Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ronald Reagan

Term: 1981-1989

Party: Republican

Nickname: The Great Communicator, Dutch, Ronnie Raygun, The Gipper.

Short Bio:
Ronald Reagan was like Arnold Schwarzenegger...er...well sort of. Like Ahhnold, Reagan had a career as an actor before getting into politics, and both were governor of California. Unlike Arnold, Reagan was born in this country, and therefore was able to become president. Reagan run on the platform of basically saying everything that Carter did was wrong. Reagan ran away with the election.
Upon assuming the presidency, Reagan proposed strong measures to curtail the severe recession and the ailing economy with his three-pronged policy dubbed "Reaganomics," which included the reduction of federal spending through cuts in social programs, a dramatic cut in taxes, and a reduction in federal regulation. By the end of his first term, inflation was brought under control, interest rates were lower, and employment had risen.

Reagan's administration saw the largest peacetime military expansion in world history. He adopted both covert and overt support to anti-Communist insurgencies in Third World countries, including El Salvador. He also sent troops to Lebanon to help defend its Christian government against uprising Muslim groups. Reagan viewed various international problems as Cold War conflicts with moral significance and serious consequences. He referred to the Soviet Union as an "evil empire" and Soviet Communism as "the focus of evil in the modern world."

By reelection time, Reagan was at the peak of his popularity and mopped the floor with Walter Mondale. His popularity didn't last long, as Reagan's meddling in other countries affairs had come back to bite him. The Iran-Contra Affair, which may or may not have actually involved Reagan in some parts, caused a scandal. It turned out that Reagan had allowed for the selling of weapons to Iran in return for hostages and money. The money then went towards Contras, or revolutionary anti-Communist forces in Nicaragua. After it was revealed what was going on, the President took full responsibility, though he claimed he was not fully informed and admitted that he thought there was nothing wrong with what was going on. Many criticized the Reagan administration for trading guns for hostages. In 1987, the economy built on "Reaganomics" takes a tumble when the stock market crashes on what is now known as "Black Monday," October, 19th. Stocks fell over 500 points in a few hours registering the most catastrophic one-day fall in the history of Wall Street. Though fear of a second Great Depression were entertained, the stocks eventually recovered, but didn't return to the high of earlier in Reagan's term until the mid 90's. Reagan's second term was also plagued by budget deficits, which led to cutbacks in money to places that depended on government funding, which included mental hospitals. Many had to close down and people that were seen as non-violent were put onto the streets. In his second term though, Reagan had continued to develop a relationship with Soviet leader Gorbachev, which paved the way for the end of the Cold War and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall.

Grade: B-
Reagan was a breath of fresh air for many Americans, as he was a reliable public figure, and knew how to comfort the American public like FDR had. Reagan is so far the oldest president to serve and is part of the exclusive club of presidents who have been shot and survived, it's only members being him and Theodore Roosevelt. Reagan introduced "Reaganomics", which gave tax breaks to the wealthy and depended on the rich to pass the savings onto the rest of us. The "Trickle Down" theory has met mixed results, as evidence by the economy throughout the 80's. The Iran-Contra Affair is sort of a gray area, due the fact that the U.S. government was aiding anti-Communist forces, but was still giving weapons to Iran, who we aren't exactly on good terms with today. Reagan, today, has become the modern Republican hero, the former being Abraham Lincoln. Reagan, though had a good and bad economy throughout his terms, identified with the American public, brought back respect to the Presidency, and helped end the Cold War.

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