CNN Tells us that Obama is No Reagan, Like it’s a Bad Thing


obama reagan
It is amazing the hold Ronald Reagan has over some Americans. John Blake, writing at CNN, claims that “This may be President Obama’s time, but it’s still Ronald Reagan’s era.”

Yes, Ronald Reagan, the guy Republicans most like to lie about, when they’re not lying about Obama. Who could ever forget, as Scott Walker has reminded us, how Reagan ended the Cold War by busting not the Bolsheviks, but unions? Or Sarah Palin sodomizing his legacy on his 100th birthday?

Blake ignores uncongenial facts and instead argues that,

Obama has helped negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran, normalized relations with Cuba, and watched his approval ratings recently hit a two-year high after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Obamacare. But has he become a “transformational” president like Ronald Reagan?


Then, to illustrate his complete lack of bias, Blake cites Tom Nichols, a political blogger and author of a column “Fantasyland: Obama Is No Ronald Reagan“: “He’s simply plowing the ground Reagan cleared 30 years ago.”

In a sense, you have to admit Nichols has a point: We are still trying to dig ourselves out of the mess Reagan made of the country. As far as being no Ronald Reagan, we can be thankful for that. This is a man about whom actor James Garner said,

I was a vice president of the Screen Actors Guild when he was its president. My duties consisted of attending meetings and voting. The only thing I remember is that Ronnie never had an original thought and that we had to tell him what to say. That’s no way to run a union, let along a state or a country.”

As for Barack Obama, Garner said, Adlai Stevenson was “the most intelligent presidential candidate we’ve ever had. I think Obama runs a close second.”

So perhaps the question should be less one of “Can Obama hold Reagan’s jock-strap” to one of “Can a political meatpuppet be a transformational president”?

That depends on how you define “transformational.” Blake is using it as a positive, but isn’t destruction also transformational? In that sense, George W. Bush, another political meatpuppet, is transformational. He destroyed Iraq, and very nearly his own country at the same time, bringing the world’s economy crashing down for good measure.

Blake claims that four things define transformational presidents (technically, riding a velociraptor while slaughtering America’s enemies is not one of them):

They change the conversation: “The country is a different place after they leave the office.” To make his point, Blake invents a few “facts” about St. Ronnie:

“Reagan helped tilt the nation away from FDR’s New Deal in a way that no president had done before, historians say. When Reagan declared in his inaugural speech that government wasn’t the solution but the problem — and backed it up with small-government, anti-tax policies — he took on FDR.”

How is this possible when Reagan raised taxes 11 times from 1981 to 1989 and actually grew the size of government? Fact: Obama in 2011 had 273,000 fewer federal employees than Reagan. Far from cutting the size of government, he added a new department – Veterans’ Affairs – and increased defense spending. Reagan, compared to Obama, was a “tax and spend liberal” out of Republican nightmares.

Yet Blake cites Charles Gallagher, a sociologist at La Salle University in Pennsylvania: “He single-handedly defined government as something that was bad.” Yes, it was so bad that we needed more of it.

Transformational presidents deliver great lines: Because President Obama hasn’t said something as catchy as “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Never mind that somebody as intellectually vapid as the Reagan Garner depicts could never have come up with that himself. Reagan, Blake says, was dubbed “‘The Great Communicator.’ But what about Obama? Any memorable words?” Blake can’t think of any. But then, Obama has original “big syllable” thoughts of his own and isn’t an actor playing a part (take that, Jeb).

Transformational presidents poach followers from the enemy camp: “Reagan was a master at persuading people who didn’t normally vote Republican to vote for him in such great numbers that a new term was invented: Reagan Democrats.”

Blake cites Jennifer Walsh, a political science professor at Azusa Pacific University in California as saying “There is no such thing as an Obama Republican.” Well, a very good reason for this is that Obama is black, and the Republican Party is driven by high levels of racism and guided by Fox News, factors that would preclude Republicans becoming supporters of the “anti-colonialist Kenyan Muslims terrorist sympathizer” that is Obama. This is not a fair comparison at all.

Remember, when Obama outperformed Reagan on the economy? Fox News immediately cried, “Benghazi!” They didn’t mention the economy.

Transformational presidents become beloved figures: Reagan, Blake says, “became one of the nation’s most beloved presidents because people simply liked him. Even his enemies responded to Reagan’s geniality.” Well, meatpuppet. Yet even Reagan blogger Nichols admits that Obama could cure cancer and people wouldn’t like him.

Blake argues that “Reagan made conservative cool. He strengthened the Republican Party.” I don’t know about that. Bill Maher compared JFK to James Bond, while Reagan is Matlock. We might be defining “cool” differently, or perhaps Republicans just don’t know what “cool” is.

Obama “however, doesn’t fire up the Democratic base like Reagan did his party, some historians say.” Right. He didn’t fire it up enough to win two elections. Blake says Sanders and Warren are better at firing up the Democratic base. Only problem here is that neither of them have become president yet, so they’re not really part of the conversation, however much you may like them. And, after all, Trump fires up the Republican base. So let’s leave non-presidents out of it.


What is interesting is that as Blake makes this claim about how well loved Reagan was compared to Obama, Obama has become more popular than Bush and equal to Reagan, and he has a far-better sense of humor. Sorta takes the wind out of your sails, doesn’t it, Mr. Blake? And let’s not forget that Reagan’s memory is so blessed in California that they set his statue on fire. It’s all the rage today in expressing love.

Blake lists his four transformational qualities, but I wonder if giving America a persecution complex and victim mentality is also a transformational quality? Or how about Reagan welcoming religious conservatives into government by telling them he was one of them, pushing creationism not only as governor of California but as president? That’s pretty transformational too.

I wrote yesterday of the Republican war on science. It was Reagan who made this “cool” too: “They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong. I say there are simple answers to our problems and they are found within the covers of the Bible.”

Simple answers for a simple man.

That is the Reagan legacy. If Reagan is going to be called transformational, we are going to have to take the bad with the good, and there is a lot of bad, even by Republican standards, if they would only admit to the historical Reagan, and forget the Reagan of their dreams.

Reagan velociraptor by SharpWriter at DeviantArt, shared under Creative Commons.

54 Replies to “CNN Tells us that Obama is No Reagan, Like it’s a Bad Thing”

  1. And just like any other hero-worship, they always get the details wrong.

    Perhaps Obama isn’t THE smartest President, but he’s one helluva lot more accomplished.

    Despite what the Tea-Tards like to claim, Obama did not create the National Debt. Reagan’s spending created a National Debt to 3 trillion dollars.

    Obama understands the wisdom behind the notion of: If you want to get out of a hole, the first thing you do is stop digging.

    Unfortunately, Obama has had to deal with way too many a-holes during his term in office.

  2. Reagan pushed Supply-Side economics that that given tax cuts to the wealthy and huge deficits to the Federal Government.

    He has embraced the Neoconservatives who were the Cold War wing of the Democratic Party that dragged us into useless wars in the 21st Century.

    He is dead and gone but his legacy is still with us.

    God help us.

  3. The first time I saw Reagan speak as a Presidential candidate, I could only think of his mouth as an anus s hitting evil into the world, and my opinion never changed. He turned us into a banana republic, and the Bananicans he left us with are Hell-bent on our never turning back to a first-world nation.

  4. The fact that repugs have totally rewritten Reagan’s history to make him some sort of magical hero statesman shows how morally deficient they are. I remember watching him those eight years and could never quite shake the feeling he was acting out a role and had no real causes or convictions. He was trotted out every day or so, spouted his lines and left. He may have looked presidential but that was about it.

    James Garner was a much better actor. And Barack Obama will be remembered ultimately as a much better President than the actor Reagan.

  5. When you said,

    “Perhaps Obama isn’t THE smartest President, but he’s one helluva lot more accomplished.”
    I want to agree but please who was the smartest? Obama saved our butts because he is accomplished but to be this he must be an intellect as well

  6. As a citizen from Minnesota, The one lone State that did not vote for Ronald Rea-gun I am very happy that Pres. Obama is NOT like dear old Ronnie. Thank you Pres. Obama!!!!for being very unlike the God of the RETHUGS. History will reward you.

  7. “Perhaps”, in reference to the commentary in the above article: (As for Barack Obama, Garner said, Adlai Stevenson was “the most intelligent presidential candidate we’ve ever had. I think Obama runs a close second.”)

    Smarts would depend upon the frame of reference for Mr. Garner.

  8. How shall we define intelligence/smarts?

    Is it how someone can accomplish so much that is good for not only most of America but also the world? Then yes, Obama is the Smartest.

    But if you define it as: managing to avoid responsibility for the crap you’ve created- then yes Bu$h, Cheney, and Reagan, are the smartest…Bu$h/Cheney may yet still face some form of justice, but Reagan? Mayhap there is a theological place of Eternal Punishment…

  9. They are talking about a Reagan that was obviously mentally impaired and used psychics as advised by his wife, especially in the second term. This man operated under the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease, covered up by White House staff and various insider minions who collectively drove the middle class into an abyss they have been trying to climb out of ever since. He used Lee Atwater’s racist tactics such as the “Welfare Queen” strategy and the Willie Horton incident against Dukakis to drum up angry and insecure Whites who feared losing their country to an ever-growing minority population. Let’s not even talk about Noriega, Iran-Contra, and other covert dirty dealings while he was in office. Overall, Reagan’s time in office was divisive and harmful to the U.S. and our standing in the world.

    I would say Pres. Obama is a complete 180 out from this and the best president I have experienced and voted for.

  10. After years of wondering the source of this deification of Reagan, making them rewrite his history and make up stuff about him, I believe I finally found it:

    It’s not Reagan himself or his policies they remember and crave: it’s how he made them FEEL!!

    Reagan was like a grandfather to them, with his deep and slow voice, who made them feel good, but especially SAFE from the evil of this world.

    And being the paranoid and fearful people they are, conservatives ate it all up, hook line, sinker, pole and Reagan himself!

  11. One thing I always remember about Reagan, he was really a coward (a good actor though)
    during the Grenada skirmish, he and his buddy Maggie Thatcher were together, Reagan
    had cold feet about it, Maggie said to him … come on Ronnie, now is the not the time
    to go all squiggly..keep calm.
    I was in the UK at the time, so it was not a secret that he had no backbone, but over here,it is not talked about, another amusing story about him was that he stood and said to Russia ‘tear down that wall(Berlin)’, before that time I and some friends had taken the night train to Berlin, taken a bus and gone behind the wall for some shopping and sight seeing,
    spent a longtime in a big store near Karl Marx platz, had amusing conversations with people who laughingly showed me a big building supposedly with cameras to spy on us – it was quite a joke, I still have blankets I purchased ‘behind the wall’

  12. Thats right, hes no Reagan, hes 1000 times better! Obama is the best president of my lifetime. Im proud to say I voted for him twice. I would again if I could.

  13. Help me Joan, He had no back bone (I agree) He said tear down that wall as you and friends bought blankets on the other side what was your point? Honest I really want to know and forgive my ignorance.

  14. “…a good actor…” well of B movies maybe. Personally I never thought of him as being a good actor. Of course there are some who claim his greatest acting roles were that of Governor of California and President of the U.S. If that is your basis, then I will agree.

  15. Transformation works both ways, either good or bad.

    Reagan’s policies culminated in almost throwing this country into a depression that would have made the 30s look like minor blip. We almost made a turn around when Clinton was president, but he too succumbed to the mysteries of Reagan Republicanism, when he felt Glass-Steagall was not appropriate anymore.

    Yes, Reagan’s policies transformation were the worst.

    Now comes Obama, ridiculed by those same Reagan Republicans as an intellectual because that, in their terms, is an insult, who has, almost singlehandedly, actually turned the country around and headed it in the right direction. Pretty much pi$$ing off the Right-Wing that elevated Reagan to Godhood.

    Now THAT is transformation for the best.

    Obama started it and we liberals/progressives need to continue rebuilding this country into what it use to be, a democratic country, not a theocratic, oligarchy the Reagan worshippers want us to be.

  16. Bebe I agree with much of what you said, but if the truth is known what President got us out of so much grief besides Obama? And he accomplished this without the help of Congress. To me what was so interesting the enemy who was hurting America lives in our own Country and being paid by us tax payers.

  17. Reagan is nothing but a cult of personality …the elevation of a used car salesman to a god-like visionary.
    Those that would carve his face on Mt. Rushmore should also enshrine James Buchanan and Calvin Coolidge ( Reagan’s personal ‘hero’ ) , two other presidents that almost destroyed the nation.
    Reagan began the regression , and we have seen the country decline ever since…35 years of degradation, the devaluing of expertise, crony capitalism, and the selling out to economic gangsters.
    Think of it: Reagan gave us a crackpot economic theory…’supply side’, that never works. He gave us Randian acolyte Alan Greenspan. We got a ‘conservative’ Supreme Court with Rehnquist elevated to Chief Justice, Sandra Day-O’Connor, the hideous Antonin Scalia, and would have had a modern Taney if Robert Bork hadn’t been opposed by Joe Biden ( we got Anthony Kennedy instead ).
    The worst of the neocons that would later be utter disasters: Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush I all graduated from the Reag…

  18. Now you’ve done it! You are feeding the fear diligently expressed with great emotions by the extremist fundamentals amongst us that Obama is set to declare martial law and assume a dictator position thereforth. The Jade Helm exercises going on in the Southwestern area of the U.S. are just the beginning for this. According to them, this is why Obama must be stopped at all cost. Ah, the raging lunacy of ODS.

    BTW: I completely agree with your post on all points.

  19. Well, you could make a case for FDR, though he never had to deal with the knee-jerk racism that the rethuglicans have heaped on PBO.

  20. Mike D, my point about the Berlin wall is that it really was not such a barrier, it became more of a symbol, and that people like me were going into behind the wall with
    no problems, true we had to pass through the gate, but in those days we had to do when crossing into other counties – eg France Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany.
    My point is – Reagan did not command that wall be taken down, it was coming down anyway.

  21. What a difference having Obama as President compared to that clusterf**k Bush. I don’t know if this country will ever recover from the damage of the Bush Admn. Not in my lifetime anyways.

    It’s nice having a President with some intelligence.

  22. Agreed, talk about the deck stacked against you. He had the balls to use his real name, unlike a lot of the gop wannabees.

  23. He ruined Pat Brown 59-67 vision of California while gov 67-75 by lowering taxes so low, the public schools were in pain by the early 80’s. He created CA’s debt.
    My parents, as well as the California 45 electoral votes went to Reagan. (my first time voting at 18 and voted for Carter)
    This country was giddy with voting for a B actor “celebrity”. He presided over 1 recession with unemployment at 10%, he kept cutting taxes BUT borrowed and spent anyway. He RUINED the middle class and sold nucular weapons to IRAN. He had 10 scandals and was the most corrupt administration ever.

    The Current ReaganBush Debt is:

  24. without a doubt, Obama will go down as one of this nation’s most successful presidents ever- whether you like him or hate him. top 10 for sure… maybe top 5 when its all said and done. cnn has no clue. conservative and republican economic experts, analysts, and professionals have declared Obama the best economic president in the last 40 years. even Obama hating conservative writer P krugman admitted as much and said Obama’s numbers are better than Reagans numbers. this president is truly something special and will be missed when he leaves office.

  25. I feel that Obama has been a great president. Yes, there have been a few errors in the term, but for the most part it’s been good.

    Now, saying that Reagan was good wouldn’t be too far off… but before you guys start to eat me alive for saying that, let me remind you that I wasn’t born yet when he started his first term and I was only 1 when he started his 2nd term. Therefore, I really didn’t have much of anything to go with here.

    Now… fair to say Obama has been the better president. Far better.

  26. Well all the problems this country face today from income inequality, crack cocaine and the ramping up the drug war, no mental health for people, jingoism, religious nut jobs in positions of power, mass jailing etc.. can all be traced back to Reagans policies

  27. Ronnie was a B-class actor who became a E class President. I feel sorry for his one son who was able to throw off the conservatism that his family is infected with. I have to laugh at these idiots who claim that Reagan was our best ever president. I’ve even had some old fart throw a punch, several in fact but never connected when I burst his Ronnie-love bubble. He was still yelling at me as I got in my car and drove off…laughing at him.

  28. I read James Garners bio and he talked about Reagan as they were both chairs in the Screen Actors Guild. James wrote all of the speeches for Reagan because Reagan didn’t know what to say. James said he really wasn’t the brightest bulb in the pack. I trust Garners version of history.

  29. DJ,
    I gotta concur; my Dad,{Vet, Army, Korean War} warned me that if I got real bad sick, I’d be better off eating a bullet than going to Hines VAMC; as I’d die quicker…a few weeks later I had to go to Hines on an errand; and I couldn’t get outta there fast enough…place was filthy and stunk…

  30. I think that President Obama is brilliant actually, and he also is very wise; he has a street smart sense to him, or he would have never been able to deal with these basta*ds he has had to deal with the past 6+ years.

  31. The GOP patron saint, Ronald Reagan, was one of the worst presidents of the United States. He has done unspeakable damage to our country.

    Reagan told Iran to hold the hostages until his inauguration. Upon his being sworn into office on January 20, 1981, the hostages were immediately put on a plane to America. This is treason!

    Our economy was doing well until he came along advocating “trickle down economics.” His words “…government is the problem”, is an outright lie. This lie has snowballed into what we have today in Congress… We need the government.

    In 2010 the tea party latched onto the coat-tails of the GOP…to the happiness of the GOP who worship at the altar of greed! This, coupled with dirty dark money has led to the dysfunction of our representatives, their obstruction of President Obama’s agenda for the American people, racism and hatred for our government.

    I don’t always agree with the President [TPP], but he is certainly NOT Reagan.

  32. CNN is right-Obama is no Reagan. Obama is in the class of Abraham Lincoln, JFK, and FDR. Reagan is in the “Bush league.”

  33. Breaking: Obama Administration in Final Stages of Drafting Plan to Close Guantanamo
    The Obama Administration is currently drafting a plan to finally close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, racing against the clock to fulfill a long-delayed promise by President Obama before his time in office expires.
    “The administration is in the final stages of drafting a plan to safely and responsibly close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and to present that plan to Congress,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday.

    Earnest said closing the prison is in the national security interest of the United States.

    Earnest said the president has decided to veto a defense spending bill now being negotiated in Congress if it includes provisions that would make it harder to close the prison.

  34. Here is a good bit:

    What is the current budget again?

    I’ll say this about Obama:
    If he had got 243 Marines blown up in Lebanon for no discernable reason while lobbing 5″ shells into refugee camps, & then jetted off to Cali the next day for a fundraiser…
    He would be assassinated.

    But St. Ronnie is made of teflon shat out by unicorns these days.

  35. Yes. Let’s not forget the term “plausible deniability” became part of our lexicon because Ronnie “couldn’t remember” anything. You gotta love it. An interesting footnote to the Iran-Contra hearings. When Gore(chief prosecutor?) was questioning Ollie North he asked the Colonel why he spent so much money on a security system for his home and he answered “to protect my family from the most dangerous person in the world, Osama Bin Laden”.

  36. Obama in Kenya: Why the Horn of Africa Matters to Geopolitics

    Obama is the first president to visit Kenya and Ethiopia, attesting how neglected this part of the world has been in the United States. For the geopolitical reasons mentioned above, that neglect is unwise. Africa’s population will quadruple in this century at a time when countries like Germany and Japan are thought likely to shrink in population; Africa will be the world.

  37. Obama points to accomplishments of Wall Street reform in weekly address
    Five years ago this week, President Obama told listeners in his weekly address this morning, Wall Street reform was enacted, and that has been a very good thing for America. A second Great Depression was prevented, and we’ve been digging ourselves out slowly ever since. He ticked off a list of accomplishments, even as he acknowledged “we still have work to do”: 13 million jobs have been created over the past 64 months
    Housing market is healthier
    Stock market has more than doubled
    The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has put “nearly $11 billion back in the pockets of more than 26 million consumers who’ve been cheated.”
    Crackdown on payday lenders on military bases was enacted last week

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