Feingold Blocks Bill to Honor Reagan

(If no reform is passed, the Governor will have to veto to keep his word. Good for him. Note Mr. Guarino's telling observation: "The problem with bold moves that play well with the public is they sometimes don't play well in the Legislature." Exactly. A portion of the legislature, it seems, is accountable primarily to itself, not to the people. Moving to his astute suggestion -- and thanks for the post, BTW -- the key question will be, what constitutes "reform"? Weakening the legislature's ethics rules as proposed by Senator Berry? David Guarino was Communications Director for former speaker of the House Sal DiMasi, who resigned under a cloud after prosecutors convened a grand jury to investigate sweetheart deals organized by his associates. - promoted by Bob)

Here’s an item that could be in one of those silly Facebook games:  Things I Love That Everybody Else Hates.  Meaning, of course, the congressional practice of attaching ostensibly unrelated amendments to bills before the House or Senate, and the gamesmanship around that practice.  In this case, it’s Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) blocking a Republican bill to commemorate Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday.

It may just be about the procedural pragmatism of moving legislation by attaching it to another, more popular bill; that happens all the time.  However — and forgive me if I’m adding two and two and getting five — I think I see a subtext.

Feingold’s amendment would establish two commissions to study the internment and restrictions of German and Italian Americans and Jewish refugees during World War II, and it is unrelated to the Reagan bill. The Reagan measure would establish a commission to plan federal and state celebrations around Reagan’s centennial birthday in February 2011.

I suspect it may not be totally unrelated, although the connection is a subtle one.  It’s about history, and who gets to shape it.  The Reagan presidency, like our treatment of ethnics during WWII, is a dark chapter in our history.  It would be better off forgotten than viewed through the rose-colored glasses conservatives have provided us with their relentless, partisan revisionism.

Feingold’s spokesman said that the noncontroversial bill would be a good vehicle for the internment amendment, which he said is also noncontroversial.

I think Feingold is daring the Republicans to risk being seen as indifferent to real, sad truths about our history at the same moment they are practicing bald-faced triumphalism, ramming propaganda down our throats while there’s anybody alive that remembers the real Reagan legacy; e.g., Iran-Contra, Bitburg, trillion-dollar national debt.

Now that we have decided not to prosecute the Bush administration for its crimes against humanity and the Constitution, and remembering that Reagan openly and repeatedly flaunted his violations of the Constitution and his disdain for the American people, I guess it’s only a matter of time before conservatives are pushing for a national celebration of Bush’s birthday as well.

Unless a crafty and honest Democrat like Russ Feingold stands up them, of course.

History is too important, from the standpoint of lessons learned, to allow it to be shaped by partisan politics.  Feingold gets this, and raising the lesson of internment camps, etc. is a totally appropriate reminder.

[A] spokesman for Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), said if Feingold’s amendment is truly noncontroversial, he should simply go through the regular committee process and move it to the Senate floor.

What our children’s children learn about what went on in our lifetimes is at stake.  Let the pissing match begin.

{Cross-posted at If I Ran The Zoo.}

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44 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. I suspect you aren't huge into history

    Or you would realize that your determination that the Reagan presidency is a dark chapter is exactly what you accuse conservatives of doing with "rose colored glasses".  

    You view the Reagan presidency is one that espoused conservatives principles and acted on them.  They increased the size of the military, was not proactive on liberal issues, appointed conservative judges and blah blah blah.  Therefore it's a dark chapter.  The opposite determination would come from a conservative.  

    Historical revisionism goes both way, buddy.  Take, for instance, Nero.  Nero was terrible because he persecuted christians, killed people and burned down Rome and fiddled.  

    While he did kill a lot of people, that was par for the course as far as Roman emperors go.  As far as Rome burning, he established a fire department after that, and opened up his private gardens and home to refugees who lost their homes to the fire.  Did you know he was a huge patron of the arts and initiated the silver age of Roman culture?  

    The point is, is that history is what it is.  You can't call many things "dark chapters" because looking back on history is always based on the eyes looking back.  Very few events and times are agreed upon by all historians as dark chapters (the holocaust is one of them).  Even things such as the Europeans wiping out of Native Americans can be looked at as a good thing (would you rather there not have been a USA?)  

    and remembering that Reagan openly and repeatedly flaunted his violations of the Constitution and his disdain for the American people

    Yea?  Even some really prominent Democrats did that along with beloved Republicans ignored the Constitution.  Everyone's boots have shit on them.  

    • glass houses

      Members of the party who systematically renamed everything they could touch after Reagan shouldn't throw stones. My favorite attempt was the Floyd Olson Memorial Highway in Minnesota.  Reagan never came close to carrying the state...

      BTW, please go google "Reagan administration response to AIDS."

      • Regarding your last point

        It's not fair to make fun of people's speech impediments.

      • I shouldn't throw stones? at what?

        he decried historical revisionism in the same paragraph he decided that the Reagan years were "a dark chapter".  If you don't get the issue with that, you don't get history.

        • historical revisionism

          1) The deification of Reagan involved a lot of sweeping ugly details under the rug.  To run with your comparison to Nero, maybe one of the two just had a better PR department...

          2) The most striking thing about Norquist's Reagan deification project was the mean-spiritedness of  it.  The targets were predominately things already named after liberals or Reagan political opponents.  I'll refrain from the obvious comparison to Stalinist Russia.

          3) As KBusch has already pointed out, how much more honoring of Reagan can there be?

          • Have I deified Reagan or asserted something else should be named for him?

            All I've said is that its revisionism in of itself to say his administration is a dark chapter.

            Gosh.  Do you have such a hate for all things conservative that I can't make such a simple claim without being lumped into the more fanatical sect?  It's like JohnT100 saying I'm foolish for my "defense of the bush administration" by saying those cover letters looked like cheap photoshop fakes.  

            I know the vast right wing conspiracy was a fun running joke with some of the democrats, but don't take that shit too seriously.  

            • We love you anyway

              Rereading huh's remark, I don't think he was accusing you of deification. His point is that there really was a conscious effort among some Republican operatives to pump up the Reagan legacy so that he would be remembered as a Great President.

              One might, for example, posit that you have been infected by this campaign without believing it has latched onto your head and eaten out your brains.

              • Right, but I offer no comment on that effort. In fact, I'm aware it exists

                The poster was griping about historical revisionism and I was pointing out the hypocrisy.

                And regarding the infection, it's preposterous!  I got immunized to political brain creatures when I got my cootie shot.

              • that's mostly what I was saying, however...

                ...THIS is revisionism (or ignorance, since JoeTS almost certainly wasn't even at his current state of self-awareness during the Reagan era):

                They increased the size of the military, was not proactive on liberal issues, appointed conservative judges and blah blah blah.  Therefore it's a dark chapter.  

            • JohnT001 made an excellent point...

              ... you often seem to be trying to give EaBo Clipper a run for his money in the "kneejerk reaction" Olympics.  

              I forgot to mention that you're a willing member of the party of Ann Coulter... but it's something to think about before accusing the other side of revisionism.

              • What is with your insistence on bringing up random conservatives

                and comparing them to me?  

                No, john did not make an excellent point.  He made no point.

                I said the author of the post is being hypocritical by decrying historical revisionism in the same paragraph he says reagan's administration is a dark era.  John says Republicans are essentially deifying Reagan.  You tell me to google aids.  

                Completely and totally unrelated.  I don't get how you have trouble understanding that.  The poster wanted to talk about how he thinks Reagan sucks and that Republicans worship the ground he walked on.  That's fine.  He says Reagan sucks, Republicans worship the ground he walked on and they are historical revisionists because they don't recognize he sucks or ignore it IS THE AUTHOR doing the SAME kind of historical revisionism he accuses the right of because he is using his political opinions as a lens to look at the actions of Reagan through.  /run-on sentence.  

                I'm not being knee-jerk.  I would have the same problem with PP writing a post about how JFK was a dark chapter in our countries history, initiating Vietnam and the Bay of Pigs, and the Democrats are revisionists acting like he was this awesome president we should be proud of.  

                • so now you're denying the history of your party?

                  KBusch was right about the brain eaters... You snottily dismiss two different posts (three if you include mine) then get all mopey when called on it. Sheesh.

                  I've seen you do better... so, moving on.

                  One very important point: I did not tell you to "gogle aids" I told you to google Reagan's reaction.  If you're going to invoke "history" to defend  Reagan, you need to understand just why some of us feel the way we do.  

                  I personally see the Reagan era as when the Republican Party ceased to be conservative.  Reagan's rise coincided with the Morality Majority and the move from Goldwater conservatism (aka small-l libertarianism) to "government out of our wallets and into our bedrooms."  Also the official start of politics by sound bite.

                  Put another way: Reagan's response to AIDS is a large part of why I left the Republican Party.  

                  • Well I apologize if I came off as snotty

                    it was frustration rather than condescension.  It also appears we have reached a point of non-usefulness of discussion, so moving on.  

                    • the fundamental problem is this

                      You dismissed the original post as (wave of hand) liberal sour grapes.  In fact, I don't dislike Reagan because I'm a "liberal."  I'm a "liberal" because of Reagan.  You've got the equation backwards.  

                      As was pointed out on here when Gerald Ford died, he'd be considered a liberal in the post-Reagan redefinition of terms...

  2. Scenes from the 107th Congress

    Republicans have already honored Reagan by naming or renaming hundreds of public works-including highways, libraries, parks, hospitals, and federal buildings-after him. In 1998, Washington National Airport was renamed Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. The following year, construction was completed on the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center, the largest government building in Washington.

    The natural result was HR 3461:

    Seeking to honor the former president and longtime Alzheimer's sufferer, congressional Republicans have mounted a campaign to rename Alzheimer's "Reagan's Disease."

    "No one is more strongly associated with this degenerative brain disease than Ronald Reagan, the man who restored pride to America and singlehandedly ended the Cold War," said House Majority Leader Dick Armey, speaking before the House Tuesday. "For all he has given this country, this is the least we can give back."

    Really, are there any limits to how much Reagan can be honored?

  3. $quot;A dark chapter in our history.$quot;

    What do you consider Jimmie Carter's term to have been?

    • After Nixon and Vietnam

      Partly sunny.

    • not sure who $quot;Jimmie$quot; Carter is ...

      but it could be Jimmy Carter, you know the guy who didn't pay ransom for hostages with arms to Iran.  

      Then you got the who Reagan team training Osama bin Laden thing.  Hey, let's name a few more thing after him.

      • Those little sprinkles on ice cream cones

        I bet Edgarthearmenian's spelling in both Russian and Armenian is better than yours, though.

      • Jimi, Jimmi...any other name. Just call me Eddie, not Eddy.

        Apparently his family preferred the "y" homophone to the "ie" as his brother was called "Billy" not "Billie" I understand how much it rankles that Reagan destroyed the Evil Empire and ended the Cold War.  

        • Those guys' demise

          It has been a long while since I read this, but my understanding was that a number of Gorbachev's reforms had the unintended consequence of upending his government. Essentially, the Soviet Union was taken over by its nomenklatura aided with the expectation that professionals could achieve a higher standard of living with existing socialism non-existent. Reagan's enormous military budget and well-delivered speeches had little effect.

          And, boy, were professionals surprised.

          • Yes. Our CIA and NASA didn't have a clue.

            You are correct: the Communists simply changed their clothes and became "Capitalists."  The fact that it was a bloodless revolution meant that the same people who were in charge before are still running things.  I am not in favor of bloodshed, but this is the result of changing names and not regimes. Trust me, as one who was a patient in the Kremlin Hospital, and who wined and dined with party members in Kislovodsk, the same people are reaping the benefits of others' labors today. The "mistake" that Gorbachov made, however, was opening up the country to the rest of the world and people there saw how impoverished they really were.  It is a longer and more complicated story, of course, one I was lucky to observe first-hand.  And yes, the average Russian knew in 1989 that Reagan was correct:  they were living in an evil empire.

        • He destroyed the Yankees?

          Edgar what's telling here is that you have to look backwards not forward like the last election.  Yes, Republicans have this crazy Reagan fetish.  You go back decades because there is absolutely nothing you can talk about the future of the party, now or in recent history.  Well, other than the clusterf****s that Republicans have created.  

          I pointed out "Jimmy" because he was a President of the United States for goodness sakes maybe you should get his name right.

          • Of course, Jimy Williams used to manage the Sox!

            Yes, I agree that Republicans tend to look backwards to their glory years, just as Democrats did for years about the golden Roosevelt years. You act as though all republican presidents have been sinners and all democrat presidents saints.  Only idealogues think like that.  And by the way, I am a registered democrat, have been all my life.

        • He may have ended the $quot;Non-Evil$quot; Empire, Too

          It may turn out that Reagan, by promoting deregulation at all costs, with enough momentum for the next two decades, deserves more credit for pushing our own economy to the brink of catastrophe than he does for the end of the Soviet Union.  That you and others continue to insist the latter while ignoring the former makes my point.

  4. I wonder...

    ... if the amendment legalizing carrying guns in national parks, that Republicans added to the credit card reform legislation, may have something to do with it.

  5. More on revisionism...

    ... here

  6. Reagan may be the most popular post-WWII president, or even in the 20th century

    Hey, I've seen a couple of Presidential funerals the general interest in which I take as a more honest expression of a President's historical popularity than outgoing Gallup polls.  

    For what it's worth, 35.1 viewers million watched Reagan's Friday night memorial service, and 20.8 million viewed the official state service on Friday.  Those are huge numbers, for a political funeral, especially the daytime viewership.  Nothing like 90 million for Super Bowls, but still, those are very, very large.

    How popular was Reagan?  Landslide popular.  Reagan's first inaugural drew 41.8 million viewers versus Obama's 37.8 million.  Considering (a) Obama's election was more historic, and (b) the US population in 1980 was around 200 million and 300 million in 2008, I contend the popularity of Reagan was wider and deeper among Americans than anyone since FDR, perhaps even greater than FDR.

    Progressives can pick on this comment or that policy stumble, in a desperate attempt to rewrite history, but Reagan's two electoral landslides, coupled with his overall political and economic performance, speak more than Gallup exit polls and much louder than progressive revisionist protestations.

    • Beg to differ...

      ..., most popular?

      In general, Reagan's popularity during his two terms tends to be overstated. The Washington Post 's lead article on June 6 began by declaring him "one of the most popular presidents of the 20th Century," while ABC 's Sam Donaldson announced, "Through travesty, triumph and tragedy, the president enjoyed unprecedented popularity." The Chicago Tribune (6/6/04) wrote that "his popularity with the electorate was deep and personal... rarely did his popularity dip below 50 percent; it often exceeded 70 percent, an extraordinarily high mark."

      But a look at Gallup polling data brings a different perspective. Through most of his presidency, Reagan did not rate much higher than other post-World War II presidents. And during his first two years, Reagan's approval ratings were quite low. His 52 percent average approval rating for his presidency places him sixth out of the past ten presidents, behind Kennedy (70 percent), Eisenhower (66 percent), George H.W. Bush (61 percent), Clinton (55 percent), and Johnson (55 percent). His popularity frequently dipped below 50 percent during his first term, plummeted to 46 percent during the Iran-Contra scandal, and never exceeded 68 percent. (By contrast, Clinton's maximum approval rating hit 71 percent.)

      More details :

      Even the notion that the American public likes Ronald Reagan the man (as opposed to some of his policies) has been grossly exaggerated. Overall, his "likability" percentages have ranged in the low-to-mid seventies, reaching a high of 81% in November 1985, and a low of 50 percent in August 1983. No other modern president's likability indexes has sunk as low as Reagan's lowest; most have generally fluctuated in the mid-to-upper seventies for all of Reagan's modern predecessors.


      For anyone who cares to look at the actual polling data, the facts show that Reagan was definitely not the most popular post-war president, and during many comparable periods he was among the most unpopular.

    • 225 million according to the US census

      but who's counting?  Well, other than the census.

      • Plus there is this whole...

        ... internet thing that people seem to use to watch events now that nielson can't account for.  I know that's how everyone in my office saw the event.

    • Sure, he was popular -- before he did anything...

      Reagan didn't run on promises he would flout the Constitution (Iran-Contra), ignore the most critical health crisis of his time (AIDS), or run up a trillion-dollar debt.  Instead of most popular, maybe a more accurate label would be Biggest Beneficiary of the Benefit of the Doubt.  Since then, his legacy had had to depend on the Emperor's New Clothes effect.

      As to progressives rewriting history, there's no need to do that; the record is clear, and the evidence is reported every day as the current economy -- the bastard child of reckless deregulation and dogmatic faith in an uncontrolled marketplace -- dominates the news.

      In fact, before we erect any more statues, celebrate manufactured holidays, or name any more public works after the guy, we should probably rename the current economic crisis as "The Reagan/Norquist Collapse".

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