Why Citing of Reagan Legacy by Obama Disrespects Democratic Party

"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%)

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judicial_ap pointment_history_for_United_States_fede ral_courts

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.

Tags: legacy, obama, Reagan (all tags)



Thank You!

You're so right. Its utterly disrespectful of Obama to deal with the facts and realities of what happened instead of the possible scenarios you present! Thank you for contributing this diary.

by crackityjones 2008-01-20 02:33PM | 0 recs
DIarist left out

the landing of aliens which would have, of course, found the missing FL ballots.

Just noting that other things were omitted.

It's important to consider all possibilities.

by dataguy 2008-01-20 02:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Thank You!

it's disrespectful because he's giving "credit" to Reagan, where no credit is due.  Reagan's "long-lasting and strong legacy" today is largely premised on fraud perpetrated in 2000, not b/c of any sort of continuing (continual ?) and transcending popular support, as was implied by Obama.

by silver spring 2008-01-20 02:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Thank You!

Yes.  Obama is tone deaf to the Democratic Party and  showed his cynical disregard for Democratic Party principals by evoking Reagan as  the sunny leader of a transcendent administration. MR. deregulation himself was made a hero by Barack.

We have been living with Reagan's draconian right wing government and  have been bitterly paying for it.

Obama's explanation today is lame.  As lame as his camps contention that they won Nevada.  The spin makes no sense as delegates are actually chosen at the State Convention after the big primaries.
Some delegates are "soft", and depending on the Primaries many delegates are be fluid.

To undermine and misunderstand Democratic ideals which are so starkly different from GOP goals and ideas is troubling.  If this was merely a deliberate ploy in the office of the right wing newspaper to gain some Reagan democrats as he heads into California, that's one thing. If he really feels Reagan had more to say, blah,blah, that's another thing.

In either case Obama bombed with a ploy that should leave his supporters puzzled. Barack threw Bill Clinton under the bus as assured us that Reagan was a better president than Nixon and Bill Clinton.  Notice that Nixon and Clinton became one.

Obama had the stones to insult the Democrats and their party, and disloyally refuted Clinton's effectiveness and comittment to the civil rights movement.

by morris1030 2008-01-20 05:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Citing of Reagan Legacy by Obama Disrespec

"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."

- Actually there is nothing untrue about that statement.

Its when he starts going into the whole thing about its fair to say the republicans were the " party of ideas " , thats what I have a problem with .

That was the same language Reagan and his republican allies used to attack democrats and liberal ideology.

I am not really bothered if he admires Reagan , I don't even see anything wrong with that .

However when you start using Reagan and republican talking points when you are pandering for an endorsement from a right wing paper thats where you get into trouble.

The guy basically threw Clinton under the bus lol , lumped him together with Nixon .

That was painful for the Clinton's to take and they returned fire lol . I can't say I blamed them.

The right wing editorial endorsement actually did him more harm than good.  

by lori 2008-01-20 02:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Citing of Reagan Legacy by Obama Disrespec

Historically, I think it will be shown Reagan did far far more harm to America, than good.

Associating oneself with Reagan will ultimately prove a detriment, reflecting poorly on those who can't, or won't, see Reagan, past the obvious.

Again, makes me question Obama's judgement.

A prescient, cutting edge thinker, a leader, would see the truth.

by Marsha1 2008-01-20 03:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Citing of Reagan Legacy by Obama Disrespec

Historically, I think it will be shown Reagan did far far more harm to America, than good.

- I don't think that was Obama's argument , his argument was that he took the country in another direction , sort of like what he hopes to do.

He wasn't arguing for the good or bad of that " direction " Reagan took the country.

I hope he thinks its the bad direction thats why he is a democrat , but his argument wasn't for the merits of the direction but just the plain fact he took another direction.  

by lori 2008-01-20 04:20PM | 0 recs
Re: No one cited Legacy

How many times does it need to be pointed out he wasn't saying Reagan was good or right or supporting him in anyway.  What he actually said was Kennedy and Reagan changed the trajectory of politics in a way that Clinton and Nixon did not.  And that in large part it was due to the times being right to be able to issue in a new path.  He wasn't talking about legacy, he was talking about what they offered the country at the beginning of their campaigns.  All you have to do is ask any Republican who is the most influential politician in recent history and almost everyone will say Reagan.  If you ask the same of a Democrat, almost everyone will say Kennedy.  Not Clinton.  Kennedy.  And that's what Obama was saying.  

by Piuma 2008-01-20 04:23PM | 0 recs
None of this surprises me.

Obama's political godfather, Antoin "Tony," who donated over $165,000 to Obama during the past 13 years, cochaired a fundraiser for George Bush in 2003.  He also made the following donations to Bush in 1999 and in 2003:


10/20/1999    1000.00    20990021495


12/19/2003    2000.00    24990268810


12/09/2003    4000.00    24990263675
12/19/2003    -2000.00    24990263676

No wonder why Obama cites Reagan as a role model.

by truthteller2007 2008-01-20 04:35PM | 0 recs
Re: None of this surprises me.

What does this have to do with Reagan??


Wake up!

by crackityjones 2008-01-20 05:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Citing of Reagan

Obama could not be more right.  Ronald Reagan completely changed the debate in the 1980 election and realigned the nation towards Republicans.  Clinton did not do this for Democrats in 1992.  If anything, reinforced the Republican trend.  

by Toddwell 2008-01-20 06:41PM | 0 recs


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