07 January 2004

Reagan Dime?

Having failed in their attempts to carve Reagan's sourpuss onto Mount Rushmore, conservatives now want Reagan to replace FDR on the dime.

Do these people realize that REAGAN ISN'T EVEN DEAD YET? It was inappropriate enough to name an airport after him. Generally speaking, memorials wait until after death.

But that impropriety and my own dislike for Reagan aside, let's evaluate the two presidents. FDR guided the country through a global shooting war saw American soldiers fighting desperately on two fronts. The Republican answer to this, I suppose, is that Reagan was instrumental in winning the Cold War. I find this logic fatuous. Reagan didn't end the Cold War anymore than Bush I did. The East Germans, Poles, Czechs, and Russians who were fed up with their own regimes ended the Cold War.

FDR 1, Reagan 0.

FDR also led the country through the Great Depression. Whether or not you believe his legislative solutions to economic depression were warranted, they were innovative, people believed in them, and they redefined the way in which government operated. I suppose the Republican answer to this is the standard rant against the New Deal. Whether or not one likes the New Deal and what it stood for, one CANNOT deny its central historical importance. Someone please tell me a domestic policy initiative under Reagan that has had equivalent lasting importance. Can't think of one? That's because there isn't one.

FDR 2, Reagan 0.

Lastly, FDR was reelected a stunning three times (1936, 1940, 1944). Reagan was apparently symptomatic for Alzheimer's disease during his second term. While I feel bad for anyone, including Reagan, who suffers from this debilitating disease, it was irresponsible on his part and on the parts of members of his administration to hide it. I believe it put this country in danger. I know Republicans don't want to talk about that--but if we can dissect Clinton's sex life, we sure should be able to talk about when Reagan began to show signs of being unable to fulfill the duties of his office.

FDR 3, Reagan 0.

I also deplore the political precedent of one party in power attempting to remove a representative of another party from the public view so blatantly. I would feel the same way, I think, if Democrats attempted to remove Lincoln from the penny because he was a Republican.

There are plenty of other ways to recognize Reagan if people feel he deserves that recognition. (I make no secret of the fact that I don't think he deserves that recognition.) The man already has an airport and I am sure other honors will follow. That recognition should not include removal of one of the twentieth century's most important historical figures from the dime.

You can read an article about the dime here, and vote on whether or not FDR should be retained.


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