Krugman follows this up with a column's worth of tendentious denunciations of Reagan's policies: "Reaganomics failed. ... The Reagan economy was a one-hit wonder. ... (T)he inevitable recession arrived (in the Bush years).... There wasn't any resurgence (in productivity)." Etc., etc.
In all of this, of course, Krugman misses the point. Perhaps more accurately, he avoids the point. Arguing over this or that aspect of Reagan's economic record misses the true significance of the man as totally as the Liberty-League nitpickers of the mid-1930s missed the significance of Franklin Roosevelt. It wasn't FDR's grotesque economics, or his disastrous court-packing plan, that made the New Deal memorable and popular. It was the man's panache, and his obvious confidence in the fundamental strength and vitality of American society, that endeared him to the voters.
Similarly, what characterized Ronald Reagan, and made him memorable, was his pride in this country and in its commitment to the principles of freedom, both here and abroad. Americans saw in him a reflection of their own nobility, and responded to it. That is the mark of a true leader, and that is what the Reagan "myth" was really about.
William Rusher is a Distinguished Fellow of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy and author of How to Win Arguments .
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