Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum – throughout this GOP Primary it seems like each of these Republican candidates is scrambling to associate themselves with Ronald Reagan. But why? Why would Romney or Newt try to align themselves the with the memory of one of the worst Presidents that the Republican Party has fielded since its birth. Not only was the guy a bad President, but also a bad actor (when he could remember his lines)!
Since there’s been a lot of reminiscing about the “Great Communicator” I got to thinking: was he really that great of a President? Actually, was he even that great of a person? Sure, I could take shots out his age or intellect, but that’s far too easy. Instead, here’s eight reasons that Ronald Reagan was a horrible person.
8. Not That Great of a Family Man
Let’s be honest. Most of us aren’t perfect perfect people, especially in the family man role. Presidents aren’t excluded either. Thomas Jefferson liked sleeping with his slaves. Bill Clinton liked to get busy in the White House. And yes, even Ronald Reagan was no saint. He divorced his first wife, Oscar-winner Jane Wyman, in 1948. This made him the only President to be divorced, which really isn’t the issue. He quickly hooked up with Nancy Davis after she asked for his help to remove her from a Hollywood blacklist, since he was President of Actors Guild. The two began dating, but Reagan continued to play the field. They only got married after he knocked her up with their first child Patti. OK, so these events don’t exactly make him a jerk, but what does is that he had strained relationships with his children. He showed them little affection and had little communication with them. This included not talking to son Ron until he apologized for hanging up the phone on the old man, not supporting daughter Maureen during her first go at politics and pretty much not addressing the fact that his son Michael was molested as a child.
7. Removed Solar Panels
Over thirty years ago Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the White House. Think about that. It was a great example of America being at the forefront of a green movement that had hardly taken off. With solar panels on the White House this would be an example to the rest of America, and the world, that we could actually do something to fix the environment. Then Ronald Reagan became president. Reagan didn’t seem to care about the environment, or our image, because he took the solar panels down. Since green is “in” President Obama is reinstalling solar panels on the White House, which would have already been there and saved us some dough if Reagan didn’t take them down in the first place.
Conservatives boast about the success of Reagan’s economic policies, commonly refereed to as Reaganomics. Unfortunately, his policies simply put us in the hole. When Reagan took office in 1980 the government spent $591 billion. By 1986 government spending rose to 68% to $990 billion. Reagan even ran up the deficit from about $40-$50 billion to $200 billion. By the time he left office the national debt was up around $3.5 trillion. Besides the increase in the national debt, Reaganomics established a trend that would continue to inflate the national debt to somewhere over $14trillion today. His administration also gave big corporations tax cuts, which not only decimated the economy, but also sent jobs overseas.
5. Closed Mental Hospitals
As governor of California, Reagan had many odd moves, like sending the National Guard into the University of California’s Berkeley campus to break-up that terrible terrorist organization known as hippies. He also helped close mental hospitals in California during the 70’s. When he became president he cut federal spending for mental hospitals and put that burden on the states, which he did by rescinding President Carter’s Mental Health Systems Act of 1980. Without federal funding mental hospitals closed throughout the nation and psychiatric wards in private hospitals grew. The result was big money for the private sector and mentally ill patients left without proper institutions and care.
4. Supported Apartheid South Africa
While pretty much everyone in the world thought that apartheid in South Africa was a pretty bad deal, Reagan supported it. During his presidency some 3,000 people were killed, and another 20,000 arrested in South Africa’s struggle to end apartheid. When Congress finally decided that economic sanctions on South Africa in 1986 would help end that injustice Reagan vetoed it.
3. Silence on AIDS
The first cases of AIDS began in 1981. Year after year the number of cases climbed. In 1983 there were over a thousand reported cases. A year later it was over 4,000, with 1,807 deaths. One of these victims included actor and friend to the Reagan, Rock Hudson, who had actually been to the White House while infected. By the time Reagan finally mentioned that such a disease existed in 1987, 36,058 Americans had been diagnosed and 20,849 had died. Representative Henry Waxman said it best in 1985 by stating, “It is surprising that the president could remain silent as 6,000 Americans died, that he could fail to acknowledge the epidemic’s existence. Perhaps his staff felt he had to, since many of his New Right supporters have raised money by campaigning against homosexuals.”
2. The Iran-Contra Affair
This has become one of the worst scandals in American history. The Iran-Contra Affair was simply selling weapons to a known enemy, Iran, in exchange for hostages. The money that was obtained was then used to fund the Contra, which were a right-wing guerrilla organization in Nicaragua. This transaction was not only illegal, it was also contrary to the United States official policies on dealing with terrorist groups. Of course Reagan denied knowing what was going on, which is expected when someone gets caught doing something horribly wrong. The end result of this scandal was that Iran received weapons, Hezbollah kidnapped more people and The Contras killed a lot of people. Even more disturbing is that it was Dick Cheney who came up with the plan for the president to use his executive power to bypass Congress in these types of matters, which he would employ during the Bush administrations “War on Terror”.
1. Butcher of Central America
Reagan launched a secret war on Central America while president because he believed that several of these countries had ties to the USSR. Behind closed doors Reagan’s actions lead to 300,000 deaths in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala during his two terms. The UN even called the CIA’s actions in Guatemala as “perpetrators of genocide”. After Reagan’s death in 2004, Father Miguel D’Escoto from Nicaragua had a lot to say about the Republican savior. “I pray that god in his infinite mercy and goodness forgive him for having been the butcher of my people, for having been responsible for the deaths of some 50,000 Nicaraguans,” he also stated, “More perhaps than any other U.S. President, Reagan convinced many around the world that the U.S. is a fraud, a big lie.” He also added that Reagan’s lies helped Americans to “be the most ignorant people around the world.”