Monday, June 07, 2004

The Legacy

Ah - remember the 80s? The Reagan Years?

Quickchange does, and they've done the yeoman's task of compiling a handy-dandy chronology of the Reagan legacy so we don't ever forget.

Some excerpts:

President Reagan warns a joint session of Congress that the national debt is approaching $1 trillion. "A trillion dollars," he explains, "would be a stack of $1,000 bills 67 miles high." (see 10/23/81)

President Reagan says he is "as committed today as on the first day I took office to balancing the budget."

The national debt hits $1 trillion.

President Reagan vetoes a stopgap spending bill, thus forcing the federal government - for the first time in history - to temporarily shut down. Says House Speaker Tip O'Neill, "He knows less about the budget than any president in my lifetime. He can't even carry on a conversation about the budget. It's an absolute and utter disgrace."

Reagan Officials Seek To Ease Rules On Nursing Homes. Proposals Include Repeal Of Regulations On Sanitation, Safety And Contagion - The New York Times

Press Secretary Sheila Tate says that Nancy Reagan "has derived no personal benefit" from her acceptance of thousands of dollars worth of free clothing from American designers, explaining that the First Lady's sole motive is to help the national fashion industry. It seems getting fabulous clothes for free isn't considered a personal benefit.

At his seventh press conference, President Reagan:
· Claims there are "a million more working than there were in 1980," though statistics show that 100,000 fewer people are employed.
· Claims he has received a letter from Pope John Paul II in which he "approves what we've done so far" regarding U.S. Sanctions against the USSR, though the sanctions were not mentioned in the papal message.
· Responds to a question about the 17% black unemployment rate by pointing out that "in this time of great unemployment," Sunday's paper had "24 full pages of ... employers looking for employees," though most of the jobs available - computer operator, or cellular immunologist - require special training, for which his administration has cut funds by over 30%.
· Responds to a question about private charity by observing, "I also happen to be someone who believes in tithing - the giving of a tenth," though his latest tax returns show charitable contributions amounting to 1.4%.

Sen Bob Packwood (R-OR) claims President Reagan frequently offers up transparent fictional anecdotes as if they were real. "We've got a $120 billion deficit coming," says Packwood, "and the President says, 'You know, a young man went into a grocery store and he had an orange in one hand and a bottle of vodka in the other, and he paid for the orange with food stamps and he took the change and paid for the vodka. That's what's wrong.' And we just shake our heads."

Agriculture official Mary C. Jarratt tells Congress her department has been unable to document President Reagan's stories of food stamp abuse, pointing out that the change from a food stamp purchase is limited to 99 cents. "It's not possible to buy a bottle of vodka with 99 cents" she says. Deputy White House press secretary Peter Roussel says Reagan wouldn't tell those stories "unless he thought they were accurate."

At his 10th press conference, President Reagan states, that while "there is no recall" for missiles fired from silos, "those that are carried in bombers, those that are carried in ships of one kind or another, or submersibles...can be recalled if there has been a miscalculation."

U.S. Jobless Rate Climbs To 10.8%, A Postwar Record. 11.9 Million Out Of Work - The New York Times

At his 20th press conference, President Reagan is asked about the safety of US Marines in Beirut. "We're looking at everything that can be done to try and make their position safer," he says. "We're not sitting idly by."

A truck bomb at the US barracks in Beirut kills 241 Marines.

Larry Speakes calls speculation about a US invasion in politically torn Grenada "preposterous".

Claiming that US medical students are in grave danger, President Reagan launches an invasion of Grenada.

In response to accusations that the administration's policies toward the poor are unnecessarily cruel, Ed Meese says "I don't know of any authoritative figures that there are hungry children. I've heard a lot of anecdotal stuff, but I haven't heard any authoritative figures...I think some people are going to soup kitchens voluntarily. I know we've had considerable information that people go to soup kitchens because the food is free and that that's easier than paying for it...I think that they have money."

President Reagan, addressing the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, tells of the captain of a B-17 who went down with his plane voluntarily when he and the crew were unable to rescue the trapped and wounded ball-turret gunner. "The last man to leave" said the President, "saw the commander sit down on the floor. He took the boy's hand and said 'Never mind, son, we'll ride it down together.' Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously awarded."

Columnist Lars-Erik Nelson-after checking the citations on all 434 Congressional Medals of Honor awarded during WWII-reveals that none of them match President Reagans' story. "It didn't happen," writes Nelson. "The President of the United States went before and audience of 300 real Congessional Medal of Honor winners and told them about a make-believe Medal of Honor Winner." Responds Larry Speakes, "If you tell the same story five times, it's true."

At his 21st press conference, President Reagan claims El Salvador has "a 400 year history of military dictatorships." The first military regime didn't take power until 1931.

President Reagan on Good Morning America, defending his administration against charges of callousness: "You can't help those who simply will not be helped. One problem that we've had, even in the best of times, is people who are sleeping on the grates, the homeless who are homeless, you might say, by choice."

"He may be ready to surrender, but I'm not." - President Reagan responding to Tip O' Neill's advocacy of a pullout from Beirut.

President Reagan announces plans to get the Marines out of Beirut, describing the action as "decisive new steps." Larry Speakes explains, "We don't consider this a withdrawal but more of a redeployment."

The White House announces that President Reagan will lay a wreath at the Bitburg, West Germany, military cemetery housing the graves of both American and Nazi soldiers. It is quickly noted that there are, in fact, no Americans buried there.

While Michael Deaver is in West Germany searching for an "appropriate" concentration camp for the President to visit, President Reagan defends his visit to Bitburg by claiming the German soldiers "were victims, just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps."

President Reagan defends the Bitburg visit as "morally right," adding, "I know all the bad things that happened in that war. I was in uniform for four years myself." President Reagan spent his time during World War Two in Hollywood, making training films.

After having visited the Bergen-Belsen death camp, President Reagan makes an eight minute stop at Bitburg. During the ceremony, he cites a letter from 13-year-old Beth Flom who, he claims, "urged me to lay the wreath at Bitburg cemetery in honor of the future of Germany." In fact, she urged him not to go at all.

President Reagan tells a group of students, "I don't believe that there is anyone that is going hungry in America simply by reason of denial or lack of ability to feed them. It is by people not knowing where or how to get this help." Asked what this observation is based on, Larry Speakes says, "That is his view." Critics note that the Reagan administration eliminated the program that informed needy people of available benefits.

In an address to the American people on the Iran arms deal, President Reagan states: "During the course of our secret discussions, I authorized the transfer of small amounts of defensive weapons and spare parts for defensive systems to Iran...These modest deliveries, taken together, could easily fit into a single cargo plane...We did not - repeat - did not trade weapons or anything else for hostages, nor will we."

In the wake of world denouncement over President Reagan's speech, Donald Regan is asked if it isn't hypocritical to ask other nations not to ship arms to Iran while we do just that. 'Hypocrisy is a question of degree," he responds.

At his 39th press conference, President Reagan describes the arms shipment as "really miniscule," again claiming that "everything that we sold them could be put in one cargo plane and there would be plenty of room left over."

President Reagan appears in the White House briefing room to say he "was not fully informed on the nature of one of the activities" undertaken as an off-shoot of the Iran arms deal. He announces that National Security Adviser John Poindexter has resigned and NSC staffer Oliver North has been fired, then introduced Ed Meese to explain why.
"Certain monies which were received in the transaction between representatives of Israel and representatives of Iran were taken and made available to the forces in Central America which are opposing the Sandinista government there," says Meese. "We don't know the exact amount yet. Our estimate is that it is somewhere between $10 and $30 million...The President knew nothing about it."

Oliver North and John Poindexter invoke their Fifth Amendment rights and refuse to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Says North, "I don't think there is another person in America that wants to tell this story as much as I do."

President Reagan are reportedly "stunned" by his allies' refusal to defend him on the Iran-contra matter. Explains Robert Dornan, usually a staunch Reagan supporter, "When someone says, 'But he was giving arms to people he knew had killed our Marines,' it's hard to respond to that."

"The President ordered this whole operation on Iran. He ordered his Administration not to tell the intelligence committees what he was doing. Now he wants the intelligence committee to tell him what his Administration was doing during the time they were under his orders not to tell the intelligence committee. Even Alice in Wonderland doesn't get this twisted around." - Senator Patrick Leahy on President Reagan's
eagerness to receive the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the arms deal.

The White House releases the finding - signed by President Reagan on January 17, 1986 - authorizing the sale of arms to Iran and ordering the CIA not to tell Congress.

"On the surface, selling arms to a country that sponsors terrorism, of course, clearly, you'd have to argue it's wrong, but it's the exception sometimes that proves the rule." - George Bush on Good Morning America.

"The simple truth is, 'I don't remember - period'" - President Reagan writing to the Tower Commission to set the record straight about whether he authorized the arms shipment in advance.

A White House official admits that President Reagan has never discussed AIDS with Surgeon General C. Everett Koop and has yet to read Koop's six-month--old report, which predicted 180,000 deaths from the disease by 1991.

President Reagan says he was "very definitely involved in the decisions about support to the freedom fighters. It was my idea to begin with." Asked about the conflict between this statement and previous claims of abject ignorance, Marlin Fitzwater says, "They're going to stay in conflict."

Assistant Secretary of State Elliot Abrams acknowledges to the Iran-contra committee that it was "a mistake" for him to have misled Congress in earlier testimony.

On his third day of testimony, Oliver North states that he shredded documents in the presence of Justice Department officials.

John Poindexter claims that he kept the President uninformed of the fund diversion - though he was sure he would "approve if asked" - in order to "provide some future deniability." He adds, "On this whole issue, you know, the buck stops here with me."

John Poindexter is reported to have used the phrase "I can't recall" (or some variation thereof) 184 times during his five days of testimony.

During two days of testimony, Ed Meese used the phrase "I can't recall" (or some variation thereof) 340 times.

"You know, if I listened to him long enough, I would be convinced that we're in an economic downturn, and that people are homeless, and people are going without food and medical attention, and that we've got to do something about the unemployed." - President Reagan accusing Michael Dukakis of misleading campaign rhetoric.

President Reagan - whose tenure has coincided with a huge increase in the homeless population - uses his last interview with David Brinkley to again claim that many of these unfortunates are homeless by "their own choice," as must be many of the jobless, since he again points out that the Sunday papers are full of want ads.

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