Washington Babylon — June 15, 2009, 11:00 am

Not Ready for Mt. Rushmore: The American Scholar looks at Reagan mythmaking

Just because it’s always good to look at the past with open eyes, here’s a new piece by Matt Dallek:

Criticism of Reagan has been largely absent from the political discourse of the nation. Reagan’s most ardent supporters have refused to tolerate it. During the week of his funeral, “Those who weren’t remembering Reagan in the politically approved way—who credited him for his gracious demeanor, say, or sense of humor—were derided as patronizing,” wrote Thomas Kunkel, dean of the University of Maryland College of Journalism. “And those who actually had the audacity to point out that as president, Reagan alienated millions of people at home and abroad, were blasted as unpatriotic.” When CBS announced plans to air an unflattering television mini-series about Ronald and Nancy Reagan in 2003, conservatives boycotted the network. Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie called upon CBS to provide disclaimers announcing that the program was fiction. Instead, CBS canceled it and the cable network Showtime ran the series. When Barack Obama announced during the 2008 presidential campaign that he wanted to engage Iran using diplomacy, as Reagan had once done with the Soviet Union, William J. Bennett, Reagan’s secretary of education, responded by co-writing an article in National Review taking umbrage at any comparison between Reagan and Obama.

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I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

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I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

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I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

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I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

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