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Obama Signs Bill to Create Reagan Centennial Panel

By Michael D. Shear
With former first lady Nancy Reagan by his side, President Obama today created a commission to plan events that will honor former president Ronald Reagan on what would have been his 100th birthday.

Signing the bill in the Diplomatic Room of the White House, Obama was effusive in his praise of Reagan, even though the former Republican president's economic philosophy set the government on a radically different course from the one Obama is pursuing.

"President Reagan helped as much as any president to restore a sense of optimism in our country, a spirit that transcended politics -- that transcended even the most heated arguments of the day," Obama said. "It was this optimism that the American people sorely needed during a difficult period -- a period of economic and global challenges that
tested us in unprecedented ways."

In his four months in office, Obama has steadily assailed the economic principles that Reagan stood for. But there are times for partisanship and policy -- and today was not one of them.

Obama praised Nancy Reagan, describing her as a first lady who redefined the role and praising her work for stem cell research.

"There are few who are not moved by the love that Ms. Reagan felt for her husband -- and fewer still who are not inspired by how this love led her to take up the twin causes of stem cell research and Alzheimer's research," he said. "In saying a long goodbye, Nancy
Reagan became a voice on behalf of millions of families experiencing the depleting, aching reality of Alzheimer's disease."

Obama escorted Nancy Reagan through the door of the room. Reagan was wearing a bright red pant suit and walked with a cane in her right hand. She stood by his right shoulder as the president signed the bill with his left hand.

"You're a lefty?" Reagan asked.

"I am a lefty," Obama said.

The panel Obama established will have 11 members and plan events for Feb. 6, 2011.

By Web Politics Editor  |  June 2, 2009; 5:27 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama , Washington Life  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Nancy Reagan to Lunch with Michelle Obama
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Dear Mr. Obama.

Welcome to Earth.
We hope Mars landing is not difficult for you.
Clearly, such a long stay outside the atmosphere is causing disruption mentally.
We wish you health quickly as possible.
Just do not forget to tighten the belts before landing.
Oh yeah, do not click on the red button, it's not room service.
Try not to make too much damages, while your staying.

By the way, you're a great dancer, but the music you make is terrible.

Give regards to ET, we all miss

sorry for the English, i am also UFO

Ofer, Israel

Posted by: heibett | June 6, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Oh well, I expect nowadays the internet is bound to stir up a fresh bounty of profoundly retarded ideologicals. A few points:

1. We can't blame Reagan and Friedman for the failure of their policies today. Economics, despite what the witless pundits will tell you, is extremely nebulous and more mathematical than purely "intellectual" for lack of a better word. Reagan/Friedman policies fit the time well, when staglfation was a very real roadblock for economic progress and success. Very different problems are present today, which do require Obama's more interventionist policies. Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat history's mistakes. Obama's policies, if unchanged by ideological liberals (akin to the overtly ideological and incomptent George Bush) could hurt the U.S. in the future.
2. I can't condone any of the innocent lives taken by Reagan's international actions, but then again, he ranks better or equal to many presidents in this respect (including Clinton). Obama is responsible for errand bombs several weeks ago that killed several innocent Afghanis. Not acceptable either, but retrospect is always 20/20.
3. Finally, anyone is bound to be more understanding and pragmatic in their political beliefs once confronted by the harshness of certain political realities (as Nancy Reagan has been doing). Liberals against the death penalty can easily turn pro-capital punishment if a loved one is murdered.

Posted by: Verogg | June 6, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Enough with the glorification of St. Ronald, how many votive candles need to be lit before he is finally put to rest by the GOP and other fools. He was a lousy president. He began the dismantling of the government that has finally culminated in the collapse of our economy. Do you remember the Keating Five and the Iran-Contra Affair? That was Ronald Reagan!

Posted by: carlotta3443 | June 3, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse

You have to be joking! Reagan was responsible for all of today's woes by deregulating just about every industry owned by his GOP buddies (read Paul Krugman's op-ed column in the NY Times). As an actor, he also was an informer on his fellow Hollywood colleagues for the slimey House Un-American Activities Commitee. What is wrong with Obama? Kissing the butts of the GOP will gain him no favor with either it or the Right. Wake up, Obama, Reagan was a destroyer not a savior of democracy in the USA.

Posted by: GuinnessJ51 | June 3, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

pkhenry, you should attend some classes in theory of money. Raegen did not fix the double digit inflation...that was Paul Volcker who was the last Fed chief who had some brain. It was very difficult medicine but it did bring down inflation. The monkeys in charge since Volcker's time, are aiding and abetting our crooked politicians and it hardly matters whether they are Democratic or Republicanic!!!

Posted by: yard80197 | June 3, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

bronze statue of the raegen? Where are the bronze statues of the victims of his "school of the Americas" that is responsible for countless brutal deaths on both continents in the name of US capitalism?

Posted by: yard80197 | June 3, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

One day O will not be president and you all can discuss his accomplishments. It's really to soon to make a call.
I for one anticipate the day. Will be an interesting read.

Posted by: njtou | June 3, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Reagan tripled the national debt and tried his damnedest to set U.S. race relations back 50 years. If the Iran-Contra scandal had been investigated the way the Watergate scandal was, Ronnie would have been thrown out of the white house the same way Nixon was.

Posted by: Glimpy | June 3, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse


I heard the right complaining about the cost of date night now let's hear the "screams" about the cost of this commission.

Personally I could care less about the cost of either but just wanted to see what people think.

Posted by: rlj1 | June 3, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

I rather wonder how much time & expense it took for Congress to cough up a "commission" to organize a birthday party. I'm sure the commission will duly add to the costs of said celebration.

Posted by: jpsbr2002 | June 3, 2009 9:07 AM | Report abuse

I'm disappointed with Obama for pandering to the reagan cult. The guy was a doofus.

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | June 3, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Checkmate: Behold the birth of "the Obama Republican"!

Posted by: htimothyjones | June 3, 2009 6:04 AM | Report abuse

I hear the concerns of the detractors, but even in politics 'civility' is important. The President handled with class his encounter with Mrs.Reagan.

Even if there are differences in policy, Reagan was president, that's history and cannot be changed. Obama's handling of the situation-- laudable!

Posted by: Victoria5 | June 3, 2009 12:40 AM | Report abuse

OMG!I've no idea of stem research!!!!!!!!I am a BIG O!!!!!!

Posted by: hittlle | June 2, 2009 10:34 PM | Report abuse

It's no use having such a panel! It's just a waste of money! Obama should bear the unemployment in mind and burn money there!

Posted by: hittlle | June 2, 2009 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Reagan fixed the double digit inflation and unemployment legacy of The Carter administration, and Obama is doing his best to set the hands of time backwards.

Posted by: pkhenry | June 2, 2009 9:06 PM


Errr, actually double digit inflation existed before Carter entered office. (Look it up on the BLS website sometime). As for fixing it, wasn't it Carter who appointed Paul Volcker? Yes it was! And everyone knows that Volcker killed inflation.

Double digit unemployment occured on Reagan's watch. Unemployment went up about 3.5% during his first 2 1/2 years in office. (Once again look it up on the BLS website).

Posted by: htruman1 | June 2, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

One wonders what entitles the students of Limbaugh to speak for Ronald Reagan, let alone Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln would most likely have had Limbaugh in jail without allowing the chubster any habeas corpus claim, as an enemy of the union and participant in a rebellion.

President Obama is much more mellow.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | June 2, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

We'll get Country Joe to write a song!

Posted by: Tomcat3 | June 2, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

I defer to the late great Bill Hicks.

I wouldn't mind a birthday celebration for him.

Posted by: Liebercreep | June 2, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Reagan fixed the double digit inflation and unemployment legacy of The Carter administration, and Obama is doing his best to set the hands of time backwards.

Posted by: pkhenry | June 2, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Obama has spent most of the last year verbally and materially bashing Reagan's philosophy and legacy.

Once again, he is testing 60% of the population to see how stupid they are.

Posted by: pkhenry | June 2, 2009 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Here's change you can believe in, celebrating the man whose legacy is a bankrupt nation. His administration is the architect of complete deregulation; the primacy of "free" markets; and the end of defined benefits plans. Is it still morning in America?

Posted by: garrafa10 | June 2, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm am surprised Obama did not comment on the Illinois connection he and Reagan have.

Posted by: BaracksTeleprompter | June 2, 2009 8:32 PM | Report abuse

I'd prefer to forget the dark era of Reagan, and his short-sighted policies, based on empty slogans. Nothing to celebrate here.

Posted by: fluxgirl | June 2, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Can the NeoCons find fault with this?

Oh! I'm sure they'll find something to complain about.

Posted by: helloisanyoneoutthere | June 2, 2009 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Hello Realtexan:

I feel sorry for you because those days of
an acting president are long gone - now we
have the real deal - a true intellect that calls
the shots - not someone who is rarely
engaged. Reagan was a tool of the people
Cheney works for: Big oil.

Good luck, though...

Posted by: printthis | June 2, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Dear RealTexan1, I doubt you knew Reagan or followed him closely. If you did, you would know that the reason Reagan is held in esteem was his ability to transcend political posturing. I think he would have very much appreciated Obama's efforts. You just want to continue divisions because it suits your narrow viewpoint, one of which appears to be to ridicule the effort to find a cure for Alzheimer's.

Posted by: texasgirl56 | June 2, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Interesting how the Left latches onto the Right's hero figures.

President Reagan, were he alive, would probably scorn President Obama; no two historical figures have ever been so opposite.

President Lincoln, a man who taught himself to read, would be dismayed at the entitlement programs and the extensive government control being imposed today.

The Founding Fathers, whom the Left often quotes, would bear arms against them as surely as they did to the less-oppressive King George III.

So President Obama can quote Reagan and Churchill and others all he likes, but only the victims of revisionist history will find his words to be anything but hollow and meaningless.

Posted by: RealTexan1 | June 2, 2009 7:43 PM | Report abuse

"You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar."
And being nice doesn't cost but nothing. As for the birthday celebration, if you don't like it then don't celebrate it. Enough dusts been kicked up to last me the rest of my life. Fed up with it.
He can have his day. A place on Mt. Rushmore is a different story/

Posted by: jato11 | June 2, 2009 7:37 PM | Report abuse

That was funny that Nancy Reagan noted that Obama is left-handed.

But the reason she noticed is probably because her husband was left-handed. were Bush, Sr. and Gerald Ford.

Bush, Jr. is the only right-hander since Nixon.

Posted by: AlanGoldberg54 | June 2, 2009 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Dear AnotherContrarian, please try to read the article. Your comment "now President Reagan is being demonized." No. No. No. He is being honored by a democratic President in a very high profile way, and if we can all come together and support this, we will make enormous progress toward lifting the scourge of Alzheimer's. Is it too difficult for you to focus on that?

Posted by: texasgirl56 | June 2, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

"You're a lefty?" Reagan asked.

"I am a lefty," Obama said.

Posted by: AlanGoldberg54 | June 2, 2009 7:28 PM | Report abuse

"Money to celebrate this unabashed racist reagan? "

There is a definite trend going on. An attempt to de-legitimize and criminalize not only President Bush and associates, but in an effort to create a lasting Institutionalized Left Governing Establishment, now President Reagan is being demonized along with basically all conservative and Republican voices since WW2. The public knows that the Democrats controlled Congress for most of the twentieth century but in the wake of the unpopularity of the Bush Administration, the Left is now engaged in a massive effort to selectivly re-write history for political purposes. Hopefully, it will not work otherwise we will all live in effectivly a one party state. I hope there will be a resurgence of Conservatives and a fairer perspective eventually and the end of this Coup attempt by the Left.

Posted by: AnotherContrarian | June 2, 2009 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Looks like Obama has the entire Reagon family on his side now. When will the "Reagan-conservatives" join in?

Posted by: Honest_Abe | June 2, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

_ Black white connect.c'om _Best interracial dating site in the world! It's where diversely ethnic singles meet new friends, make great dates, and build lasting interracial relationships. No matter you are looking for a NSA or serious relationship, you'll have to check it out!

Posted by: janeseven | June 2, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Sometimes a president has to pinch his nose and do some unpleasant things. Nancy, meet Yoko. Yoko, Nancy.

Posted by: medogsbstfrnd | June 2, 2009 6:56 PM | Report abuse

"I am a lefty."


Posted by: BaracksTeleprompter | June 2, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse

markwpa, well said. To 2076!

Posted by: douglaslbarber | June 2, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

You might disagree with the birthday party, but please embrace the contents of the gift. Stem cell research is the gift. Obama wrapped it in pretty paper...that's fine with me. Nancy is on board with it, and she is beloved by the right, so she'll bring others along. Smart lady. Let's move forward. Please try.

Posted by: texasgirl56 | June 2, 2009 6:50 PM | Report abuse

My opinion is that every President has done good and not so good in their lifetimes. Some of the Elders made it known that their decisions were the best they could have made at the time, for right or wrong. They all leave legacies for the benefit of future generations, if future generations are open to progress or what I call that Centrist thing, back to 1776. Here's looking to 2076, God Willing.

Posted by: markwpa | June 2, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

should public money be used to fund a birthday party? no. plain and simple.

do any of you nitwits have the appropriate level of intelligence to ridicule our President or a former First Lady? no.

apparently, class and intelligence go hand in hand, for very few of you have either.

Posted by: thepearl0369 | June 2, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

obama lauding that racist? not said lightly. i remember when reagan went to south africa as a show of support for president botha, a man of massive crimes against humanity. at the podium, reagan wiped a tear from his eye, saying "we lost our apartheid in america back in the 1960s." the united states under reagan continued its support of south african racism to the very last second.

ronald reagan backed and gained military aid, including 'advisors' for the guatemalan genocide which killed over 250,000 mostly mayan natives there as 'communists,' who happened to be on resource-rich land. reagan also provided financial and military support to the equaly brutal el salvadoran regime who worked with the united states government on behalf of such as united fruit and chiquita agribusiness who liked the slave wages just like they were.

reagan-bush repeatedly ignored congress's laws forbidding the iran-contra activities as a way of overthrowing the popular sandanistas in nicaragua, who had managed to dethrone the long string of somoza-style american puppets which have so long oppressed that continent.

reagan also continued the longtime US empowerment of ALLY saddam hussein, speci-iraqfically backing hussein in the vicious iran war throughout the 1980s, including the provision of CBW elements for his use against iraq's shiites and defenseless kurds, who the united states has always considered 'terrorists' though they are merely a people without a homeland.

here at home, reagan always showed utter disdain for most freedoms, such as the first amendment right to freedom of speech. he was a major proponent of secrecy under who's presidency secrecy doubled, though not nearly the total shadow government it has become since...

obama while campaigning astonished me when he said he hoped to emulate 'that transformative president reagan.' what? this man gave us the savings&loan disaster and the format for the recent corporatist coup. reagan's idea of a good way to raise revenue for his plots was to tax unemployment checks!

i once met a fellow who'd been a caterer to hollywood parties in the 1940s, who told me that at that time, if you said, 'the stupidest man in hollywood,' everyone knew you were talking about reagan. reagan got his start in politics there by ratting out lefties and gays to the FBI, HUAC and other such fascisti.

oddly, i don't have such loathing for nancy reagan. i saw her say that she would never vote for gw bush, whom she called "the village idiot." as i tend to think that only gw bush among all presidents was actually stupider than reagan; who would know more about village idiots than nancy?

Posted by: tazdelaney | June 2, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Ronald Reagan was no fool. I would agree with anyone who would argue that his policy mix of tax cuts and increases in defense spending was voodoo economics, setting the tone for the current economic debacle.

What I can't agree with is any notion that this makes him criminal, or a pariah. He didn't elevate himself to the presidency, the American people did.

And it's not been the custom, in US politics, to use hindsight to declare mistaken policy positions criminal policy positions. That was a USSR and Mao and French Revolution thing.

By the way, Reagan's foreign policy was a resounding success. No reasonable person I know doubts that he contributed to the downfall of the USSR, or that that was a good thing.

Given a choice between Reagan and Carter, in hindsight, I'm hard pressed to choose.

- an Obama voter and supporter

Posted by: douglaslbarber | June 2, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

You have got to be kidding me.

Money to celebrate this unabashed racist reagan?

It was his policies that started us on the way to this financial crisis and he knew it would enrich the rich and enslave the rest.

I quote the master: Paul Krugman who wrote May 31st about the catastrophe that 'raygun' was responsible for:

"“This bill is the most important legislation for financial institutions in the last 50 years. It provides a long-term solution for troubled thrift institutions. ... All in all, I think we hit the jackpot.” So declared Ronald Reagan in 1982, as he signed the Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act.

He was, as it happened, wrong about solving the problems of the thrifts. On the contrary, the bill turned the modest-sized troubles of savings-and-loan institutions into an utter catastrophe. But he was right about the legislation’s significance. And as for that jackpot — well, it finally came more than 25 years later, in the form of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

For the more one looks into the origins of the current disaster, the clearer it becomes that the key wrong turn — the turn that made crisis inevitable — took place in the early 1980s, during the Reagan years."

Krugman continues at: for those of you interested in knowing more about the crimes and immorality of 'reagone'!

Obama: it is criminal to spend taxpayers money on this tripe during this time of crisis when people are going homeless daily.

I want a refund of my tax money that is supporting this criminal celebration!!!!!!!

Posted by: adelaney2 | June 2, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

What a graceful man, what a beautiful photograph.

Almost everyone puts a foot in his or her mouth now and again. Few recover so well.

This president has extraordinary abilities and extraordinary character. He is a delight to watch.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | June 2, 2009 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Well, other posters. I see that no topic is off limits for cutting commentary. You know, my Texas grandma told me that you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. Try a little sweetness once in awhile. We need all the help we can get with stem cell research, and it's really rare that prominent Republicans will come out so publicly for any cause such as this. So, please try to give credit and praise for the rare times you see it. For those who enjoy the snarky remarks, there's plenty of room to post on other news articles.

Posted by: texasgirl56 | June 2, 2009 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Great. Perfect time to celebrate Reagan, just when the legacy of his Friedman-esque economic policies are bearing down on the masses in this country.

Posted by: BurtReynolds | June 2, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

"You're a lefty?" asked Mrs. Reagan to Obama.

Her husband wouldn't have needed to ask.

Posted by: EnoughISEnough | June 2, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Thank you President Obama for a sincere gesture, and thank you Nancy Reagan for being so receptive. The two of you present a striking picture of what is possible when both sides unite for the admirable purpose of stem cell research. Among our friends, we too have those who are retreating into the sad world of Alzheimer's. We pray for better days ahead for families struggling with this desperate disease, which robs human beings of their golden years.

Posted by: texasgirl56 | June 2, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

It's *always* a good day for partisanship. Oh, here's an example: why are conservatives ALWAYS eager to dump on other people for their "moral" failings - UNTIL something, like stem cell research, in this situation, affects them personally?

Posted by: pikaart | June 2, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Oh, boy! Olbermann and are probably fuming about this ; )

Posted by: JakeD | June 2, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

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