At last, a US writer takes down Ronald Reagan at whose feet he lays America’s present economic decline. I think it’s deeper than Reagan but it’s fine by me if we start there. And about time too. From Allen Barra at Truthdig:
In a fiery and lucid introduction he writes, “This book is born of annoyance: a great bewilderment over the myth that continues to surround the presidency of Ronald Reagan. It gives voice to a vast swath of psychically disenfranchised Americans, millions of them, lumped most thickly in the urban areas on either coast, who never understood Reagan’s appeal.” Kleinknecht’s thesis is nothing less than that Reagan was the “obvious enemy of the common people he claimed to represent, this empty suit who believed in flying saucers and allowed an astrologer to guide his presidential scheduling. …” The great conundrum “is this: none of [the] unmistakable harbingers of American decline is being laid where it belongs—at the door of Ronald Reagan” [emphasis Kleinknecht’s].
In the tradition of most previous Reagan critics, Kleinknecht doesn’t try to draw a bead on Reagan from an ivory tower. He goes after Reagan from the blue collar on up: “He enacted policies that helped wipe out the high-paying jobs for the working class that were the real backbone of the country. … His legacy—mergers, deregulation, tax cuts for the wealthy, privatization, globalization—helped weaken the family and eradicate small-town life and sense of community.”
Reaganomics did create fortunes, but mostly for those at the top of the economic ladder; it also brought “a reversal in the slow gains that the working class and the poor had made in the previous two decades.”