Obama “I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America”


 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.

Open Left

I don’t know how to begin with this because I believe and other progressives believe that Reagan was the beginning of the end for the middle class in this Country.  And although Obama’s statement is factually true, Reagan did make change, his tactics were those of racism, fear and trickle down economics. 

I sincerely don’t know how someone could defend what he says here, he’s speaking to the board of a conservative newspaper and yes, he also mentions that JFK was also someone who created change, but it’s appalling to me that he completely refuses to put any value on that change. 


  1. I disagree. Obama is not trying to fight old cultural battles, but is trying to build a new coalition. If he attacked those of us who supported Reagan, and argued (it’s a wrong argument) that Reagan killed the middle class, then he might appeal to primary voters, but he would not be able to convince non-Democrats to join his new coalition. I disagree with most of his positions, and don’t think Obama has yet to get beyond rhetoric to enunciate a real governing ideology, but talk like this makes people like me (disaffected Republicans, Libertarians, Independents) willing to listen to him and perhaps even willing to vote for him. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a president who wasn’t so divisive, who tried to build new coalitions rather than attack old ones? And, by the way, he’s right — Reagan did change the political trajectory, which is what Obama claims he wants to do.

  2. I never disagreed with the fact that Reagan changed things.

    “Obama’s statement is factually true, Reagan did make change.”

  3. Yeah, you did, of course, but the change you said he made: “racism, fear and trickle down economics.” I think Obama is giving his fellow Americans a little more credit than that, and arguing that he can lead broad-based change in a positive direction. Stuff like this gives me reason to think that he could actually win the presidency. Anyway, I appreciate your interesting and useful post … I hadn’t seen that video anywhere before.

  4. I, along with a bunch of other Democratic volunteers, have been registering voters this week. Though we sometimes use a sign that says “Democrats Register to Vote Here,” in this case we have no partisan signage. We do, however, have bumper stickers available for Clinton, Edwards, and Obama.

    Two interesting Obama reactions:

    One man registered as a Republican, then talked admiringly about Obama and took and Obama bumper sticker.

    One young woman said she needed to register because she didn’t “want any terrorists to get elected.” When I told her I didn’t know of any terrorists running for office, she said, “Did you know that Obama’s middle name is Hussain?” I told her that didn’t mean he’s a terrorist, and she replied, “Well, we’d probably better not discuss politics.”

  5. Heather-

    You’re right, Reagan made change… He just changed this nation for the WORSE! He helped destroy the middle class, cause mischief in Latin America, wreak environmental havoc, and pave the way for future executive power abuses. And Obama admires this guy? WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH BARACK OBAMA??!!


    You’re so gracious here. I sometimes wonder why Obama sometimes talks like he’s not even a Democrat.

  6. Obama is doing what is called PANDERING!

    Since he’s running for office, that’s quite definitely possible. If he wasn’t running for office, though, and he said such a thing one might think he was simply trying to relate to people with different views.

    Like most of the rest of us I’m a Democrat in Orange County. As such, and in order to keep friends and sanity I try to get some kind of understanding of where conservatives are “coming from.” Sometimes, as in the case of understanding the Reagan admiration, I fail utterly. In other cases I think I do grasp what the other side thinks. I don’t necessarily agree, but I see their point.

    Dubya, AKA The Great Divider, has never seen the point of view of people like me or anyone who disagrees with him. Nor have Rove, Cheney, or most of the rest of Dubya’s administration. I think that’s one of the biggest things I dislike about him.

    The POTUS, contrary to Dubya’s opinion and actions, is the President of all the American people, not just the folks who voted for him or her. Whatever s/he does, I believe s/he is obligated to attempt to get inside of the heads of people who don’t agree with him/her. If Obama is signaling that he intends to do that, I say “hurrah.”

  7. Gila, I thought this diary summed up some feelings I have.

    I agree that yes, Obama is doing the right thing in the respect that he is attempting to understand all the people in this country, but his characterization of Reagan being for optimism when he really won through fear.

    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.

  8. Reagan was able to win twice, and get much of his agenda accomplished because he was able to get the support of Democrats. Until our party and its membership realizes that the only way to actually get anything done in this country is by working with sensible Republicans then we don’t expect any progress soon.

    Not us moving to the middle, but moving them to middle. Thats the point.

  9. Yes, we’ve tried this though, haven’t we? What have we been doing for the past year in congress? Really? Trying to work with Republicans is working?

  10. Thanks, Aria, for being a reasonable, intelligent commenter here.
    i don’t understand why Heather continues to post digs at the other Democratic candidates rather than positive things about the candidate she supports.
    And, on another tangent, when I inquired a while back about blogging here I was told in no uncertain terms that TheLiberalOC only included bloggers who were identifiable – with a first AND last name. But recently I’ve seen things from “Heather” who can be any one of thousands of people in Orange County. Has this policy changed? If so, why?

  11. I’m Heather Pritchard, I live in Aliso Viejo and I didn’t create my account. I am not quite sure why my last name was left off, but there is no deliberate attempt on my part to hide my identity.

    As for my posts, this is the only second “negative” post and I think it’s a fair question. Just a question about what Obama has said on the campaign trail. It’s fair game, it’s open to debate and I was quite fair. This is the primaries, this is when we get to ask the tough questions. I have not turned it into something many other bloggers have, I don’t think that Obama says he admires Reagan (Although he did in his book) I just think it’s fair to point out that Regan won by using tactics that were not right, history has shown us this.

  12. This is a damaging remark in a Democratic primary. But I’m not surprised and I’m not excited about it. I don’t have much faith in the Democratic Party.

    This idea though that Reagan began the demise of the middle class is mythology. For all Reagan’s awfulness, the end of the middle class did not begin with him. A better candidate is the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in 1947, under the presidency of that Cold Warrior Democrat Harry S. Truman. The weakening of the middle class takes up steam in the 1960s and early 1970s when American corporations first failed to invest in innovations in say steel technology and then simply started rolling forward with a ever more rapid process of deindustrialization. Both parties presided over this process. Noam Chomsky called Nixon the last liberal president. In some ways he was. And in some ways Carter was the first president of the evangelical movement–when they were still married to the Democratic party as good Southerners. When they abandoned Carter we got the New Right of Ronald Reagan in 1980. But the middle class didn’t need Reagan in order to discover its decline. In fact the Reagan Democrat often voted Republican because of the sense of decline.

    It’s a damaging remark. Strikes me as a desperate move–like McCain going to Robertson territory in 2000 to declare evangelicals agents of intolerance.

    I guess Obama knows Clinton is winning the party faithful?

  13. I know this will lead balloon on this site, but as a person who admires Mr. Regan and the policies, I’d be remiss if I didn’t correct your misconceptions of his economic policies.

    If you watch ‘Commanding Heights’ (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/commandingheights/hi/index.html) you’ll have a much better understanding of the economic situation Mr. Carter’s policies left us and the reality Mr. Regan inherited.

    I do understand that you firmly believe you have the right to bill me for that which you feel you are entitled to (health care, heat in winter, etc..) and your politics reflect as much. I’m not trying to change your mind or attack that. I just feel that ‘Commanding Heights’ did such a fantastic job illustrating the world economy and Mr. Regan’s contribution to it that it is well worth everyone’s time to watch it.

    Thank you for your regard,

  14. Robert, the thing about health care that does bother me, that when you say I am “billing” you for my health care, you don’t admit that we are all paying for uninsured Americans with higher premiums.

    We are already paying for those who are uninsured by picking up the tab for the ER visits or by the loss of Hospitals that cannot withstand serving areas that have a uninsured populace. I do thin that we have a moral obligation to care for someone who is DYING, to turn them away because they can’t pay is a moral issue.

    It’s very hard for me to take any policies from Reagan when he declared that the words that scare him the most is “I’m from the Government and I’m here to help you.” We will have a fundamental difference in opinion, especially when it comes to Carter, who was only in office for four years and inherited the cost of the Vietnam war that we had to finally pay for. In 1977 Carter said that we had to stop driving so much, look for alternative fuel sources, he was right then! I’m tired of Carter being blamed for the fiscal legacy of the Vietnam war and the previous Presidents before him.

    In the end we will most certainly disagree, I think the free market is fine when it comes to getting my carpet cleaned, but for profit insurance companies who withhold benefits rather than letting the doctor and patient decide the course of treatment because of the bottom line, it’s time to ask why we still have this sytem. It’s not working.

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