Wednesday, February 2, 2011
February 2, 2011
Ronald Reagan, who was elected president in 1980 and 1984, was born one hundred years ago this week. Americans liked him then and like him now. In a 2009 Gallup poll they ranked him as the best president, ahead of Abraham Lincoln and John Kennedy. Lou Cannon, who covered that White House and has written books about Reagan, calls this a "highly generous" assessment in a piece on AOL today. He is surely right about that. Where would you put George Washington or Franklin Roosevelt?
But Reagan was more successful than most; that's also true. "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall," is a quote that may or may not be remembered a hundred years from now. But the Berlin Wall did come down on Reagan's watch – the symbolic end of the Cold War, which had lasted for more than thirty years. The presidents who preceded him get some of the credit, of course, and the Congresses of that day and the Soviets, come to that. But he was the senior player on our side, no doubt.
The economy boomed when he was in the White House too. The "Reagan recession" Cannon notes, lasted sixteen months; the Reagan recovery which followed lasted into the next presidency.
We should probably cancel all those bad jokes we used to make about actors running our show. Happy 100th, Mr. President. Well done.