Charmless Reagan

William B. Turner

“He likes short briefings and asks few questions.”  Time magazine used these words to describe Ronald Reagan in December 1986 as the Iran Contra scandal unfolded.  

One could say much the same thing about the so called president, Donald Trump.  The two men have a lot in common.  Both got their start in show business, although Reagan did have experience in elected office, having served as governor of California before he became President. 

There are important differences between the two.  Reagan had much more success with Congress than the Donald is having, even though his Party never won a majority in the House of Representatives during his two terms in office.  A key quality Reagan had that Trump lacks is charm.  Reagan was known for his sense of humor, which Trump notably lacks.  

In general, the Donald is sort of Ronald Reagan with none of the redeeming qualities.  

Reagan initiated the bad idea of tax cuts, tax cuts, and more tax cuts as the Republican solution to everything, which the Donald seems to want to perpetuate, including enormous budget deficits as far as the eye can see.  

Okay, Reagan’s botched military operation killed a lot more U.S. soldiers than did Trump’s.  So far, anyway.  

Reagan developed a close relationship with the new leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, who would emerge as a major reformer.  That high level diplomatic flirtation never carried any of the implications of meddling in elections or of the Russian having duped the U.S. president that have dogged Trump’s interactions with Russian president Vladimir Putin, however.   In sharp contrast to Gorbachev, of course, Putin is a throwback to Russian tyrants of centuries past, a would-be tsar in the twenty-first century. 

At the time, a lot of people thought Reagan was the worst the Republicans could come up with.  Looks like we badly underestimated the capacity of the GOP to disappoint.