Liberalism

The New Yorker’s Demented Attack on Ronald Reagan

Another day, another cheap liberal smear.

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One of the most annoying traits of left-wingers is their tendency to assume that you, too, must share their political views.

I was reminded this recently when reading the 90th anniversary issue of the New Yorker.

There was a wonderful article by an editor at the magazine, Mary Norris, about commas. Wonderful, that is, until this passage, "That was during the Reagan Administration, when many of us suspected that Reagan had some form of dementia, but no one could do anything about it. The country was running on automatic."

Reagan's post-presidential Alzheimer's disease diagnosis thus becomes an opportunity for the New Yorker writer to write off his entire presidency as an exercise in dementia. I remember the Reagan administration. When the left wasn't complaining that Reagan was either napping or horseback riding at the ranch, it was busy bellyaching about his costly and supposedly dangerous military buildup, his supposedly budget-busting tax cuts, and his breaking of the air traffic controllers union. Reagan, in this paradoxical view, manages to be simultaneously checked-out and malevolently, potently effective.

And who is the "us" in the New Yorker's "many of us suspected"? The New Yorker editor's colleagues at the magazine? The readers of the article? The community of intelligent people who might subscribe to the New Yorker? Reagan, by defeating the evil Soviet Communist empire and igniting economic growth in America, did more for the world, more for freedom and prosperity, than any of them ever did.

Later in the same issue of the New Yorker is a wonderful profile of Sir Jonathan Ive, the Apple design executive that the magazine describes as "one of the two most powerful people in the world's most valuable company."

Early in his career, Ive worked for a London-based design consulting company named Tangerine, founded by Clive Grinyer. The New Yorker reports that in spring of 1992, "before a general election that the Labour Party was expected to win, after 13 years of Conservative Party rule," the Tangerine partners visited Apple in San Francisco. "When they landed back in London, they were greeted by the news that the Conservatives had won. 'It was fucking depressing,' Grinyer recalled," the New Yorker says.

This is, more or less (the California weather and something about a rejected bathroom sink design are also mentioned), the explanation given for Ive's move to America. As if the reasonable reaction to an electoral victory by Margaret Thatcher's successor over the party that had led Britain into its pre-Thatcher statist malaise was to flee the country.

You don't have to be a left-winger to use an Apple computer or appreciate its design. This column was written on one, and Rush Limbaugh regularly talks about his love for Apple products. But the New Yorker profile breezes along as if it makes perfect sense that this Apple executive who now rides around in a chauffeur-driven Bentley and has a Gulfstream V private jet would have bolted Britain in reaction to a Conservative electoral victory. After all, Ive's known for his sense of aesthetics, right? And no one with good taste could possibly have right of center politics.

The New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael said in a December 1972 speech, after Nixon had won re-election in a landslide victory over George McGovern, that "I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don't know. They're outside my ken." 

I'm too young to have voted for Nixon. But one thing that seems to have endured in the more than 40 years since Kael's famous remark is the cloistered politics of the magazine's editorial staff. For an institution that prides itself on its sophistication and culture, it strikes me as disappointingly closed-minded.

Maybe I'm biased—the magazine called my most recent book "loony." But it's one thing for the New Yorker to run left-wing editorials or nasty reviews of books by center-right authors. It's another thing for them to insert an attack on Ronald Reagan into an article about grammar, or an attack on the British Conservative Party into an article about Apple. It's a sad reminder of the grating, smug conformity of American elite opinion, and of the way in which having even mildly conservative politics in urban, literary America can make a person feel almost like a countercultural rebel.

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81 responses to “The New Yorker’s Demented Attack on Ronald Reagan

  1. He’s a myth and a mythical monster at the same time.

  2. You know, once in a blue moon, I almost start to forget why/how much I despise progs (really mindless partisans in general, but this article is about one particular type).

    And then I get to read something like this, and everything in my world falls back into place and I can comfortably go on about my day.

    1. Unsurprisingly, this corresponds nicely with about 30-45 minutes after JJ takes his antipsychotic pills.

  3. Tell me about it.

    I too have noticed the way in which progressives have a tendency to smuggle politics into almost every discussion. It’s almost as if that is the only sucject that really interests them.

    1. I knew progressives had gone full-insufferable when they managed to turn eating a meal into a political act.

      1. Pooping too. Is your TP recycled?
        Is your toilet low-flow?

      2. They never cease to amaze me. I was at my friend’s mom’s funeral and his father was giving a eulogy of their lives together. At one point he was talking about their lives during the 80’s and the resident prog made some smug remark out loud about Reagan. I was so disgusted. Just shut up for a few minutes and stop trying to steal the spotlight.

  4. Reagan, in this paradoxical view, manages to be simultaneously checked-out and malevolently, potently effective.

    Which led to that wonderful SNL skit where he is personally running the details of Iran-Contra in between appearances with schoolchildren where he plays the kindly uncle.

    1. So kind of a latter-day Ben Franklin.

  5. One of the most annoying traits of left-wingers is their tendency to assume that you, too, must share their political views.

    It’s more than that, and it applies to right-wingers too, especially when it comes to KULTUR WAR. It’s how they have to shoehorn politics into everything, no matter how unrelated. They are obsessed with TEAMs and political bullshit. They don’t just live their lives, they live their lives in a constant state of political warfare from which they never relax.

    1. I wonder if it’s part of the human condition that we’ll never escape.

      Shit, even the Necrons have warring factions, and they’re just retarded undead killbots from the distant future.

      1. Probably. Tribalism is hard to escape. I suppose the upside with political tribalism is that (in the US and other more developed democracies anyway) the political tribes for the most part aren’t constantly kicking the shit out of and murdering each other. But it is still annoying and depressing.

      2. We don’t talk about the new Necrons codex in these here parts. They’re still just retarded undead killbots.

    2. It definitely is something that happens on both sides. Especially with people who are in a sort of cultural bubble where they mostly interact with people who mostly agree. I tend to associate more with lefty sorts than right-wingers, so I get that shit all the time. It’s not even really conscious injection of politics into everything (though there is plenty of that too). It seems like they don’t even realize that all of their jokes and observations about things are based on the assumption that their political opponents are obviously wrong. Most seems to just be ignorance and complete lack of nuance.

      I have several good friends who genuinely don’t give a shit about politics and I do my best to encourage them to stay that way.
      Most people who do think that they care about politics seem to be profoundly ignorant about it, but they don’t generally react well when you point that out to them or suggest that perhaps they shouldn’t base so much of their identity on blind partisan bullshit.

      1. “Most people who do think that they care about politics seem to be profoundly ignorant about it”

        This.

        More people seem to be into the ‘partisan’ thing for the TEAM rather than the actual ‘policy’ POV

        i.e. I have also seen that many of the most vehemently ‘political’ people don’t seem to have the first clue about the topics which they claim to be so passionate about. their ‘opinions’ are just so much rallying around a flag, rather than any reasoned basis for their position.

        i try talking about a topic like ‘subsidies’ with some people, and why it ultimately creates artificial price-inflation and economic distortions which are obvious in things like Education and Healthcare and Agriculture, and why they do more harm than good… and all i get are blank looks, then

        Uh, well, that’s like some people’s opinion, you know, but like, still, i think the Government should *try*…

        …basically, they’re unwilling to think about the sense of the thing, and instead default to, ‘Well that’s my opinion’. there’s zero interest in the topic beyond “this is what the TEAM POV is”

        1. Yeah, that’s about it. There are a lot of people who do not bother to do any research into a subject at all. All they know is which side their team is on and what the standard talking points are.

  6. ” one of the most annoying traits of left-wingers is their tendency to assume that you, too, must share their political views”

    Well, Ira, let’s be serious, shall we? “Smart People” are all Democrats. What would any troglodyte, redneck, bible-thumping, islamophobic conservative be doing reading a publication as enlightened as The New Yorker in the first place? The very idea is laughable. Ha ha ha. You see? I am laughing at the idea.

    1. Well, Ira, let’s be serious, shall we? “Smart People” are all Democrats.

      This is why, on very rare occasions, I let academic friends know my politics. Not to debate with them – not worth it. But to watch the cascade of emotions, facial expressions, and incoherence as they try to come to terms with an academic who isn’t a leftist.

      1. I go to a lefty high school in nyc. My teachers are all leftists and most of the kids are social justice warriors who are never exposed to differing views. Im trying to “come out” to my friends as a liberrtarian somehow

        1. “a lefty high school in nyc”

          As though there’s such a thing as a ‘right leaning high school in NY’ 🙂

          If you mean “friends seminary”, that’s technically more on the ‘screaming socialist’ side.

          Any of the private schools (Dalton, Allen Stevenson, Browning, Collegiate) aren’t ‘lefty’ so much as just ‘rich liberal NY’. Slight difference, yeah. Very *New Yorker* magazine though.

          Is Styvie apolitical? I have no idea. you don’t have to say where.

          for the record, i personally went to a crazy left-wing special ‘alternative school’ program in westchester. which was pretty much like Friends-level retarded. I didn’t think of myself as libertarian then; i just forced to read howard zinn and chomsky… and thought = ‘this shit is retarded’.

          1. Never could understand the plethora of leftie Friends schools. If you’re a pacifist to the point of it being your central religious credo, then what the hell [sic] are you doing advocating that the government be committing more violence? Institutional violence is still violence.

            In all of my five decades of experience, I’ve only ever met two libertarian Quakers. Heck, I’ve met MORE Muslim libertarians!

          2. Stuy is apolitical. I go to a pretty solid public school (in stuy’s ballpark) but it is liberal arts oriented. I want o start a libertarian club to help the leftists leave the matrix (some neocons started a gop club and got zero traction) but I worry that no one will go. and people at my school have never thought of me as political, but as an athlete

          3. Stuy is apolitical. I go to a pretty solid public school (in stuy’s ballpark) but it is liberal arts oriented. I want o start a libertarian club to help the leftists leave the matrix (some neocons started a gop club and got zero traction) but I worry that no one will go. and people at my school have never thought of me as political, but as an athlete

            1. “Stuy is apolitical.”

              I figured. I played club sports against some of the magnet-school kids back in the late-80s-early-90s. Bronx sci, Brooklyn tech, Cordozo, etc.

              “I want o start a libertarian club to help the leftists leave the matrix”

              You’re still in HS and so are your peers. None of you have much in the way of actual time to read much about political philosophy and most won’t even during/after college. There’s little that currently appeals to people other that what ‘feels right’ or what is popular. some kids choose contrarian postures like “anarchy” because, at best, its something to do to be different. there’s no incentive to ‘leave the matrix’ for its own sake.

              People only ever change their own minds. Trying to do it for them is a waste of time. Probably the best thing to do is similar to what i did when surrounded by lefty group-think as a kid = stay above it and practice asking people tough questions.

              Get people talking and openly debating specific issues. With some prodding you’ll see people are more diverse in the their thinking than even they know, and will find themselves more open to ideas you present.

              if you start playing the ‘identity’ game, and labeling yourself a ‘something-tarian’, then its just TEAM X v TEAM Y and never the twain shall meet.

              That’s no reason not to start a club… but maybe think of it as a political philosophy group rather than exclusively “libertarian”.

              Just a thought.

        2. The reason I don’t bother with most other academics is because it’s the equivalent of trying to convert priests in a religion. They’ve thought everything through, are convinced they are right, and have invested everything in it. Much better to pick off the new converts, a.k.a. students.

          1. and they (the academics) live in a thought bubble. It’s the same with the large media. When you are surrounded by people who agree with you on everything, it’s easy to believe your way is the true path.

            I went to grad school a bit late in life. It was fun. I was the same age as the profs, but not the same mindset. The other students were not sure what to do.

        3. Maybe you could try pretending to go full conservative, and then back off a bit and go “hah, just kidding, I’m just a libertarian, guys…”

        4. Perhaps preface coming out to them by declaring you are actually a woman, and are working towards a full penisectomy.

          Then, tell them you’re Libertarian.

          If they give you a hard time accuse them of being anti transgendered.

    2. Yeah. “The truth has a liberal bias” is a fav. Or something about science wi5h John Stewart doing a facepalm. ‘Cause John Stewert is a famous scientist I guess.

  7. Well at least Reagan had a college degree and was a union president.
    Remember, we once had a president who never went to college, lost his chance to be senator, was never a governor, was a lobbyist for Big Rail, served only one term in Congress, and never led men in combat. Oh, and for most his career, placed ending slavery behind preserving his political base.

    1. Yeah, but it was a college degree from Eureka College.

      Ugh. *spits on the floor in a show of outraged disgust.*

      1. The last President who didn’t graduate from the Ivy League. Not coincidentally, also the last President who didn’t jump at the opportunity to send in the troops and blow people up for the ratings.

        1. Something he understood about using military force that I don’t think Bush, Clinton, Obama, Carter, LBJ, or Nixon really understood was that it was an all or nothing thing.

          When he decided to restore the government of Grenada, we deployed the 82nd, plus the Rangers, plus the SEALs, plus a naval task group, plus plenty of air support. That’s about 7,000 elite troops with lots of firepower on call. The opposition was outnumbered by a factor of three, and in real combat effectiveness the Americans were overwhelmingly superior. He did not attempt to do it on the cheap, with a small commando team, or with airstrikes. He set the goal, and deployed enough forces to get the job done 20 times over. They moved quickly, overwhelmed the Cubans and Grenadans, and then went home.

          1. Art of War. Never fight unless you have an absolutely overwhelming advantage, to the point where the enemy will quit rather than fire a single shot.

            That is the only real win in a war.

  8. “But it’s one thing for the New Yorker to run left-wing editorials or nasty reviews of books by center-right authors. It’s another thing for them to insert an attack on Ronald Reagan into an article about grammar, or an attack on the British Conservative Party into an article about Apple. ”

    Ira clearly doesn’t understand the Progressive Theocracy.

    Every moment of every day is an opportunity and an obligation to indoctrinate for The Cause. That’s the *purpose* of every breath they take. Anything besides indoctrination in an article is simply something shiny to attract eyeballs to the indoctrination.

  9. Anyone remember the absurd attempt Obumbles made to associate himself with Reagan by dubbing himself ‘The Gipper’?

  10. Bush was malevolently and potently effective and nobody really believes it was because his brain was working at full-steam.

    1. Tony|2.23.15 @ 5:33PM|#
      “Bush was malevolently and potently effective and nobody really believes it was because his brain was working at full-steam.”

      Why, compared to the lying ignoramus who currently occupies the WH that’s, uh, pretty similar…

    2. It wasn’t that bush was so smart.

      The democrats were just so stupid.

  11. Reminds me of this gem from Parade Magazine on Sunday in an article about the Oscars, “…in America in a time where upward mobility is far more restricted than it’s ever been in our history…” That statement is not only not proven by statistics but so patently ridiculous I wonder how any sane person could possibly believe it.

    1. “that statement is not only not proven by statistics but so patently ridiculous I wonder how any sane person could possibly believe it.”

      Also, Gun Violence is at an All Time High…and human pollution is killing us faster and faster

      Everyone knows this

      1. There’s a waste plastic patch in the Pacific as big as Texas! Everybody knows that.

        1. I still meet people who insist that you can’t take a boat across the pacific without being swallowed by the massive trash monster that covers 1000s of square miles

          I don’t know where they heard that and how it got reinforced… but apparently the “surprise” was that *it never existed*, because…uhm, bad modeling?

          “The Great Pacific garbage patch, aka the Pacific trash vortex, has commonly been assumed to grow twice as big every decade. But researchers from the University of Cadiz in Spain have discovered that the huge piles of plastic debris they’d expect to find just aren’t there.

          According to their report, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science on Monday, there’s simply 99% less plastic waste in the world’s oceans that previously thought.

          In the 1970s, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences estimated that about 45,000 tons of plastic ended up in the ocean each year. Since then, global plastic production has since then gone up fivefold… However ? after looking at more than 3,000 water samples ? that there’s “only” an estimated 7,000 to 35,000 tons of garbage in the oceans.”

          I like how the so-called ‘mystery’ is that it *isnt* there…rather than questioning the reasons they assumed it was.

  12. I believe this video best explains the thought process behind both Reagan hate and Reagan love:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wstIBq2H0z8

  13. Reagan made up for his fiscal sins by not engaging in any stupid wars and his deft handling of the Soviets. His optimism served him well with Gorby.

    1. Turd lies. Always.
      Well, maybe not 8% of the time…

      1. I have a friend who was in the military during the Reagan years. He laments he never fired a shot or was deployed to a single hot zone.

        That time was like the Pax-Reagana.

        1. The 80s and 90s were great culturally and politically. It all ended when a certain conservative idiot was elected in 2000.

          1. I think it was more like 9/11 that ended it.

            Bush would have been totally happy to spend his Presidency promoting no child left behind and reforming social security. He had about zero plans to be a war president until some Muslims decided to fly planes into the WTC for Allah.

            1. Remember when Europe was afraid that George Bush wouldn’t engage enough with the world?

    2. I was in business during the early 80s, and still am. The state of the economy when Reagan became president was perilous. He did a masterful job at handling it. Obama took over when there was one thing to correct, the banks, and 7 years later we’re finally crawling out of the recession. Sort of.

      Reagan had no financial sins. He did a great job in a hugely difficult situation.

  14. God, I miss Harold Ross.

    *sniff*

  15. Wait, an article about Reagan. Something’s missing… something…

    Oh, yeah, a comment from Alan Vanneman.

  16. This is how liberals win the culture war. By inserting attacks on conservatives and Republicans into pretty much every sort of media, it constantly pushes the message “Republicans/conservatives are evil. Dumb. Uncool”

    1. Well, there’s an election coming up. And Reagan is a mammoth figure in GOP politics. So you have to start the takedowns early and hit as many targets as possible. Hillary’s not going to win by herself.

    2. Cons do it too. How many times have you heard that Jimmy Carter is the worst POTUS in history by ignorant Cons who cannot name a single law he signed?

      They just repeat what they hear like parrots do.

      1. True, as far as it goes. But the New Yorker is not a political mag (ostensibly).

        1. It will get worse. I watched ‘Boyhood’ and there was a scene where the father was having his kids put out Obama-Biden signs in 2008. They went to one home and a Republican threatened to shoot them if they put up a sign in his yard.

          It was a purely gratuitous political statement.

          1. It was mostly to demonstrate the changing times, I thought. To show that these people were in tune with the zeitgeist of 2008.

          2. Boyhood sucked anyways.

            1. I was mostly bored. It was a nice gimmick with little substance.

      2. We should forgive Carter all his faults because he was a governor with a college degree from an impressive institution.

        1. Carter was the most libertarian POTUS since Coolidge. He was Mr. Deregulation and non-aggression.

      3. Not true. I never hear that from any cons. They all say he is the second worst POTUS ever, after Obama.

      4. First time I heard that Carter was the worst president was on the Simpsons–‘history’s greatest monster’.

        Don’t think those folks are conservatives.

  17. I don’t recommend it, but if you listen to Thom Hartmann for any period of time you will discover that the apocalypse began with the Reagan presidency.

    1. Which is ridiculous. Reagan’s mild deficit spending was replaced with a Clinton surplus by 1999.

      1. I have no idea why Clinton gets credit for the surplus.

        Somehow these nasty budget cutting Republicans keep shutting down the government, and then a couple of years later, budget surpluses start appearing, which have NO CONNECTION WHATSOEVER to ANY of that nasty Republican budget brinksmanship! No Connection at all!

        1. Because the OMNIBUS of 1993 actually led to the surpluses. Cut spending + raised top end rate = surplus (no GOP votes)

    2. And Reagan greatly expanded the EITC – the biggest welfare direct cash payment program today.

      1. At least the EITC encourages people to actually have jobs.

  18. Ohio Fox Anchor Calls Lady Gaga’s Music ‘Jigaboo’ In Front Of Black Colleague

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/l…..ga-jigaboo

    I laughed. Reminds me of Randy on ‘South Park’.

  19. “When the left wasn’t complaining that Reagan was either napping or horseback riding at the ranch, it was busy bellyaching about his costly and supposedly dangerous military buildup, his supposedly budget-busting tax cuts, and his breaking of the air traffic controllers union.”

    They also snubbed him from walking away from negotiations with Gorbachev at Reykjavik (once he saw how desperate the Russians really were), and then the left lambasted him for embracing Gorbachev afterward–both of which led to the USSR disintegrating without a shot fired.

    They just hated Reagan.

    It was a personal thing owing to Reagan’s clean cut image during ’60s, his unrelenting to their pressure at Berkeley when he was governor, and the left’s own pent up hatred of Nixon.

    Has there ever been a dumber group of people than the leftists that came out of the ’60s. The New Left hated the liberals more than anybody, and when the old school liberals got a chance, they bashed the New Left’s heads in at the Democratic convention in Chicago in 1968.

    But does the New Left take it out on Democrat Party?

    NoooooooOOOOOOOOOooooooooo.

    They got Reagan to hate on now–and hate on him they will forever more.

    I blame Dr. Spock.

    No, not the one with the pointy ears.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Spock# Claims_that_Spock. 27s_ books_led_to_the_anti-Vietnam_War_movement_and_ .22permissiveness.22

    The worst thing the Greatest Generation ever did was raise the Worst Generation ever.

    1. A lot of people on the left continue to insist on believing that the 1980s were the height of the cold war and the Reagan almost caused a nuclear war.

      That’s how retarded they are.

      The Cuban Missile Crisis was the height of the Cold War and it was KENNEDY who almost started a nuclear war.

      1. “A lot of people on the left continue to insist on believing that the 1980s were the height of the cold war “

        Yes…

        …but then Sting wrote a song about how Russians love their children, and then We Are the World came out…and the liberals stopped it all from happening!

        Then Al Gore invented the internet, and Freedom and prosperity and global peace ensued…

        …until the Kochs invented Global Warming!1! and undermined Democracy and corporatized the economy and spread the autism vaccines.

        (*some people really do think this way – edited for brevity)

  20. I remember something that always stuck with me about this phenomenon. There was a syndicated review of “VEEP” appearing in the local paper when it came out in 2012. The reviewer made the obligatory comparison of Sarah Palin to the main character. Fair enough. They’re both sort of dim bulb women over their heads who were VPs (or running for VP) and Sarah Palin’s run for office was sorta recent.

    But then she made a reference to Dan Quayle to talk about a VP who made gaffes, comparing it to the character and as a symbol of an embarrassing VP. Quayle had been out of office almost 20 years at that point. Most readers under 30 probably didn’t even know who he was. The elephant in the room was that we now have a VP who is a total jackass (and was just as obviously a jackass in 2012). It was just assumed by her and what she presumed was her audience that Dan Quayle was a throw-away laugh line. It would never have crossed her mind to mention that the current VP Joe Biden as an obvious comparison as a cringe-inducing VP.

  21. My favorite part about Reagan-haters is when they seem disappointed that he never actually started that nuclear war that they kept warning about. The left can’t come to terms with being completely wrong about Reagan (and Thatcher for that matter).

    As far as the article… well, yes. New Yorker gonna New Yorker.

  22. im pretty sure that the collapse of the USSR had a lot more to do witb the insolvency of a communist economy than Reagan, or any other US president for that matter. Presidents are assigned too much responsibility for events they have little influence over in the grand scheme of things (see: The Economy)

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