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Posted at 1:06 PM ET, 02/ 4/2011

Ronald Reagan: What do you think is his legacy?

By Elizabeth Flock
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President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan leave the White House for the president's second inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20, 1985. (Dudley M. Brooks-TWP)

Former president Ronald Reagan would turn 100 on Feb. 6 if he were alive today. The two-term president unquestionably had great influence on America both while in office-emphasizing a smaller government, a bigger military, lower taxes and conservative social policies--and after his terms were over.

We take a look back at the man through photos of the actor, president, and statesman, a video of his most memorable moments, and a selection of the 40th president's famous quotes.


We examine how Reagan's legacy still shapes U.S. politics today. Republicans with national ambitions never miss an opportunity to remind us of how their policies are like Reagan's. After facing struggles similar to Regan in his first term, Obama hopes to replicate the Gipper's political comeback.

YOUR TAKE: What do you think is Ronald Reagan's legacy?

What do you think is Ronald Reagan's legacy? Do you have praise for his presidency? Criticism? Give us your thoughts by using #reagan100 on Twitter and we'll post some responses right here.

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Former President Ronald Reagan hammers on one of the last remnants of the Berlin Wall during his visit to Berlin. Reagan spoke the famous words, "Tear down this wall!" in front of the Brandenburg Gate in 1987. (Lutz Schmidt-Reuters)
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President Ronald Reagan survived a deep recession, low approval ratings and an unfavorable midterm election to easily win reelection. (Dennis Cook/associated Press)

More on the Ronald Reagan Centennial:

• An audio slideshow of 'The Great Communicator'
•The Fast Fix on how Obama is like Reagan.
•Think you know Reagan? Test your knowledge.
Festivities to mark Reagan's birth.
Chat Monday at 11 a.m. with author Steven Hayward on Reagan's legacy and read the transcript of the chat with Reagan historian and author Craig Shirley.

Remember when #Reagan spent more time warning about UFOs than the impending AIDS crisis? Me too http://bit.ly/hDdEBM #Reagan100 #tcot #p2less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

I miss the peace that the country felt during #reagan100 presidency. It is long gone now No cold war no #rumorsofwar @HappyBdayGipper #tcotless than a minute ago via web

@HappyBdayGipper I remember Reagan lowered the threshold that defined poverty & then declared there were fewer poor people. #Reagan100 #p2less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

By Elizabeth Flock  | February 4, 2011; 1:06 PM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Selected reader dispatches from Egypt
Next: William Shatner releases metal album; Shatner's greatest hits

Comments

Reagan's legacy: anti-intellectualism.

The repercussions are endless, and devastating.

Posted by: DrLearnALot | February 4, 2011 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Ronald Reagan was a national disgrace.

Posted by: thomasmc1957 | February 4, 2011 1:38 PM | Report abuse

A disaster.
Killed the fairness doctrine, was anti-union.
Anti-tax ideology led to massive debt.
Illegal drug dealing and arms sales.
Falsely claimed credit for the fall of the Soviet Union.
Actively promulgating an anti-government ideology that has divided America.
Was a puppet of the Bechtel corporation.

A nice, gentle, befuddled disaster.

Posted by: thebobbob | February 4, 2011 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Deep-pocketed friends of the wealthy like Grover Norquist have had some success in rehabilitating this guy's legacy amongst the easily-bought corporate media. But most of us remember him as the fellow who ran roughshod over the poor and vulnerable, trashed the environment, ran up a huge debt and showed his contempt for the Constitution by secretly funding and arming repressive torture states in Central America.

I'm not sure why that kind of record merits having an airport named after you. Unless maybe it's an airfield used by the thugs of a tinpot right wing Latin American dictator to run sorties that spray napalm onto their own people.

Posted by: B2O2 | February 4, 2011 11:58 PM | Report abuse


Ronald Reagan had two major achievements. First is that he took the steps that ended the Cold War. Domestically, it was his indexing of tax rates to inflation that was a game changer. Before that, Congress could sit on its hands as inflation drove everyone into higher tax brackets.

Posted by: edbyronadams | February 5, 2011 10:30 AM | Report abuse

He was addlepated for at least the most part of his second term and probably for some of his first term.

It amazes me that Iran/contra among other fiascos and so many people still want to put him up on a pedestal.

He was easy to like and I like and still think about some of his one liners. But......

Posted by: jobenf | February 5, 2011 10:56 AM | Report abuse

I can't fault him for anything since he was mentally incompetent during his time in office...

Posted by: OneWhoSpeaksTruth | February 5, 2011 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I am so fed up with this Reagan worship!

Pallin says this country is on the road to ruin. She is right. Where she id dead wrong is the Reagan bit. That monster did this to the United States to spite liberals. whom he vilified as a hobby.

The GOP put us on the road to ruin by transferring all the wealth and power into a handful of despicable BIG BUSINESS FIRST people. It has cost us over a generation of growth, stagnated the society as a whole and sent our nation spiraling into the depths of obscurity.

Americans should NOT be worshiping Reagan but using him as a symbol of everything that can go wrong in a country.

Remember this, something Reagan could not understand because he wanted to be the master of everything he could seize. CONSERVATIVE SOCIETIES FAIL!

Look at Egypt for a good example.

Posted by: PoliticalPrisoner2012 | February 5, 2011 11:55 AM | Report abuse


We live with the debilitating Reagan legacy every day with our crumbling infrastructure, our wasteful Pentagon, the World's Biggest Bad Debts, and the Dumbing-Down of America.

Those who want to remember Reagan can PAY HIS DEBTS!!

Posted by: gkam | February 5, 2011 11:56 AM | Report abuse


We live with the debilitating Reagan legacy every day with our crumbling infrastructure, our wasteful Pentagon, the World's Biggest Bad Debts, and the Dumbing-Down of America.

Those who want to remember Reagan can PAY HIS DEBTS!!


Posted by: gkam | February 5, 2011 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Probably one of the most affable guys to be president, but so was Chester A . Arthur. Should have been impeached for Iran-Contra. His budget policies were a total mess. As to the earlier poster- John Paul II had more to do with end of the cold war than Reagan. And that awful Jeanne Kirkpatrick -totally illogical arguments in her article "Dictaorships and Democracies". Total BS- if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, quacks like a duck.......

Reagan may have been a very genial person and good on tv. He was not a good president.

Posted by: lancepcope | February 5, 2011 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Probably one of the most affable guys to be president, but so was Chester A . Arthur. Should have been impeached for Iran-Contra. His budget policies were a total mess. As to the earlier poster- John Paul II had more to do with end of the cold war than Reagan. And that awful Jeanne Kirkpatrick -totally illogical arguments in her article "Dictaorships and Democracies". Total BS- if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, quacks like a duck.......

Reagan may have been a very genial person and good on tv. He was not a good president.

Posted by: lancepcope | February 5, 2011 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Let's see???

***Voodoo economics... Okay, how'd that little "supply side - trickle down" economic model work??? Check out the Fall of 2008 for a clue...

***Massive deficits... Hmmmmm??? I thought that the Dems were the big spenders but seems that over the last 40 years the Dems have been the deficit hawks cleaning up behind the big spending Repubs...

***Recession... Yup, how quickly folks forget that Reagan left US a recession and and a mini housing bubble... Not like Bush's housing bubble but a housing bubble, none the less...

***The Big Lie... Yep, the Repubs like to give Ronnie credit for winning the Cold War... Problem is that Reagan carried on the exact strategy that every president going back to Ike had used and just happened to be in the right place to take the credit...

I mean, seems that other than the revisionary mythology that the Repubs love to spin there really wasn't anything all that great about Ronnie's presidency... I will give him credit for not being a complete partisan jerk like most of them today... I mean, he got along with Tip O'Neal just fine...

There, I said something nice about Ronnie...

Bob

Posted by: bobnpvine | February 5, 2011 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Hurray! The comments that show people were NOT bamboozled by Reagan's "aw shucks, folks" persona. The man was a disaster for this country and had no business being president.

Reagan:
Tripled the national debt;
supported apartheid;
backed Saddam;
crushed worker rights;
dismantled regulations that protected us,
increased the poor class (while blaming them for being poor).

We should have Just Said No.

This cartoon from 2004 reminds us of some of the highlights:
http://hungryblues.net/2004/06/11/remembering-reagan/

Posted by: jessicagreen1 | February 5, 2011 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Let's see???

***Voodoo economics... Okay, how'd that little "supply side - trickle down" economic model work??? Check out the Fall of 2008 for a clue...

***Massive deficits... Hmmmmm??? I thought that the Dems were the big spenders but seems that over the last 40 years the Dems have been the deficit hawks cleaning up behind the big spending Repubs...

***Recession... Yup, how quickly folks forget that Reagan left US a recession and and a mini housing bubble... Not like Bush's housing bubble but a housing bubble, none the less...

***The Big Lie... Yep, the Repubs like to give Ronnie credit for winning the Cold War... Problem is that Reagan carried on the exact strategy that every president going back to Ike had used and just happened to be in the right place to take the credit...

I mean, seems that other than the revisionary mythology that the Repubs love to spin there really wasn't anything all that great about Ronnie's presidency... I will give him credit for not being a complete partisan jerk like most of them today... I mean, he got along with Tip O'Neal just fine...

There, I said something nice about Ronnie...

Bob

Posted by: bobnpvine | February 5, 2011 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Let's see???

***Voodoo economics... Okay, how'd that little "supply side - trickle down" economic model work??? Check out the Fall of 2008 for a clue...

***Massive deficits... Hmmmmm??? I thought that the Dems were the big spenders but seems that over the last 40 years the Dems have been the deficit hawks cleaning up behind the big spending Repubs...

***Recession... Yup, how quickly folks forget that Reagan left US a recession and and a mini housing bubble... Not like Bush's housing bubble but a housing bubble, none the less...

***The Big Lie... Yep, the Repubs like to give Ronnie credit for winning the Cold War... Problem is that Reagan carried on the exact strategy that every president going back to Ike had used and just happened to be in the right place to take the credit...

I mean, seems that other than the revisionary mythology that the Repubs love to spin there really wasn't anything all that great about Ronnie's presidency... I will give him credit for not being a complete partisan jerk like most of them today... I mean, he got along with Tip O'Neal just fine...

There, I said something nice about Ronnie...

Bob

Posted by: bobnpvine | February 5, 2011 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Let's see???

***Voodoo economics... Okay, how'd that little "supply side - trickle down" economic model work??? Check out the Fall of 2008 for a clue...

***Massive deficits... Hmmmmm??? I thought that the Dems were the big spenders but seems that over the last 40 years the Dems have been the deficit hawks cleaning up behind the big spending Repubs...

***Recession... Yup, how quickly folks forget that Reagan left US a recession and and a mini housing bubble... Not like Bush's housing bubble but a housing bubble, none the less...

***The Big Lie... Yep, the Repubs like to give Ronnie credit for winning the Cold War... Problem is that Reagan carried on the exact strategy that every president going back to Ike had used and just happened to be in the right place to take the credit...

I mean, seems that other than the revisionary mythology that the Repubs love to spin there really wasn't anything all that great about Ronnie's presidency... I will give him credit for not being a complete partisan jerk like most of them today... I mean, he got along with Tip O'Neal just fine...

There, I said something nice about Ronnie...

Bob

Posted by: bobnpvine | February 5, 2011 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Let's see???

***Voodoo economics... Okay, how'd that little "supply side - trickle down" economic model work??? Check out the Fall of 2008 for a clue...

***Massive deficits... Hmmmmm??? I thought that the Dems were the big spenders but seems that over the last 40 years the Dems have been the deficit hawks cleaning up behind the big spending Repubs...

***Recession... Yup, how quickly folks forget that Reagan left US a recession and and a mini housing bubble... Not like Bush's housing bubble but a housing bubble, none the less...

***The Big Lie... Yep, the Repubs like to give Ronnie credit for winning the Cold War... Problem is that Reagan carried on the exact strategy that every president going back to Ike had used and just happened to be in the right place to take the credit...

I mean, seems that other than the revisionary mythology that the Repubs love to spin there really wasn't anything all that great about Ronnie's presidency... I will give him credit for not being a complete partisan jerk like most of them today... I mean, he got along with Tip O'Neal just fine...

There, I said something nice about Ronnie...

Bob

Posted by: bobnpvine | February 5, 2011 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for repeating myself... I had a Ronnie moment...

LOL...

Bob

Posted by: bobnpvine | February 5, 2011 4:22 PM | Report abuse

The canonization of Ronald Reagan, facilitated by the millions of dollars accumulated by his right-wing admirers and by the corporate media, is pretty ridiculous. I don't recall any particular hoorang on Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 100th birthday in 1982, even though he was an infinitely greater President than Reagan. Reagan's greatest achievement was to make Americans feel good about themselves again. Many of his policies, including slashing taxes on the rich, the deregulation of business, including the banking and financial industries, undermining unions, gutting social services and preventing our government from serving as a bulwark against the forces of organized money, have brought us to our current, rather desperate condition. It's very disappointing that our current President appears to think more highly of Reagan than FDR, or any of the other Democratic Presidents. I'm also not looking forward to the ode to Ronald Reagan put together by the NFL plutocrats as part of Superbowl Sunday. As far as I'm concerned, politics and sports don't mix and I don't like feeling as if I have to support the Republican party if I'm a football fan.

Posted by: ejs2 | February 5, 2011 5:04 PM | Report abuse

reagan would be drummed out of the teahadi repupublican't party of today for not being enough like "reagan." That would be the mythical reagan they have conjured up over the decades. Make no mistake - reagan was a dangerous radical who did perhaps irreperable damage to the country, but he is no where near as crazy or as divorced from reality - even in his dementia - as todays republicon party.

Unfortunately his legacy is the unhinged radicalism we see in todays right wing, and his repetition of faith in things that are demonstrably untrue. like tax cuts for the rich "trickle down" economics.

"There is only one substance on earth that consistantly defies the laws of gravity. Of all things natural and manmade, money is the only object that left alone will always flow uphill." ---Milton Friedman

Posted by: John1263 | February 5, 2011 5:26 PM | Report abuse

The COld War ended in 1991. I seem to remember that reagan left office in January 1989, and had essentially "checked out" somewhere in late 1986. He no more ended the COld War than I did. His "tear down this wall" quote was in 1987. The wall did not come down until well into the first year of the first bush - 1989. And historians give reagan zero credit for that event. It was internal East German politics, not reagan. And the super big lie is this"reagan spent the USSR into dissolution. That could only be true in two flase eventualities. 1. reagan stated that as a policy plan - he never did. Ever. He nearly spent the US into dissolution, not the USSR. and 2. The USSR would have had to engage in an arms race to counter reagans massive deficit financed military build up. They did not. So you righteis base all your hyper bloviating nonsense on myths and flat out lies. reagan was largely a failure as president. He just looked and sounded good on television, as long as he had a script to follow.

Posted by: John1263 | February 5, 2011 5:32 PM | Report abuse

John has it entirely correct... Today's Republican Party would disgust Reagan and vice versa...

Bob

Posted by: bobnpvine | February 5, 2011 5:59 PM | Report abuse

BTW, seein' as this the eve of Ronnie's 100th birthday then can it be assumed that after tomorrow's birthday bash that we can get on with life without the revisionists hero worship and circle jerk???

I mean, this is getting old... I remembered when he died and we had 30 days of it...

Come on, ya'll righties... Give *US* a break!!!

Bob

Posted by: bobnpvine | February 5, 2011 7:27 PM | Report abuse

One of the many disappointing things about Obama is his repeated lapses into a fascination with Regan.

I'm happy to see so many others have no fascination with Regan and are clear on the damage he did, and the bad path he put the country on.


Posted by: Senavifan | February 6, 2011 2:22 AM | Report abuse

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