A dim bulb, leading an unpopular movement, and presiding, ineptly, over a culture of avarice: To be fair to Time, it was hardly alone in this assessment of Reagan, which at the time was conventional wisdom, expressed in a number of markets and venues, by the establishment press. In the book The Reagan Legacy, a collection of essays published in 1988, David Ignatius of the Washington Post called Reagan's foreign policy an out-and-out failure, and said he was leaving a legacy of terrible problems for administrations to come. "Compared to the Reagan record of nonachievement, former President Jimmy Carter looked like a master diplomat," intoned the author. "Because he concentrated so much on image rather than substance, Reagan leaves behind an array of unresolved substantive problems. His successor will inherit a collection of outdated strategic premises, alliances that don't quite adhere, [and] roles and expectations for America that no longer hold." In the book Landslide, published the same year, Doyle McManus of the Los Angeles Times and Jane Mayer, now of the New Yorker, reiterated the Time view of Reagan as reality-challenged, fact-averse, and inert in the face of catastrophe: "Far from bequeathing a dominant Republican party to his successor, Reagan no longer commanded even the conservative coalition that had brought him into power. Right wing activists who had rejoiced at his elections now dismissed him as impotent and soft."
Tumulty says the Republicans today are facing defeat in 2008, with a demoralized base and an electorate eager to change horses in Washington. According to McManus and Mayer, they faced the very same prospect in 1988: "When GOP voters were asked if they would vote for Reagan, only 40 percent said yes." And through Reagan's two terms, the New York Times's James Reston, arguably the era's most prominent establishment windbag, denounced the president unrelievedly as a showman and hypocrite who conned the American people into blithely supporting his inept and callous regime. It was on November 4, 1984, after Reagan had won his historic 49-state landslide, that Reston really unloaded, not only on how much he detested the president, but how much this feeling was shared by his peers:
Among the losers in this Presidential election campaign you will have to include the nosy scribblers of the press. Not since the days of H.L. Mencken have so many reporters written so much or so well about the shortcomings of the President and influenced so few voters. . . . Some editorial writers and columnists and most Washington reporters were on to his evasive tactics, easy cheerfulness, and unsteady grasp of the facts. They did not hesitate to point out his deficits, personal and fiscal, condemn his windy theorizing, and mock his zigzag contortions, but Mr. Reagan had the photographers and television cameramen for allies and proved that one picture on the nightly news can be worth a million votes. . . . It is said that the people get the government they deserve, which is undoubtedly true, and also that what they see is what they get, which is not true. For the world of television is the world of illusion, and what they see and hear--all those promises of peace and prosperity--are precisely what they are not likely to get in the next four years.
Peace and prosperity, of course, were exactly what they would get from Reagan.
Which it took Time and the Times 20 years more to admit.
Clearly a magazine with such a spectacular track record of failure in the prognostication of Presidential legacies has not earned the right to be taken seriously on such matters today. Either they were completely incompetent when they analyzed the events happening around them back in the 80's; or they were deliberately misinforming the public then and marching to their own ideological agenda. In either case, their opinions today are not worthy of any attention.
Rather than humbly admitting they haven't the slightest idea about how to assess the future's analysis of present events--except, of course their own wishful thinking; which happens to be exactly as useful as yours or mine--they instead, conveniently do not mention their previous incompetence and irrelevance as they arrogantly manipulate public opinion. And, of course, Time is not the only one; there is an whole cadre of leftist ideologues who have the same execrable track record on such prognostications.
During Reagan's confrontation with communism and the Soviet Union, the pundits and critics were completely unable to see or understand the key issues and wallowed in the same kind of hysteria and shrillness that we are subjected to today. They didn't know what mattered and what did not during Reagan's Presidency; they likewise haven't a clue about what will matter in the long run in assessing this adminisration's impact and all the changes and forces that have been set in motion by its actions.
If we go back even further in time, we can appreciate how completely irrelevant and useless the Time article-- and all such agenda-driven analyses--are when articulated during times of great change and social upheaval. John Dwyer at American Thinker, reminds us of the shrill and angry voices of retreat and surrender were present even when Abraham Lincoln was Commander-in-Chief during the Civil War:
Never Call Retreat was the last of eminent historian Bruce Catton's Civil War series. Section 3 of Chapter One is titled "The Politics of War." In it you will read the following"During many unrewarding months of war, public men in Washington became convinced that the country's woes came from bad leadership. This belief was pessimistic but comforting, because there was always somebody to blame for misfortune, and so whenever bad news arrived, eloquent letters were written...Congressman William H. Wadsworth, a border state conservative, took heart after Fredericksburg (1862) ‘a nation which Lincoln and his controllers could not destroy in two years is immortal.' Ultra-radical senator Zachariah Chandler asserted that folly reigned supreme and complained of ‘fool or traitor generals.'
"....Reflective liberal-intellectuals like George Bancroft...summed up the complaint (about Lincoln's leadership) in a letter to fellow liberal Francis Lieber: ‘How can we reach our president with advice? He is ignorant, self-willed, and is surrounded by men some of whom are almost as ignorant as himself...what to do, when his power must continue for two years longer and when the existence of our country may be endangered before he can be replaced by a man of sense. How hard, in order to save the country, to sustain a man who is incompetent.'"
I would argue that, in the case of Iraq and the war against Islamofascism, America and despite cowardly congressional actions, America must never call retreat.
Of course, those histrionic and irrelevant voices of doom and gloom still desire to drag this country down into defeat and surrender (or, as Larwyn appropriately notes, Greenwald's message is: "Surrender Now! Before it's too late!") disguised as "realism". Their claim to being "reality-based" is based on the ludicrous "fact" that they are perfectly willing to face "reality" in order to acknowledge that defeat is the only option available.
Does it even occur to them that this willingness to "face reality" as they refer to it, is just another psychological maneuver (specifically DENIAL) meant to disguise an ideological agenda that wholly depends on American failure and defeat for its own success? That it is their wish/fantasy/desire--and not "fact" at all?
One conclusion we can surely make from the two historical examples noted above is that in times of crisis and change--particularly when major changes have been set in motion--no one can fully appreciate how things will settle out. It is at best a complex system upon which many things depend. Another truth that just jumps out at you from the above two examples is that wishful thinking based on ideology will always seems to trump critical judgment when it comes to perceiving reality.
There are few individuals who can stand outside the ideological boxes in which they willfully enclose themselves, and objectively evaluate all the ripples racing outward from the present into the future time-space continuum. In other words, all the bullshit we read today by so-called "historians" and "experts" about how the events in Iraq and the Middle East will be viewed tomorrow are not "history"--they are merely the ridiculous ramblings of today's ideologues and agendanistas trying to push their present agenda into the future. They willingly allow that agenda--whether it be mere partisan politics exercised for short-term gain; or the more malignant totalitarian politics of today's leftist anti-American, anti-capitalist, anti-freedom group mindset--to distort not only the present, but to proactively distort the future.
You can bet that those who were incapable of seeing Lincoln's greatness or appreciating Reagan's vision live on today in mindset of all those sufferering from end-stage BDS and its co-occuring syndromes.
They will do almost anything to make you believe that they and they alone can predict how history will judge this administration. They will do anything to make you accept that history is a done deal and is on their side.
But history is on the side of reality; and reality is not something you can make-up or spin or simply feel. It exists outside of what anyone would like to believe or think or feel; no matter how comforting it may be believe a certain way.
I happen to be inclined to think that Bush will do just absolutely fine by history--just as Lincoln and Reagan did despite all their critics. Those critics and detractors were clearly not in their right mind and were mindlessly reacting to potent psychological forces that clouded their judgment and limited their ability to appreciate the reality and truth of their time.
A little humility and insight would have gone a long way, perhaps, then as now.
I certainly could be wrong in my own analysis, but I am willing to wait and see. Meanwhile, I know that we must never call retreat; and that whatever the cost, we must stand and fight for the values and freedoms that have made our civilization so great. I am not ready to surrender and submit; and I will do everything in my limited power to preserve the blessings of liberty for myself and my daughter's generation. I would rather my generation make the sacrifices today so that her's will not have to.
Today's doomsayers would have you believe that to be "progressive" a person must ignore the unpleasant reality of 9/11; and pretend that we are not at war with Islamic fundamentalism. Being "progressive" today amounts to marching backwards over that Clinton/Gore bridge; back to the much more comfortable and safe denial of the late twentieth century.
No, the political right--for all its policy failures and the omnipresent hypocrisy of many of its members-- has not gone anywhere near as "wrong" as the political left, who proudly would rather piss away all of Western civilization rather than face themselves in that mirror of insight.
And no matter what the final decision of history, you can be sure that the left will triumphantly congratulate themselves for their perspicacity and courage; even as the real heroes do all the work and make all the sacrifices; and as the real leaders bear all the burdens.
UPDATE: OTOH, certainly enough time has passed since Jimmy Carter was President for us to take a rational look at his legacy, which Jules Crittendon does in this post:
Jimmy Carter is proud of the mistakes he made in the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. He brags to this day of how he talked tough to the mullahs, conveying the message quietly that if any of the hostages were harmed, he would blockade Iran’s ports. He froze the Iranian government’s assets in the United Sattes and began what was essentially ransom negotiations with kidnappers.
Carter’s resolve not to do anything sent a clear message to Iran: It’s party time with American prestige and power in the world. The 53 hostages came home alive, and thousands of people have died since as a direct result of Iran’s boldness and deceit, including hundreds of Americans murdered in cold blood.
So, considering the historical evidence of his incompetence, appeasement and self-righteous bloviating (which continues to this very day); and considering the monster his policies actually created and continues to enable, why isn't the left protesting outside his door and carrying placards that attest to what a sanctimonious asshole he is? Just asking.