Discussion #12: Assessing Ronald Reagan Discussion #12: Assessing Ronald Reagan Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, has been described

Discussion #12: Assessing Ronald Reagan Discussion #12: Assessing Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, has been described

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Discussion #12: Assessing Ronald Reagan Discussion #12: Assessing Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, has been described as having had a very engaging personality. Even people who disagreed with his policies, found themselves drawn to his attractive and carefully honed public image. Surrounded by tough, energetic administrators who insulated him from many of the pressures of the office, he seemed to offer general guidance but not make specific decisions. His presidency was also mired in a series of scandals, but the most damaging was the Iran-contra scandal. After a series of investigations and congressional hearings, the White House conceded that it had sold weapons to the revolutionary government in Iran, and used some of the money to illegally aid the Contras in Nicaragua. This was in direct violation of the Boland Amendment.

In order to prepare for this discussion forum:

Review and identify the relevant sections of Chapter 31 that support your discussion.
Review material on this site on the Reagan administration.

response to only one of the following questions

In 1983, Democratic Congresswoman Pat Schroeder described Reagan’s presidency as “Teflon-coated,” because scandals surrounding his presidency seem to have no effect on his individual popularity. Is this a valid assessment of Reagan and his presidency?
Should Reagan (or the policies of any past presidents) be credited with the collapse of world communism, or was the end of the Cold War more a result of internal developments within the Soviet Union and the nations it dominated?


https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-ushistory/chapter/the-reagan-administration/ Chapter 31: The Conservative Challenge1976 to 1992



The Conservative Challenge1976 to 1992

“During the years of the Carter, Reagan, and Bush administrations, the nation’s political and social agenda was increasingly determined by a conservative movement, including newly politicized evangelical Christians, that sought to restore traditional religious and family values, patriotism, and a more limited role for government.”

What’s to Come

The Conservative Rebellion

The Presidency in Transition: Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter

Prime Time with Ronald Reagan

Standing Tall in a Chaotic World

An End to the Cold War

The Conservative Rebellion (1)

Many traditionally-minded Protestants moved from churches growing more liberal to evangelical ones

Moving Religion into Politics

Used modern media to spread the word
Falwell and LaHaye join to fight a gay rights law
Concerned Women of America (CWA)
Moral Majority

The Catholic Conscience

Pope John Paul II
Shared certain views with evangelicals

The Conservative Rebellion (2)

During the late 1970s and the 1980s, conservatives increasingly spoke out against abortion and in favor of the right to life for an unborn fetus. Adopting the tactics of protest and civil disobedience once common to radicals in the 1960s, they clash here with pro-choice demonstrators outside Faneuil Hall in Boston. ©Bettmann/Getty Images

The Conservative Rebellion (3)

Tax Revolt

Proposition 13
California’s property tax reform
Inspired similar legislation in other states

The Media as Battleground

Mass media blamed for corrupting family values
Archie Bunker

Saturday Night Fever

Youthful blue-collar culture
People for the American Way

The Conservative Rebellion (4)

John Travolta, the blue-collar Brooklyn boy with aspirations, dressed to the nines and “Stayin’ Alive” to the beat of the Bee Gees. ©Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The Presidency in Transition: Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter (1)

Trimming Presidential Powers

War Powers Resolution
Creation of intelligence oversight committees

Energy and the Middle East

Influence of Kissinger
Yom Kippur War
OPEC’s oil boycott hurts western economies and Japan’s
Inflation and U.S. cities on the brink of financial disaster

Shuttle diplomacy
Negotiations between Jerusalem in Israel

The Presidency in Transition: Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter (2)

As the energy crisis contributed to New York City’s near-bankruptcy, Gerald Ford at first opposed federal assistance. New Yorkers were not amused. ©New York Daily News/Getty Images


After World War II the Middle East became a vital geopolitical region beset by big-power rivalry and complicated by local, tribal, ethnic, and religious divisions. Much of the world’s oil reserves lie along the Persian Gulf. Proximity to the former Soviet Union and vital trade routes such as the Suez Canal have defined the region’s geographic importance. Revolutions in Iran and Afghanistan, intermittent warfare between Arabs and Jews, the unresolved questions of Israel’s borders and a Palestinian homeland, the disintegration of Lebanon, and a long war between Iran and Iraq were among the conflicts that unsettled the region.

The Presidency in Transition: Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter (3)

Limits across the Globe

Mounting industrial competition
S. looked to further détente; SALT II

Jimmy Carter: Restoring the Faith

“Born-again” Christian governor from the Sun Belt
Carter beat Ford by a slim margin

The Search for Direction

Difficulty in setting priorities
Too much too soon

The Presidency in Transition: Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter (4)

Energy and the Environment

Strengthening of the EPA
Clashing environmental and energy policies

comprehensive national energy program emerged
Three Mile Island

The Sagging Economy

Wage stagnation, unemployment, and inflation
President’s fiscal conservatism

The Presidency in Transition: Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter (5)

In 1979 the four cooling towers at Three Mile Island nuclear reactor had to be shut down, due to a leak of radioactive steam. ©Bettmann/Getty Images

The Presidency in Transition: Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter (6)

Foreign Policy: Principled or Pragmatic?

Human rights
Panama Canal treaties
Real test for conservatives: the Soviet Union
Playing “the China card”

The Middle East: Hope and Hostages

Free flow of oil versus the survival of Israel
Camp David accords
Iranian Revolution
Americans taken hostage at U.S. Embassy in Teheran

The Presidency in Transition: Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter (7)

It was at Camp David, in private talks sponsored by President Jimmy Carter (center), that Egyptian president Anwar Sadat (left) and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin (right ) hammered out a “Framework for Peace in the Middle East” as a first step toward ending decades of war and mistrust. ©David Rubinger/Getty Images

The Presidency in Transition: Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter (8)

A President Held Hostage

Soviets invaded Afghanistan
Energy dependence and economic instability
OPEC increases in the price of oil
Carter’s approval rating sank to record lows—77 percent negative
Disastrous attempt to rescue hostages
S. mired in “a crisis of confidence”

MAP 31.2: ELECTION OF 1980

Reagonbeat Cater with a staggering 91% of the electoral vote and 51% of the popular vote.

Prime Time with Ronald Reagan (1)

The Great Communicator

Reagan “revolution”
Hands-off leadership
Contrasted with Jimmy Carter

Luck played a role
Hostages freed
Soviet leaders died
Failed assassination attempt

Prime Time with Ronald Reagan (2)

The Reagan Agenda

Supply-side economics
Tax cuts
End of 50 years of liberal government?
Anti-union climate
Budget cuts at EPA
OSHA cutbacks
Department of Interior leadership

Prime Time with Ronald Reagan (3)

Striking air traffic controllers protest their firing. ©Yvonne Hemsy/Getty Images

Prime Time with Ronald Reagan (4)

A Halfway Revolution

“Revenue enhancements”
Tax increases when supply-side boom failed to materialize
Revival of the economy

Economic inequality

Prime Time with Ronald Reagan (5)

Winners and Losers in the Labor Market

Young, upwardly mobile, urban professionals
Gen-Xers: those born after the baby boom, for whom computers were second nature

Women: high-wage vs. low-wage jobs
Job displacement effect on black males
Union decline

POVERTY IN AMERICA, 1970 to1993 (1)

Social Security and other income supplements to older Americans reduced their rate of poverty. For all other traditionally impoverished groups the prosperity of the Reagan-Bush years (1981 to1989) left them slightly worse off than in 1980. The charts also indicate that during the years 1970 to 1993, poverty was most severe for single mothers and their children and for people of color. (top right) ©David Buffington/Getty Images RF; (top left) ©Stock Shop Photography LLC/iStockphoto RF; (center left) ©eyecrave/iStockphoto RF; (bottom left) ©Plush Studios/Blend Images RF

POVERTY IN AMERICA, 1970 to 1993 (2)

Many high-tech companies build headquarter complexes much like college campuses. Oracle, a business software systems company, erected this gleaming complex in Redwood City, California, near what has come to be known as Silicon Valley. ©Ken Wolter/Shutterstock RF

Standing Tall in a Chaotic World (1)

The Military Buildup

Soviet Union: the “evil empire”
Huge deficits caused by defense spending and tax cuts
Cost overruns and wasteful spending

Revived anti-nuclear movement

Standing Tall in a Chaotic World (2)

Disaster in the Middle East

Israeli invasion
American peacekeeping force sent to Beirut
Bombing of the marine barracks

Terrorist attacks by Islamic fundamentalists
Reagan promised retribution, but against whom?
Intelligence agencies lacked solid information
American bombing of Libya

Standing Tall in a Chaotic World (3)

Frustrations in Central America

Grenada invasion (1983)
Sandinistas and Contras
CIA, and the Boland Amendment

Reagan’s popularity remained strong
Reagan against Walter Mondale and running mate Geraldine Ferraro
Reagan won easily


The strong anti-Communist tilt of the Reagan administration led it to actively intervene in Central America, particularly with aid toward the overthrow of the left-leaning Sandinista government in Nicaragua. But Congress reacted to the mining of Nicaraguan harbors by forbidding any American aid to the Contra forces.

Standing Tall in a Chaotic World (4)

The Iran-Contra Connection

Arms for hostage’s deal
Oliver North
Profits from an arms deal were used to unlawfully support the Contras

Cover Blown

President kept in ignorance

Standing Tall in a Chaotic World (5)

Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North successfully took the offensive in his testimony before the congressional committee investigating the Iran-Contra scandals. Here North delivers a pro-Contra lecture to the committee. ©Lana Harris/AP Photo

Standing Tall in a Chaotic World (6)

From Cold War to Glasnost

Mikhail Gorbachev
Perestroikaand glasnost

Moscow eliminated certain nuclear-capable missiles
Election of 1988
George H. W. Bush won by a comfortable margin

Standing Tall in a Chaotic World (7)

In October 1986 President Reagan and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev met for arms talks at Reykjavík, Iceland. At their second summit meeting Gorbachev proposed that the two superpowers agree to “the liquidation of nuclear weapons.” Reagan liked that ambitious goal (considerably more than his skeptical advisers), but he was unable to agree because he wanted to continue development of an antiballistic missile system. ©David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

An End to the Cold War (1)

A Post–Cold War Foreign Policy

Fall of communism in Europe
Signaled the end of the cold war
Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START): reductions in nuclear weapon stockpiles

Tiananmen Square rally crushed

The Gulf War

Saddam Hussein
Battled Iran with U.S. support
Iraq invaded its oil-rich neighbor, Kuwait

Operation Desert Storm (1991)


When Saddam Hussein invaded oil-rich Kuwait on August 2, 1990, the United States formed a coalition to defeat the Iraqis. (Although Turkey was not a formal member, it allowed its airfields to be used. Israel remained uninvolved to avoid antagonizing Arab coalition members.) The coalition launched Operation Desert Storm in January 1991; land forces invaded on February 24, routing Iraqi troops, who left Kuwait in ruin and its oil fields aflame.

An End to the Cold War (2)

Domestic Doldrums

President’s popularity high
“Kinder, gentler” nation
Pressure from conservatives
Opposition to environmental restrictions

Earth Summit
President opposed efforts to draft stricter rules to lessen the threat of global warming
Signed into law the sweeping Clean Air Act passed by Congress in 1990

Education Summit in 1989; set modest goals

An End to the Cold War (3)

The Conservative Court

Appointment of Antonin Scalia
Clarence Thomas hearings
Changing stance on affirmative action

Disillusionment and Anger

Ballooning deficit
Savings and loan crisis
Public health crisis
Soaring medical costs

An End to the Cold War (4)

As the AIDS epidemic spread in the 1980s, quilts such as these expressed sorrow for lost friends and loved ones. The quilts also served to raise public awareness of the need for a more effective policy to aid people living with AIDS and fight the disease. ©Kristoffer Tripplaar/Alamy

An End to the Cold War (5)

The Election of 1992

Gramm-Rudman Act (1985)
Bush agreed to new taxes along with budget cuts

Bill Clinton’s campaign and election
the economy, stupid”

“[W]hat role would the United States play in the post–cold war era, when it stood as the lone superpower in the world arena? Those were questions for president-elect Bill Clinton as he sought to lead the United States into the post–cold war world.”

MAP 31.5: ELECTION OF 1992

Clinton beat Bush with more than double the amount of electoral votes and 5% more popular votes.

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