Steve Ralls

Obama Hearts... Reagan?

Filed By Steve Ralls | January 18, 2008 8:05 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, John Edwards, Ronald Reagan

It's not surprising when you hear GOP candidates like John McCain, Mike Huckabee or Mitt Romney invoking the spectre of former President Ronald Reagan on the campaign trail. After all, Reagan has long held celebrity status among Republicans, who seem to think he was just shy of the second coming. But when Senator Barack Obama decides Reagan is worthy of admiration, it's time to start thinking about whittling down the Democratic '08 field by one more candidate.

In an interview with the editorial board of the Reno Gazette, Obama said the Gipper "changed the trajectory of America," and "put us on a fundamentally different path." But most shocking was the Illinois Senator's belief that Reagan helped curb "the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s."

Well yes, I suppose he did. But was it for the better? Was it really something to admire Reagan for? And should LGBT voters who support Obama be concerned about the Senator's salute to a president who so irrevocably harmed our community?

Consider, after all, what Reagan considered the "excesses" that needed to be brought under control: the advance of women's rights, the coming age of sexual liberation, the influence of unions and the idea that government could help those who needed it most: the poor, disadvantaged and disenfranchised. In return, Reagan gave us the excess of a bloated budget, rising deficits and the military-industrial complex. And let's not forget his refusal to address the AIDS epidemic or his sheer terror at uttering the word "gay."

Surely Senator Obama can find a better leader to admire.

The "trajectory" that Reagan set our country on resulted in the most materialistic, wealth-obsessed and greedy decade in American history. It was under Reagan's administration that religion most forcefully entered the political realm and that rights for women, gay Americans and the poor were virtually washed away. Reagan, as Matt Stoler correctly points out, "tapped into greed and fear and tribalism" to push his conservative agenda forward.

Even if you argue (as a co-worker of mine did earlier today), that Obama was simply referring to Reagan's ability to lay out a clear agenda and get the American people behind it, you have to wonder about the Senator's judgement when he chose to credit Ronnie with doing that best . . . as compared, to, say, President Kennedy or Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Or, as the nation pauses on Monday to remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., perhaps he could have saluted Dr. King's ability to inspire - and make the world immeasurably better for - generations of Americans.

So it's no wonder that the other Democratic candidates are criticizing Obama's remarks. John Edwards may have summarized it best when he said, "Ronald Reagan, the man who busted unions, the man who did everything in his power to destroy the organized labor movement, the man who created a tax structure that favored the richest Americans against middle class and working families, ... we know that Ronald Reagan is not an example of change for a presidential candidate running in the Democratic Party."

If this election really is about change, it needs to be a change from the Reagan/Bush politics of government of the powerful, for the powerful and by the powerful.

It's disappointing that Senator Obama chose to memorialize Reagan without giving pause to consider how much damage his presidency did to a great majority of Americans . . . the very same Americans who now want a change from that very political ideology.

That would be a change we could all believe in.


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WTF?

President Regan and Senator Obama and him saying nice things about him?????????

Now im realy confused and im the Republican here on the blog !

"And should LGBT voters who support Obama be concerned about the Senator's salute to a president who so irrevocably harmed our community?

No.

While Obama praised Reagan's ability to be a transformative and optimistic unifier, he didn't praise Reagan's actual policies.

On the other hand, it's now being pointed out that Hillary Clinton views Reagan as one of her favorite presidents!

"Her list of favorite presidents - Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Lincoln, both Roosevelts, Truman, George H.W. Bush and Reagan - demonstrates how she thinks. As expected, Bill Clinton was also included on the aforementioned list."

And from Bill C.:
"Hillary and I will always remember President Ronald Reagan for the way he personified the indomitable optimism of the American people, and for keeping America at the forefront of the fight for freedom for people everywhere."

Of more substance, I think, prominent AIDS researcher and LGBT advocate Dr. Jerry Cade has endorsed Obama, and has written some very good reasons why the LGBT community should support him.

See http://insomnia.livejournal.com/782665.html for details. Feel free to copy from, edit, or otherwise borrow the post as you will, if it interests you.

Michael Bedwell | January 18, 2008 10:28 PM

WTF? indeed! I'm convinced that some of the people I loved most in my life might still be alive if Reagan had acted sooner on AIDS. His press representative literally laughed in the face of one of the first reporters to ask what the administration was doing about AIDS in 1983. And both Nancy and Ronnie himself laughed at Bob Hope's knee slapper at the rededication of the Statue of Liberty: "Have you heard? The Statue of Liberty has AIDS. What we don't know is whether she got it from the mouth of the Hudson or the Staten Island Ferry." [think Rock Hudson]

But what we should be concerned about today is how many LGBT people have yet to realize, despite ample evidence even before his Let's All Bow Our Head And Thank Jesus For Ronnie moment, that far from a brass-balled Moses that will lead us to the Promised Land, Obama is more like a ballless Bible summer camp counselor urging us all, homo and homohater alike, to just hug and sing “Kumbaya.” When someone says to us, “I support you in that,” we see it as the empty phrase it is. When Obama says it somehow bumper sticker cliches become tablets of gold. Maybe he’s Mormon, too.

His campaign is running a commercial in California now in which he’s shown bragging to a group of drooling sycophants that he “went to Detroit to insist that we have to increase fuel efficiency standards. Now, I have to admit, the room got kind of quiet. We can't just tell people what they want to hear. We need to tell them what they need to hear. We need to tell them the truth."

Most of what the general public and the black community specifically has heard from him, in relation to gay equality, is that homophobia contributes to the hugely disparate rates of HIV in the black community in America, including the fact that AIDS is the leading cause of death in the US among African American women aged 25 to 34. That’s great of him, and, I’m sure, it’s not something they want to hear. But when has he ever told them something they want to hear even less—that homophobia is MORALLY WRONG!

Quite the contrary. When begged by gays both black and white to refuse to campaign with Donnie McClurkin, the person black lesbian minister Irene Monroe calls “the poster boy for African-American ex-gay ministries,” Obama refused, essentially saying, “while I disagree with him, well, there’s room in my ‘tent’ for both sides,” and said even that only to the gay community at the time. He claimed it was an opportunity for dialogue, which it could have been, but did nothing to see that it happened. Even the editorial that he issued after the concert in which McClurkin told 3000 cheering attendees, “God delivered me from homosexuality,” was distributed only to gay media, first to Bilerico, as I recall.

And its title further demonstrated Obama’s strange take on the “truth.” He inexplicably surrenders control of the word “marriage” to the churches while daring to tell us that his is a “Call for FULL Equality.” While neither Edwards nor Clinton endorse “marriage” either, at least they’re not shoving their positions down our throats as the same thing. And yet thousands of gays still squeal and squirm over him as if 75 cents was the same as one dollar. Some of you may remember that the Reagan administration tried to get ketchup reclassified as a “vegetable” in federally subsidized school lunches. Why should we be surprised that Obama can find reason to sing such a man’s praises?

Actually, Mark, Senator Clinton DIDN'T say Reagan was one of her favorite presidents:

In an effort to divert attention from Senator Obama’s comments about President Reagan and his assertion that the GOP has been the "party of ideas," the Obama campaign circulated an item this evening from the Salmon Press in New Hampshire that asserts that Senator Clinton listed the former President as one of her favorite presidents. In fact, Senator Clinton only complimented President Reagan’s communications skills – an attribute of his that has been widely praised by Americans of all ideological stripes – and did not list him as one of her favorite presidents. She also noted that she respected George H.W. Bush.

David Cutler, the co-owner of Salmon Press Newspapers, released the following statement:

The question posed was originally what portraits would you hang in the White House if you were President and as the dialogue progressed, who are the presidents you admire most?

She [Sen. Clinton] listed several presidents that she admired and mentioned she liked Reagan’s communication skills. She did not say Reagan was her favorite President. She didn’t say anything close to that.

So Hill and Obama love the Gipper?

Meh.

Obama didn't say anything about Reagan's politics. But that's more annoying - he didn't say anything to discount that mythology surrounding Reagan.

Sure, it was probably just a move to get more people to like him since so many people still adore Reagan for things he never did (like end the Cold War), but I was hoping for a more transformative politics than just telling people what you think they want to hear.

Oh, well. Like I've said before, anyone expecting any of these three to change the direction of politics or to fix the real problems in this country is going to be disappointed. Change doesn't just come from the political process - it comes from working on the outside as well to influence what's inside.

Wasn't it Grover Norquist who said something about neutering the Democratic Party so that when they're a majority, they'll still carry a conservative message? It was something vulgar... *Google searches* Here we go!

Once the minority of House and Senate are comfortable in their minority status, they will have no problem socializing with the Republicans. Any farmer will tell you that certain animals run around and are unpleasant, but when they've been fixed, then they are happy and sedate. They are contented and cheerful. They don't go around peeing on the furniture and such.

Yup! I see a quote of the day there....

But Steve, Obama just said that he liked Reagan because of his position in American history, that he was president when there were big changes coming and that he was an agent of change.

I mean, if we're mad that Obama gave any sort of compliment at all to Reagan without qualifying it (fine, I'll play along), then Hillary's statement is pretty much the same thing.

Sure, this comment is annoying from Obama, but do we really think he's going to get rid of AIDS funding? Do we really think that he's going to govern like Reagan?

Here's the full quote for reference if we're going to have a comments discussion on it:

But no president can do it alone. She must break recent tradition, cast cronyism aside and fill her cabinet with the best people, not only the best Democrats, but the best Republicans as well.. We’re confident she will do that. Her list of favorite presidents - Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Lincoln, both Roosevelts, Truman, George H.W. Bush and Reagan - demonstrates how she thinks. As expected, Bill Clinton was also included on the aforementioned list.

After all it was during his administration - eight years of peace and prosperity - that Hillary was able to observe, learn and contribute, all at the same time. And though she possesses traits similar to the former president, a great communicator chief among them - the voters of New York State have overwhelmingly validated her abilities - twice.

That's from an endorsement posted on her campaign site.

It sounds like she wasn't sticking to his communications skills, and that was something the Salmon Press editorial board added themselves. And she did put it on her site....

So, like yeah, rhetoric's important, but these are each throw-away statements from each candidate that we really shouldn't be reading too much into outside of the context of the rest of their politics.

So, like yeah, rhetoric's important, but these are each throw-away statements from each candidate that we really shouldn't be reading too much into outside of the context of the rest of their politics.

which was my point when I answered (bluntly...I'm far less verbose than Alex. The bad habits of a poet):

"And should LGBT voters who support Obama be concerned about the Senator's salute to a president who so irrevocably harmed our community?

No."


Me? Verbose? Never!

Now let me go write 6000 words on that subject....

oh, and here's a later statement from the editor:

The question posed was originally what portraits would you hang in the White House if you were President and as the dialogue progressed, who are the presidents you admire most?

She [Sen. Clinton] listed several presidents that she admired and mentioned she liked Reagan’s communication skills. She did not say Reagan was her favorite President. She didn’t say anything close to that.

FYI's and all.

Now my surprise is when Democrats speak of Ronnie they usually have nothing nice to say about him at all. Scroll up to see what im refering to.So to hear that the Senator had nice things to say blew me away and yes I voted for Presidnet Regan both times he ran but not the first time when he ran against President Ford. But will somebody tell the candidates the time to troll for Republican voters like me is after you have won your nomination not before.


one very amazed Republican.

MauraHennessey | January 19, 2008 2:33 PM

I have never favoured either of the leading Democratic candidates. Both have a reflex jump to the right whenever a shadow scares them. They will not embrace our issues other than for soundbites. Where were they on ENDA, on a meaningful ENDA without the exxemptions and exclusions? Whay can they not support real equality rather than crumbs from the table?

Now, we have Obama doing the Republican mantra of invoking Reagan. He legitimizes the wiping out of the same radicalism that made his candidacy possible.

yeah, it's intellectually dishonest to attack Obama when Hilary has said the exact same thing. This is the kind of dirty-trick politics the clintons have patented.

Kos nails it here: http://kos.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/1/18/182537/491/236/439126


Bad news about George Herbert Walker Bush:

What if basically all racial-minority people would subscribe to the interpretations that George Herbert Walker Bush committed monstrous, racist, hate crimes while he was the President of the United States?

It will eventually come out: it is only a matter of time.

Respectfully Submitted by Andrew Yu-Jen Wang, J.D. Candidate
B.S., Summa Cum Laude, 1996
Messiah College, Grantham, PA
Lower Merion High School, Ardmore, PA, 1993

(I can type 90 words per minute, and there are thousands of copies on the Internet indicating the content of this post. And there are at least hundreds of copies in very many countries around the world.)
_________________
“If only it were possible to ban invention that bottled up memories so they never got stale and faded.” Off the top of my head—it came from my Lower Merion High School yearbook.