Why Citing of Reagan Legacy by Obama Disrespects Democratic Party
by silver spring, Sun Jan 20, 2008 at 02:26:22 PM EST
"Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it."- this is what Barack Obama told the conservative Reno Gazette-Journal editorial board prior to the Nevada caucuses.
This is a short diary for me; just wanted to point out one thing: Does Obama really believe that if the Republican-controlled Supreme Court had not given the election to Bush in 2000, would Bill Clinton's legacy still be less of a legacy than that of Ronald Reagan. After all, Reagan governed for 8 years (all of those with a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and an initially Republican Senate which turned Democratic during Reagan's last two years), while Bill Clinton also governed for 8 years (with an initially Democratic Congress that later became Republican). The difference is, of course, that Reagan was followed by his Vice-President Bush Sr., while Clinton was followed by Bush Jr. As we all know, Bill Clinton's Vice President, Al Gore won the popular vote, and Florida as well - but that was taken away from him by the Republican machine, courtesy of the Supreme Court.
The point is - had Gore rightfully followed Clinton, the Clinton era would have been dramatically extended, and there is no doubt that the Clinton legacy would have left a far more longer-lasting impression on American society, and certainly, by 2005, would have eclipsed the Reagan-Bush legacy. If we remember, the Democrats actually gained seats in Congress in 2000 - tied the Senate (which would have thus come under Democratic control with the VP breaking ties) and gained seats in the House as well. The 2002 election may have turned out very differently had Gore become President, and although we don't know how the 2004 election would have turned out, there's a good chance Gore might have won re-election, and the Supreme Court would now have 6 progressives and 3 conservatives (thank you all Ralph Nader supporters , btw). If you look just at the lower Court appointments (everything below the Supreme Court level; these appointments, btw, pretty much decide 99-99.9 of case law in the U.S. -- I don't know the exact percentage, but only about 80 cases per year are actually heard by the Supreme Court out of tens of thousands which are decided by lower Courts), you can see that Bush, Jr. has left a lasting impression.
Looking at just the Circuit Courts of Appeal (the next level below the Supreme Court), the fact is that during only his first term (2001-2005) Bush, Jr. appointed almost 1/5 of all the judges (see statistics below) -- to the point, where out of 13 Circuit Courts of Appeal, only 2 (the 9th Circuit encompassing much of the west coast and the 2nd encompassing New York, Connecticut and Vermont) now lean "progressive":
Current Circuit Courts partisan breakdown (appointed by):
Nixon/Ford - 1
Carter - 7
Reagan - 22
Bush, Sr, - 22
Clinton - 60
Bush, Jr. (1st term) - 32
Bush, Jr. (2nd term) - 21
Current Republican-appointed: 98 (59%)
Current Democratic-appointed: 67 (41%)
Theoretical - had Gore become President in 2000 but lost re-election in 2004:
Republican-appointed: 66 (40%)
Democratic-appointed: 99 (60%)
Theoretical - had Gore become President in 2000 and won re-election in 2004:
Republican-appointed: 45 (27%)
Democratic-appointed: 120 (73%)
The example above of how the Judicial Branch would have now been dramatically different had Gore become President is just one example. The country would have, no doubt, taken a different trajectory in innumerable other ways, via executive and judicial branch actions as well. We can only speculate on where we would be today, but I think that everyone on this site would agree that America and Americans (and the world) would be in a much better spot now, and the Clinton-Gore legacy would have been a much stronger one, certainly stronger than that of Reagan.
In light of the above-mentioned facts, the Reagan-Bush "path" and "trajectory" which Obama speaks of would therefore have been dramatically altered, if not completely obliterated had Gore assumed his rightful place as the 43rd President of the United States. So, the only reason Bill Clinton's legacy is not as strong as that of Reagan is because of simple political fraud by the Republicans in 2000. In light of all this, it is disingenuous (and I could use a stronger word here, but I'm trying to be nice) for Obama to even imply that Reagan more fundamentally changed the trajectory of America, because the whole idea is premised on some sort of assumption of fair play and an even playing field by the two parties over the last 10-15 years. But due to what the Republicans did in 2000, this "fair play" and "even playing field" did not exist. Thereby, the idea of Reagan's "legacy" being "stronger", while arguably or technically true (although we can certainly argue over this too), may be true only because of the underlying Republican fraud in 2000. Neither Obama nor any Democrat should ever cite Reagan as an example of any strong legacy, if only because of what happened in November and December of 2000. This is deeply disrespectful to Democrats and to everything that our party stands for.