The Sound of the Crowd

Ah yes…it’s all coming back to me now

Remembering Reagan.

Why the GOP can’t get over him:

“The trouble with deification is that it makes life hard for the deity’s successors. The most prominent victim of the Reagan myth has been George Bush pere…Bush, of course, went on to lose the 1992 election. The conventional interpretation of his defeat was that he appeared passive in the face of a weak economy. But conservatives knew this could not be true. Bush must have lost because he forsook the lessons of his predecessor. P.J. O’Rourke, speaking at the first large conservative gathering after the election, offered the right’s interpretation. “We didn’t lose this election,” he insisted. “Some people whose politics we can sort of tolerate lost this election.” This account allowed conservatives to believe what all ideologues would like to believe: Their party lost not because it was too extreme but because it wasn’t extreme enough.”

Eric Alterman has what should but won’t be the last word for a while.

“I think we can point to his presidency as the moment the country went off the rails in terms of a willingness to address its real problems, rather than the ones we wish we had.”

He also lists several books on Reagan. I second the recommendation of any of Lou Cannon’s biographies. Cannon is an honest reporter whose work, as Alterman says, can be enjoyed by Reagan’s fans and critics alike.

Paul Slansky’s The Clothes Have No Emperor, though not mentioned by Alterman, is a day-to-day documentation of the Reagan era, invaluable to those who remember that the devil is in the details.

Jane Mayer and Doyle McManus’s Landslide is recommended, too–I have never read a better encapsulation of what went wrong with Reagan’s second term.


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