Friday, August 21, 2015

In 1980, among a host...

...of also-rans, a relative outsider, a Democrat-turned-Republican whom many Americans didn't take seriously, faced off for the GOP nomination against a scion of the Republican Party establishment named Bush.

Known as the "Great Communicator," due to his ability to connect with average Americans, Ronald Reagan also earned the sobriquet "the Teflon president," in that public perceptions of him were not tarnished by the controversies that arose during his administration.

According to Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder, who coined the phrase, and reporter Howard Kurtz, the epithet referred to Reagan's ability to "do almost anything wrong and not get blamed for it."
Public reaction to Reagan was always mixed; he did not fare well with some minority groups. The former Hollywood actor was also the first president to have been divorced. The combination of Reagan's speaking style, unabashed patriotism, negotiation skills, as well as his savvy use of the media, played an important role in defining the 1980s and his future legacy.

His numerous jokes and one-liners have been labeled "classic quips" and "legendary." Among the most notable of his jokes was one regarding the Cold War. As a microphone test in preparation for his weekly radio address in August 1984, Reagan made the following joke: "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes."

In the 1980 Republican primaries George H. W. Bush memorably called Reagan's economic policy "voodoo economics" because it promised to lower taxes and increase revenues at the same time. Did Reagan care? Heck no! Was Bush right? Of course!

Reagan the presidential candidate was kind of a character who many Americans just couldn't see in the White House. His world was a very simple one, all the answers to our problems were easy and he had a habit of saying the darnedest things right off the top of his head. Here's a sample:

"Politics is supposed to be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first."

"What we have found in this country, and maybe we're more aware of it now, is one problem that we've had, even in the best of times, and that is the people who are sleeping on the grates, the homeless who are homeless, you might say, by choice."

"All the waste in a year from a nuclear power plant can be stored under a desk."

"Approximately 80 percent of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation, so let's not go overboard in setting and enforcing tough emission standards from man-made sources."

"Trees cause more pollution than automobiles."

Whatever happened to Reagan? Oh, he won his race with Bush and went on to serve two terms in the White House.

Remind you of anyone?

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