The Enduring Reagan

The Enduring Reagan

Edited by Charles W. Dunn
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 184
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Enduring Reagan
    Book Description:

    A former Sunday school teacher and Hollywood actor, Ronald Reagan was an unlikely candidate for president. His charisma, conviction, and leadership earned him the governorship of California, from which he launched his successful bid to become the fortieth president of the United States in 1980. Reagan's political legacy continues to be the standard by which all conservatives are judged. In The Enduring Reagan, editor Charles W. Dunn brings together eight prominent scholars to examine the political career and legacy of Ronald Reagan. This anthology offers a bold reassessment of the Reagan years and the impact they had on the United States and the world.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-7347-4
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. Introduction: The Irony of Ronald Reagan
    (pp. 1-12)
    Charles W. Dunn

    Critics contended that Ronald Reagan was nothing more than a third-rate Hollywood actor who lacked sufficient intellectual depth and educational training to serve successfully as president. Coming from the small town of Dixon in the midst of flat Illinois cornfields, raised by a very religious mother, Nelle, whose training led him to become a Sunday school teacher of grade-school boys, a graduate of a tiny and little-known religious college, Eureka, Reagan hardly had the pedigree to become president of the United States in the late twentieth century. But he defied that and more to confound the critics. So how did...

  4. The Mixed Legacies of Ronald Reagan
    (pp. 13-36)
    Hugh Heclo

    However friends and foes of Ronald Reagan may parse his life, all must surely agree that he was a remarkable American. They may disagree on the honor due him, but they could hardly deny the significance of his life for good or ill. It is this idea of honoring that I would like to address.

    There are different ways of honoring a person. One way is to memorialize him or her. We do that by stamping the person’s memory on physical things—a street, a building, an airport, and so on.

    Second, we can bestow honor by praising the person....

  5. The Social Construction of Ronald Reagan
    (pp. 37-50)
    James W. Ceaser

    Not so long ago, Ronald Reagan was laid to rest on a hillside in Simi Valley, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The burial, together with the extensive ceremonial observances preceding it in Washington, held the nation’s attention for a full four days. Considering both Ronald Reagan’s age and his condition at the time of his death, these events were not marked by a sense of tragedy. Instead, they became a national commemoration, even a celebration, the largest such event since V-J day. During this time, old foes of Ronald Reagan for the most part either maintained a decent silence or, in...

  6. Ronald Reagan’s Legacy and American Conservatism
    (pp. 51-74)
    George H. Nash

    In 2008, a specter haunted American politics: the genial specter of Ronald Reagan. More than any of our other presidents—more even than the incumbent at the time—Reagan was on the minds and tongues of a nation hungering for renewal. On the Republican side, presidential candidates invoked his name daily as they vied to be perceived as his political heir. On the Democratic side, pundits speculated whether Barack Obama, with his oratorical skills, might just be a liberal Reagan. On television, on the radio, and in the blogosphere, conservative commentators extolled his legacy and asked, What would Reagan do...

  7. Mr. Reagan Goes to Washington
    (pp. 75-92)
    Stephen F. Knott

    When Ronald Reagan took the oath of office on January 20, 1981, the new president had seen five of his immediate predecessors leave office under duress: Kennedy by assassination, Johnson forced into retirement by the Vietnam War, Nixon forced to resign, Ford defeated by Carter, Carter defeated by Reagan. Reagan’s immediate predecessor, Jimmy Carter, appeared at times to be overwhelmed by the presidency, and despite, or perhaps because of, his renowned attention to detail, he never seemed to master the job. There was also a kind of cramped style to the Carter presidency, a sort of uninspired casualness that perhaps...

  8. Reagan’s Legacy, Bush’s Burden
    (pp. 93-118)
    Paul G. Kengor

    What is the legacy of Ronald Reagan? It is multifaceted, from the forging of a powerful Republican coalition that transformed the Electoral College for a generation, to the remaking of the political composition of the South, to the shift from a government favoring wealth redistribution to one that champions the market, to the sudden and genuine rebirth in American morale and patriotism that was felt immediately as the nation left the malaise of the 1970s and headed toward the shining city of the 1980s.

    Most notably, the Reagan legacy was most deeply felt in foreign policy, in those footprints in...

  9. Three Decades of Reaganism
    (pp. 119-140)
    Andrew E. Busch

    It is a formidable task to assess the legacy of any president. Ronald Reagan presents particular challenges, including lack of historical distance and the consequent connection of Reagan to ongoing disputes and partisan agendas. Indeed, during the 2008 presidential campaign, Reagan’s legacy was bandied about as a political football. Presidential greatness, for which Reagan contends, can be gauged in so many ways and affords so many potential thresholds for greatness that it is hard to imagine a consensus forming on any but a tiny handful of truly indispensable presidents, perhaps only Washington and Lincoln. Nevertheless, it is possible to offer...

  10. Is the “Age of Reagan” Over?
    (pp. 141-156)
    Steven F. Hayward

    Although some liberals, such as Barack Obama and Paul Krugman, have praised Ronald Reagan, most conservatives now despair that no one measures up to his standards. All of this calls to mind what Richard Hofstadter wrote about Franklin Roosevelt: “No personality has ever expressed the American popular temper so articulately or with such exclusiveness. . . . In the age of the New Deal it was monopolized by one man, whose passing left liberalism demoralized and all but helpless.” Substitute “Reagan” for “Roosevelt” and “conservatism” for “liberalism,” and Hofstadter’s quote might apply to the passing of Reagan. If so, then...

  11. Reagan’s Open-Field Politics
    (pp. 157-162)
    Michael Barone

    In 2008—forty years after Ronald Reagan briefly campaigned for the 1968 Republican presidential nomination, thirty-two years after he almost wrested the 1976 presidential nomination from Gerald Ford, twenty-eight years after he won the presidency at age sixty-nine in 1980, and nineteen years after he left the White House in 1989—it said something about the importance of Reagan’s legacy that it was still considered relevant forty years after he entered presidential politics.

    Throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, many conservatives cried out for another Reagan to lead the Republican Party, and every Republican candidate for the presidential nomination claimed to...

  12. List of Contributors
    (pp. 163-164)
  13. Index
    (pp. 165-178)