California Republicans were impressed with Reagan's political views and charisma after his "Time for Choosing" speech, and in late 1965 he announced his campaign for "Governor of California in the 1966 election. He defeated former San Francisco mayor "George Christopher in the "GOP primary. In Reagan's campaign, he emphasized two main themes: "to send the "welfare bums back to work," and, in reference to burgeoning anti-war and anti-establishment "student protests at the "University of California at Berkeley, "to clean up the mess at Berkeley." In 1966, Reagan accomplished what both U.S. Senator "William F. Knowland in 1958 and former Vice President "Richard Nixon in 1962 had attempted to do: he was elected, defeating two-term governor "Edmund G. "Pat" Brown, and was sworn in on January 2, 1967. In his first term, he froze government hiring and approved tax hikes to balance the budget.
Shortly after the beginning of his term, Reagan tested the "presidential waters in 1968 as part of a "Stop Nixon" movement, hoping to cut into Nixon's southern support and become a compromise candidate if neither Nixon nor second-place candidate "Nelson Rockefeller received enough delegates to win on the first ballot at the "Republican convention. However, by the time of the convention Nixon, had 692 delegate votes, 25 more than he needed to secure the nomination, followed by Rockefeller with Reagan in third place.
Reagan was involved in several high-profile conflicts with the protest movements of the era, including his public criticism of university administrators for tolerating student demonstrations at the "University of California, Berkeley campus. On May 15, 1969, during the "People's Park protests at the university's campus (the original purpose of which was to discuss the "Arab–Israeli conflict), Reagan sent the "California Highway Patrol and other officers to quell the protests. This led to an incident that became known as "Bloody Thursday," resulting in the death of student "James Rector and the blinding of carpenter Alan Blanchard. In addition, 111 police officers were injured in the conflict, including one who was knifed in the chest. Reagan then called out 2,200 "state National Guard troops to occupy the city of Berkeley for two weeks to crack down on the protesters. The Guard remained in Berkeley for 17 days, camping in People's Park, and demonstrations subsided as the university removed cordoned-off fencing and placed all development plans for People's Park on hold. One year after "Bloody Thursday," Reagan responded to questions about campus protest movements saying, "If it takes a bloodbath, let's get it over with. No more appeasement." When the "Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapped "Patty Hearst in Berkeley and demanded the distribution of food to the poor, Reagan joked to a group of political aides about a "botulism outbreak contaminating the food.
Early in 1967, the national debate on abortion was starting to gain traction. In the early stages of the debate, Democratic California state senator "Anthony C. Beilenson introduced the "Therapeutic Abortion Act" in an effort to reduce the number of "back-room abortions" performed in California. The state legislature sent the bill to Reagan's desk where, after many days of indecision, he signed it on June 14, 1967. About two million abortions would be performed as a result, mostly because of a provision in the bill allowing abortions for the well-being of the mother. Reagan had been in office for only four months when he signed the bill, and later stated that had he been more experienced as governor, he would not have signed it. After he recognized what he called the "consequences" of the bill, he announced that he was "pro-life. He maintained that position later in his political career, writing extensively about abortion.
In 1967, Reagan signed the "Mulford Act, which repealed a law allowing "public carrying of loaded firearms (becoming "California Penal Code 12031 and 171(c)). The bill, which was named after Republican assemblyman "Don Mulford, garnered national attention after the "Black Panthers marched bearing arms upon the "California State Capitol to protest it.
Despite an unsuccessful attempt to recall him in 1968, Reagan was re-elected governor in 1970, defeating "Big Daddy" "Jesse M. Unruh. He chose not to seek a third term in the following election cycle. One of Reagan's greatest frustrations in office concerned "capital punishment, which he strongly supported. His efforts to enforce the state's laws in this area were thwarted when the "Supreme Court of California issued its "People v. Anderson decision, which invalidated all death sentences issued in California before 1972, though the decision was later overturned by a constitutional amendment. The only execution during Reagan's governorship was on April 12, 1967, when "Aaron Mitchell's sentence was carried out by the state in "San Quentin's gas chamber.
In 1969, Reagan, as governor, signed the Family Law Act, an amalgam of two bills which had been written and revised by the "California State Legislature for over two years. It became the first "no-fault divorce legislation in the United States.
Reagan's terms as governor helped to shape the policies he would pursue in his later political career as president. By campaigning on a platform of sending "the welfare bums back to work," he spoke out against the idea of the "welfare state. He also strongly advocated the Republican ideal of less government regulation of the economy, including that of undue federal taxation.
Reagan did not seek re-election to a third term as governor in 1974 and was succeeded by the "Secretary of State, Democrat "Jerry Brown, on January 6, 1975.
1976 presidential campaign
In 1976, Reagan challenged incumbent President "Gerald Ford in a bid to become the Republican Party's candidate for president. Reagan soon established himself as the conservative candidate with the support of like-minded organizations such as the "American Conservative Union, which became key components of his political base, while President Ford was considered a more moderate Republican.
Reagan's campaign relied on a strategy crafted by campaign manager "John Sears of winning a few primaries early to damage the inevitability of Ford's likely nomination. Reagan won North Carolina, Texas, and California, but the strategy failed, as he ended up losing New Hampshire, Florida, and his native Illinois. The Texas campaign lent renewed hope to Reagan, when he swept all 96 delegates chosen in the May 1 primary, with four more awaiting at the state convention. Much of the credit for that victory came from the work of three co-chairmen, including "Ernest Angelo, the mayor of "Midland, and "Ray Barnhart of "Houston, whom Reagan as President would appoint in 1981 as director of the "Federal Highway Administration.
However, as the "GOP convention neared, Ford appeared close to victory. Acknowledging his party's moderate wing, Reagan chose moderate Senator "Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania as his "running mate if nominated. Nonetheless, Ford prevailed with 1,187 delegates to Reagan's 1,070. Ford would go on to lose the "1976 presidential election to the Democratic candidate, "Jimmy Carter.
Reagan's concession speech emphasized the dangers of nuclear war and the threat posed by the Soviet Union. Though he lost the nomination, he received 307 write-in votes in New Hampshire, 388 votes as an Independent on Wyoming's ballot, and a single electoral vote from a "faithless elector in the November election from the state of Washington, which Ford had won over Democratic challenger "Jimmy Carter.
After the campaign, Reagan remained in the public debate with the Ronald Reagan Radio Commentary series and his political action committee, "Citizens for the Republic, which was later revived in "Alexandria, Virginia, in 2009 by the Reagan biographer "Craig Shirley.
1980 presidential campaign
The 1980 presidential campaign between Reagan and incumbent President "Jimmy Carter was conducted amid a multitude of domestic concerns and the ongoing "Iran hostage crisis. Reagan's campaign stressed some of his fundamental principles: lower taxes to stimulate the economy, less government interference in people's lives, "states' rights, and a strong national defense.
Reagan launched his campaign by declaring "I believe in states' rights." After receiving the Republican nomination, Reagan selected one of his primary opponents, "George H. W. Bush, to be his running mate. His appearance in an October televised debate boosted his popularity. Reagan won the election, carrying 44 states with 489 electoral votes to 49 electoral votes for Carter (representing six states and Washington, D.C.). Reagan received 51% of the popular vote while Carter took 41%, and Independent "John B. Anderson (a liberal Republican) received 7%. "Republicans captured the Senate for the first time since 1952, and "gained 34 House seats, but the Democrats retained a majority.
Presidency of the United States: 1981–1989
During his presidency, Reagan pursued policies that reflected his personal belief in individual freedom; brought changes domestically, both to the U.S. economy and expanded military; and contributed to the end of the "Cold War. Termed the "Reagan Revolution," his presidency would reinvigorate American morale, reinvigorate the U.S. economy and reduce reliance upon government. As president, Reagan kept a diary in which he commented on daily occurrences of his presidency and his views on the issues of the day. The diaries were published in May 2007 in the bestselling book, "The Reagan Diaries.
At the time, Reagan was the oldest person elected to the office of the presidency (at age 69) and the "oldest president at the time of inauguration, at 69 years, 341 days ("Donald Trump surpassed this record when he was elected president at age 70 in November 2016). In his "first inaugural address on January 20, 1981, which Reagan himself wrote, he addressed the country's economic malaise, arguing: "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem."
Prayer in schools and a moment of silence
In 1981, Reagan became the first president to propose a constitutional amendment on "school prayer. Reagan's election reflected an opposition to the 1962 Supreme Court case "Engel v. Vitale, prohibiting state officials from composing an official state prayer and requiring that it be recited in the public schools. Reagan's 1981 proposed amendment stated: "Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit individual or group prayer in public schools or other public institutions. No person shall be required by the United States or by any state to participate in prayer." In 1984, Reagan again raised the issue, asking Congress "why can't [the] freedom to acknowledge God be enjoyed again by children in every schoolroom across this land?" In 1985, Reagan expressed his disappointment that the Supreme Court ruling still bans a moment of silence for public schools, and said he had "an uphill battle." In 1987 Reagan renewed his call for Congress to support voluntary prayer in schools and end "the expulsion of God from America's classrooms." Critics argue that any governmental imposition of prayer on public school students is involuntary. No Supreme Court rulings suggest that students cannot engage in silent prayer on their own. During his term in office, Reagan campaigned vigorously to restore organized prayer to the schools, first as a moment of prayer and later as a Moment of Silence.
On March 30, 1981, only 69 days into the new administration, Reagan, his press secretary "James Brady, Washington police officer "Thomas Delahanty, and Secret Service agent "Tim McCarthy were struck by gunfire from would-be assassin "John Hinckley Jr. outside the "Washington Hilton hotel. Although "close to death" upon arrival at "George Washington University Hospital, Reagan was stabilized in the emergency room, then underwent emergency exploratory surgery. He recovered and was released from the hospital on April 11, becoming the first serving U.S. president to survive being shot in an assassination attempt. The attempt had great influence on Reagan's popularity; polls indicated his approval rating to be around 73%. Reagan believed that God had spared his life so that he might go on to fulfill a greater purpose.
Assistant Secretary of State nomination
In response to conservative criticism that the "State Department lacked hardliners, Reagan in 1981 nominated "Ernest W. Lefever as "Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs. Lefever performed poorly at his confirmation hearings and the Senate committee rejected his nomination by vote of 4–13; Lefever withdrew his name.
Air traffic controllers' strike
In 1981, "PATCO, the union of "federal air traffic controllers went on strike, violating a federal law prohibiting government unions from striking. Declaring the situation an emergency as described in the "1947 Taft–Hartley Act, Reagan stated that if the air traffic controllers "do not report for work within 48 hours, they have forfeited their jobs and will be terminated." They did not return and on August 5, Reagan fired 11,345 striking air traffic controllers who had ignored his order, and used supervisors and military controllers to handle the nation's commercial air traffic until new controllers could be hired and trained. A leading reference work on public administration concluded, "The firing of PATCO employees not only demonstrated a clear resolve by the president to take control of the bureaucracy, but it also sent a clear message to the private sector that unions no longer needed to be feared."
"Reaganomics" and the economy
During "Jimmy Carter's last year in office (1980), inflation averaged 12.5%, compared with 4.4% during Reagan's last year in office (1988). During Reagan's administration, the unemployment rate declined from 7.5% to 5.4%, with the rate reaching highs of 10.8% in 1982 and 10.4% in 1983, averaging 7.5% over the eight years, and real GDP growth averaged 3.4% with a high of 8.6% in 1983, while nominal GDP growth averaged 7.4%, and peaked at 12.2% in 1982.
Reagan implemented policies based on "supply-side economics, advocating a "laissez-faire philosophy and "free-market fiscal policy, seeking to stimulate the economy with large, across-the-board "tax cuts. He also supported returning the United States to some sort of "gold standard, and successfully urged Congress to establish the U.S. Gold Commission to study how one could be implemented. Citing the economic theories of "Arthur Laffer, Reagan promoted the proposed tax cuts as potentially stimulating the economy enough to expand the tax base, offsetting the revenue loss due to reduced rates of taxation, a theory that entered political discussion as the "Laffer curve. Reaganomics was the subject of debate with supporters pointing to improvements in certain key economic indicators as evidence of success, and critics pointing to large increases in federal budget deficits and the national debt. His policy of ""peace through strength" resulted in a record peacetime defense buildup including a 40% real increase in defense spending between 1981 and 1985.
During Reagan's presidency, federal "income tax rates were lowered significantly with the signing of the "Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, which lowered the top marginal tax bracket from 70% to 50% and the lowest bracket from 14% to 11%. Other tax increases passed by Congress and signed by Reagan ensured however that tax revenues over his two terms were 18.2% of GDP as compared to 18.1% over the 40-year period of 1970–2010. Then, in 1982 the "Job Training Partnership Act of 1982 was signed into law, initiating one of the United States' first "public–private partnerships and a major part of the president's "job creation program. Reagan's Assistant Secretary of Labor and Chief of Staff, "Al Angrisani, was a primary architect of the bill.
Conversely, Congress passed and Reagan signed into law tax increases of some nature in every year from 1981 to 1987 to continue funding such government programs as "Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA), "Social Security, and the "Deficit Reduction Act of 1984 (DEFRA). Despite the fact that TEFRA was the "largest peacetime tax increase in American history," gross domestic product (GDP) growth recovered strongly after the "early 1980s recession ended in 1982, and grew during his eight years in office at an annual rate of 7.9% per year, with a high of 12.2% growth in 1981. Unemployment peaked at 10.8% monthly rate in December 1982—higher than any time since the Great Depression—then dropped during the rest of Reagan's presidency. Sixteen million new jobs were created, while inflation significantly decreased. The "Tax Reform Act of 1986, another bipartisan effort championed by Reagan, simplified the tax code by reducing the number of tax brackets to four and slashing a number of tax breaks. The top rate was dropped to 28%, but capital gains taxes were increased on those with the highest incomes from 20% to 28%. The increase of the lowest tax bracket from 11% to 15% was more than offset by expansion of the personal exemption, "standard deduction, and "earned income tax credit. The net result was the removal of six million poor Americans from the income tax roll and a reduction of income tax liability at all income levels.
The net effect of all Reagan-era tax bills was a 1% decrease in government revenues when compared to Treasury Department revenue estimates from the Administration's first post-enactment January budgets. However, federal income tax receipts increased from 1980 to 1989, rising from $308.7 billion to $549 billion or an average annual rate of 8.2% (2.5% attributed to higher Social Security receipts), and federal outlays grew at an annual rate of 7.1%.
Reagan's policies proposed that economic growth would occur when marginal tax rates were low enough to spur investment, which would then lead to higher employment and wages. Critics labeled this ""trickle-down economics"—the belief that tax policies that benefit the wealthy will create a "trickle-down" effect to the poor. Questions arose whether Reagan's policies benefited the wealthy more than those living in poverty, and many poor and minority citizens viewed Reagan as indifferent to their struggles. These views were exacerbated by the fact that Reagan's economic regimen included freezing the "minimum wage at $3.35 an hour, slashing "federal assistance to local governments by 60%, cutting the budget for "public housing and "Section 8 rent subsidies in half, and eliminating the antipoverty "Community Development Block Grant program. The widening gap between the rich and poor had already begun during the 1970s before Reagan's economic policies took effect. Along with Reagan's 1981 cut in the top regular tax rate on unearned income, he reduced the maximum capital gains rate to only 20%. Reagan later set tax rates on capital gains at the same level as the rates on ordinary income like salaries and wages, with both topping out at 28%. Reagan is viewed as an antitax hero despite raising taxes eleven times over the course of his presidency, all in the name of fiscal responsibility. According to "Paul Krugman, "Over all, the 1982 tax increase undid about a third of the 1981 cut; as a share of GDP, the increase was substantially larger than "Mr. Clinton's 1993 tax increase." According to historian and domestic policy adviser "Bruce Bartlett, Reagan's tax increases over the course of his presidency took back half of the 1981 tax cut.
Further following his opposition to government intervention, Reagan cut the budgets of non-military programs including "Medicaid, "food stamps, federal education programs and the "EPA. While he protected entitlement programs, such as "Social Security and "Medicare, his administration attempted to purge many people with disabilities from the Social Security disability rolls.
The administration's stance toward the "Savings and Loan industry contributed to the "savings and loan crisis. It is also suggested, by a minority of Reaganomics' critics, that the policies partially influenced the "stock market crash of 1987, but there is no consensus regarding a single source for the crash. In order to cover newly spawned federal budget deficits, the United States borrowed heavily both domestically and abroad, raising the "national debt from $997 billion to $2.85 trillion. Reagan described the new debt as the "greatest disappointment" of his presidency.
He reappointed "Paul Volcker as "Chairman of the Federal Reserve, and in 1987 he appointed monetarist "Alan Greenspan to succeed him. Reagan ended the "price controls on domestic oil which had contributed to energy crises in the early 1970s. The price of oil subsequently dropped, and the 1980s did not see the fuel shortages that the 1970s had. Reagan also fulfilled a 1980 campaign promise to repeal the "windfall profits tax in 1988, which had previously increased dependence on foreign oil. Some economists, such as Nobel Prize winners "Milton Friedman and "Robert Mundell, argue that Reagan's tax policies invigorated America's economy and contributed to the economic boom of the 1990s. Other economists, such as Nobel Prize winner "Robert Solow, argue that Reagan's deficits were a major reason his successor, George H. W. Bush, reneged on a "campaign promise and resorted to raising taxes.
During Reagan's presidency, a program was initiated within the "United States Intelligence Community to ensure America's economic strength. The program, "Project Socrates, developed and demonstrated the means required for the United States to generate and lead the next evolutionary leap in technology acquisition and utilization for a competitive advantage—automated innovation. To ensure that the United States acquired the maximum benefit from automated innovation, Reagan, during his second term, had an executive order drafted to create a new federal agency to implement the Project Socrates results on a nationwide basis. However, Reagan's term came to end before the executive order could be coordinated and signed, and the incoming Bush administration, labeling Project Socrates as "industrial policy," had it terminated.
Escalation of the Cold War
Reagan escalated the "Cold War, accelerating a reversal from the policy of "détente which began in 1979 after the "Soviet war in Afghanistan. Reagan ordered a massive buildup of the "United States Armed Forces and implemented new policies towards the Soviet Union: reviving the "B-1 Lancer program that had been canceled by the "Carter administration, and producing the "MX missile. In response to Soviet deployment of the "SS-20, Reagan oversaw "NATO's deployment of the "Pershing missile in West Germany.
In 1984, journalist "Nicholas Lemann interviewed Secretary of Defense "Caspar Weinberger and summarized the strategy of the Reagan administration to roll back the Soviet Union:
Their society is economically weak, and it lacks the wealth, education, and technology to enter the information age. They have thrown everything into military production, and their society is starting to show terrible stress as a result. They can't sustain military production the way we can. Eventually it will break them, and then there will be just one superpower in a safe world—if, only if, we can keep spending.
Lemann notes that when he wrote that in 1984, he thought the Reaganites were living in a fantasy world. But by 2016, Lemann stated that the passage represents "a fairly uncontroversial description of what Reagan actually did."
Together with the United Kingdom's prime minister "Margaret Thatcher, Reagan denounced the Soviet Union in ideological terms. In a famous address on June 8, 1982, to the "Parliament of the United Kingdom in the Royal Gallery of the "Palace of Westminster, Reagan said, "the forward march of freedom and democracy will leave "Marxism–Leninism on the "ash heap of history." On March 3, 1983, he predicted that communism would collapse, stating, "Communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages even now are being written." In a speech to the "National Association of Evangelicals on March 8, 1983, Reagan called the Soviet Union "an "evil empire."
After Soviet fighters downed "Korean Air Lines Flight 007 near "Moneron Island on September 1, 1983, carrying 269 people, including Georgia congressman "Larry McDonald, Reagan labeled the act a "massacre" and declared that the Soviets had turned "against the world and the moral precepts which guide human relations among people everywhere." The Reagan administration responded to the incident by suspending all Soviet passenger air service to the United States, and dropped several agreements being negotiated with the Soviets, wounding them financially. As a result of the shootdown, and the cause of KAL 007's going astray thought to be inadequacies related to its navigational system, Reagan announced on September 16, 1983, that the "Global Positioning System would be made available for civilian use, free of charge, once completed in order to avert similar navigational errors in future.
Under a policy that came to be known as the "Reagan Doctrine, Reagan and his administration also provided overt and covert aid to anti-communist "resistance movements in an effort to ""rollback" Soviet-backed communist governments in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Reagan deployed the CIA's "Special Activities Division to Afghanistan and Pakistan. They were instrumental in training, equipping and leading "Mujahideen forces against the "Soviet Army. President Reagan's Covert Action program has been given credit for assisting in ending the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, though some of the United States funded armaments introduced then would later pose a threat to U.S. troops in the 2001 "War in Afghanistan. However, in a break from the Carter policy of arming Taiwan under the "Taiwan Relations Act, Reagan also agreed with the communist government in China to "reduce the sale of arms to Taiwan.
In March 1983, Reagan introduced the "Strategic Defense Initiative, a defense project that would have used ground- and space-based systems to protect the United States from attack by strategic nuclear ballistic missiles. Reagan believed that this defense shield could make nuclear war impossible. There was much disbelief surrounding the program's scientific feasibility, leading opponents to dub SDI "Star Wars" and argue that its technological objective was unattainable. The Soviets became concerned about the possible effects SDI would have; leader "Yuri Andropov said it would put "the entire world in jeopardy." For those reasons, "David Gergen, former aide to President Reagan, believes that in retrospect, SDI hastened the end of the Cold War.
Critics labeled Reagan's foreign policies as aggressive, imperialistic, and chided them as "warmongering," though they were supported by leading "American conservatives who argued that they were necessary to protect U.S. security interests. The Reagan administration also backed anti-communist leaders accused of severe human rights violations, such as "Efraín Ríos Montt of "Guatemala and "Hissène Habré of "Chad, and helped Iranian leader "Ruhollah Khomeini identify and purge communists in his government.
Lebanese Civil War
With the approval of Congress, Reagan in 1983 sent "forces to Lebanon to reduce the threat of the "Lebanese Civil War. The American "peacekeeping forces in "Beirut, a part of a "multinational force during the "Lebanese Civil War, were attacked on October 23, 1983. The Beirut barracks bombing killed "241 American servicemen and wounded more than 60 others by a suicide truck bomber. Reagan sent in the "USS New Jersey battleship to shell Syrian positions in Lebanon. He then withdrew all the "Marines from "Lebanon.
Operation Urgent Fury (Grenada)
On October 25, 1983, Reagan ordered U.S. forces to invade Grenada (codenamed "Operation Urgent Fury") where a 1979 "coup d'état had established an independent "non-aligned "Marxist–Leninist government. A formal appeal from the "Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) led to the intervention of U.S. forces; President Reagan also cited an allegedly regional threat posed by a Soviet-Cuban military build-up in the Caribbean and concern for the safety of several hundred American medical students at St. George's University as adequate reasons to invade. Operation Urgent Fury was the first major military operation conducted by U.S. forces since the "Vietnam War, several days of fighting commenced, resulting in a U.S. victory, with 19 American fatalities and 116 wounded American soldiers. In mid-December, after a new government was appointed by the governor-general, U.S. forces withdrew.
1984 presidential campaign
Reagan accepted the Republican nomination in "Dallas, Texas. He proclaimed that it was ""morning again in America," regarding the recovering economy and the dominating performance by the U.S. athletes at the "1984 Summer Olympics, among other things. He became the first president to open an Olympic Games held in the United States.
Reagan's opponent in the 1984 presidential election was former Vice President "Walter Mondale. With questions about Reagan's age, and a weak performance in the first presidential debate, his ability to perform the duties of president for another term was questioned. His apparent confused and forgetful behavior was evident to his supporters; they had previously known him clever and witty. Rumors began to circulate that he had "Alzheimer's disease. Reagan rebounded in the second debate, and confronted questions about his age, quipping, "I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience," which generated applause and laughter, even from Mondale himself.
That November, Reagan was re-elected, winning 49 of 50 states. The president's overwhelming victory saw Mondale carry only his home state of Minnesota (by 3,800 votes) and the District of Columbia. Reagan won a record 525 electoral votes, the most of any candidate in United States history, and received 59% of the popular vote to Mondale's 41%.
Reagan was sworn in as president for the second time on January 20, 1985, in a private ceremony at the "White House. At 73 years of age, he was the oldest person to ever have been sworn into a second term. Because January 20 fell on a Sunday, a public celebration was not held but took place in the "Capitol rotunda the following day. January 21 was one of the "coldest days on record in Washington, D.C.; due to poor weather, inaugural celebrations were held inside the Capitol. In the coming weeks he shook up his staff somewhat, moving "White House Chief of Staff "James Baker to Secretary of the Treasury and naming Treasury Secretary "Donald Regan, a former "Merrill Lynch officer, Chief of Staff.
In 1985, Reagan visited a German military cemetery in "Bitburg to lay a wreath with West German Chancellor "Helmut Kohl. It was determined that the cemetery held the graves of forty-nine members of the "Waffen-SS. Reagan issued a statement that called the Nazi soldiers buried in that cemetery as themselves "victims," a designation which ignited a stir over whether Reagan had equated the SS men to victims of "the Holocaust; "Pat Buchanan, Reagan's Director of Communications, argued that the president did not equate the SS members with the actual Holocaust. Now strongly urged to cancel the visit, the president responded that it would be wrong to back down on a promise he had made to Chancellor Kohl. He ultimately attended the ceremony where two military generals laid a wreath.
The disintegration of the "Space Shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986, proved a pivotal moment in Reagan's presidency. All seven "astronauts aboard were killed. On the night of the disaster, Reagan delivered a speech, written by "Peggy Noonan, in which he said:
The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave ... We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of Earth' to 'touch the face of God.'
In 1988, near the end of the "Iran–Iraq War, the U.S. Navy guided missile cruiser "USS Vincennes accidentally shot down "Iran Air Flight 655 killing 290 civilian passengers. The incident further worsened already tense "Iran–United States relations.
War on Drugs
Reagan announced a "War on Drugs in 1982, in response to concerns about the increasing "crack epidemic. Though Nixon had previously declared a war on drugs, Reagan advocated more militant policies.
He said that "drugs were menacing our society" and promised to fight for drug-free schools and workplaces, expanded drug treatment, stronger law enforcement and drug interdiction efforts, and greater public awareness.
In 1986, Reagan signed a drug enforcement bill that budgeted $1.7 billion to fund the War on Drugs and specified a mandatory minimum penalty for drug offenses. The bill was criticized for promoting significant "racial disparities in the prison population and critics also charged that the policies did little to reduce the availability of drugs on the street, while resulting in a great financial burden for America. Defenders of the effort point to success in reducing rates of adolescent drug use: marijuana use among high-school seniors declined from 33% in 1980 to 12% in 1991. "First Lady "Nancy Reagan made the War on Drugs her main priority by founding the ""Just Say No" drug awareness campaign, which aimed to discourage children and teenagers from engaging in "recreational drug use by offering various ways of saying "no." Nancy Reagan traveled to 65 cities in 33 states, raising awareness about the dangers of drugs including alcohol.
Response to AIDS epidemic
The Reagan administration largely ignored the AIDS crisis, which began to unfold in the United States in 1981, the same year Reagan took office. AIDS research was chronically underfunded during Reagan's administration, and requests for more funding by doctors at the "Centers for Disease Control (CDC) were routinely denied. By the end of the first 12 months of the epidemic, when more than 1,000 people had died of AIDS in the U.S., the CDC had spent less than $1 million on AIDS research. In contrast, funding had been made amply available to the CDC in their efforts to stop "Legionnaires' disease after an outbreak in 1976; the CDC had spent $9 million in fighting "Legionnaires' disease, though the outbreak had caused fewer than 50 deaths.
By the time President Reagan had given his first speech on the epidemic, some six years into his presidency, 36,058 Americans had been diagnosed with AIDS and 20,849 had died of it. By the end of 1989, the year Reagan left office, 115,786 people had been diagnosed with AIDS in the United States, and more than 70,000 of them had died of it. It has been suggested that far fewer would have died, both then and in the decades that followed, if the Reagan administration had applied the same determination in combatting AIDS as the Ford administration had applied to fighting "Legionnaires' disease.
Relations between Libya and the United States under President Reagan were continually contentious, beginning with the "Gulf of Sidra incident in 1981; by 1982, Libyan leader "Muammar Gaddafi was considered by the CIA to be, along with USSR leader "Leonid Brezhnev and Cuban leader "Fidel Castro, part of a group known as the "unholy trinity" and was also labeled as "our international public enemy number one" by a CIA official. These tensions were later revived in early April 1986, when "a bomb exploded in a Berlin discothèque, resulting in the injury of 63 American military personnel and death of one serviceman. Stating that there was "irrefutable proof" that Libya had directed the "terrorist bombing," Reagan authorized the use of force against the country. In the late evening of April 15, 1986, the United States launched a series of "airstrikes on ground targets in Libya.
Britain's prime minister, "Margaret Thatcher, allowed the U.S. Air Force to use Britain's air bases to launch the attack, on the justification that the UK was supporting America's right to self-defense under Article 51 of the "United Nations Charter. The attack was designed to halt Gaddafi's "ability to export terrorism," offering him "incentives and reasons to alter his criminal behavior." The president addressed the nation from the "Oval Office after the attacks had commenced, stating, "When our citizens are attacked or abused anywhere in the world on the direct orders of hostile regimes, we will respond so long as I'm in this office." The attack was condemned by many countries. By a vote of 79 in favor to 28 against with 33 abstentions, the "United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 41/38 which "condemns the military attack perpetrated against the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya on April 15, 1986, which constitutes a violation of the Charter of the United Nations and of international law."
Reagan signed the "Immigration Reform and Control Act in 1986. The act made it illegal to knowingly hire or recruit "illegal immigrants, required employers to attest to their employees' immigration status, and granted "amnesty to approximately three million illegal immigrants who entered the United States before January 1, 1982, and had lived in the country continuously. Critics argue that the employer sanctions were without teeth and failed to stem illegal immigration. Upon signing the act at a ceremony held beside the newly refurbished "Statue of Liberty, Reagan said, "The legalization provisions in this act will go far to improve the lives of a class of individuals who now must hide in the shadows, without access to many of the benefits of a free and open society. Very soon many of these men and women will be able to step into the sunlight and, ultimately, if they choose, they may become Americans." Reagan also said, "The employer sanctions program is the keystone and major element. It will remove the incentive for illegal immigration by eliminating the job opportunities which draw illegal aliens here."
In 1986, the Iran–Contra affair became a problem for the administration stemming from the use of proceeds from covert arms sales to Iran during the "Iran–Iraq War to fund the "Contra rebels "fighting against the government in Nicaragua, which had been specifically outlawed by an act of Congress. The affair became a "political scandal in the United States during the 1980s. The "International Court of Justice, whose jurisdiction to decide the case was disputed by the United States, ruled that the United States had violated international law and breached treaties in Nicaragua in various ways.
President Reagan professed that he was unaware of the plot's existence. He opened his own investigation and appointed two Republicans and one Democrat ("John Tower, "Brent Scowcroft and "Edmund Muskie, known as the "Tower Commission") to investigate the scandal. The commission could not find direct evidence that Reagan had prior knowledge of the program, but criticized him heavily for his disengagement from managing his staff, making the diversion of funds possible. A separate report by Congress concluded that "If the president did not know what his national security advisers were doing, he should have." Reagan's popularity declined from 67% to 46% in less than a week, the greatest and quickest decline ever for a president. The scandal resulted in fourteen indictments within Reagan's staff, and eleven convictions.
Many Central Americans criticize Reagan for his support of the Contras, calling him an anti-communist zealot, blinded to human rights abuses, while others say he "saved Central America." "Daniel Ortega, "Sandinistan and president of Nicaragua, said that he hoped God would forgive Reagan for his "dirty war against Nicaragua."
End of the Cold War
Until the early 1980s, the United States had relied on the qualitative superiority of its weapons to essentially frighten the Soviets, but the gap had been narrowed. Although the Soviet Union did not accelerate military spending after President Reagan's military buildup, their large military expenses, in combination with "collectivized agriculture and inefficient "planned manufacturing, were a heavy burden for the "Soviet economy. At the same time, Saudi Arabia increased oil production, which resulted in a drop of oil prices in 1985 to one-third of the previous level; oil was the main source of Soviet export revenues. These factors contributed to a stagnant Soviet economy during "Gorbachev's tenure.
Reagan recognized the change in the direction of the Soviet leadership with "Mikhail Gorbachev, and shifted to diplomacy, with a view to encourage the Soviet leader to pursue substantial arms agreements. Reagan's personal mission was to achieve "a world free of nuclear weapons," which he regarded as "totally irrational, totally inhumane, good for nothing but killing, possibly destructive of life on earth and civilization." He was able to start discussions on nuclear disarmament with General Secretary Gorbachev. Gorbachev and Reagan held "four summit conferences between 1985 and 1988: the "first in "Geneva, Switzerland, the "second in "Reykjavík, Iceland, the third in Washington, D.C., and the fourth in Moscow. Reagan believed that if he could persuade the Soviets to allow for more democracy and free speech, this would lead to reform and the end of Communism.
Speaking at the "Berlin Wall on June 12, 1987, Reagan challenged Gorbachev to go further, saying "General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, "tear down this wall!"
Before Gorbachev's visit to Washington, D.C., for the third summit in 1987, the Soviet leader announced his intention to pursue significant arms agreements. The timing of the announcement led Western diplomats to contend that Gorbachev was offering major concessions to the United States on the levels of conventional forces, nuclear weapons, and policy in Eastern Europe. He and Reagan signed the "Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) at the White House, which eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons. The two leaders laid the framework for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or "START I; Reagan insisted that the name of the treaty be changed from Strategic Arms Limitation Talks to Strategic Arms Reduction Talks.
When Reagan visited Moscow for the fourth summit in 1988, he was viewed as a celebrity by the Soviets. A journalist asked the president if he still considered the Soviet Union the evil empire. "No," he replied, "I was talking about another time, another era." At Gorbachev's request, Reagan gave a speech on free markets at the "Moscow State University. In his autobiography, "An American Life, Reagan expressed his optimism about the new direction that they charted and his warm feelings for Gorbachev. In November 1989, ten months after Reagan left office, the "Berlin Wall was "opened, the Cold War was unofficially declared over at the "Malta Summit on December 3, 1989, and two years later, the Soviet Union collapsed.
Early in his presidency, Reagan started wearing a custom, technologically advanced "hearing aid, first in his right ear and later in his left as well. His decision to go public in 1983 regarding his wearing the small, audio-amplifying device boosted their sales.
On July 13, 1985, Reagan underwent surgery at "Bethesda Naval Hospital to remove cancerous "polyps from his "colon. He relinquished presidential power to the Vice President for eight hours in a similar procedure as outlined in the "25th Amendment, which he specifically avoided invoking. The surgery lasted just under three hours and was successful. Reagan resumed the powers of the presidency later that day. In August of that year, he underwent an operation to remove skin cancer cells from his nose. In October, more skin cancer cells were detected on his nose and removed.
In January 1987, Reagan underwent surgery for an enlarged "prostate which caused further worries about his health. No cancerous growths were found, however, and he was not sedated during the operation. In July of that year, aged 76, he underwent a third skin cancer operation on his nose.
On January 7, 1989, Reagan underwent surgery at "Walter Reed Army Medical Center to repair a "Dupuytren's contracture of the ring finger of his left hand. The surgery lasted for more than three hours and was performed under regional anesthesia. This procedure was done just thirteen days before he left office. For this reason he had a hand and finger bandage the day of his farewell speech and the day of the "inauguration of George H. W. Bush.
During his 1980 campaign, Reagan pledged that, if given the opportunity, he would appoint the first female Supreme Court Justice. That opportunity came in his first year in office when he nominated "Sandra Day O'Connor to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice "Potter Stewart. In his second term, Reagan elevated "William Rehnquist to succeed "Warren E. Burger as "Chief Justice, and named "Antonin Scalia to fill the vacant seat. Reagan nominated conservative jurist "Robert Bork to the high court in 1987. Senator "Ted Kennedy, a Democrat of Massachusetts, strongly condemned Bork, and great controversy ensued. Bork's nomination was rejected 58–42. Reagan then nominated "Douglas Ginsburg, but Ginsburg withdrew his name from consideration after coming under fire for his "cannabis use. "Anthony Kennedy was eventually confirmed in his place. Along with his three Supreme Court appointments, Reagan appointed 83 judges to the "United States courts of appeals, and 290 judges to the "United States district courts.
Reagan also nominated "Vaughn Walker, who would later be revealed to be the earliest known gay federal judge, to the "United States District Court for the Central District of California. However, the nomination stalled in the Senate, and Walker was not confirmed until he was renominated by Reagan's successor, George H. W. Bush.
Early in his tenure, Reagan appointed "Clarence M. Pendleton Jr., of "San Diego as the first African American to chair the "United States Commission on Civil Rights. Pendleton tried to steer the commission into a conservative direction in line with Reagan's views on social and civil rights policy during his tenure from 1981 until his sudden death in 1988. Pendleton soon aroused the ire of many civil rights advocates and feminists when he ridiculed the "comparable worth proposal as being ""Looney Tunes."
In 1984, Reagan "commuted the 18-year sentence of former "Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry "Gil Dozier, a Democrat from "Baton Rouge, to the time served for violations of both the "Hobbs and the "Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations acts. On September 23, 1980, the "United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana convicted Dozier of "extortion and "racketeering when he pushed companies doing business with his department to make campaign contributions on his behalf. Reagan determined that the 18-year sentence was excessive compared to what other political figures in similar circumstances had been receiving.
After leaving office in 1989, the Reagans purchased a home in "Bel Air, Los Angeles, in addition to the "Reagan Ranch in "Santa Barbara. They regularly attended "Bel Air Church and occasionally made appearances on behalf of the Republican Party; Reagan delivered a well-received speech at the "1992 Republican National Convention. Previously on November 4, 1991, the "Ronald Reagan Presidential Library was dedicated and opened to the public. At the dedication ceremonies, five presidents were in attendance, as well as six first ladies, marking the first time that five presidents were gathered in the same location. Reagan continued publicly to speak in favor of a "line-item veto; the "Brady Bill; a "constitutional amendment requiring a "balanced budget; and the repeal of the "22nd Amendment, which prohibits anyone from serving more than two terms as president. In 1992 Reagan established the "Ronald Reagan Freedom Award with the newly formed Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation. His final public speech was on February 3, 1994, during a tribute to him in Washington, D.C., and his last major public appearance was at the "funeral of "Richard Nixon on April 27, 1994.
On April 13, 1992, Reagan was assaulted by an anti-nuclear protester during a luncheon speech while accepting an award from the "National Association of Broadcasters in "Las Vegas. The protester, 41-year old Richard Paul Springer, smashed a 2-foot-high (60 cm) 30-pound (13.5 kg) crystal statue of an eagle that the broadcasters had given the former president. Flying shards of glass hit Reagan, but he was not injured. Using media credentials, Springer intended to announce government plans for an underground nuclear weapons test in the Nevada desert the following day. Springer was the founder of an anti-nuclear group called the 100th Monkey. Following his arrest on assault charges, a Secret Service spokesman could not explain how Springer got past the federal agents who guarded Reagan's life at all times. Later, Springer pled guilty to reduced charges and said he hadn't meant to hurt Reagan through his actions. He pled guilty to a misdemeanor federal charge of interfering with the Secret Service, but other felony charges of assault and resisting officers were dropped.
Announcement and reaction: 1994
In August 1994, at the age of 83, Reagan was diagnosed with "Alzheimer's disease, an incurable neurological disorder which destroys brain cells and ultimately causes death. In November, he informed the nation through a handwritten letter, writing in part:
After his diagnosis, letters of support from well-wishers poured into his California home.
But there was also speculation over how long Reagan had demonstrated symptoms of mental degeneration. Former "CBS "White House correspondent "Lesley Stahl recounted that, in her final meeting with the president in 1986, Reagan did not seem to know who Stahl was, and that she came close to reporting that Reagan was senile, but at the end of the meeting, Reagan had regained his alertness. However, Dr. Lawrence K. Altman, a physician employed as a reporter for "The New York Times, noted that "the line between mere forgetfulness and the beginning of Alzheimer's can be fuzzy," and all four of Reagan's White House doctors said that they saw no evidence of Alzheimer's while he was president. Dr. John E. Hutton, Reagan's primary physician from 1984 to 1989, said the president "absolutely" did not "show any signs of dementia or Alzheimer's." His former Chief of Staff "James Baker considered "ludicrous" the idea that Reagan slept during cabinet meetings. Other staff members, former aides, and friends said they saw no indication of Alzheimer's while he was president. Reagan did experience occasional memory lapses, though, especially with names. Reagan's doctors say that he only began exhibiting overt symptoms of the illness in late 1992 or 1993, several years after he had left office. For example, Reagan repeated a toast to Margaret Thatcher, with identical words and gestures, at his 82nd-birthday party on February 6, 1993.
Complicating the picture, Reagan suffered an episode of head trauma in July 1989, five years before his diagnosis. After being thrown from a horse in Mexico, a "subdural hematoma was found and surgically treated later in the year. Nancy Reagan, citing what doctors told her, asserted that her husband's 1989 fall hastened the onset of Alzheimer's disease, although acute brain injury has not been conclusively proven to accelerate Alzheimer's or dementia. Reagan's one-time physician Daniel Ruge has said it is possible, but not certain, that the horse accident affected the course of Reagan's memory.
As the years went on, the disease slowly destroyed Reagan's mental capacity. He was only able to recognize a few people, including his wife, Nancy. He remained active, however; he took walks through parks near his home and on beaches, played golf regularly, and until 1999 he often went to his office in nearby "Century City.
Reagan suffered a fall at his Bel Air home on January 13, 2001, resulting in a broken hip. The fracture was repaired the following day and the 89-year-old Reagan returned home later that week, although he faced difficult physical therapy at home. On February 6, 2001, Reagan reached the age of 90, becoming the third former president to do so (the other two being "John Adams and "Herbert Hoover, with "Gerald Ford, "George H. W. Bush and "Jimmy Carter later reaching 90). Reagan's public appearances became much less frequent with the progression of the disease, and as a result, his family decided that he would live in quiet semi-isolation with his wife Nancy. Nancy Reagan told CNN's "Larry King in 2001 that very few visitors were allowed to see her husband because she felt that "Ronnie would want people to remember him as he was." After her husband's diagnosis and death, Nancy Reagan became a "stem-cell research advocate, urging "Congress and President "George W. Bush to support federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, something Bush opposed. In 2009, she praised President "Barack Obama for lifting restrictions on such research. Nancy Reagan said that she believed it could lead to a cure for Alzheimer's.
Reagan died of "pneumonia, complicated by "Alzheimer's disease, at his home in Bel Air, California, on the afternoon of June 5, 2004. A short time after his death, "Nancy Reagan released a statement saying, "My family and I would like the world to know that President Ronald Reagan has died after 10 years of Alzheimer's disease at 93 years of age. We appreciate everyone's prayers." President "George W. Bush declared June 11 a "National Day of Mourning, and international tributes came in from around the world. Reagan's body was taken to the Kingsley and Gates Funeral Home in Santa Monica, California later in the day, where well-wishers paid tribute by laying flowers and American flags in the grass. On June 7, his body was removed and taken to the "Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, where a brief family funeral was held conducted by Pastor "Michael Wenning. His body lay in repose in the Library lobby until June 9; over 100,000 people viewed the coffin.
On June 9, Reagan's body was flown to Washington, D.C. where he became the tenth U.S. president to "lie in state; in thirty-four hours, 104,684 people filed past the coffin.
On June 11, a "state funeral was conducted in the "Washington National Cathedral, and presided over by President George W. Bush. Eulogies were given by former British Prime Minister "Margaret Thatcher, former Canadian Prime Minister "Brian Mulroney, and both former President "George H. W. Bush and President "George W. Bush. Also in attendance were "Mikhail Gorbachev, and many world leaders, including British Prime Minister "Tony Blair, "Prince Charles, representing his mother "Queen Elizabeth II, German Chancellor "Gerhard Schröder, Italian Prime Minister "Silvio Berlusconi, and interim presidents "Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, and "Ghazi al-Yawer of Iraq.
After the funeral, the Reagan entourage was flown back to the Ronald W. Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, where another service was held, and President Reagan was interred. At the time of his death, Reagan was the longest-lived president in U.S. history, having lived 93 years and 120 days (2 years, 8 months, and 23 days longer than "John Adams, whose record he surpassed). He is now the second longest-lived president, just 45 days fewer than "Gerald Ford. He was the first U.S. president to die in the 21st century, and his was the first state funeral in the United States since that of President "Lyndon B. Johnson in 1973.
His burial site is inscribed with the words he delivered at the opening of the "Ronald Reagan Presidential Library: "I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always eventually triumph and that there is purpose and worth to each and every life."
Since Reagan left office in 1989, substantial debate has occurred among scholars, historians, and the general public surrounding his legacy. Supporters have pointed to a more efficient and prosperous economy as a result of Reagan's economic policies, foreign policy triumphs including a peaceful end to the Cold War, and a restoration of American pride and morale. Proponents also argue Reagan restored faith in the American Dream with his unabated and passionate love for the United States, after a decline in American confidence and self-respect under "Jimmy Carter's perceived weak leadership, particularly during the "Iran hostage crisis, as well as his gloomy, dreary outlook for the future of the United States during the 1980 election. Critics contend that Reagan's economic policies resulted in rising budget deficits, a wider "gap in wealth, and an increase in "homelessness and that the Iran–Contra affair lowered American credibility.
Opinions of Reagan's legacy among the country's leading policy makers and journalists differ as well. "Edwin Feulner, president of "The Heritage Foundation, said that Reagan "helped create a safer, freer world" and said of his economic policies: "He took an America suffering from 'malaise'... and made its citizens believe again in their destiny." However, "Mark Weisbrot, co-Director of the "Center for Economic and Policy Research, contended that Reagan's "economic policies were mostly a failure" while "Howard Kurtz of "The Washington Post opined that Reagan was "a far more controversial figure in his time than the largely gushing obits on television would suggest."
Despite the continuing debate surrounding his legacy, many conservative and liberal scholars agree that Reagan has been the most influential president since "Franklin D. Roosevelt, leaving his imprint on American politics, diplomacy, culture, and economics through his effective communication, dedicated patriotism and pragmatic compromising. Since he left office, historians have reached a consensus, as summarized by British historian M. J. Heale, who finds that scholars now concur that Reagan rehabilitated conservatism, turned the nation to the right, practiced a considerably pragmatic conservatism that balanced ideology and the constraints of politics, revived faith in the presidency and in "American exceptionalism, and contributed to victory in the Cold War.
The Cold War was a major political, economic and military endeavor for over four decades, but the confrontation between the two superpowers had decreased dramatically by the end of Reagan's presidency. The significance of Reagan's role in "ending the Cold War has spurred contentious and opinionated debate. That Reagan played a role in contributing to the downfall of the Soviet Union is agreed, but the extent of this role is continuously debated, with many believing that Reagan's defense policies, economic policies, military policies and hard line rhetoric against the Soviet Union and Communism, as well as summits with General Secretary Gorbachev played a significant part in ending the Cold War.
He was first among post–World War II presidents to put into practice the concept that the Soviet Union could be defeated rather than simply negotiated with, a post-Détente strategy, a conviction that was vindicated by "Gennadi Gerasimov, the Foreign Ministry spokesman under Gorbachev, who said that the "Strategic Defense Initiative was "very successful blackmail. ...The Soviet economy couldn't endure such competition." Reagan's aggressive rhetoric toward the USSR had mixed effects; Jeffery W. Knopf observes that being labeled "evil" probably made no difference to the Soviets but gave encouragement to the East-European citizens opposed to communism.
General Secretary Gorbachev said of his former rival's Cold War role: "[He was] a man who was instrumental in bringing about the end of the Cold War," and deemed him "a great president." Gorbachev does not acknowledge a win or loss in the war, but rather a peaceful end; he said he was not intimidated by Reagan's harsh rhetoric. Margaret Thatcher, former "Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, said of Reagan, "he warned that the Soviet Union had an insatiable drive for military power... but he also sensed it was being eaten away by systemic failures impossible to reform." She later said, "Ronald Reagan had a higher claim than any other leader to have won the Cold War for liberty and he did it without a shot being fired." Said "Brian Mulroney, former "Prime Minister of Canada: "He enters history as a strong and dramatic player [in the Cold War]." Former President "Lech Wałęsa of Poland acknowledged, "Reagan was one of the world leaders who made a major contribution to communism's collapse." That Reagan had little or no effect in ending the Cold War is argued with equal weight; that Communism's internal weakness had become apparent, and the Soviet Union would have collapsed in the end regardless of who was in power. President "Harry S. Truman's policy of containment is also regarded as a force behind the fall of the USSR, and the "Soviet invasion of Afghanistan undermined the Soviet system itself.
Domestic and political legacy
Reagan reshaped the Republican party, led the modern "conservative movement, and altered the political dynamic of the United States. More men voted Republican under Reagan, and Reagan tapped into religious voters. The so-called ""Reagan Democrats" were a result of his presidency.
After leaving office, Reagan became an iconic influence within the Republican party. His policies and beliefs have been frequently invoked by "Republican presidential candidates since 1988. The "2008 Republican presidential candidates were no exception, for they aimed to liken themselves to him during the primary debates, even imitating his campaign strategies. Republican nominee "John McCain frequently said that he came to office as "a foot soldier in the Reagan Revolution." Reagan's most famous statement regarding the role of smaller government was that "Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem."
Reagan has become an iconic figure in the Republican Party, with praise for his accomplishments part of the standard GOP rhetoric a quarter century after his retirement. Washington Post reporter Carlos Lozada notes how in the 2016 presidential race the main Republican contenders adopted "standard GOP Gipper worship," including even "Donald Trump, who previously had been skeptical.
The period of American history most dominated by Reagan and his policies concerning taxes, welfare, defense, the federal judiciary and the "Cold War is known today as the "Reagan Era, and emphasizes that the conservative "Reagan Revolution," led by Reagan, had a permanent impact on the United States in domestic and foreign policy. The "Bill Clinton administration is often treated as an extension of the Reagan Era, as is the "George W. Bush administration. Historian "Eric Foner noted that the Obama candidacy in 2008 "aroused a great deal of wishful thinking among those yearning for a change after nearly thirty years of Reaganism."
Cultural and political image
According to columnist Chuck Raasch, "Reagan transformed the American presidency in ways that only a few have been able to." He redefined the political agenda of the times, advocating lower taxes, a "conservative economic philosophy, and a stronger military. His role in the Cold War further enhanced his image as a different kind of leader. Reagan's "avuncular style, optimism, and plain-folks demeanor" also helped him turn "government-bashing into an art form."
|Date||Event||Approval (%)||Disapproval (%)|
|March 30, 1981||Shot by Hinckley||73||19|
|January 22, 1983||High unemployment||42||54|
|April 26, 1986||Libya bombing||70||26|
|February 26, 1987||Iran–Contra affair||44||51|
|December 27–29, 1988||Near end of presidency||63||29|
|July 30, 2001||(Retrospective)||64||27|
As a sitting president, Reagan did not have the highest approval ratings, but his popularity has increased since 1989. Gallup polls in 2001 and 2007 ranked him number one or number two when correspondents were asked for the greatest president in history. Reagan ranked third of post–World War II presidents in a 2007 "Rasmussen Reports poll, fifth in an ABC 2000 poll, ninth in another 2007 Rasmussen poll, and eighth in a late 2008 poll by British newspaper "The Times. In a "Siena College survey of over 200 historians, however, Reagan ranked sixteenth out of 42. While the debate about Reagan's legacy is ongoing, the 2009 Annual "C-SPAN Survey of Presidential Leaders ranked Reagan the 10th greatest president. The survey of leading historians rated Reagan number 11 in 2000.
In 2011, the "Institute for the Study of the Americas released the first ever British academic survey to rate U.S. presidents. This poll of British specialists in U.S. history and politics placed Reagan as the eighth greatest U.S. president.
Reagan's ability to connect with Americans earned him the laudatory moniker "The Great Communicator." Of it, Reagan said, "I won the nickname the great communicator. But I never thought it was my style that made a difference—it was the content. I wasn't a great communicator, but I communicated great things." His age and soft-spoken speech gave him a warm grandfatherly image.
Reagan also earned the nickname "the Teflon President," in that public perceptions of him were not tarnished by the controversies that arose during his administration. According to Colorado 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; the oldest president up to that time was supported by young voters, and began an alliance that shifted many of them to the Republican party. Reagan did not fare well with minority groups, especially African-Americans. This was largely due to his opposition to affirmative action policies. However, his support of Israel throughout his presidency earned him support from many "Jews. He emphasized "family values in his campaigns and during his presidency, although he was 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.
Reagan was known to joke frequently during his lifetime, displayed humor throughout his presidency, and was famous for his "storytelling. 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." Former aide "David Gergen commented, "It was that humor... that I think endeared people to Reagan."
Reagan was a fan of "Jelly Beans. He picked up the liking when he gave up pipe smoking. He would often have jars of the popular candy treat accessible during "cabinet meetings.
Reagan received a number of awards in his pre- and post-presidential years. After his election as president, Reagan received a lifetime gold membership in the Screen Actors Guild, was inducted into the "National Speakers Association Speaker Hall of Fame, and received the "United States Military Academy's "Sylvanus Thayer Award.
In 1981, Reagan was inducted as a Laureate of "The Lincoln Academy of Illinois and awarded the Order of Lincoln (the state's highest honor) by the Governor of Illinois in the area of Government.
In 1983, he received the highest distinction of the "Scout Association of Japan, the "Golden Pheasant Award.
In 1989, Reagan was made an "Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the "Order of the Bath, one of the highest British orders (this entitled him to the use of the post-nominal letters "GCB" but, as a foreign national, not to be known as "Sir Ronald Reagan"); only two U.S. presidents have received this honor since attaining office, Reagan and George H. W. Bush., while "Dwight D. Eisenhower received his before becoming President in his capacity as a general after World War II. Reagan was also named an honorary Fellow of "Keble College, Oxford. Japan awarded him the "Grand Cordon of the Order of the Chrysanthemum in 1989; he was the second U.S. president to receive the order and the first to have it given to him for personal reasons ("Dwight D. Eisenhower received it as a commemoration of U.S.-Japanese relations).
On January 18, 1993, Reagan received the "Presidential Medal of Freedom (awarded with distinction), the highest honor that the United States can bestow, from President George H. W. Bush, his Vice President and successor. Reagan was also awarded the Republican Senatorial Medal of Freedom, the highest honor bestowed by Republican members of the Senate.
On Reagan's 87th birthday, in 1998, Washington National Airport was renamed "Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport by a bill signed into law by President "Bill Clinton. That year, the "Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center was dedicated in Washington, D.C. He was among 18 included in "Gallup's most admired man and woman poll of the 20th century, from a poll conducted in the U.S. in 1999; two years later, "USS Ronald Reagan was christened by Nancy Reagan and the "United States Navy. It is one of few Navy ships christened in honor of a living person and the first "aircraft carrier to be named in honor of a living former president.
In 1998 the "U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation awarded Reagan its Naval Heritage award for his support of the U.S. Navy and military in both his film career and while he served as president.
Congress authorized the creation of the "Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home in Dixon, Illinois in 2002, pending federal purchase of the property. On May 16 of that year, Nancy Reagan accepted the "Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by Congress, on behalf of the president and herself.
After Reagan's death, the "United States Postal Service issued a President Ronald Reagan commemorative postage stamp in 2005. Later in the year, "CNN, along with the editors of Time magazine, named him the "most fascinating person" of the network's first 25 years; Time listed Reagan one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th century as well. The "Discovery Channel asked its viewers to vote for "The Greatest American in June 2005; Reagan placed in first place, ahead of "Lincoln and "Martin Luther King Jr.
In 2006, Reagan was inducted into the "California Hall of Fame, located at "The California Museum. Every year from 2002, California governors "Gray Davis and "Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed February 6 "Ronald Reagan Day" in the state of California in honor of their most famous predecessor. In 2010, Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 944, authored by Senator "George Runner, to make every February 6 "Ronald Reagan Day in California.
In 2007, Polish President "Lech Kaczyński posthumously conferred on Reagan the highest Polish distinction, the "Order of the White Eagle, saying that Reagan had inspired the Polish people to work for change and helped to unseat the repressive communist regime; Kaczyński said it "would not have been possible if it was not for the tough-mindedness, determination, and feeling of mission of President Ronald Reagan." Reagan backed the nation of Poland throughout his presidency, supporting the anti-communist "Solidarity movement, along with "Pope John Paul II; the "Ronald Reagan Park, a public facility in "Gdańsk, was named in his honor.
On June 3, 2009, Nancy Reagan unveiled a statue of her late husband in the "United States Capitol rotunda. The statue represents the state of California in the "National Statuary Hall Collection. After Reagan's death, both major American political parties agreed to erect a statue of Reagan in the place of that of "Thomas Starr King. The day before, President Obama signed the Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission Act into law, establishing a commission to plan activities to mark the upcoming centenary of Reagan's birth.
"Independence Day 2011 saw the unveiling of another statue to Reagan—this time in the British capital of London, outside the "U.S. embassy in "Grosvenor Square. The unveiling was supposed to be attended by Reagan's wife Nancy, but she did not attend; former Secretary of State "Condoleezza Rice took her place and read a statement on her behalf; further to the former First Lady's absence, President Reagan's friend and British prime minister during his presidency, "Baroness Thatcher, was also unable to attend due to frail health.
1920s. As a teenager, in "Dixon, Illinois
c. 1960. Hosting "General Electric Theater
1976. At his home at "Rancho del Cielo
Presentation of "Americo Makk Portrait to President Reagan, 1984
- "List of Presidents of the United States
- "List of Presidents of the United States by previous experience
- "Political positions of Ronald Reagan
- "Presidents of the United States on U.S. postage stamps
- "Ronald Reagan bibliography
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Essays and historiographies
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