Hit & Run

Did Reagan Matter?


As Dutch's Reagan's body goes cold, two interesting musings on his legacy.

First up is one from Dave Warsh of Economic Principals high fives Reagan:

Ronald Reagan…ended the Cold War in victory…He took the recession that broke inflation. He cut government red tape. And, by slashing tax rates, he "[cut] the Congress' allowance" and so slowed the growth of government….[He] also restored faith in market forces, permitting the restructuring of the American economy, breaking up the telephone system and freeing IBM to compete with Microsoft in a single day….Reagan probably deserves all this credit and more. These things all happened on his watch, even if the trends themselves had been in train for years….Taken together, don't Reagan's achievements add up to a long-term redirection of American politics as distinctive as Roosevelt's New Deal?

Whole thing here.

On a decidely different note, James G. Hershberg backhands Reagan, characterizing him as nothing more than the lucky millionth visitor who showed up just as the Berlin Wall was about to fall anyway (and mostly, says Hershberg, due to the allure of rock 'n' roll and the machinations of future Pizza Hut pitchman Mikhail Gorbachev). A snippet:

The historical wild card was Mikhail Gorbachev…[who] grasped long before Reagan's election that the stultifying Soviet system required renovation. Gorbachev also committed the heresy of abandoning the aim of world revolution and the class struggle in international affairs in favor of amorphous, but much nicer, "universal human values." Above all, he refused to use the massive armed forces at his disposal to retain his party's grip on captive nations in Eastern Europe, restive nationalist republics or Russia itself.

Whole thing here.