Saturday, November 17, 2012

That's a fascinating lead sentence...

"With the possible exception of Ronald Reagan, there is no more revered figure in American politics than Abraham Lincoln." - The Economist, in an article on Lincoln and Obama.

It talks a lot about the movie (I'm gonna see it this week, and looking forward to it), and I know it's tough to compare anyone to Lincoln anyway, but I think they're a little hard on Obama. Anyway, I was a little surprised by that first line.


  1. That's ridiculous. Is Ronald Reagan more revered than George Washington?

  2. To suggest that Ronald Reagan might be more revered than even Lincoln is completely off the wall. Lots of people don't revere Reagan at all and it seems to me that there were guys named Truman, Eisenhower, Roosevelt and Jefferson who were all pretty well thought of.

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  4. I've been beaten to the punch, but I must share Daniel's astonishment. There is no explaining this except that the Economist is a British magazine. My guess is that they have disproportionate contact with Republicans from the US, and that's shading their impression.

    It's still ridiculous. Have they really never heard of George Washington? Do they not know that FDR is widely admired for his leadership in World War II? I would even wager that in the future, LBJ's passage of the Civil Rights Act will be more revered than anything Reagan did, but who knows.

    1. My guess is that they have disproportionate contact with Republicans from the US, and that's shading their impression.

      I think this is largely right. I would say they included him for reasons of "partisan balance" or some such thing, but Lincoln is pretty universally revered in addition to being a Republican...

  5. Reagan brought down the Soviet Union. That's what popular history is going to say for years to come, something like "Lincoln ended slavery" which people can remember easily, without all the quibbling of poly sci types and dissident historians.

    Yes, he had predecessors in opposing the Soviets -- Truman, Eisenhower, etc. up to Jimmy Carter -- and yes foreigners like Churchill and de Gaulle and Adenauer and Margaret Thatcher and Willy Brandt were heavily involved, and yes it was actually George H. W. Bush in the driver's seat when the USSR officially gave up the ghost. But it was Reagan who had the confidence, the assurance that communism could be beaten down in his own lifetime, that it SHOULD be beaten down, and that the military spending of the US and its foreign policy were essential tools. And he pulled it off without a war, after nearly fifty years in which a war with the Soviets was almost everyone's greatest fear.

    Okay, the purist in me wants to point out that Reagan's attack on communism wouldn't have been all that successful without the help of Mikhail Gorbachev. But what's History for, if not to lose track of such little complications?

    Reagan's going to be a leading figure in the ongoing American story for the next couple of thousand years. Like Lincoln and Washington, and better than FDR or his cousin Teddy. Trust me. Or go ask people.


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