How come the record breaking number of Scandals during the Reagan Administration are so easily ignored and the myths believed and the man literally worshiped today

Bob™ the Union Ironworker 2009/09/01 14:07:36
Reagan without sentimentality

He told us government was the problem -- and his corruption-plagued administration made sure of it.

"By the end of his term, 138 Reagan administration officials had been convicted, had been indicted, or had been the subject of official investigations for official misconduct and/or criminal violations."

Jun 8, 2004 | In death as in life, Ronald Reagan maintains an extraordinary, almost elemental capacity to attract the positive and repel the negative. His energy, his grit, his poise and his powers of public persuasion were the pride of his supporters and the envy of his opponents. We will hear much more about all those qualities during the coming week, as the nation prepares for his funeral. During the period of mourning, most criticism of the deceased leader will be tempered by respect for his family and friends.

Yet it should be possible to eulogize rather than mythologize the 40th president and his times -- to acknowledge the skill, charm and commitment, without indulging in a sentimental revisionism that erases the historical reality of the 1980s. On the passing of a former president, celebration and commemoration overwhelm clarity and accuracy; and that is especially true in this instance. The American press was rarely critical of Reagan, and the partisan mythmaking process began more than a decade ago.

Ideas matter, as the conservatives like to say, and so do the stubborn facts. As Republicans seize this singular opportunity to advance their agenda behind the Reagan cortege, it's imperative to recall what actually happened during his eight years in the White House -- and to underline the consequences of the ideas that he promoted.

At his 1981 inauguration, the new president voiced his simple revolutionary credo: "Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem."

That remark was prescient, although not in the sense that Reagan intended. His naive faith in the private sector's capacity to regulate itself, along with his disdain for many of the necessary functions of the modern state, allowed cronies and crooks to flourish. Inept government, corrupt government and cynical government became severe problems during his tenure, leaving fiscal wreckage that remained for many years after he returned to private life.

The millions of words of hagiographic copy uttered and written this week will make scant mention of the scandal epidemic that marred Reagan's presidency (aside from the Iran-contra affair, which few commentators understand well enough to explain accurately). Disabled by historical amnesia, most Americans won't recall -- or be reminded of -- the scores of administration officials indicted, convicted or expelled on ethics charges between 1981 and 1989.

However historians will assess Reagan's responsibility, the record is what it is. Gathering dust in the news archives are thousands of clippings about the gross influence peddling, bribery, fraud, illegal lobbying and sundry abuses that engulfed the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Justice Department, and the Pentagon, to name a few of the most notorious cases.

In his 1991 book "Sleepwalking Through History: America in the Reagan Years," journalist Haynes Johnson came up with an unflattering statistic: "By the end of his term, 138 Reagan administration officials had been convicted, had been indicted, or had been the subject of official investigations for official misconduct and/or criminal violations."

These cases affected the nation's health, security and financial soundness. Consider the example of the EPA, where Reagan's contempt for environmental regulation led to the appointment of dishonest, incompetent people who coddled polluters instead of curbing them. Dozens of them were forced to resign in disgrace, after criminal and congressional investigations, and several went to prison. Or consider the HUD scandal, in which politically connected Republicans criminally exploited the same housing assistance programs they routinely denounced as "wasteful." Billions in EPA Superfund and HUD dollars were indeed wasted because of their corruption.

Reagan's HUD Secretary Sam Pierce took the Fifth Amendment when called to testify about the looting of his agency -- the first Cabinet official to seek that constitutional protection since the Teapot Dome scandal. But he wasn't the only Cabinet official to fall in scandal. So did Attorney General Edwin Meese, in the Wedtech contracting scandal, and so did Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger in the Iran-contra affair (although he was pardoned at the 11th hour by President George H.W. Bush).

The Pentagon procurement scandals, which involved literally dozens of rather unpatriotic schemes to rip off the military, revealed the system of bid-rigging and gift-greasing that accompanied Reagan's defense buildup. Worse, the president had been warned, two years before the scandal broke, about the growing allegations of fraud within the Defense Department by a blue-ribbon commission he had appointed. When the scandal broke with a series of FBI raids in 1988, he was about to leave the White House.

Most emblematic of the Reaganite attitude toward government was the savings-and-loan scandal. The president's advisors had convinced him that if he would only deregulate the thrift industry, a gigantic bonanza of growth and investment was sure to follow. His sunny quip when he signed the deregulation bill in 1982 was typical Reagan: "All in all, I think we've hit the jackpot." There's no reason to doubt he sincerely believed that with government shoved aside, everyone would prosper. The best reckoning of the costs of his benign intentions is a trillion dollars.

Even Reagan's harshest critics didn't claim that he condoned the abuses that were tolerated -- and in some cases perpetrated -- by his appointees. Nor did he profit personally from those abuses. He was a "big picture" president who was detached from the details of government, delegating authority to aides he trusted too much. Historians will determine Reagan's personal responsibility for the disasters as well as the triumphs on his watch.

So let the former president be remembered for his optimism, his achievements, and his love of country. But let his mistakes be remembered as well. Reagan deserves no less. The sentimental version doesn't do justice to him and his legacy, for better and worse.
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  • Madelisa 2009/09/01 14:08:54
    Because Glenn Beck; Sean Hannity; Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh don't discuss them with the lemmings.

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  • Mel 2009/09/09 07:23:32
    YEP! He was the propogandist from HELL! A good actor but filled with bias because he was so un-educated! LOCAL CONTROL and DOWN SIZE GOVERNMENT until OUR COUNTRY is BROKE.....

    yep propogandist actor filled bias un-educated local government country broke

    LOCAL CONTROL is how those who think like Reagan steal from ALL OF US.


    local government country broke local reagan steal local totalitarean sp


    BE PROUD of American Science not BIAS.......
  • Queen B 2009/09/02 14:45:05
    Queen B
    Reagan scandals are anathema to Bonzo's brethren. They believe whatever winger myths they are told because it's just easier that way. Don't ever confuse them with facts.
    scandals anathema bonzos brethren winger myths told easier confuse facts
  • \V/ 2009/09/02 07:07:03
  • Sc ♥ An... \V/ 2009/09/02 09:23:49
    Sc ♥ Angel ♥™ -Won't be back for awhile, if at all.
    Hey..I like this post too!!

    Great one!!

    ...but many will still refuse to see....
  • \V/ Sc ♥ An... 2009/09/02 17:10:28
  • mae 2009/09/02 05:53:10
    How come????? Total hypocrisy. Nothing more.
  • babibumer 2009/09/02 03:13:22
    They don't want to remember. Besides that, most of the Right Wing are too brainwashed into thinking that the Republicans/Conservatism actually cares about the middle class. They sing the praises of the "Trickle Down Economics" because someone (fat cat) told them it actually works.

    Ole Ronnie was a great actor and "good ole boy Cowboy". The Right cannot separate that from being a good leader.

    I also find it rather amusing that they are screaming their heads off about the Stimulus Pkg. Obama passed, but seem to forget that we were in a recession when Ole Ronnie passed a $750 billion Stimulus Pkg. - in 1980 dollars! Where was the outrage then? And - it worked - yet they don't even want to quit screaming long enough to see, and hope, if Obama's will work as well.

    Go figure. You just can't fight ignorance.

    outrage worked quit screaming hope obamas work figure fight ignorance
  • ggaitherii 2009/09/02 02:31:48
    Having a "legacy" institute helps with those pesky things like Iran-Contra. Bush is currently doing the same with his minions all over the press attempting to rewrite history. If you screw up, admit it and move on. That's a lot more respectable than trying to gloss it over. Reagan was phenomenally charismatic to boot.
  • Peggy 2009/09/02 01:32:09
    They need something to hang onto. They easily hang on to fabrications. Look how many extreemist believe Beck (who has become a bigger pain than Rush) Rush, Coulter, Hannity, O'Reilly etc.
  • Rondolce 2009/09/02 00:07:17
    The conservatives need an FDR to continue the romanticizing and mythologizing of their movement, especially now as it goes crashing into the rocks. It's working now but history has time.
  • Us and Them 2009/09/01 23:35:25
    Us and Them
    Ronnie was no "saint" and though he was President when I was a senior in H.S., I remember it well. I had always wondered how the Iran hostages were released so fast after he took office only to find out he traded arms for them.
    I remember the Iran-Contra Affair and the carelessness that led to the S&L; industry fall. Star Wars: The missile defense system that was such a waste of tax-payer dollars but all that is swept under the rug. If information were available like it is today, I wonder if he really would have won that election by such an over-whelming majority since people would have know a lot more about him then they did then.
  • Laneia 2009/09/01 23:18:49
    Well, I think we're going to find out that the Bush administration was the most corrupt - at least morally, in my opinion, because of the torture issue.

    Reagan had the advantage because he was so gosh-darned likeable. They didn't call him "The Great Communicator" for nothing. And I do believe he was partly responsible for the fall of the Soviet Union because they (The USSR) were so scared of his cowboy attitude that they bankrupted their country by diverting almost all their funds into defense.

    But that being said, I think Reagan is partly to blame for our current economic crisis with his Trickle Down Reaganomics. It was Trickle Up for big businesses and the wealthy elite of this country!
  • Jeremiah 2009/09/01 22:21:28 (edited)
    From the beginning of his time in office with the manipulation of the hostages' time in captivity, to the end with Iran-contra, he was fortunate his funeral was not held at a federal prison.
  • concerned 2009/09/01 21:40:05
    Republicans always make their presidents look great on paper when their terms are over .. and now they are already working on bush .. and his shit was realy bad .. but they will try to place the blame on Obama in the history books ... lol the republicans always do it ...
  • E.G. 2009/09/01 20:14:04
    Saying "record breaking" is like saying that the movie that came out last weekend made more in it's opening night than one that came out 30 years ago. Of COURSE it did! You have to take a 2nd mortgage for tickets these days! lol

    Point is how do we know that there wasn't worse scandal 300 years ago? *grin*
  • Bob™ th... E.G. 2009/09/01 20:47:19
    Bob™ the Union Ironworker
    *grin* I can say for sure there were no Presidential Scandals 300 years ago. 100% for sure. *grin*
  • E.G. Bob™ th... 2009/09/01 22:10:48
    So the "George & Martha Washington affairs scandal rumor" isn't true?? *grin*
  • Bob™ th... E.G. 2009/09/02 01:36:31
    Bob™ the Union Ironworker
    and that was only 225 years ago
  • E.G. Bob™ th... 2009/09/02 12:06:01
    Here I am taking the time to argue with you and you're going to throw facts and numbers up in my face?? *grin* (I should probably get some sleep before I comment again. lol)
  • Jeremiah E.G. 2009/09/01 22:23:05
    Harding might have outdone him, but he died early.
  • Sarah 2 2009/09/01 18:23:35
    Sarah 2
    Regan was a detestable non-humanitarian lap dog of the rich. When you die and you've done so much for those in high places, they will sing your praises and pay others to sing your praises and use their money to write history the way they want it. Regan and his Friedman economics factored into the present financial crisis in a big way.
  • Jeremiah Sarah 2 2009/09/01 22:26:06 (edited)
    The state of Texas is eliminating names from school textbooks to fit their fundamentalist agenda. Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall out, every possible Bible pounder in. What are the odds of Reagan making the cut?
  • Sarah 2 Jeremiah 2009/09/02 13:57:37
    Sarah 2
    Texas - is that part of the United States?
  • Jeremiah Sarah 2 2009/09/02 14:46:46
    Barely, but we haven't heard from Governor Goodhair Perry yet today.
  • moomoof 2009/09/01 17:58:31
    ....well wow
    i dont know why some scandals matter whiles others dont

    someone should teach this
  • Bob™ th... moomoof 2009/09/01 18:37:40
    Bob™ the Union Ironworker
    I am trying.
  • moomoof Bob™ th... 2009/09/01 18:38:25
    yea but we need to get it to schools
    all they teach is bull
  • Bob™ th... moomoof 2009/09/01 18:44:18
    Bob™ the Union Ironworker
    they have worked on the Reagan Legacy Project for years and they will try and do the same with Bush
  • moomoof Bob™ th... 2009/09/01 18:45:45
    i don get the point
  • Bob™ th... moomoof 2009/09/01 18:49:50
    Bob™ the Union Ironworker
    my point is the conservatives do a great job of rewriting history, they sell it better, they even go after people such as FDR and say he prolonged the Depression and didn't end it. That is why we don't get the right stuff in schools. Maybe college but by then the damage is done.
  • moomoof Bob™ th... 2009/09/01 18:58:34
    yes that is right
    its frustrating
  • J 2009/09/01 17:47:25 (edited)
    Content removed
  • Jeremiah J 2009/09/01 22:28:03
    Actually, William F. Buckley and Barry Goldwater gave us modern conservatism. Reagan can't even claim credit for that.
  • J Jeremiah 2009/09/01 22:41:02 (edited)
  • Jeremiah J 2009/09/01 22:58:43 (edited)
    Hi Jodie,

    David Stockman always claimed credit for inventing supply-side economics -- until it failed, of course -- though many give that accolade to Jack Kemp. Buckley was going on about his version in the 1960's. It was tried and failed, but Bush Junior thought he'd give it another go, with even more disastrous results. I wonder who will try next.
  • J Jeremiah 2009/09/01 23:20:45 (edited)
  • Jeremiah J 2009/09/02 00:01:38
    You're probably right. Thanks for the info.
  • ishqboli 2009/09/01 16:23:14
    when republicans are involved, the scandals don´t matter, even when the scandals go against everything they stand for.
  • kalynn 2009/09/01 15:55:08
    [...] He was someone to be admired. He is worshipped today for those who can remember a much better time in American history. Into the future now we can only see desparation, lies and a total disaster.[...]
  • Bob™ th... kalynn 2009/09/01 16:07:51
    Bob™ the Union Ironworker
    Better time in history. LOL I can the Clinton years. Nice personal attack.

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