President Reagan

Central America Expressway

Tim Brown again defends Reagan's Central American policy: "What leads me to despair is exploiting the opportunity of President Reagan's death to repeat yet again the false and now thoroughly disproven anti-Reagan incantations as regards such things as the Contra movement, which happens to be my specialty. Reagan was not responsible for the Contra war. The Real Contra War began in 1979 with no foreign involvement before Reagan became was president. It was led by anti-Somoza former Sandinista guerrilla leaders who felt betrayed by the Nine Commandantes who co-opted what had been the pro-democratic revolution they had won and tried to turn it into a Communist dictatorship. Involvement of the United States with the Contras began with Jimmy Carter, not Reagan. It was Carter who gave the first orders to support the Contras by signing two Presidential Decision Memoranda authorizing clandestine CIA support to them. I have documented this publicly, and former senior officials of the Carter White House have confirmed it privately. Further, had Carter not supported the Sandinista revolution in the first place, the Contra war would never even have happened. In the end Carter realized that his policies had created a disaster and signed the orders to support the Contras in an attempt after-the-fact to undo the damage he had caused. Reagan's support for the Contras it was essentially an effort to clean up the mess Carter had left.

The proof of what really happened in Nicaragua is clearly visible to anyone who wants to look at reality rather than simply repeat past false statements. Nicaragua has now had three democratic elections in a row and the Sandinistas have lost them all. And in each of these elections the decisive voting bloc was precisely those poor, marginalized and until now disenfranchised peasants and tribal Indians who made up the Contra movement. In 2005 they will once again be the decisive bloc. And yesterday's Contras are today's decisive political group in Nicaragua for one simple reason: because they did then and do now representative the majority of Nicaraguans. Those who opposed the Contras opposed freedom and democracy".

It may be semantically possible, providing you don't mind telling only a fraction of the truth, to say that Reagan caused many deaths in Central America by continuing the Carter-initiated US backing for the Contras. But to make that sound evil rather than good you must ignore history. Specifically, you must ignore the fact that the leadership of the Contras was primarily made up of formerly supporters of the Sandinista movement, not of the Somoza dictatorship; that their movement began spontaneously among the mountain peasantry with no foreign involvement whatsoever; and that, while people did die at their hands, the vast majority of those who did were armed enemy combatants they killed in combat. You must also completely ignore the other side of the coin - that it was the Sandinista Marxists, not the Contras who killed, maimed, forced into exile or put in concentration camps and political prisons tens of thousands of innocent civilians, as has been massively documented by the OAS - and studiously ignore by those who still sympathize with the Sandinistas - since the war ended".

Reagan's Passing

Tor Guimaraes says: "It is hard not to like President Reagan, the man. His relationship with Nancy is heartwarming. He also has been very kind to many little people,he was a gentleman. The one thing I can’t figure out is how much of his presentations was in fact acting versus personal conviction. I heard he wrote his own speeches, if so that is impressive. He new how to stir people. I remember his short speech about the Challenger disaster, it was touching. I was amazed about how he and his team effectively manipulated his Soviet counterpart into surrender. Can we give him credit for that?" RH: When Nancy married Reagan,he was an actor in B films. Was Nancy dazed when he became president, or did she push him? The same goes for peanut farmer Jimmy Carter. Certainly in the latter case there was some pushing, and probably also in the first.

Randy Black writes: "From my personal experiences and from verified historical revelations and media coverage, Reagan was recruited, managed and coaxed onward and upward by a group of West Coast businessmen who ran Reagan like a race horse. He was an unemployed ex-governor who was in danger of losing his home when they picked him up, set up his financial affairs to the point that he became very wealthy and subsequently was elected President. But, Reagan had several unique qualities and talents: His reputation was that of a hero, his background was without a blemish and he could read his lines flawlessly.

Was Nancy the “brains” of the outfit? Not really, although she is and was obviously an important part of the equation.

Reagan’s kitchen cabinet were all strong proponents of the free enterprise system. His wealthy, conservative California backers included: William French Smith, Charles Wick, Holmes Tuttle, Joseph Coors, and about six others. I recall a couple of rounds of golf with Tuttle who explained the group’s backing of the actor, Reagan. Tuttle asked me, “Would you rather vote for a candidate who has spent his life in politics, has never really worked for a living, or created jobs in the private sector while clawing his way to the top and who is beholden to many other politicians for his success in Washington? (He was referring to LBJ as an example of such a politician.) Or would you rather have a candidate who is backed by very successful capitalists who have created dozens of companies and tens of thousands of jobs, people who know what it takes to attain success within our system?” A very reasonable question, I thought at the time… (The kitchen cabinet was made up of entrepreneurs, bankers, insurance types, automotive leaders, manufacturers, energy types.)

As governor, Reagan was effective to a point. Here is an excerpt from one story: “Unable to make much progress cutting state government, Reagan pleased middle-class voters with a hard line ­ "observe the rules or get out" ­ against student protesters at the University of California's Berkeley campus. Reagan confronted protesters in front of news cameras. He fired University of California President Clark Kerr. He ridiculed campus radicals, saying one demonstrator "had a haircut like Tarzan, walked like Jane and smelled like Cheetah." To quell rioting in Berkeley in 1969, in which a student was killed by a law officer's shotgun blast, Reagan sent in the National Guard to occupy the city for 17 days. His image was one of toughness from the beginning. In 1967, he refused to stop the execution of convicted murderer Aaron Mitchell. More quietly, in the handful of other capital punishment decisions that reached him, he granted clemency and one temporary reprieve.

On environmental issues, his rhetoric was conservative: "A tree is a tree ­ how many more do you need to look at?" But Reagan pursued moderate environmental policies. He created state agencies to control waste and air pollution and to regulate nuclear power plant sites.

In 1967, Reagan was persuaded to sign a law virtually allowing abortion on demand. Much more strongly anti-abortion in later years, he called signing the bill one of the biggest mistakes of his political career.”
But, in the end, when he left the Presidency, he had the highest approval ratings of any President since FDR.

One of my favorite Reagan stories: In 1966, soon after Ronald Reagan unseated liberal California Governor Edmund (Pat) Brown by a 1 million-vote landslide, a reporter asked the winner what kind of a governor he would be. "I don't know," the veteran actor quipped. "I've never played a governor"."

RH: Coors was from Colorado, but for Easterners that may be "West Coast". Clark Kerr summed us his career as president of the University of California "When I took the job I was fired with enthusiasm. When I left I was fired with enthusiasm". Reagan's alleged remark about trees was "Seen one redwood, seen 'em all".

Ronald Hilton -