The Reasoned Review

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Mr. Reagan: Tear Down This Myth!

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An enlightening interview of historian Will Bunch by Scott Horton:

1. Your book describes itself as a deconstruction of the myth of Ronald Reagan. But how successful has the effort at myth-making been? How does Reagan now stack up among the presidents among historians and the public in general?

It’s interesting–Reagan’s reputation has risen with both the public and historians the further we get in memory from his actual presidency–which I think is a huge tribute to both the myth-making machinery created by the likes of Grover Norquist and the mainstream media’s willingness to embrace the myth. For example, in March 1990, some 13 months after Reagan left the Oval Office, Reagan’s popularity (59 percent) had dipped below that of Jimmy Carter (62 percent). Two major surveys of historians in the mid-1990s rated Reagan’s presidency as below average, not one of the all-time greats.

Ironically, it was those historian rankings that inspired Norquist, the Heritage Foundation, and others to begin what became the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project–the group that aims to name schools, roads, etc., for the Gipper in every U.S. county–and related activities. A key part of that myth-building was the notion that Reagan was largely responsible for “winning the Cold War”–a premise that was rejected, according to a USA Today poll in 1989, when it was actually happening, by Americans crediting Mikhail Gorbachev for the reforms instead. You see the fruits of that effort today; professors–arguably eager to show they’re not tools of liberal bias–now rate Reagan as high as the Top Ten of U.S. presidents, and public opinion of the 40th president is fairly high as well.

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Written by pavanvan

February 23, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Posted in culture, Politics

Tagged with , , , ,

One Response

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  1. in case you haven’t read this already http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/foreign/reagrus.htm

    this helps to dispell the myth that Reagan’s military buildup caused the fall of the Soviet Union.

    Aditya

    February 24, 2010 at 4:45 am


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