’s review.
He gave us “Reaganomics” otherwise known as the “trickle-down” theory, which still forms the basis of conservative economics and hasn’t trickled down any wealth on most of us working class folks in the last 23 years. He invented dog-whistle racism partly with his coining of the phrase, “welfare queen” and slashing federal support for social safety net programs, the most famous being his attempt to reclassify ketchup as a vegetable in school lunch programs for undernourished children. He furthered the GOP’s anti-labor platform with such things as his firing of the air traffic controllers and freezing the minimum wage.
Reagan also presided over one of the largest scandals in our recent history, the Iran Contra affair where secret arms sales to Iran financed an illegal covert operation in support of Nicaraguan contra rebels who sought to overthrow their government. Reagan then pardoned most of those who were criminally convicted in the matter. Despite all this and much more, Reagan remains one of the most popular presidents in history, no doubt due to his skilled command of the media. No scandalous behavior ever stuck to him. Thus he also earned the nickname the “Teflon President.”
One of his little known skills was the mastery of the dual teleprompter in delivering his speeches.
Think about that the next time you hear some conservative sneer at President Obama for doing the same. For more on Reagan, see Charles P. Pierce’s tribute to the occassion.