Sunday, October 04, 2009

Reagan's Role of a Lifetime: Guileless Innocent?

James Mann writes "The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan". It's an interesting and reasonably convincing narrative, which is saying something because, back in the day, I used to call Reagan the "senior idiot". Mann argues while others, both the Nixonian realists and the conservatives, were locked into their old perceptions Reagan was able to recognize an opportunity when Gorbachev came to power. Reagan's negotiations with Gorbachev meant Gorbachev got enough support and credibility to maintain his power and take the actions which led to the end of the Iron Curtain.

Reagan often evaded conflict or other unpleasantness by telling stories, essentially filibustering the time away.  Mann notes this pattern, and suggests it may have been a conscious strategy, not just the deep reflex of a child of an alcoholic father.

Mann's thesis is easier for liberals to accept than the conventional triumphalism of the conservatives, particularly because Mann notes the extent to which conservatives other than Reagan and Schultz were wrong.

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