Ronald Reagan birthday tributes are always big. However, the Ronald Reagan birthday celebrations this year are bigger than ever, if that’s possible. Not only was he born 100 years ago today, the big day happens to fall on Super Bowl Sunday this time. To many, nothing could be more symbolic than to have these two events fall together. Yet although the Super Bowl Sunday celebrations will be a bit larger, the Reagan birthday memories have a larger hold on the political world.
The former President was born on Feb. 6, 1911, beginning a legacy that stretched across Hollywood and politics. Although he made his mark as an actor, it was nothing compared to his impact when he changed careers.
Mostly, the Reagan birthday celebrations are focusing on his political life, and all that came of it. After becoming governor of California, and after several failed Presidential campaigns, he finally rose to the White House just before he turned 70.
What followed after that qualifies as a giant Rorschach test, for politicians and activists. Some see his Presidency as the hallmark of American greatness, and the era in which the country returned to glory. Others see it as an utter disaster that spawned today’s fights against terrorism, and laid the groundwork for today’s economic turmoil.
As the Reagan birthday date approached, the arguments about his legacy — and who lives up to it now — continued on. His son published a new book that seemed to suggest his Alzheimer’s symptoms began in the White House. But he also argued that Sarah Palin, for all her professed admiration of the President, had nothing truly in common with him.
Palin and countless Republicans have run as successors to the President’s legacy and values. They have professed his era as the golden age of Republicanism, if not of America itself. But the wars over his true impact are still being fought over two decades later.
Supporters mark the Reagan birthday with memories of “Tear down this wall” a revived economy, the end of the Cold War and the Carter “malaise,” and Reaganomics. Detractors best remember the Iran-Contra scandal, training America’s current enemies to fight the Soviets, and an era that spawned the Bush dynasty and massive deregulation.
Although this is the 100th Reagan birthday, his memory, legacy and controversy stand to impact America for another 100 years or more. It is certainly alive and well within the Republican Party, and is still vividly remembered by Democrats as well.
Associated Press- “Palin: America out of steps with Reagan’s values”
CBS News- “Lesley Stahl’s Book Weighs In on Reagan’s Alzheimer’s Controversy”