Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Reagan and the pundits

This is Madison, and so immediately after the newspaper published the official bios came the "Reagan was a liar" columns. I'm only surprised they waited a day. As for me, I think he gets too much and too little credit, and too much and too little blame. Everything that happens on a President's watch gets attributed to him. . .

It is hard to take a time slice and try to judge somebody's legacy from that one time slice. "History" isn't a good judge either: the student can see more of the ups and downsides of some policy, but tends not to notice the alternatives and finds the passions of the era unevocative. And how much of some given policy is the leader's idea, and how much is logrolling?

Consider the current war (which arguably started during the Carter administration). Our rather klutzy handling of the Lebanese intervention certainly emboldened our enemies. The Reagan era expansion of military spending let us develop new systems which have helped us fight more effectively and cleanly. Which is more important right now?

I can safely say that we've elected worse presidents in the not-too-distant past, not to dwell on the numerous candidates who didn't make it. Something everybody can agree with :-) The Democrats will think I mean Bush and the Republicans will think I mean Clinton.

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