Difference between revisions of "Ronald Wilson Reagan"

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[[Image:Gorbachev reagan bush.gif|right|250px|thumb]]
'''Ronald Wilson Reagan '''(February 6, 1911- June 5, 2004), considered by many to be one of the greatest American Presidents, was the fortieth [[President of the United States of America]] from 1981 to 1989, following [[Democrat]] [[Jimmy Carter]] and preceding [[Republican]] [[George H. W. Bush]]. Ronald Reagan is credited with leading America peacefully through the Cold War, lowering taxes, promoting a free economy, and causing the end of [[communism]] in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. He was known affectionately to Americans as "The Gipper," harking back to a film where he was cast as All-American George Gip.)[http://www.nationalreview.com/nrof_bartlett/bartlett200310290853.asp]
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'''Ronald Wilson Reagan '''(February 6, 1911- June 5, 2004), considered by many to be one of the greatest American Presidents, was the fortieth [[President of the United States of America]] from 1981 to 1989, following [[Democrat]] [[Jimmy Carter]] and preceding [[Republican]] [[George H. W. Bush]]. Ronald Reagan is credited with leading America peacefully through the Cold War, lowering taxes, promoting a free economy, and causing the end of [[communism]] in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. He was known affectionately to Americans as "The Gipper," harking back to a film where he was cast as All-American
 
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In one of his most famous challenges to Soviet communism in Europe, Reagan gave a speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin in which he said, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." Reagan's economic policies became known as "Reaganomics" based the idea tax cuts will spur savings and investment. Reagan was strongly opposed to the concept of big government, advocating a reduction in the size and budget of the federal government. During his terms in office, he faced a divided Congress split between Republican and Democratic control for six of his eight years as President. Reagan was known for forging alliances with the Democratic Speaker of the House, [[Tip O'Neill]], among others, to effectively pass legislation.
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==Early Life==
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Reagan was born and raised in Illinois and attended Eureka College, where he quickly developed a reputation as a "jack of all trades", excelling in the areas of athletics and theater. In his first year at Eureka, where Reagan earned a degree in economics, the president of the college tried to cut back the faculty.  Reagan immediately helped organize a student strike. Reagan enlisted in the military during World War II, but his eyesight was not good enough for combat duty. He used his acting skills to make military training films and promote the sale of "War Bonds. <ref>http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/06/05/reagan.obit/index.html</ref>.
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Reagan became a radio sports announcer, and then a famous actor, leading the Screen Actors Guild. Ironically, Reagan was thus the only president to ever lead a [[labor union]], traditionally considered bastions of liberalism. Reagan himself was a registered Democrat well into the 1950's, but as head of the Screen Actors Guild he fought against communist infiltration. Peggy Noonan, wrote:  ''Even in his zeal to purge the communist influence from Hollywood, he fought those who engaged in witch hunts and defended those who had been falsely accused of involvement.'' Reagan met his second wife, actress Nancy Davis, when she ended up on the "Black List" and came to him for help. [http://www.townhall.com/columnists/DavidLimbaugh/2001/11/17/noonan_when_character_was_king]
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==Governor of California==
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In 1966, he was elected the 33rd Governor of California.  In 1970, he was re-elected.  But in 1974, he chose not to seek a third term.  Achievements during his terms included:
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*Fighting the People's Park protests, and restoring order to California's chaotic University campuses.
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*Led a massive revision of California's massive public assistance programs, actually increasing benefits to the needy.
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*Working well with the Democrats to forge consensus on a variety of issues.
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*Opposing the Dos Rios Dam
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==Presidency==
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In 1968, Reagan was a late candidate for president in the Republican primaries.  However, [[Richard Nixon]] easily won that nomination.  In 1976, Reagan challenged Gerald Ford for the Republican nomination, before withdrawing his name from consideration.  Reagan knew if he continued, he would take the nomination away from Ford, and forever be branded as a Party spoiler.  This he did not want, so he signaled his wish to be removed from consideration, and gave a very effective speech at the convention in support of Ford.  Then, in 1980, he beat [[George H. W. Bush]] in the Republican primaries, and went on to oppose [[Jimmy Carter]] (incumbent) in the general election with G.H.W. Bush as his running mate.  A poor economy and the incumbent's failing to deal with several international crises aided Reagan. As he put it, "I'm told I can't use the word depression. Well, I'll tell you the definition. A recession is when your neighbor loses his job; depression is when you lose your job. Recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his."  In the general election, he received 50.75% of the popular vote and 90.9% of the electoral.
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Once in office, Reagan showed he was playing hardball.  When the Federal [[Air Traffic Controllers]] struck illegally, Reagan gave them 48 hours before he fired all who hadn't gone back to work (11,359).
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In 1984, Reagan won 49 out of 50 states' electoral votes, and the largest public vote in almost 100 years, 58.77%.  During his second term, he helped end the [[Cold War]], with the help of [[Mikhail Gorbachev]], and [[Pope John Paul II]] by recognizing the weakness of the Soviet economy, and simply spending them out of existence.
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==Presidential Legacy==
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Reagan's 1983 Strategic Defense Initiative became popularly known as "Star Wars," the name given to it by critics because they thought it was pure fantasy like the popular George Lucas films. This plan was never actually fully instituted. Although billions of dollars have been spent on development, no space-based missile defense was tested successfully until 2006. While supporters of Reagan claim SDI gave the United States a large amount of leverage in its standoff with the [[Soviet Union]], many political scientists and historians note that Star Wars played a secondary role in the calculus of Soviet policy-making, where internal structural problems were paramount, but it should be noted that the threat the Soviet Union felt from the initiative was instrumental in making them step-up negotiations, according to many involved with diplomacy at the time.  [[Henry Kissinger]] wrote:  ''I know it's an axiomatic view of the Left around the world that missile defense is sinful, and that it's desirable to keep each nation as vulnerable as possible. But that's a debatable premise. The U.S. must defend itself against whoever has missiles that would threaten the United States. And you don't have to be able to name an enemy.'' [http://www.doublestandards.org/dreifus1.html]
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Upon his death, Margaret Thatcher commented:  ''As Prime Minister, I worked closely with Ronald Reagan for eight of the most important years of all our lives. We talked regularly both before and after his presidency. And I have had time and cause to reflect on what made him a great president. Ronald Reagan knew his own mind. He had firm principles - and, I believe, right ones. He expounded them clearly, he acted upon them decisively. When the world threw problems at the White House, he was not baffled, or disorientated, or overwhelmed. He knew almost instinctively what to do. When his aides were preparing option papers for his decision, they were able to cut out entire rafts of proposals that they knew 'the Old Man' would never wear. When his allies came under Soviet or domestic pressure, they could look confidently to Washington for firm leadership. And when his enemies tested American resolve, they soon discovered that his resolve was firm and unyielding. Yet his ideas, though clear, were never simplistic. He saw the many sides of truth. Yes, he warned that the Soviet Union had an insatiable drive for military power and territorial expansion; but he also sensed it was being eaten away by systemic failures impossible to reform. Yes, he did not shrink from denouncing Moscow's 'evil empire'. But he realised that a man of goodwill might nonetheless emerge from within its dark corridors. So the President resisted Soviet expansion and pressed down on Soviet weakness at every point until the day came when communism began to collapse beneath the combined weight of these pressures and its own failures. And when a man of goodwill did emerge from the ruins, President Reagan stepped forward to shake his hand and to offer sincere cooperation. Nothing was more typical of Ronald Reagan than that large-hearted magnanimity - and nothing was more American.'' [http://reagan2020.us/eulogies/thatcher.asp]
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===Economy===
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Fueled by an over spending Congress that steadfastly refused Reagan's budget proposals, the national debt increased 160% during his two terms in office.  The economic growth that resulted from tax cuts made deficits as a percentage of GDP lower than what they had been in during the previous decade of stagflation. 
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===Foreign policy===
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In 1985, after Reagan won reelection to his second term, the focus turned from reviving the domestic economy to several foreign policy matters which had been lingering throughout the decade.  One such matter involved Iran, a long time ally of the Western Allies since 1941 that had experienced an Islamic Revolution in 1979 after President Carter announced [[Human Rights]] had superseded [[Containment]] as the primary focus of American foreign policy.  Since 1980 Iran had been enmeshed in a brutal trench war with neighboring Iraq which was emerging as a potent military threat in the region to other allies.  Members of the National Security Council staff, along with CIA Director [[William Casey]], persuaded Reagan much could be gained and several problems could be addressed simultaneously with an overture to Iran to restore relations.
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The objective of the plan was fourfold (1) take steps to restore good relations with the [[Islamic Republic of Iran]] which was becoming increasingly hostile to the West; (2) take measures to convince Iran that Israel could become a friend and ally; (3) insurance against Iraq becoming too strong which and become a threat to [[Kuwait]] or [[Saudi Arabia]]; (4) provide funding for other operations to continue the policy of containment in the Western Hemisphere, most notably [[Nicaragua]], and the violence the Soviet/Cuban/Nicaragua connection was creating in [[El Salvador]] and [[Honduras]].
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There were humanitarian aspects to the proposal as well; (1) the Iran-Iraq War had stalemated for nearly six years and Reagan was advised that he was in the unique position as President to help facilitate bringing a senseless war with much suffering to an end; (2) the suffering of the people of the Central American Republics at the hands of Soviet inspired subversion which had in the decade of the 80s established a beachhead in North America; (3) Iran perhaps could be persuaded to use its good offices and influence hostage takers in Lebanon who had held several Western prisoners, many of the Christian Missionaries, for several years.
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Reports had filtered back to Reagan that children as young as nine years old had been used by Iran to clear minefields. <ref>[http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/iran-iraq.htm Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), ''Iraqi Retreats, 1982-84''], Globalsecruity.org, retrieved 20 March 2007.</ref> In weighing Iraq's delicate Sunni/Shia balance and the growing threat of Iranian-sponsored terrorism, the NSC staff and Casey recognized the dangers of an Iraqi collapse as well as the urgent need to dissuade Iran from continuing its ruthless and inhumane tactics. <ref>[http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/iraq53.pdf NSDD 139, 5 April 1984].</ref>
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The Boleyn Amendment, a Vietnam era-style Congressional impingement on the legitimate foreign policy prerogatives of the Executive via the power of the purse, was used to deny Reagan's recommitment to the [[Truman Doctrine]] which had been  adhered to by every President, Democratic and Republican alike since Truman, with the exception of [[President Carter]] who's [[human rights]] policy had brought one of the active belligerents, the [[Ayatollah Khomeini]], to power.  In three of the active Soviet fronts, [[Afghanistan]], [[Nicaragua]], and [[El Salvador]], some Congressional Democratic leaders were openly sympathetic to Soviet foreign policy.<ref>[http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/004/591eifow.asp ''One Weekend in April, A Long Time Ago . . . What John Kerry thought about the Sandinista in Nicaragua''], Hugh Hewitt, The Weekly Standard, 09/09/2004.</ref><ref>[http://web.archive.org/web/20060331222819/www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2004/6/7/234527.shtml ''Kerry: 'I'm Proud I Stood Against Reagan''] Carl Limbacher and NewsMax.com Staff, 7 June 2004.</ref>  So the decision was made to fund [[Containment]] of Soviet objectives on an active front in North America with sales of TOW missiles to Iran.  Israel provided the TOWs because the Boleyn Amendment forbad direct US funding and it was a welcome opportunity for Israel to build bridges to a much needed friend in the Middle East.
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===Cold War victory===
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Reagan is credited for ending the Cold War in victory for the United States. Historian Tony Judt in ''Postwar'' credits Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, while the political scientist Jan Kubik presents a viewpoint that credits [[Pope John Paul II]][http://praguepost.com/articles/2007/02/28/letters-to-the-editor.php]. Other historians contend structural weaknesses within the Communist bloc meant Reagan's actions were inconsequential to the end of communism.  This is the view adopted by Russians themselves, and many political historians, citing [''perestroika''] and [''glasnost''] as beginning an inevitable slow fading of central power, and a collapse by irreconcilable differences between the central Soviet [[Politburo]] and the constituent republics, especially the [[Ukraine]].<ref>David Remnick, "Lenin's Tomb</ref> In the end, the consensus seems to point to all of the above, that hastened the demise of the Soviet Union;  Internal factors, religious pressure brought by the Pope, Gorbachev's "Perestrokia" and the united front of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, leading NATO and the West to imbed a missile defense system in Western Europe.
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Columnist Cal Thomas wrote about it like this:  ''He proved he was right about the big things. Faced with editorial denunciations at home and massive demonstrations in Europe against his plan to put missiles there to offset a Soviet threat, Reagan went ahead and did it anyway. The Soviets could not keep pace with the buildup or Reagan's proposed missile defense system (derided by critics as "Star Wars"). When those critics could not bring themselves to admit they were wrong, they unpersuasively claimed the Soviet Union fell under its own weight. More accurately, Reagan pushed it onto "the ash heap of history," with the able assistance of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II. What Reagan did more than anything else - and it will be his lasting legacy - is replace despair with hope. Most people, even his detractors, felt a glow from being in his presence. He was the kindest, most gracious president I have met, and I have met them all since JFK. In his presence you felt he was interested in you and not himself. He was a good man.'' [http://www.townhall.com/columnists/CalThomas/2004/06/07/ronald_reagans_wonderful_life]
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Brian Mulroney, the Canadian Prime Minister, said of Reagan: ''"Some in the West during the early 1980s believed communism and democracy were equally valid and viable. This was the school of "moral equivalence." In contrast Ronald Reagan saw Soviet communism as a menace to be confronted in the genuine belief that its squalid underpinning would fall swiftly to the gathering winds of freedom. Provided, as he said, that NATO and the industrialized democracies stood firm and united. They did. And we know now who was right."'' [http://reagan2020.us/eulogies/mulroney.asp]
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==Miscellaneous Facts==
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*Reagan was the first and only labor leader and former President of an AFL-CIO union ever elceted US President.
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*Reagan was the first and only divorced president.
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*Reagan was a lifeguard for seven years growing up, and was said to have saved 77 people <ref>http://edition.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2004/reagan/stories/bio.part.one/index.html</ref>.
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*Reagan was the first president to break the "[[Curse of Tippecanoe]]"
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*At 69, Reagan was the oldest man elected to the presidency.
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*The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum is located in Simi Valley, California <ref>http://www.reaganfoundation.org/visitorguide/hours_directions.asp</ref>.
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*Reagan's 1994 announcement that he had Alzheimer's Disease brought large amounts of public attention to the disease.
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*Reagan loved jelly beans <ref>http://www.jellybelly-uk.com/pages/q&a/trivia.shtml</ref>.  The blueberry flavor was made in his honor.  [[Jelly Belly]] even created a [http://www.jellybelly-uk.com/pages/q&a/bean_art_gallery.shtml Ronald Reagan portrait out of jelly beans].
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==References==
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<references/>
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==External Links==
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*[http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1101040614-646317,00.html Time Magazine Article on ''The All-American President'']
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*[http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/rr40.html White House Official Page]
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*[http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/ Reagan's Presidential Library]
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*[http://imdb.com/name/nm0001654/ Actor Bio At IMDB]
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*[http://www.ronaldreaganmemorial.com/ Official Memorial]
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[[Category:Presidents of the United States]]
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Revision as of 12:01, 24 March 2007

Ronald Wilson Reagan (February 6, 1911- June 5, 2004), considered by many to be one of the greatest American Presidents, was the fortieth President of the United States of America from 1981 to 1989, following Democrat Jimmy Carter and preceding Republican George H. W. Bush. Ronald Reagan is credited with leading America peacefully through the Cold War, lowering taxes, promoting a free economy, and causing the end of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. He was known affectionately to Americans as "The Gipper," harking back to a film where he was cast as All-American