I didn't vote for him, but not just because I was still habitually in the liberal camp. Many of his positions were pure bullshit (bring back school prayer) and some seemed dangerous, like the bravado against the Soviet Union. I already knew not to believe everything a politician promised, so I didn't worry much about the loss of abortion rights.
The impetus for my thoughts and this post was hearing a Commonwealth of California broadcast with James Baker. [Sorry, but I couldn't find a link.] He spoke about several environmental issues, including Reagan's strong support for a robust treaty on the industrial chemicals linked to the ozone hole. That is such a contrast to today's GOP.
After listening to James Baker, I was in a particularly pro-Reagan mood, and I started to wonder: did I have any solid reasons to worry that Reagan was against environmental protections? Then I remembered that Reagan had appointed an egregious twerp as Secretary of the Interior. This guy was so bad I can still remember his name--James Watt. That memory killed the pro-Reagan buzz and put me back into crisp reality.
So here are my lists of what I liked and disliked about Reagan in retrospect:
- Stopped the spiral of social spending
- Tackled some tough problems like SS and Soviet Union
- Flexibility--policy changes in response to changes in situation
- Good response to ozone hole--backed a strong treaty
- Lowered ridiculously high tax rates
- Genial with other people, willing to negotiate in good faith and for the greater good
- Rhetoric, probably empty, about rolling back good reforms on school prayer and abortion
- Rhetoric vilifying and dehumanizing various conservative targets like women on welfare and the Soviets
- James Watt, the worst Secretary of Interior, who had no sense of preservation or conservation
- Robert Bork, a reactionary, evil legal genius who might have sent the Supreme Court on a course of incredibly harsh but solid rulings
- Frequently pandering to the conservative base instead of using good judgment