Barack Obama on Ronald Reagan: Video from Reno RJ Editorial Board Meeting

Transcript, via Matt Stoller:

I don't want to present myself as some sort of singular figure. I think part of what's different are the times. I do think that for example the 1980 was different. I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.

Obama tonight, transcript from CNN: [more]

What I said -- and I will provide you with a quote -- what I said was is that Ronald Reagan was a transformative political figure because he was able to get Democrats to vote against their economic interests to form a majority to push through their agenda, an agenda that I objected to. Because while I was working on those streets
watching those folks see their jobs shift verseas, you were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board at Wal-Mart.

He added:

I spent a lifetime fighting against Ronald Reagan's policies. But what I did say is that we have to be thinking in the same transformative way about our Democratic agenda. We've got to appeal to Independents and Republicans in order to build a working majority to move an agenda forward. That is what I said.

Point Hillary.

Stoller on Obama's praise of Reagan to the Review Journal:

It is extremely disturbing to hear, not that Obama admires Reagan, but why he does so. Reagan was not a sunny optimist pushing dynamic entrepreneurship, but a savvy politician using a civil rights backlash to catapult conservatives to power. Lots of people don't agree with this, of course, since it doesn't fit a coherent narrative of GOP ascendancy. Masking Reagan's true political underpinning principles is a central goal of the conservative movement, with someone as powerful as Grover Norquist seeking to put Reagan's name on as many monuments as possible and the Republican candidates themselves using Reagan's name instead of George Bush's in GOP debates as a mark of greatness. Why would the conservative movement create such idolatry around Reagan? Is is because they just want to honor a great man? Perhaps that is some of it. Or are they trying to escape the legacy of the conservative movement so that it can be rebuilt in a few years, as they did after Nixon, Reagan, and Bush I?

....I don't know. But if you think, as Obama does, that Reagan's rise to power was premised on a sunny optimism in contrast to an out of control government and a society rife with liberal excess, then you don't understand the conservative movement. Reagan tapped into greed and fear and tribalism, and those are powerful forces. Ignoring that isn't going to make them go away.

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    IMO (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by athyrio on Mon Jan 21, 2008 at 11:06:27 PM EST
    Obama lied tonite when he repeated what he said during that interview....He didnt say anything like that...Won't that come back to haunt him??


    What happened to your post? (none / 0) (#6)
    by Teresa on Mon Jan 21, 2008 at 11:17:04 PM EST
    I just posted a long reply to you and it went poof.

    I deleted it (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Jan 21, 2008 at 11:24:49 PM EST
    because it covered the exact same ground as this post.

    Used the same quotes and everything.


    Bill Clinton, in contrast (none / 0) (#8)
    by Ben Masel on Mon Jan 21, 2008 at 11:21:08 PM EST
    never praised Reagan's policies as Reagan's policies, he just extended them.

    By raising taxes on the rich? (none / 0) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Jan 21, 2008 at 11:23:58 PM EST
    Cutting taxes on the poor?

    Balancing the budget?

    If Ben Masel is going to become another pod, I give up on the blogs.

    Say it ain't so Ben.


    Its because Bill sd. he didn't inhale. (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by oculus on Mon Jan 21, 2008 at 11:26:57 PM EST
    Prison building, Truth in Sentencing (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Ben Masel on Mon Jan 21, 2008 at 11:40:05 PM EST
    Drugwar. Death Penalty. "Plan Colombia." Big Copyright.

    I'll give credit where due, but only where due.

    Welfare reform, split decision. Better in boom times than any other, but in it's pariculars, Clinton's implementation was somewhat less humane than Tommy Thompson's, which inspired it. To be fair, Thompson's legislature, even during the stints of Republican colntrol, was less nutso than the Republicans in Clinton's Congress.

    I hope I don't offend if I tell you i found you a more interesting read when you focussed on policy rather than the horserace.


    Where'd you go? (none / 0) (#32)
    by Ben Masel on Tue Jan 22, 2008 at 12:30:30 AM EST
    This coulda been fun.

    Telecommunications Act. DMCA (none / 0) (#41)
    by sphealey on Tue Jan 22, 2008 at 08:47:09 AM EST
    The Telecommunications Act and the DMCA have been almost as damaging to the long-term future of the US as Gitmo and torture.  In fact one could say that the Clinton Telecom Act paved the way for the suppression of other rights.



    bingo (none / 0) (#43)
    by Rojas on Tue Jan 22, 2008 at 08:52:10 AM EST
    Hey, he got his talking points out. (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by oculus on Mon Jan 21, 2008 at 11:14:53 PM EST
    How many people will compare transcripts side by side?

    A campaign ad (5.00 / 4) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Jan 21, 2008 at 11:16:46 PM EST
    highlighting the flip flop would be quite effective I think.

    well, the ad would have to end with (none / 0) (#7)
    by oculus on Mon Jan 21, 2008 at 11:20:26 PM EST
    tonight's version, which is the one he wants voters to hear.

    P.S.  Why has Lawrence Tribe endorsed Obama?


    That's what makes it effective (5.00 / 6) (#9)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Jan 21, 2008 at 11:22:38 PM EST
    the first part will piss off Democrats, the second part will piss off Republicans and Reagan loving independents.

    A double whammy on Obama.

    Not to mention kills the straight shooter crap.


    You are brilliant. Please go help (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by oculus on Mon Jan 21, 2008 at 11:23:45 PM EST
    Hillary bring this home.

    I keep telling people that (none / 0) (#13)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Jan 21, 2008 at 11:26:09 PM EST
    No one believes me.

    And my prediction on how the debate would go tonight does not help on that score either.


    Didn't I say Rezko would (none / 0) (#16)
    by oculus on Mon Jan 21, 2008 at 11:29:41 PM EST
    be an issue?

    BTW:  my brother, who lives in the Chicago area, told me the fence around the vacant lot next to the Obama residence only has one gate: into Obamas's back yard.  Or so he's heard.


    We didn't quite get (none / 0) (#20)
    by andgarden on Mon Jan 21, 2008 at 11:44:46 PM EST
    my "intemperate shouting match," but it came close.

    Did you call the Republican (none / 0) (#21)
    by oculus on Mon Jan 21, 2008 at 11:46:26 PM EST
    primary race for McCain?

    maybe because they are both (none / 0) (#22)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Jan 21, 2008 at 11:52:15 PM EST
    Harvard grads?

    No one in the media for sure. (none / 0) (#4)
    by Teresa on Mon Jan 21, 2008 at 11:16:26 PM EST
    I campaigned for Ronald Reagan v. Carter (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by felizarte on Mon Jan 21, 2008 at 11:29:29 PM EST
    because at that time I thought the govt. was becoming too intrusive (which is nothing compared to what has happened under W.) What I remember most about the Reagan Administration, is the Savings & Loans deregulation which led to massive defaults causing the govt. to bail out the whole industry to the tune of billions and billions of dollars (maybe even in the trillions); deregulation of the airline industry, which ledt to many airlines going belly up and communities losing airline service because the airlines considered them not economically viable; mega-mergers; bailout of Chrysler, and the continuous weakening of the labor unions as in the traffic controllers, us postal workers.  People gave him too much credit for the collapse of the USSR which I thought was on its decline anyway; He is reputed to be a good man but perhaps he had more Cheney types around him, and of course G.H. Bush, ex CIA director.

    Sen. Obama, and many of his supporters ought to have read a little bit more about that period, especially when it comes to taxes and other domestic policies before they begin singing praises to that era; especially because they have no actual memories to lean on. After all, that was over twenty years ago.  One might ask what a 24 or 25 year old Obama was involved in at that time. And of course, he would have no real experience of the sixties--JFK, RFK, MLK!

    I just want to add (none / 0) (#18)
    by felizarte on Mon Jan 21, 2008 at 11:36:43 PM EST
    that the financial disaster with the Savings & Loans has manifested itself once again in today's subprime loans.  This is going to cost the taxpayers BIG MONEY on top of the deficit as a result of the Iraq & Afghanistan wars.  The poor young people.  If they knew what they would be paying for, they would want someone who can analyze these problems well and come up with solutions.

    Of course Sen. Obama can gather experts around him IF he is elected president.  But how does he know how to evaluate his experts?  He would have to always just hope that he has the right people and know enough to know when they are not performing in a timely manner without waiting for public opinion to be heard from.


    it;'s troubling how often (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Jan 21, 2008 at 11:53:49 PM EST
    he says he'll convene experts. That's what GW did and look where it got us.

    i think obama and the other two would actually (none / 0) (#35)
    by hellothere on Tue Jan 22, 2008 at 01:21:52 AM EST
    try and get experts. whereas the question could be asked did bush get experts or partisan foot soldiers.

    A little perspective (none / 0) (#38)
    by Rojas on Tue Jan 22, 2008 at 07:51:30 AM EST
    Reagan took over the worst economy since the great depression. Unemployment 13% and inflation at 17%.
    S&L and airline deregulation were Carter iniatives. The Chrysler bailout was successful by anyone's measure I believe.

    Which is not to say I'm a fan of Reagan. I think clinton's worst initiatives were expansions of reagans economic policies.


    Which expansions? (none / 0) (#39)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Jan 22, 2008 at 08:24:34 AM EST
    Clinton reversed the Reagan tax cuts.

    Clinton balanced the budget. After Reagan created record deficits.

    Please explain.


    Working so I can't expand (none / 0) (#40)
    by Rojas on Tue Jan 22, 2008 at 08:44:45 AM EST
    Clintons anti-trust. corporate consolodation on steroids

    Loss of civil liberties (none / 0) (#42)
    by Rojas on Tue Jan 22, 2008 at 08:50:39 AM EST
    expansion of the police state, the prison nation, expansion of the federal role in criminal law, and like the S&L crisis, lack of overight during periods of derugulation (restructuring)

    that chicago scandal is being (none / 0) (#17)
    by athyrio on Mon Jan 21, 2008 at 11:36:29 PM EST
    discussed more fully on No Quarter

    I don't think the Chicago issue or Rezko (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Jan 21, 2008 at 11:55:16 PM EST
    is a valid argument against Obama. That's why I'm not covering it much. I think Big Tent has said he feels the same.  It's small potatoes and there's no indication Obama did anything wrong.

    BTD said it shouldn't be an issue. (none / 0) (#25)
    by oculus on Mon Jan 21, 2008 at 11:56:57 PM EST
    But is obviously is; see Clinton's debate comments tonight.  

    Well then (none / 0) (#28)
    by Jgarza on Tue Jan 22, 2008 at 12:01:05 AM EST
    it is about as much of an issue as Hillary being on the board of Walmart, which was also brought up, but IMO also none issue.

    Maybe so; but after (none / 0) (#29)
    by oculus on Tue Jan 22, 2008 at 12:08:50 AM EST
    reading all the Chicago Sun TImes articles on the subject, I find it relevant to the issue of Barack Obama's judgment.

    I agree (none / 0) (#27)
    by athyrio on Mon Jan 21, 2008 at 11:59:29 PM EST
    but if you think about how much ammunition it gives the republicans during the general it is unsettling...

    Bottom line is IMO, Obama has gotten a pretty free ride so far from the media etc on most subjects but when the general starts they will unload on him with both barrels....So far it is like people are tip toeing around him on egg shells...which is silly...I really want to see a recent poll since Nevada....

    Do you think a win by Obama in South Carolina will have any effect??


    No it won't have an effect (none / 0) (#30)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Jan 22, 2008 at 12:20:07 AM EST
    which is why I said a few days ago other than the debate I'm not going to cover it this week (although Big Tent likely will) except for the polls and the numbers crunching.

    The election will not be about race or gender, it will be about the economy or, if Bush pulls another fear card to elevate the threat level, national security.


    Clinton still leads in the Feb 5 states (or (none / 0) (#31)
    by Teresa on Tue Jan 22, 2008 at 12:20:46 AM EST
    most of them) but Obama will win South Carolina. That's why Hillary is leaving to campaign in the other states. I think Bill and Chelsea are just staying in SC in order to help in November if she wins the nomination.

    Hey you got the links (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Jgarza on Mon Jan 21, 2008 at 11:59:25 PM EST
    down!  good to see

    WSWS on Ronald Reagan (none / 0) (#33)
    by Andreas on Tue Jan 22, 2008 at 01:18:33 AM EST
    In 2004 David North (Chairman of the Editorial Board of the WSWS) wrote:

    Too many working people still remember the impact of "Reaganomics" on their lives, which was entirely for the worse. Indeed, among broad sections of the working class he was the most hated president since Herbert Hoover. Even taking into account the support for Reaganism among significant sections of the middle class and more affluent layers of workers, the overwhelming popularity attributed to Reagan was largely of a synthetic character, a myth concocted by the media to endow the policies of his administration with an aura of public approval that they lacked in reality. ...

    Though Reagan has departed this world, the accomplishments of his administration live on and are observable everywhere: in the staggering growth of social inequality in the United States, in the grotesque concentration of wealth in the hands of a small segment of American society, in the shocking decline of literacy and the general level of culture, in the utter putrefaction of the institutions of American democracy, and, finally, in the murderous eruption of American militarism.

    That is the legacy of Reaganism.

    Ronald Reagan (1911-2004): an obituary
    By David North, 9 June 2004

    Community work (none / 0) (#34)
    by Stellaaa on Tue Jan 22, 2008 at 01:20:07 AM EST
    Some disclosure I have worked in community work and affordable housing for over thirty years. Senator Obama today in the debate said that he walked the "neighborhood", there is no way anyone who walks and knows a community that they do not know about a slum lord.   Yet he claims he never got any complaints.  Well, if the tenants don't feel you are on their side, they will not complain, they know who has the power in these situations.  Neighborhoods are small places.  If you are a good organizer you have an ear to the street, you know what is going on.  He just cannot plead ignorance.  If he does, then I think it's blatant negligence.  

    If you talk to people in a neighborhood, if you pay attention and if you are a community organizer or someone who cares for the community  I cannot believe that you would not know of a slum lord's reputation. This guy had over 20 buildings that went into foreclosure.   By the time the cities, feds and or other authorities find out, everyone in the community knows.   It's no secret when buildings are milked and run to the ground by sleazy landlords.

    Obama says he worked only  for 5 hours on some minor real estate transaction involving the non profit subsidiary of the Apostolic Church, Rev Brazier, a big player in Chicago community politics.  Yet it appears that  his relationship with the community and the developer was before the job with the law firm.   So, before Harvard, when Obama was an organizer, walking and being in the community he would have and should have heard about this guys missmanegement of his properties.  

     Yet he got over 160,000 in donations from  Riezk who by the way is a Syrian.  My oh my, lets not get that out in the General Election.   He also got some strange deal for his house purchase.

    Obama  claims that he was a community  organizer. Folks, there is no way a credible organizor would not have known the guy was a slum lord.  If you walk the neighborhood, if you talk to people, you hear of how people manage their buildings.  This is really dirty stuff.  I know the field well.  Remember Fitzgerald is the US Attorney on this case.  This is Chicago politics where the community gets screwed, and I hate to say it we used to call this thing poverty pimps.  This could blow up, really big.  

    This affirms my feeling from watching the Gazette video that I would never had hired him even as an entry level community organizer.  

    One thing that people miss here. (none / 0) (#36)
    by TheRealFrank on Tue Jan 22, 2008 at 06:14:05 AM EST
    The Clinton campaign never mentioned Reagan in their attacks on Obama about this interview. In fact, they seemed to specifically avoid mentioning Reagan. They focused on the "Republicans were the party of ideas during the 90s" part.

    However, the Obama campaign has successfully diverted the issue into talk about Reagan. Their reaction was "but Clinton said positive things about Reagan too!". Yes, she did, but that was NOT her point.

    And now even articles on MSNBC talk all about his Reagan quotes. But that was specifically not what the Clinton campaign was talking about.

    All in all, a successful diversion as part of damage control by the Obama campaign.

    I dunno (none / 0) (#37)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Jan 22, 2008 at 07:09:26 AM EST
    I am pretty sure Bill Clinton mentioned it.

    And why not? He said what he said.


    Hmm (none / 0) (#44)
    by TheRealFrank on Tue Jan 22, 2008 at 09:29:19 AM EST
    I can't find an instance of where Bill Clinton talked about Reagan right now, but I may just not be looking hard enough.

    i just don't see (none / 0) (#45)
    by hellothere on Tue Jan 22, 2008 at 09:31:21 AM EST
    obama carrying super tuesday. people will be looking for experience and a heavy weight lifter and i don't think obama comes across that way.

    the obama campaign might get desperate and i wonder just what the result might be. sure, the clintons are heavy duty fighers, and i see numerous emails railing about that, but guess what it is going to take tough measures with the repubs. our esteemed congress critters aren't tough as they have proved in the past.