1. says

    I’ve been reading a book called “Collision Course” about the 1981 air traffic controller strike. The way Reagan handled that was horrible. It set labor relations back for decades. In many ways it still hasn’t recovered. The rank and file state and federal employees are always the chosen scape goats on anti labor “budget hawks”, But there’s always money for a new aircraft carrier, or a stupid wall.

  2. says

    Those comments are all in the vein of “other than that, Mrs Lincoln, did you enjoy the play?” Is there a term for such things? There must be!

  3. whheydt says

    I might have liked Reagan better (as shown in the cartoon) if I hadn’t seen him in action as governor of California before he was president.

    It’s reminiscent of the people who asked me if I was in favor of H. Ross Perot. I replied that I might like him better if I knew less about him. As a programmer, I was all too aware of his practices as head of EDS.

  4. whywhywhy says

    I was just a kid when Reagan was elected and I did not understand why people trusted him to be President. I still don’t get it.

    I never understood my uncles arguing about unions. Almost all were against them and about half of them were in unions. Now they are all retired and the ones who were in unions have a decent retirement that has been protected and supported. The ones who were not in unions have lost their retirement plans. The retirement accounts were raided or gone bankrupt and they have no recourse. They all still like Reagan. So as an adult, I still don’t get it.

  5. says

    My political awakening began with Reagan. I voted Libertarian, as Carter wasn’t to my taste (ow, this sounds familiar now), and didn’t mind Reagan being elected. Then he started saying things. He’d talk along normally, and then say something jaw-droppingly awful, and he wouldn’t notice, and nobody around would notice, and it wouldn’t be remarked upon.

    Later, with the love of a good woman, I became a liberal.

  6. birgerjohansson says

    I assure you, very few in Sweden were taken in by Reagan (apart from the local conservatives).

  7. says

    There are times I wish there were a Hell. Reagan would get his own circle. The amount of damage that senile fucking cowboy did to this country, this nation’s people, and the entire planet is incalculable.

  8. pilgham says

    He was a senile cowboy. The real problem was the … what was the phrase… corrupt crime family occupying the white house. And every R administration since his has been worse. I had hope in 1992, when Clinton won. I lost it in 2008 when Bush was reelected. Trump is just Bush again, with a revival cast of crooks, racists and morons.

  9. Matt G says

    I thought Ronald Reagan was an idiot until I met George Bush Jr. I thought Bush Jr. was an idiot until I met Sarah Palin. I thought Palin was an idiot until I met Donald Trump. Who’s next, Republicans?

  10. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Matt G.,
    Oh, no. Ronnie was still an idiot. Hell, he was an idiot even before dementia claimed the half-wit he was born with. He was the father of know-nothing Presidents–and paved the way for W and the current occupant.

  11. unclefrogy says

    that comic is exactly right
    and he was never anything but a hollywood cowboy and a company man from the 50’s
    never understood how the christian conservatives went for him and rejected Carter as if was not a christian when carter taught and still teaches Sunday school and actually tries to live a christian life instead of just using pious language (oh now I get it)
    uncle frogy

  12. Oggie. My Favourite Colour is MediOchre says

    Donald Trump is the only example of which I am aware of the slippery slope argument being accurate.

  13. Mrdead Inmypocket says

    It all began with Reagan

    It didn’t, it really didn’t. So young. lol

    For example, if I had to go back to a defining person or moment in my memory that dominoed into, not only getting Reagan, but was probably formative of his conservative psyche. It’s the 44 Democratic convention.

    I was a lowly intern then. Henry Wallace had already been VP but had made some bitter enemies. Racists and especially the southern segregationist hated him, Wallace was forefront as a spokesperson in the civil rights movement. (Remember there were still a lot of Democrats in the Southern bible belt. Republicans hadn’t envisioned the Southern strategy yet and there were deep divides in the party over racial issues. Just ten years before this the KKK still had a strong hold on the party, which had been diminished by the mid 40’s. So the conventions could still be… lets just say heated.) Misogynists hated Wallace because he was progressive on women’s rights. Wallace’s record on labor rights meant corporate America despised him. Farmers hated him initially, but came around when he was sec of agriculture. On foreign policy he had many enemies. The Brits and French and those in the US who had their support hated Wallace because he was a vocal critic of colonialism. (Yes he was American after all so there is an element of hypocrisy there.) He was a strong opponent of fascism, especially US fascism. Which he called (I’m paraphrasing from memory here) “People who think money and power comes first and people come second”.

    Now I wouldn’t call all those factions a coalition against Wallace, but it could be summed up as the conservative wing of the party. When it came time for the VP nomination in the 44 convention there was the typical chicanery the Democratic party has always been structured around. None of those factions wanted Wallace and there are plenty of choke-points and levers of control if the party leaders didn’t want a lefty like Wallace on the ticket. So, will of the people be damned, which is ironic given the name of the party. Because Wallace was the most popular candidate for VP at the time among voters, being the second most popular Democrat beside FDR himself. But those party bosses wanted Truman’s conservative policies and that’s what they got. Even though he had less than 5% approval ratings from voters, where Wallace had over 60% approval (If you want to know how they managed that at the convention you can look that up yourself, this screed is long enough. Be warned it’s irksome.)

    Having said that. People seemed to be more aware back then that each party has their progressive and conservative wings. You can contrast that with today where the Democrats are portrayed as the progressive party and Republicans conservative. People today don’t seem aware of, or even deny there are conservative and progressives wings in each party. The truth is that the conservative wing of the Democratic party has dominated since that 44 election, for so long that it’s easy for someone with no comparison to assume that there simply are no wings in the party. Though conservative democrats have come left on some select social issues in the last few decades or so because they adopted “triangulation”. But I digress.

    Having said all that. Had Wallace been VP instead of Truman he’d have been president when FDR died. Who can say what history might have been. Would there have been bombs dropped on Japan? I’d say not likely. Would the cold war have developed in the same way? Who can know, but there certainly would have been opposition to the development of a military industrial complex instead of the runaway policies still embraced by both parties today. These formative years, of the Democratic party being taken over by the conservative wing and repudiating progressive ideals like the New Deal are what allowed the conservative Republican wing to take flight as it did. I mean, if the Democrats were conservatives where else did Republicans have to go? They certainly weren’t going to declare a conservative victory and disband. They doubled down.

    These were formative years for Reagan and the Overton window in the US. The point being, did it start with Reagan? No. Did it start with Wallace? No. What did Billy Joel sing “It was always burning since the world’s been turning” or summit. Although the US took a definite turn to the right in the 40’s, so if you’re going to point to any one person or circumstance, there are a lot better than Reagan. He was an outcome, the head of an abscess. Not a start.

    As I watch today, there is a left wing of self described “Socialist” Democrats who are trying to emerge in the party. Of course there is push back from the conservatives, but not just republicans. They’re struggling against the right wing of their own party.

    Please excuse me in advance if you direct a comment at me and I don’t reply, I’m not being anti-social. My hands are going to be useless from all that typing for a day or so. So I’m off. I’ll have someone read comments to me tonight if I’m not too tired. Disclaimer, I’m not going to proof read that and maybe my mind was wandering a bit from time to time. But there was a point there somewhere, I’m sure of it. lol

  14. ridana says

    #10 @ pilgham:
    Did you mean 2004, or were you implying that Obama was just another iteration of Bush?
    What I remember about Reagan is that he was the first President I thought was evil. Nixon was unscrupulous, and did many things I thought were wrong, but it never seemed to come from a place of pure evil rather than simple conservative morality, a desire for power, and the dishonesty of a used car salesman. But Reagan felt evil to me. He did what he did with a smile on his face and took pleasure in the lives he ruined and destroyed.
    Bush was a more competent Nixon, W was a moron who never seemed to grasp the effects of the things he did, and Trump is an evil moron.

  15. pilgham says

    #17 @ ridana

    I could stay positive in 2000 but after 4 years of the garbage presidency of Bush the US populace reelected him and I gave up. Obama was the best president the US has ever had, but from early in 2009 I thought too many people were leaning back to the Rs. When congress got taken over by Rs in 2010, I could see Obama was going to be crippled. There are just too many crooks, clowns, and just plain old monsters in the Rs and when they get control they look for things to ruin, or steal. Add in Trump’s joy at causing misery and you got a formula for collapse. Our only hope is their incompetence, and frankly I don’t think that’s enough..

  16. chrislawson says

    The cartoon didn’t even mention Reagan gutting the EPA, torpedoing anti-HIV health promotion because he didn’t care that gay people were dying, or starting the “War on Drugs” … I guess it would have to be 120 panels long to cover everything.

  17. chrislawson says


    I don’t think we’re talking about the same thing. In terms of vicious reactionary politics, it obviously didn’t start with Reagan. That’s been around since recorded history.

    What Reagan started was the modern fusion of evangelical Christians plus economic neoliberalism (has there ever been a more misleading label for a movement?) and covering the obvious and unbridgeable chasms between them with a blind antagonism to thinking or understanding if it causes even a whiff of cognitive dissonance. All of these elements by themselves go way back before Reagan, but his particular concoction has poisoned the moderate wing of the Republican party and swung the US into a sociopolitical death spiral where the many of the most important issues facing the country aren’t even allowed to be mentioned by relevant government agencies.

  18. bassmanpete says

    I seem to recall someone calling him Senator Raygun at Woodstock in ’69.

  19. DanDare says

    Either Trump/Bush/Reagan are something that lots of Americans want and agree with or your democracy is broken or both. Some big thinking is needed to fix this very bad situation.

  20. Mrdead Inmypocket says

    #20 chrislawson

    I don’t think we’re talking about the same thing.

    Oh no, we are.

    In terms of vicious reactionary politics, it obviously didn’t start with Reagan. That’s been around since recorded history.

    I’m with you.

    What Reagan started was…

    Well, you lost me there. There aren’t any beginnings. Let me put it bluntly because it’s simple and one of the reasons I was talking about Wallace, I should have been less air-headed and driven this home. Reagan was a fascist. He wasn’t the beginning of fascism in the US. Did the fascists build a coalition around Reagan? Yes. Is that new? No.

    What Reagan started was the modern fusion of evangelical Christians plus economic neoliberalism

    One of the central tenets of fascism is opportunism, they can pull from various coalitions. If you don’t look too closely it might appear to be something new. Much like a decorator crab, the fascist is colored by its environment and adapted to immediate circumstances.

  21. says

    @#18, pilgham

    Obama was the best president the US has ever had

    Spent the first 4 years of his administration trying to “negotiate” with the Republicans even though they had announced that they would refuse to work with him, and used this to move Democratic policy rightward. Kept us in Iraq to George W. Bush’s withdrawal date and tried to keep us there longer (but failed). Let Hillary Clinton talk NATO into destroying Libya. Had his legal team argue in court that nobody had standing to sue the government over domestic surveillance, killing of citizens as “illegal combatants” under Bush’s “War on Terror”. Sided with Republicans in favor of austerity at the time of the “Catfood Commission” by stocking the Supercommittee (remember that?) with only pro-austerity Democrats. Refused to prosecute the Bush administration for war crimes (which is part of how the Republicans retook Congress). Refused to prosecute individual bankers for fiduciary misconduct leading to the 2008 meltdown despite this being one of his campaign promises and the most popular issue in the country at the time. Gave us Mitt Romney’s health insurance law under the heading of “reform” and personally visited any Congress member who tried to talk about a public option to tell them to shut up.

    He’s not even in the top 10.

  22. mnb0 says

    @18: “Obama was the best president the US has ever had”
    Because he killed more people by drone (in Jemen especially) than any president before him, you mean?

  23. gaparker says

    @21, bassmanpete: Reagan was never a Senator. You’re thinking about Joan Baez with Jeffrey Shurtleff at Woodstock. Shurtleff’s introduction to “Drug Store Truck Driving Man” was “I’d like to dedicate this song to the Governor of California, Ronald Ray-gun. Zap!”

  24. Dave Dell says

    WHHEYDT – A great book (I read it several times in Vietnam) was titled “The Last Days of the Late Great State of California”. Had quite a bit of Gov. Reagan’s administration. One line from the book (and I hope it’s actually true) that I recall after all these decades is from a spokesman for Gov. Reagan, “Governor Reagan has never lied to you and what’s more will never do it again.”

  25. dianne says

    Reagan was the beginning? What about Nixon and the “southern strategy”? Also, I’d say Bush I was better than Reagan so it hasn’t been a monotonic trend down, though Bush I could just have been a measurement error.

    Re: Reagan, though, I never understood why people liked him. He always creeped me out. His voice sounded like that of a horror movie axe murderer just before he strikes.

  26. bassmanpete says

    Thanks for that correction, gaparker. It was a long time ago and I’m from the UK living in Australia, if that’s any excuse.

  27. says

    There was a rightward shift in the Democratic party after Nixon. Clinton seemed to be to be a southern Democrat who didn’t join the Republicans. Even Carter looks better in retrospect than he did at the time.