The Reagan I knew, as a child, was feared and disliked.
The Reagan I know, today, is handsome and loved by all, deified, iconic, universally regarded as a great president—even as a relative moderate, given the Tea Partyness of the GOP, these days.
So who was he? Let’s turn to the horseman’s mouth: 10 Quotes from the Gipper, himself. Was he a moderate conservative? Or a conservative conservative?
“Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do.” ~ 1981
And, two years earlier:
“The American Petroleum Institute filed suit against the EPA [and] charged that the agency was suppressing a scientific study for fear it might be misinterpreted… The suppressed study reveals that 80 percent of air pollution comes not from chimneys and auto exhaust pipes, but from plants and trees.” Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan, in 1979. (There is no scientific data to support this assertion.)
And/or: “Approximately 80 percent of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation, so let’s not go overboard in setting and enforcing tough emission standards from man-made sources.”
And/or: Right now our main effort is directed toward oxides of nitrogen which comes out of automobile tail pipe and cause the photochemical reactions which color the air a muddy brown. There is no question they are a problem in areas like L.A. where we have a more or less constant temperature inversion trapping the air. But Dr. [John] McKetta lists the findings in his field as his no. 3 shock & surprise. Nature it seems also produces oxides of nitrogen. As a matter of fact nature produces 97% of them. ~ 1975
Fascism was really the basis for the New Deal. It was Mussolini’s success in Italy, with his government-directed economy, that led the early New Dealers to say “But Mussolini keeps the trains running on time.” Time (17 May 1976)
[Evolution] has in recent years been challenged in the world of science and is not yet believed in the scientific community to be as infallible as it once was believed. But if it was going to be taught in the schools, then I think that also the biblical theory of creation, which is not a theory but the biblical story of creation, should also be taught. ~Press conference at evangelical event in Dallas, Texas. (22 August 1980)
“I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself.” (he did have a great and ready sense of humor)
And here’s one last, eloquent quote: about Reagan, not by him.
Let’s tear down this myth about Ronald Reagan with facts. Reagan spoke of the wisdom of small government while bloating our own. He fancied himself a fiscal conservative, while doubling our national deficit in only 8 years. He befriended Saddam Hussein and helped Iraq develop anthrax and other biological weapons. He aided Afghanistan during their battle with the Soviets -and then abandoned them to help create the rise of the Taliban. He dismantled the solar panels from the white house roof and killed the growing alternative energy movement of the 1970’s. He overthrew democratically elected officials in Central America and backed death squads which killed thousands of civilian protesters. He ushered in the disastrous and false notion of “trickle down” economics. He offered enormous tax cuts to the wealthiest of Americans, while deregulating big business and promoting the exodus of American manufacturing overseas. He busted the air traffic controllers union, cut social services beyond the bone, funded the Iran-Contra scandal, and virtually ignored the AIDS outbreak at its critical early stage. Reagan changed America alright, and we will be paying for it for decades still to come.