Friday, August 8, 2014

Krugman Speaks Truth About Reaganolatry

Murray Rothbard did the definitive analysis of Reagan's presidency in Ronald Reagan: An Autopsy, but Krugman isn't far off base with this short observation:
The truly vile attack on Rick Perlstein’s new book has been revealing in a number of ways. It’s not just the instinctive effort to suppress and punish anyone who raises questions; it’s also the way supposedly reasonable, civilized conservatives have contorted themselves to support the party line (which they always do when it matters, no matter how much open-mindedness they seem to display when it doesn’t).
And why this determination to quash Perlstein? It’s all about Reaganolatry, the right’s need to see the man as perfect. John Quiggin has some thoughts about the phenomenon; I’d just add that the economic myth of Reagan is truly remarkable. Everyone on the right knows that Reagan presided over job creation on a scale never seen before or since; but it just isn’t so. In fact, if you look at monthly rates of job creation for the past six administrations, it’s actually startling... The general point is that the supposed awesomeness of Reagan’s economic record just doesn’t pop out of the data.

But don’t expect the Reaganlators to acknowledge that. Their whole sense of identity is bound up with their faith.
As bad as Krugman is when defending his crony leftists, he can be good in, a limited way, of exposing myths held by government-supporting conservatives.

BTW, the attack on Perlstein from GSC circles comes about in the form of charges that Perstein plagiarized from Craig Shirley's book  .

David Dayen puts this "plagiarism" into perspective:
According to a Reagan biographer who currently serves as the publicist for Ann Coulter, Perlstein is a serial plagiarist...[However]On 125 separate occasions, Perlstein cites a 2005 book by Craig Shirley called “Reagan’s Revolution: the Untold Story of the Campaign that Started It All.” Perlstein even writes in his acknowledgments that “Craig Shirley’s book on Reagan’s 1976 campaign saved me 3.76 months” of research and labor. So he makes clear that he relied on Shirley’s account, and used the facts contained therein, with attribution, to shape his narrative...


  1. I am 4/5 through David Stockman's amazing new book, The Great Deformation, but I am well past the devastating analysis of Reagan's Amateur Economics and Reagan's Economic Myth. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in looking - in fine detail - at the horrors of central banking, official counterfeiting, and the Fed/Wall Street Monster which grows only more monstrous with each passing decade.

    Stockman's writing style is that of a clear eyed observer commenting on a scene played out by the inhabitants of an insane asylum. Rationality seasoned with humor and anger makes for a great read.

  2. I hadn't even hit my teen years yet by the time Reagan left office, but I do remember how he was perceived in the country during his second term. It was worse than Obama or Bush. He was known for two things at that time - high debt and Iron Contra. Somewhere between the 1992 Republican convention and his death, the Reagan myth took fold. He supposedly ended the Cold War and presided over eight years of prosperity. I bet most of the millennial generation has never even heard of Iron Contra. Certainly, the S&L scandal and the CIA drug running operations have escaped down the rabbit hole of history. George W. Bush believes history will judge him to be a great president and he might be right. Harry Truman was also widely unpopular before he left office. The presidents who cause the most death and destruction are always remembered fondly.

    Along with Rothbard's brilliant Menckenesque piece on Reagan, I highly recommend watching Bill Moyers' "The Secret Government" ( The documentary was aired on public television in 1987 and you would think it was produced by Alex Jones with the information it contains. Moyers would never get away with airing it these days.