Hack vs Hack

George Will has been a walking conflict of interest ever since he prepped Ronald Reagan for his debate with Jimmy Carter in 1980, didn’t disclose the info, and on ABC congratulated him on his performance. He lunched often with Nancy Reagan, his columns feasting on the scuttlebutt. Will’s purported Toryism and mastery of polysyllabic wordsContinue reading “Hack vs Hack”

Lebanon and Saint Ronnie

The agility with which the Clintons’ team responds to attack shouldn’t surprise me; nevertheless, Hillary Clinton’s allusion to the 1983 bombing of a Marine barracks in Lebanon struck me as audacious. Saint Ronnie handled it badly, hovering at the point of accusing House Speaker Tip O’Neill of treason for wanting to pull out the troops.Continue reading “Lebanon and Saint Ronnie”

‘I can defend the invasion of Iraq’

Ryan Lizza’s essential story on the calamity of Jeb Bush’s foreign policy includes cameos by many members of the Legion of Doom: Bill Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, Porter Goss, Stephen Hadley. Another nasty piece of work, Otto Reich, makes an appearance. Reich, I’m sorry to say, is a Cuban American whose most notorious sting was asContinue reading “‘I can defend the invasion of Iraq’”

‘Take demagogues seriously’

Dismiss demagogues at your peril, Rick Perlstein writes. Donald Trump and the undying carcass of Ronald Reagan have similarities: This was a fairly accurate portrayal of how Carter’s aides saw their opponent. Carter speechwriter Hendrik Hertzberg has related that the campaign’s strategists were confident that if they only could get Reagan side by side onContinue reading “‘Take demagogues seriously’”

Who’s responsible for the boom (and the bust)?

What if one of the shibboleths of our time is wrong? For years I’ve read that incomes have declined for everyone not in the top one percent since the late seventies. But a new study says that median household income increased for everyone under Reagan and Clinton: Robert J Shapiro, a former economic adviser toContinue reading “Who’s responsible for the boom (and the bust)?”

Jimmy Carter and voting rights

Last week I took a stab at a James Earl Carter obituary. Rick Perlstein, who will presumably finish his trilogy about post-sixties Republicanism with the triumph of Ronald Reagan in 1980, concentrates on Carter’s lifelong interest in voting rights, a subject that his southern colleagues knew much about after Congress’ 1965 act pushed the mostContinue reading “Jimmy Carter and voting rights”

Bare cupboards: H.W. Brands’ ‘Reagan’

As Republican super PACS prepare to Brylcreem candidates who babble about liberty and marauding Mexican invaders, yet another biography about the greatest leader in world history emerges from a reputable publishing house. But H.W. Brands, who distinguished himself with molding fine FDR and U.S. Grant bricks in 2008 and 2012, respectively, emerges no less stunnedContinue reading “Bare cupboards: H.W. Brands’ ‘Reagan’”

An update on the noise

Inspired no doubt by a ghoulish morning physical of Sunday talk shows, Rick Perlstein tears out what remains of his hair at what he calls the “shameful lack of any useful contribution to a richer public understanding of what any of this means for the future of the republic at large.” The Koch Brothers, youContinue reading “An update on the noise”

Smiling malignity

A “great president” according to my definition changes politics such that, thanks to a unforeseen confluence of chance and timing, his successors can’t remember a time when the status quo didn’t exist. FDR was a great president. By this definition so was Ronald Reagan. His policies and demeanor had a damaging and infantilizing, respectively, effectContinue reading “Smiling malignity”

In our present crisis

I’ve written it many times: people like Ted Cruz and Rick Scott grew up revering Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural, concentrating on the line “In the present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.” What’s happened in the last thirty years with the cooperation of neoliberals is a private versionContinue reading “In our present crisis”

Socialism for the rich, Pt. #2426

Ronald Reagan tried this approach in 1982 and 1983. It’s how he maintained his reputation as a tax cutter. Because the state legislatures are where the true (counter)revolutions occur, it’s no surprise that it’s happening again: Conservatives are known for hating taxes but particularly hate income taxes, which they say have a greater dampening effectContinue reading “Socialism for the rich, Pt. #2426”

The Ron ‘n’ Rock Show

Buzzfeed’s well-sourced account of how the Reagan administration rejected a dying Rock Hudson’s request for a transfer to a military hospital in France hoping to get better treatment is better as a record, complete with documents from the Reagan Library and NSC of how an administration idled as long as possible; it’s also further proofContinue reading “The Ron ‘n’ Rock Show”