Behind the Fond Revisionist Memories: 10 Actual Quotes from the Gipper Himself.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Sep 28, 2012
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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?


“A tree is a tree. How many more do you have to look at?” — Ronald Reagan, 1966, opposing expansion of Redwood National Park as governor of California

“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.



About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


6 Responses to “Behind the Fond Revisionist Memories: 10 Actual Quotes from the Gipper Himself.”

  1. Iris says:

    "All"? I don't know where the idea arises that he is "loved by all…universally regarded as a great president" — or am I a party of one?

  2. elephantjournal says:

    You're correct–I meant mainstream, where there has been a defumigating process.

  3. Mark Ledbetter says:

    The "fascism is like the New Deal" quote, anyway, could well be historically accurate. FDR himself claimed (correctly) that he was just continuing (though with much better PR and pizzazz) what Hoover had started. Hoov, Roos, and Muss had a lot in common. They all believed in private property under government direction, which is the Misesian definition of fascism.

    The other quotes, well, can't see voting for that guy.

  4. Mark Ledbetter says:

    PS, fascism is now a dirty word, but actually it's just a political system. It ends up deserving its reputation, though, because it inevitably leads to nationalism, militarism, war, concentration camps, and a super state. Which is what we ended up with under FDR. And, if you count the millions now jailed for victimless crimes as being in a concentration camp, it sounds like what we still have. Too bad Reagan didn't take his glimmer of an understanding to begin dismantling fascism and the super state.

  5. Mark Ledbetter says:

    PPS, not well written. I wasn't trying to emphasize ONLY the jailings but to make a preemptive strike against counter-arguments that 'hey, we don't have concentration camps now!' What I meant to emphasize is all of it, that we fit the definition of fascism (with some socialism thrown in here and there) and all the natural consequences: nationalism, militarism, war, concentrations camps, and a super state.

  6. Diana says:

    Thank you! This is the Reagan I remember. So much destruction in 8 years, and we still haven't recovered from his legacy.