In the midst of a week of relentless lionization of Ronald Reagan, it was interesting to read another take on the canonical tales of how Reagan single-handedly ended communism in the Soviet Union. The Globe and Mail’s Gorby Had the Lead Role, Not Gipper points out that it was Gorbachev who was taking great strides to reduce the arms buildup while Reagan scoffed that it was all “propaganda.”
…the U.S. administration was reeling. Polls were beginning to show that, of all things unimaginable, a Soviet leader was the greatest force for world peace. An embarrassed Mr. Reagan finally responded in kind.
The “kirktoon” linked above offers biting reverse spin on the week of worship. And the UC Berkeley News Center has an interesting piece on how Reagan used the UCB campus as a political whipping boy. The Free Speech Movement, for example, was one of Berkeley’s great accomplishments – not just for Berkeley but for campuses across America. Students mobilized to make sure that Constitutional rights were more than just empty promises. Reagan saw the movement as the work of spoiled college kids:
Reagan took aim at the university for being irresponsible for failing to punish these dissident students. He said, ‘Get them out of there. Throw them out. They are spoiled and don’t deserve the education they are getting. They don’t have a right to take advantage of our system of education.’
But he was, we are told, infectiously optimistic, so that’s got to count for something. I was young while Reagan was in office, and did not grow up in a very political family. But I remember to this day the absolute scorn my parents held for the man, and how livid they would become talking about his policies. I know my parents were not alone in their hatred of Reagan. But he was, after all, infectiously optimistic.