INTO THE NINETIES
Ronald Reagan, 78, left Washington with a 70-percent approval rating in the polls and with the personal impression that he had been a successful president. The Cold War was over and communism was on the run all over the world. The nation's military prowess had been restored. The economy was booming. Millions had lower expectations of government and higher respect for private enterprise and individual freedom. The disdain of the sixties for traditional values and patriotism was waning. People told pollsters that the president had made them proud of America again.
Despite mounting budget deficits, the huge national debt, scandals, and the continued growth of the federal government during the 1980s, conservatives were especially loyal to Reagan. William F. Buckley, Jr., said later that Reagan had accomplished 60 percent of the conservative agenda and that the administration was 60 percent successful.
Those on the left, of course, were generally horrified by the Reagan administration, condemning it for racial, sexual, and ecological insensitivity as well as greed, aggression, and ignorance. Reagan, said Robert Hughes, “left his country a little stupider in 1988 than it had been in 1980, and a lot more tolerant of lies, because his style of image-presentation cut the connective tissue of arguments between ideas and hence fostered the defeat of thought itself.” A poll of historians put Reagan in the “below average” category. Democrats eagerly awaited their chance to see the executive branch once again in safe hands.
Vice president George Bush was widely thought to be Reagan's natural heir. The backgrounds of the two men were vastly different. Bush, age 63, was the son of a wealthy investment banker and United States senator. Raised in Connecticut, he attended a prep school and went on to Yale University,
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Twentieth-Century America: A Brief History. Contributors: Thomas C. Reeves - Author. Publisher: Oxford US. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2000. Page number: 257.
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