Tuesday, October 7, 2008

#40 - Ronald Wilson Reagan, 1981-1989

Dr. Brown: "Then tell me, future boy, who's President of the United States in 1985?" Marty McFly: "Ronald Reagan!"
Dr. Brown: "Ronald Reagan? The actor?"
- Back to the Future
Our 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, broke new ground in his rise to the presidency as well as during his administration. A Hollywood actor, Reagan was President of the Screen Actors Guild, when Hollywood began to look through its ranks for Communists. This helped to sharpen Reagan's conservatism that would define his political career. In 1966, he was elected Governor of California, and reelected in 1970.

Reagan sought the Republican presidential nomination twice (1968 and 1976) before finally securing it in 1980. In that election, Reagan buried incumbent Jimmy Carter in an electoral landslide. Four years later, Reagan was reelected with the highest number of electoral votes ever received by a candidate.

His presidency was defined by a series of domestic achievements supported by his policies of "Reaganomics." He is also remembered for firing the nation's air traffic controllers when they went on strike, which Reagan believed to be in violation of the Taft-Hartley Act. At the end of his eight years in office, Reagan had presided over the longest period of peacetime prosperity without economic recession or depression. Reagan made history when he appointed the first woman to the Supreme Court, Sandra Day O'Connor. Reagan also elevated William Rehnquist to Chief Justice and appointed Antonin Scalia to replace him.

In the foreign policy arena, Reagan ordered a withdrawal of American forces from Lebanon shortly after the deaths of 241 Americans in a bombing at the US barracks in Beirut. Two days after the bombing, Reagan sent US forces into Grenada to help sustain a pro-Western government in the Caribbean. Reagan also escalated the Cold War, which in turn helped to bring about its end. Part of his Cold War strategy was the development of the Strategic Defense Initiative, more derisively known as "Star Wars." The Iran-Contra affair also left a stain on the Reagan legacy, despite Reagan's denials that he was not aware of what was going on.

The Facts
  • born February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois
  • died June 5, 2004 in Bel Air, California (age 93)
  • party: Republican
  • wife: Nancy Davis Reagan (Reagan was also married to the actress Jane Wyman)
The Election of1980
The Election of 1984 (this was the first election in which I was eligible to vote - and the first time out, I voted for the guy who lost.)
  • Ronald Reagan / George H.W. Bush (R) - 54,455,472 (58.8%) / 525 EVs
  • Walter Mondale / Geraldine Ferraro (D) - 37,577,352 (40.6%) / 13 EVs
  • On March 30, 1981, Reagan broke the Curse of Tecumseh, when he survived an assassination attempt outside the Washington Hilton in Washington DC.
  • As of today, Ronald Reagan is the oldest man to be elected President. Let's make sure he holds on to that record, OK?
  • Reagan is also the only President to have been divorced. Let's give him that one to hold onto, also?
  • At his marriage to Nancy, the actor William Holden served as Reagan's best man.
  • Reagan succeeded Edmund G. Brown, Sr. (Pat Brown) as Governor of California. Reagan was in turn succeeded by Edmund G. Brown, Jr. (Jerry Brown), likely one of the only cases of gubernatorial succession of father to son interrupted by an actor.
  • During Reagan's presidency, the first use of the "acting president" clause of the 25th Amendment was invoked, when Reagan underwent surgery to remove polyps from his colon in July 1985.
  • Reagan's state funeral in 2004 was the first since Lyndon Johnson in 1973.


Lana Gramlich said...

Fortunately most Americans have short memories & few people realize the massive damage he did to our economy (among other things.)

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, there is California couple from the McDonald's massacre has the name like Ronald Reagan! Ronald Hector Herrera and Blythe Regan Herrera!

Anonymous said...

Ronald Reagan has a Secretary of the Treasury with the similar last name as Ronald's: Donald Regan.

Ironically, the two victims of the McDonald's massacre has Ronald and Donald connection: Ronald Herrera lost his son Matao, while Donald Wright lost his daughter Jackie Lynn Wright.