I'd like to take a second look at what I jotted down yesterday on Reagan-
The quick-and-dirty version; he was arguably the best president of the 20th Century for winning the Cold War (yes, other presidents helped, but he was on the mound when we went into the lead to stay, thus he gets the win) and getting the malaise economy turned around. He's in a photo-finish with FDR for the title, and your political shadings will dictate the order of finish. Yes, he also presided over some big deficits and Iran-Contra, but we'd have been in a far worse place with a second Carter term and a first Mondale term, and I voted for both of those guys in my less-savvy youth.Chris Burgwald votes for the Gipper-
He was, undoubtedly, one of our greatest presidents, probably the greatest of the twentieth century (yes, better than FDR).while Peter Sean Bradley signs on with FDR-
He reinvigurated the American spirit, and after Pope John Paul II, is the person most responsible for the (in the minds of many, early) collapse of communism in Europe.
Mark Byron writes that Reagan was "arguably the greatest President of the 20th Century." Was he? I think FDR has to get the nod as the greatest President of the 20th Century. In my opinion, Reagan rates as second. But who else is even close? TR? Wilson?Last night, the following comparison came to mind
|FDR||Got us out of Great Depression||Won WWII||Socialized economy|
|Reagan||Got us out of malaise economy||Won Cold War||Big deficits|
A common critique of FDR from the right was that WWII really was what got us out of the depression and that the New Deal did more to slow the economy in the long term than it helped in the 30s. That might be true, but I can make a decent case that Roosevelt gave the US economy a socialist innoculation. By setting up the welfare capitalist system with the introduction of things like Social Security, welfare, and the CCC as well as key regulatory agencies like the FDIC and SEC, he kept a socialist movement from forming in the US. Were Roosevelt not on the scene, a more leftist leader like Huey Long might have come to the fore, or a European-style socialist movement might have supplanted the Democratic party as the party of the left.
In addition, a certain amount of government intervention to help the poor is good for society as a whole. Few modern conservatives would want to go back to where we were in the 1920s on a policy basis. What conservatives dislike isn't so much the programs that Roosevelt passed but the precident of government intervention in the economy, allowing for more intrusions in the future and the gutting of key constitutional provisions like a proper reading of the Interstate Commerce clause.
On ballance, the New Deal seems to have been a net good for the country and the world. That's not an easy stand for a dynamist to take, but it might be like the conservative case for the Medicare prescription bill; had we not passed that, something worse would have happened. They both also had the fringe benefit of helping a lot of people in tought times, and the charitable side of our soul should cheer that.
Yes, y'all on the right side of the Peanut Gallery, that means you. That sarcastic "hip, hip, hooray" doesn't quite cut it.