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Monday, June 07, 2004

in memoriam

juan cole (of Informed Consent) on the continuing legacy that Ronald Reagan bequeathed upon us.

"...Reagan's policies thus bequeathed to us the major problems we now have in the world, including a militant Islamist International whose skills were honed in Afghanistan with Reagan's blessing and monetary support; and a proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, which the Reagan administration in some cases actually encouraged behind the scenes for short-term policy reasons. His aggressive foreign policy orientation has been revived and expanded, making the US into a neocolonial power in the Middle East. Reagan's gutting of the unions and attempt to remove social supports for the poor and the middle class has contributed to the creation of an America where most people barely get by while government programs that could help create wealth are destroyed.

Reagan's later life was debilitated by Alzheimer's. I suppose he may already have had some symptoms while president, which might explain some of his memory lapses and odd statements, and occasional public lapses into woolly-mindedness. Ironically, Alzheimer's could be cured potentially by stem cell research. In the United States, where superstition reigns over reason, the religious Right that Reagan cultivated has put severe limits on such research. His best legacy may be Nancy Reagan's argument that those limitations should be removed in his memory. There are 4 million Alzheimers sufferers in the US, and 50% of persons living beyond the age of 85 develop it. There are going to be a lot of such persons among the Baby Boomers. By reversing Reaganism, we may be able to avoid his fate."

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