Tuesday, January 31, 2012

1980's Yuppie

Yuppie is a 1980s acronym for 'Young Upwardly Mobile Professional Person'.
The word was created by the advertising industry to capture the essence of a particular type of work hard, play hard, ambitious minded city career person
of either sex.

The hectic lifestyle of a yuppie meant that after long hou
rs of work, they would hard;y indulge in free time. We see an example of this in the film Wall Street when Bud's co - worker offers him Nicks Tickets (Basketball) and he turns them down in order to look through the books.

The website or b
log http://www.80sactual.com/2009/10/yuppie.html starts off by mentioning a book called Diary Of A Yuppie by Louis Auchincloss. The story of Robert Service's quick rise to the top in the world of New York law and his love of posh clothes, posh food, boardroom meetings and making money.
Auchincloss himself was a Wall Street attorny so he has the experience and knowledge to make his characters ring true.

The 80’s woman yup­pie would wear a power suit, with a straight knee-length skirt and big shoul­der pads. While on the go they would wear trainers and carry their heels. They would wear brand name bags, and chunky look­ing jew­ellery. Men would wear a basic busi­ness suit, sim­i­lar to those of today. They’d wear a plain shirt, with some black sus­penders. They’d carry a large brief­case, and a brick sized phone to top off the busi­ness look. Their hair would be slicked back, to give them a more ‘pro­fes­sional’ look.

"A yuppie with a yuppie toy in the 1980s - a brick mobile phone. Yuppies also liked filofaxes and wine bars".

"Hello, darling, it's me. Listen, I've got a meeting with the chairman of the board in twenty minutes, and my shoulder pads have gone all funny..."

Although Yuppie was the most popular and well known nickname during the 80's there were also Buppies (Black Yuppies), Juppies (Japanese Yuppies), Guppies (Gay Yuppies) Juppies, Green Yuppies (Enviromentally concerned Yuppies) and Yuppie Puppies (Under Twenty and Offspring of Yuppies)!

The Yuppie role in 80s America

The article I came across concerning Yuppie culture is from a website which advertises cultural trends and styles for an online magazine. The article focused on the possibility of a still existent yuppie culture in the modern day, and that Yuppie society was seen to be undesireable in the face of a divided social class and how the yuppies of the 80s have influenced and still continue to grow today.
The classic ideology of what defines a "yuppie", or what indeed seems to be the "what-to-look-for" gag that remains ever elusive is the concept of trying to appear trendy, at the cost of one's finances. This expensive meant that these Young Urban Professionals were always on the go, endorsing themselves in various stress-relief exercises to compensate for their fast-paced lifestyles and overwhelming schedules. The article quotes a witty so-called "Yuppie handbook" as saying “A yuppie most nearly approaches sainthood, when he or she is able to accomplish more things in a single day than is humanly possible.”
Of course, as the article reflects, with the invention of the modern-day Blackberry the achievability of getting more done in a single day has become ever more possible and made easier.
Another quote from the book incites that a Yuppie "cannot live without: gourmet coffee, a Burberry trench coat, expensive running shoes, a Cuisinart, a renovated kitchen with a double sink, smoked mozzarella from Dean & DeLuca, a housekeeper, a mortgage, a Coach bag, a Gucci briefcase, and a Rolex"

The fact that the items which filled a Yuppie's lifestyle were not exactly necessary was representative of the image that they desired for themselves - to look young and well-off, in order to replicate a lifestyle that essentially is unaffordable or could only be afforded by someone in a position of substancially greater wealth. Considering that many yuppies themselves were not only business men - but also college students and those considered to be on the lower end of the wage table.

The Wall Street Crash, it claims, did not kill off the Yuppie - but instead merely subdued its existence until the economy picked up again.

The only thing that appears to differentiate the modern day yuppie from one living in the 1980s was the change in style and the invention of new trends. The lifestyle still exists in the form of expensive clothing brands such as Hollister and car makes such as Mercedes. The desire to look well-off in a poor financial climate looks set to continue for as long as our credit cards will allow us.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Role of the Yuppie

"The cast of thirtysomething, a hit TV show at the heart of yuppie culture in the Eighties."

This site is dedicated to all things 80's and this particular blog post lists in detail the many ways in which you could have been identified as a Yuppie during the 1980's.
  • "Were L.A. Law and thirtysomething two of your favorite television shows?"
  • "Did you own a Beemer (BMW) or a Mercedes -- or want to?"
  • "Did you wear Armani trousers or power suits, write with a Cross pen, carry a Gucci briefcase, and talk about the "bottom line?""
  • "Did you prefer wine over beer, pasta over Big Macs, designer ice cream (or yogurt) over the supermarket brands?"
  • "If you answered yes to some or all of the above, made $40,000 or more a year in the 1980s, and were a baby boomer (born between 1946 and 1964), chances are you were a yuppie, even though you might not have admitted it."
It states when the term Yuppie was first used (Chicago Tribune, 1983) and how it was used during the presidential campaign of 1984 because the Democratic nomination Gary Hart was considered to be an ideal for the "fiscally conservative but socially liberal yuppie voter."

Newsweek declared that 1984 was the year of the Yuppie, a Yuppie being someone who can be said to represent "Reagan's America."

Fredric Jameson: "a new petit bourgeoisie [whose] cultural practices and values . . . have articulated a useful dominant ideological and cultural paradigm"

It goes on to explain how the Yuppies and their pursuit of the American Dream did not last for long because of the stock market crash in October '87. The fact that they were being joked about and the term was now a derogatory term goes to show that Yuppies had become a part of American Culture.

"the difference between a pigeon and a yuppie stockbroker was that the pigeon could still make a deposit on a new Mercedes."

It goes on to explain how the yuppie then sparked a specific type of decor.

"postmodern art, tile bathrooms, wood floors, bare brick walls, pastel colors, glass bricks, potted plants and stainless steel Sub-Zero refrigerators were in vogue."

The following site: http://yuppiedecor.com/ is a website by a couple who would have been classed as Yuppies and they make custom pieces which very much embody the personality of them, but possibly in a more modern framework.

In addition the blog site talks about yuppie literature* including the book we have to read, Bret Easton Ellis's book, Less than Zero. It also says that New Age ("yuppie Musak") music became more prominent due to yuppie consumers. New Age music being a fusion of jazz, impressionist, acoustic and classical styles.

"It's leading purveyor, Windham Hill grossed $25 million in 1985 sales, primarily to young, white professionals."

*"Their work endures as a window into the yuppie phenomenon."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Reagan hatred

This video discusses Reagans presidency in a critical manner, suggesting that his presidency was the beggining of many of the United States current problems. Also addressed is whether Reagan deserves the praise he recieves on issues such as the cold war and economics: "a strong case can be made that the Cold War was won well before Reagan arrived in the White House. Indeed, in the 1970s, it was a common perception in the U.S. intelligence community that the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union was winding down, in large part because the Soviet economic model had failed in the technological race with the West." Current political and military issues such as the war in Iraq are argued to be traced back to Reagan and his decisions during his time in office.

The video was a response to an article published by journalist Robert Parry about Reagan as 'the worst president ever' here. He takes the same tact in the video as he has in the article: "there’s a growing realization that the starting point for many of the catastrophes confronting the United States today can be traced to Reagan’s presidency. There’s also a grudging reassessment that the
“failed” presidents of the 1970s – Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter – may deserve more credit for trying to grapple with the problems that now beset the country. Nixon, Ford and Carter won scant praise for addressing the systemic challenges of America’s oil dependence, environmental degradation, the arms race, and nuclear proliferation – all issues that Reagan
essentially ignored and that now threaten America’s future."

I think the argument is slightly extreme in its linkings, but I would not entirely dismiss the view that Reagan, like many other presidents, ignored issues that have led to current political, economic and social problems. The policies and stratergies that Reagan implimented I do agree had an effect on the current situation, more so than possibly than the issues it as argued he ignored. "To marginalize dissent, Reagan and his subordinates stoked anger toward anyone who challenged the era’s feel-good optimism. Skeptics were not just honorable critics, they were un-American defeatists or – in Jeane Kirkpatrick’s memorable attack line – they would “blame America first.”" I think that sentiment was brought back by George W Bush, most noteably in his ''you're with us or with the terrorists' speech. I think that much of the new criticism and hatred directed at Reagan stems from the fact that his presidency caused substantial changes and because people are currently looking for answers about Americas 'decline'. Under Reagan... there were attack groups that went after mainstream journalists who dared disclose information that poked holes in Reagan’s propaganda themes. In effect, Reagan’s team created a faux reality for the American public."

Reagan Hate


'Saint Ronald Casts a Long Shadow'

Firstly this blogger refers to Ronald Reagan as a Saint, in this case in a satirical way, or at least that's the way it comes across. They talk about Americans celebrating Reagan's 100th birthday in his honour, remembering him as a hero that took down both the Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall.

In reality, or according to this blogger, Political Packrat, and several of those who have commented on the blog, they only remember the negative things about Reagan, his "trickle-down" policy where he slashed taxes for top earners from 70% to 28%. This led to him having to cut Federal Public Housing for the poor meaning that for the first time women and children were really and truly homeless and living on the streets.

He also broke the Air Traffic Controllers Union who were striking, telling them to give up striking or they would be terminated - a fierce ultimatum. The blog partly blames Reagan for the recession - obviously everybody is entitled to their opinion - by saying what contributed towards it was Reagan dismantling regulations on Banks and Wall Street, which paved the way for the "financial free for all of the eighties".

"..an amiable man, a well intentioned man, a decent actor and an astute politician who changed the course of American."

The main point of the blog, I felt, was that the memory of Reagan that hagiographers remember is far from what (this blogger feels at least) actually happened over the course of his Presidency.

"The first miracle of St. Ronald is that he was able to make Americans forget the reality of what he did and only remember the Hollywood version of what they wanted him to be."

Obviously this is not from an official news site and is not a constructed piece of Reagan 'propaganda' as it were, but it's from the heart of someone who was obviously either affected or influenced by Reagan's decisions during his term. In many ways it appears to be a more honest view of the past President, as it is just somebody's opinion put onto the blogsphere for all to see. I feel like as President, Reagan did make some questionable choices, such as those listed above, but in any position, you cannot please all the people all of the time - it's just not realistic. And as for him being remembered as a "Saint" after his death, surely anyone who's managed to campaign and win the title of President of the United States deserves some respect?

An Example of Contemporary Reagan Hatred.


For my blog this week I have chosen to look at an example of Reagan hatred. The example I’ve found is an article written by Steve Kornacki from Salon Media Group online magazine, which compares the political trajectory of Ronald Reagan with that of President Barack Obama.
First launched in 1995 by founder David Talbot, Salon was the first internet only commercial publication featuring original investigative stories along with breaking news and entertainment. Salon writer Steve Kornacki – who has previously written for the New York Times, the New York Observer and the Wall Street Journal – featured an article in August 2010 titled This Week In Baseless Reagan Hagiography in which he critises Reagan’s presidency while also comparing it to that of current U.S. President, Barack Obama. He begins the article by stating “why is it so hard for pundits to admit that Reagan was just as unpopular in 1982 as Obama [was] in 2010.” – an interesting comparison to make when taking into account historical context. In both 1982 and 2010 America experiences an economic recession at a time when both Reagan and Obama are half way through their first term in office. With their mid-term election results indicating a decline in the support for these presidents, Kornacki suggests that Reagan and Obama’s presidencies are following the same path (he states they have “nearly identicle political trajectories.”)
He goes on to argue that Reagan was “not some magical political super-being” as many remember him to be – he is often ranked among the most popular presidents of the United States, especially in recent years. Kornacki refers to the lack of public confidence in Reagan at the time of his presidency, as well as his bad mid-term election results and the doubts about his presidency felt within his own party, stating that the Republicans called for Reagan “not to seek re-election in 1984”.
Further into the article he goes on to quote Fouad Ajami’s 2010 Wall Street Journal article which states that Reagan “was never bigger than his country… he gloried in the country and took sustenance from its heroic deeds.” This suggests that Reagan’s presidency didn’t help shape America but that America helped shape his presidency. While Kornacki would agree that Reagan’s as president didn’t make any positive progress for America in his role as president, therefore agreeing with Ajami’s point, he criticises Ajami’s conclusion that Reagan was popular in his second term, with specific reference to America’s victory in the Cold War, saying that there’s “no evidence that the unbreakable bond between the president and his people ever really existed”. To illustrate this he once again refers to Reagan’s poor mid-term election results, which saw a drop in the number of Republicans in Congress, as well as the Iran-Contra affair of 1986 – a political scandal in which the Reagan administration facilitated the sale of arms to Iran in order to free American hostages.
Kornacki claims that Reagan’s policies were to blame for the problems which 1980s America faced, such as growing unemployment and economic recession. He also suggests that Reagan’s character didn’t help his popularity or success, stating “his personality counted for nothing.”
Kornacki concludes by stating “There’s just no need to bend over backwards trying to invent reasons for Reagan’s post-’82 strength when we already have a perfectly good one” saying that the Republican party “began a course independent of Reagan’s White House”. He therefore suggests that it is not Reagan who should be remembered as a great president but the Republican party of the time that should be recognised for their achievements. After studying the presidency of Reagan last semester I would agree with this conclusion. I feel that while Reagan did later see economic success and the Cold War victory he himself was not responsible. Along with the Iran-Contra affair I agree that Reagan was not a great president. It will be interesting to see whether Kornacki’s theory that Obama’s presidency will follow the same path as Reagans plays out. Commenting two years after his article was written, it appears that he may have been right about the Obama presidency with the recent decline in his popularity.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

This is a Pro-Reagan video from the 2008 national Republic convention. It is a classic style of video for American politicians. It does its best to play up the American dream "Rag's to riches" angle, speaking of his modest family background and his "hard-drinking" father. They also play up Regan's famous humour, even comparing him to Abraham Lincoln, which shows how high they think of Regan as Lincoln is possibly the most respected of all America's presidents.

According to the video Regan brought about great changes in America's economy, lowering inflation and creating jobs. The end of the video even goes as far as to describe him as having saved America, saved the century, and while it stops short of saying he saved the world, it does argue he changed it.

Any American political videos have to be taken with a pinch of salt as they are effectively just advertising a person, making them strongly biased, yet ones made with the added bias of nostalgia like this are exceptionally heaving with hagiography.

Reagan Hagiography

The book How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life, by Peter Robinson, is a hagiography as well as a self-help book and a memoir, with a quite commercialised, upbeat name. Peter Robinson gives in his book an insight to Ronald Reagan’s stay at the White House from his position of a former White House Speech writer. In the book there is a weird feel of Robinson’s relationship with the Democratic Party. He uses what he learnt from observing Reagan’s life, his decisions and motivations that make up a book, which includes a certain amount of lessons for life, so to say.

While researching this book I found a short review on it, which describes the book short but concisely. The review is quite critical on the book’s exact purpose but achieves to show however, that Robinson uses the bad decisions as well as the good as a guideline to his book. He doesn’t, however, acknowledge the bad decisions, which becomes very obvious, “especially as he glosses over Reagan's shortcomings ("Now, I myself was never able to get worked up over the deficits," Robinson says). (Editorial Review - Reed Business Information (c) 2003) Robinson was a man who got the job of a speechwriter for the White House, straight out of college. He was young, inexperienced and in need of a boss/role model, his turned out to be Reagan. Another article on the book describes the book as having an interesting perspective, therefore interesting to read, but in no ways a ‘reliable’, ‘non-biased’ source of information on Reagan’s presidency, due to his position. It ended up being a book that would help Reagan-haters understand a Reagan-fan’s point of view.

So whether you are a Reagan fan looking for further insights or a Reagan detractor trying to figure what the other side sees in him or somewhere in between, Robinson provides a personal and insightful view into Reagan's life, character, and leadership. As a result he helps us understand both Reagan the President and Reagan the man.

Available from: http://blogcritics.org/books/article/how-ronald-reagan-changed-my-life/page-3/#ixzz1kW0uFWpo

I therefore chose this book as an example of a Reagan hagiography, a fan-based book, with very little constructive criticism to Reagan’s time of serving in the 1980’s. It has a comical feel to its lay-out, very much a ‘light-read’, not completely a useless book but more designed for a Reagan-loving type of audience, people who have always and only seen Reagan as a hero, an icon of America’s 20th century history.

Reagan Hagiography

When researching for this weeks blog task, I found that a lot of articles and blogs which have been posted were all for Reagan and his idea's which helped America and its world political image. Whilst at the same time these articles were slating Obama for how he has changed America and how America deals with other countries. Although there were some similarities between the two Presidents.

In an article from TIME Magazine Douglas Brinkley stated that "Obama is approaching the job in a Reaganesque fashion." and he indicated that Obama has a "role Model" and that role model is Reagan. It is argued that Obama has taken some of the same idea's of Reagan and is pushing for them to be put into practice for example changes need to be made to social security and defence budget cuts.

The writer argues that Obama is relying on Reagan and his career to support his own term in office. I think that this shows how important Reagan was and still is. It shows that Reagan is someone to live up to and Obama is being compared to him and people maybe expecting more from Obama because of similarities they may see in his character and the popularity vote which Reagan and Obama both recieved which helped them into their Presidency.

Reagan Hatred

"Reagan's Third world Reign of Terror" is the title of the article i found whilst researching Reagan hatred and i found this article to be the most strongly worded and critical of Reagan out of the articles i looked at. The article on counterpunch.org deals with some of the issues which appear to have faded and been forgotten when Reagan's legacy is called into question. When Reagan is mentioned the key issues which arise both for and against his character usually consist of his dealings with Iran, his trickle down policy, his character and most recently his ability to defeat a strong Democrat candidate.

However, this article, as seen in the title, deals with Reagan’s foreign policy toward less economically developed countries particularly those in South/Central America. The article begins by saying "In the interest of filling out the Reagan portrait, let us consider a few regions unfortunate enough to capture his attention, starting with Central America." and the article goes on to discuss how Reagan supported the wrong side by supporting the Salvadoran government in their oppression of their own people and the article suggests that Reagan's actions potentially resulted in the death of another 20,000 Salvadorians.

"El Salvador’s labor movement was decimated, the opposition press exterminated, opposition politicians murdered or driven into exile, the church martyred."

Reagan was further criticised within the article for supporting and praising this government in its handling of the situation and with public and congressional support continued to aid this oppressive regime. what is perhaps most significant about this is that Reagan had not only Congressional support but also public, as a result of this the article is able to suggest that Reagan's great public speaking (something he is often praised for amongst republicans) allowed the American people to be deceived and further bloodshed to continue.

"The Great Communicator/Prevaricator achieved his objective; aid — and blood — continued to flow"

The article then goes on to criticise Reagan for some of his more infamous deeds regarding Nicaragua and the 'Contras', "Reagan’s proxy army" as the article refers to them as well as criticising Reagans supposed stand against terrorism whilst making arms deals with Iran and nation at the time, and perhaps still, considered a terrorist nation who acquired munitions from the US by holding US citizens hostage and exchanging them for missiles. the article surmises this section by saying "the contras themselves were terrorists, as were those elements of the Honduran army that the CIA and Ollie North employed to help the contras, as was the notorious Salvadoran air force that assisted in the contra resupply effort. All murdered noncombatants to achieve political objectives."

The article goes on to list numerous occasions in which the Reagan administration supported the 'wrong sides' in several conflicts, usually the side prone to mass murder, raps and pillaging their enemy. The article discusses Reagans support of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge, a warlord who had been removed from power by the Vietnamese after continually attacking villages in Vietnam, the article discusses how Reagan even went so far as to have his UN representative acknowledge Khmer Rouge as the true leader of Cambodia and not the existing government. Finally within the article he is criticised for supporting South Africa's illegal occupation of Namibia and his support for the human rights violating leaders of South Africa at the time and dismissing Nelson Mandela’s African national congress as a "communist terrorists"

The article finishes up with the following statement "By providing apologetics, diplomatic support and/or military aid to some of the worst governments, rebel forces and terror-prone proxy armies of the 1980s, Reagan was an accomplice in hundreds of thousands of deaths. That’s a big part of his legacy, and it’s no cause for celebration."

Having researched Reagan Hatred i am inclined to believe that his legacy as a supporter of apartheid South Africa, the Salvadoran government and his oppression of the Nicaraguan people should outlive his accomplishments as a public speaker. However this appears to have not been the case and as a result the call for 'another Reagan' in present republican primaries is potentially a cause for concern given the instability and fragility of certain nations at this moment in time.


Reagan hagiography

Ronald Reagan's Hagiography is the term used in poltics and religious circumstances, for worshiping someone's work, and in this perticular sense it is worshiping Ronlad Reagan's legarcy as the 40th President of the United States.


While resarching for the this task, I came across the website called Salon.com. On Salon.com is an artical entilted Reagan Worship in where it discusses in deatil the media and conutrys obsesstion with Regan and its long term affects on the nation and Regan himself, with long term illness.

In the artical is states,

“Ronald Reagan is a sort of masterpiece of American magic — apparently one of the simplest, most uncomplicated creatures alive, and yet a character of rich meanings, of complexities that connect him with the myths and powers of his country in an unprecedented way,” trumpeted Time magazine. “He is a Prospero of American memories, a magician who carries a bright, ideal America like a holograph in his mind and projects its image in the air.”

What’s telling is that that passage wasn’t published this week. It comes from a cover story dated July 7, 1986, written by Lance Morrow. The 3,700-word essay serves as a critical reminder that, despite conservative charges of its liberal bias, the press has been fawning over Reagan for years. And this week’s uncritical treatment of the 40th president is a natural culmination of what has been going on for the past quarter of a century

While the artical from Salon is not exactly worhiping Raagan's work but clearly studying the reasons why Reagan is worship for so long as one of the best modern presidences. The artical goes on to say that the director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University, Alex jones said that “I think when somebody dies there’s a tendency for the press to view them through rose-colored glasses. It’s only polite,” Meaning that when an iconic figure dies they are always remembered for the greatness they did and their hidden secrets and dark shaddes of their lifes are forgotten out of respect for the death. Michael Jackson himself is a great example for this.

Ronald Reagan Hatred.

Ronald Reagan has seen his fair share of compliments and insults throughout his Presidency. On the popular political magazine Slate's website, I found an article focussing on President Reagans apparent stupidity whilst in office.

The article starts off by showing just how much respect there as for Reagan after his Presidency, with the writer being invited to attend a Ronald Reagan Appreciation ceremony. The writer, Christopher Hitchens, then goes on to say "But nothing could make me forget what the Reagan years had actually been like", which tells me that although there is a lot of positive compliments towards Reagan, his Presidency wasnt as well made out that it was thought of by many.

Hitchens then goes on to list multiple acts of stupidity by Ronald Reagan. He quotes "Ronald Reagan claimed that the Russian language had no word for "freedom." (The word is "svoboda"; it's quite well attested in Russian literature.) Ronald Reagan said that intercontinental ballistic missiles (not that there are any non-ballistic missiles—a corruption of language that isn't his fault) could be recalled once launched. Ronald Reagan said that he sought a "Star Wars" defense only in order to share the technology with the tyrants of the U.S.S.R. Ronald Reagan professed to be annoyed when people called it "Star Wars," even though he had ended his speech on the subject with the lame quip, "May the force be with you." Ronald Reagan used to alarm his Soviet counterparts by saying that surely they'd both unite against an invasion from Mars. Ronald Reagan used to alarm other constituencies by speaking freely about the "End Times" foreshadowed in the Bible. In the Oval Office, Ronald Reagan told Yitzhak Shamir and Simon Wiesenthal, on two separate occasions, that he himself had assisted personally at the liberation of the Nazi death camps".

Hitchins main argument in this article is that he believes the majority of the American public had 'Honeymoon-eyes' for Reagan, and celebrated his even though his Presidency had many of flawes, including his stupidity in speeches and the Iran-Contra scandal. Hitchins then goes on to say that Reagan had used President Carters briefing book for his own Presidency, once again painting the picture of Reagan being stupid and unable to think of his own way to run the country. In his opinion, he can't believe that Americans would let someone so 'obviously' stupid run a country. He quotes "The fox, as has been pointed out by more than one philosopher, knows many small things, whereas the hedgehog knows one big thing. Ronald Reagan was neither a fox nor a hedgehog. He was as dumb as a stump. He could have had anyone in the world to dinner, any night of the week, but took most of his meals on a White House TV tray. He had no friends, only cronies. His children didn't like him all that much. He met his second wife—the one that you remember—because she needed to get off a Hollywood blacklist and he was the man to see. Year in and year out in Washington, I could not believe that such a man had even been a poor governor of California in a bad year, let alone that such a smart country would put up with such an obvious phony and loon".

This article is an obvious piece of Anti-Reagan propaganda, claiming that Reagan is exceedingly over-rated and that people need to re-think their opinion on Reagan by paying attention to his clear faults.

Reagan's legacy

Following the death of Ronald Reagan in June 2004, a wealth of articles were spawned with the aim of evaluating not only his presidency, but also his historical legacy. One such article by Mark Weisbrot (found at http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0607-09.htm) adopts the view that Reagan would (or should) be regarded as someone 'who changed the world more than probably any American in the twentieth century,' going on to introduce key issues which helped define his two terms in office.

When Reagan was inaugurated in January 1981, he was just over two weeks away from his seventieth birthday, with Weisbrot thus affectionately dubbing his demeanor throughout his presidency as 'grandfatherly.' The article points out that even those who disagreed with his policies were inclined to re-elect him in 1984, raising questions over the importance of communication and resonance with the electorate. Indeed, Reagan was known as 'The Great Communicator.' His leadership skills were almost universally admired. There does seem to be a distinct air of superiority which accompanies Reagan. Even taking a brief look at his more positive representations, one cannot ignore a sense of "godliness" - someone overseeing the nation and acting as something of a protector.

Regarding Reagan 'changing the world,' the article continues and begins to take a distinctly more negative approach to the evaluation of his legacy. Two main prongs of his presidency appear time and time again - the domestic economy and foreign policy:

Where economics are concerned, policies initiated by Reagan were, in Weisbrot's opinion, 'mostly a failure.' Such policies which dominated 198os America, known as "Reaganomics" had the collective aims of reducing government spending, reducing income tax and reducing government regulation of the economy as a whole. He his opinion, 'only by reducing the growth of government [could they] increase the growth of the economy.' On the surface, this seems somewhat of a paradox - balancing the budget by cutting taxes, as well as notably increasing the military budget, seems a mathematical impossibility. The article makes a point of stating that, under Reagan, the 1980s saw the slowest growth rate of any post-World War II decade. As we have also seen in recent years, the President does admittedly bear the brunt of criticism when the economy takes a turn for the worse. That said, the unemployment rate declined from 7% in 1980 to 5.4% in 1988 with the rate of inlfation dropping from 10.4% in 1980 to just 4.2% in 1988. Broadly speaking, therefore, the nation under Reagan saw some notable economic improvements. As William A. Niskanen notes, 'the "stagflation" and "malaise" that plagued the U.S. economy from 1973 through 1980 were transformed by the Reagan economic program into a sustained period of higher growth and lower inflation' (http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc1/Reaganomics.html).

Regarding foreign policy, it seems fair to focus on the Iran-Contra Affair which came to light in late 1986. In what was seen as an eventual "weapons-for-hostages" deal, officials under Reagan secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran, with the aim of releasing 6 U.S hostages who were being held by Iranians in Lebanon. The selling of weapons to Iran by Reagan's government to Iran (a country with the US had no diplomatic relations) provided finances to fund the Contras (a rebel group fighting a civil war in Nicaragua) - America had entered a proxy war and aimed to release the US hostages. Negotiations occured without Congress' knowledge - negotiating with a Iran, as a terrorist state, was seen as unconstitutional, as was supporting a rebel group (the Contas) who were known for violating Human Rights laws.

It is clear to see why the Reagan polarised opinion. As times as gone on, after he left office, his approval ratings have steadily increased. In 1999, for instance, C-Span conducted a presidential leadership survey which saw Reagan rated sixth best.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Reagan Hagiography

I gathered my information from salon.com which had a Reagan Hagiography week and focused on many different areas and also attempts to find correlations between Reagan and Obama. The article "Why is it so hard for pundits to admit that Reagan was just as unpopular in 1982 as Obama is in 2010?" shows parallels between Reagan's standing when the 1982 mid terms approached and the similar position in which Obama found himself in. 

"I swear, I want to stop writing about the nearly-identical political trajectories (at least so far) of the Reagan and Obama presidencies. But too many pundits just can’t seem to get it through their heads that Reagan, as president, was not some magical political super-being who was immune to sagging public confidence, poor midterm election prospects, and intraparty dissent and second-guessing that Obama is now faced with"

In this article the author Steve Kornacki looks at two pundits points of views and arguments about Reagans terms in office. One of the pundits states that Reagan has a "deep and true" bond with the American people and Kornacki goes onto dismiss this. He does this by highlighting factors such as "when double-digit unemployment prompted voters to toss 26 of Reagan’s Republican allies out of Congress and to hand seven new governorships to Democrats and 11 state legislative chambers to the Democrats", "in 1986, when a pre-Iran-Contra Reagan pleaded with Americans — the Americans with whom he supposedly shared a mutually affectionate relationship — to preserve his party’s control of the Senate, only to watch as voters handed Democrats an eight-seat gain and their first Senate majority since 1980" and also " just 24 percent of Americans said their country was better off because of the Reagan years, while 40 percent said it was worse off — and that more Americans (48 percent) viewed Reagan unfavorable than favorably (46 percent)".

Kornacki shows Reagan in a more realistic light instead of that of a "magical being" in which he is being presented as by the other pundit, only highlighting the flaws in his presidency because he wants to show a true account and not forget about the bad and just remember the good.

Ronald Reagan - Hagiography

An article posted on the website Big Government by contributor Burt Folsom sheds an interesting contemporary view of Ronald Reagan's presidency and hails it as one of the most positive and far-reaching influences in American politics of the 20th century.
The major driving factor behind his argument is that Reagan's time in power yielded more positive and sustainable outcomes for the United States than previous presidents (name-dropping Woodrow Wilson and FDR in particular) despite perhaps surpassing him in their extent of political impact.
The author pinpoints several reasons for this to be:
  1. The fact that he was a "visionary", devoting himself to the ideology that "people wanted freedom and would do well when mpre of it was given to them." Stating such examples of this as "Undermining the Soviets, challenging an unlawful union," and "diregulating oil production". He argues that what made Reagan so popular were the ways he looked at the world differently, aiming for a publically popular strife for "more freedom, less government" and strategizing realistic goals enabling for more successful ligislations.
  2. He also had great character, with a bold personality which made for popular and desired leaders. "Courage, kindness and persistence" were said to be his windfall when his polls were low. It is also stated that even his honesty was a winning trait.
  3. Third that he was able to accept advice, making him "teachable" allowing for "course corrections" despite coming into his presidency at an age where people were considered to have life figured out for themselves.

Another argument he makes is that Reagan had seen past democracys fail and succeed - and knew what worked and what didn't. He had supported FDR, and was a part of one of those families which had benefitted when he had created jobs. Reagan also saw the flaws in price controls and restrictions on oil production. He realized the tyranny in federal power and that a nation "could not spend its way to prosperity."

Implementing new ideas into his vision meant that he could adjust for a changing climate, and due to the tax cuts he implemented when he became president, this alligated a sense of freedom that Reagan had envisioned which would come to more enhanced fruitition under the future Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush which were further expanded by capital gains cuts. The author quotes that between the periods of 1982 to 2007, "the US economy more than doubled in economic growth" under a substancially low unemployment rate and increasing standard of living.

Article and image available from: http://biggovernment.com/bfolsom/2010/02/06/why-was-ronald-reagan-the-greatest-president-of-the-20th-century/

Monday, January 23, 2012

Reagan Hagiography

This book by Paul Slansky was out of print for two decades and was re issued in honour of Reagans 100th Birthday. It relates to the timeline of Ronald Reagan and breaks down his years as President.

From reasearching about Reagon I feel that many people have been embarrassed by what happened during his term however he then went on to win again. I feel that this book should be read by all Americans in case another Presidency like this happens again.

There are many similarities seen in this book between Reagan and Obama, quoting from Ken Layne article of the book,
"Ronald Reagan was exactly the way to “bring fun back” to a nation crippled by recession, unemployment, lost wars and humiliation in the Middle East. (Hah, sound familiar?)"

After reading some of the material in the book I feel that the writer Slansky never really forgot that this President was an actor and that his time in office was a film itself. The book even includes "Hollywood Happenings" that you wuld usually find in magazines; such as Natalie Woods death, the death of John Lennon and even dates when the Preseident got his haircut.