Monday, February 07, 2011

Reagan's lasting negative legacy

Robert Parry, who has done extensive reporting on the dark sides of St. Reagan's Administration, summarizes Reagan's legacy in Ronald Reagan's 30-Year Time Bombs Consortium News 01/28/2011:

... Reagan’s current historical reputation rests more on the effectiveness of the Republican propaganda machine – and the timidity of many Democrats and media personalities – than on his actual record of accomplishments.

Indeed, many of today’s worst national and international problems can be traced to misjudgments and malfeasance from the Reagan years – from the swelling national debt to out-of-control banks, from the decline of the U.S. middle class to the inaction on energy independence, from the rise of Islamic fundamentalism to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.
He also notes two aspects of Reagan's legacy that don't get sufficient attention in the popular press reports: his attempts to politicize the CIA and his concentrated efforts to co-opt the mainstream press by getting them to absorb Republican narratives. On the latter he writes:

... well-financed right-wing operatives and administration officials worked to marginalize mainstream journalists (the "liberal press") who raised troublesome questions about Reagan's domestic and foreign policies.

The impact of these information strategies [toward the CIA and the press] had deadly consequences even years later, such as when President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney essentially dictated the intelligence "analysis" on Iraq’s WMD to the CIA and the Washington press corps fell in line behind the march to war.

Even today, President Barack Obama complains that his options for addressing the nation's growing problems are limited by what he calls the Reagan "narrative," demonizing government.
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