Ronald Reagan: Un-plugged

In 1948 Ronald Reagan was a Democrat.  There are many in the Republican party who would like to have us forget this fact.  But in 1948, two years after the Republicans took control of congress during Truman’s presidency, Ronald Reagan called for the reelection of Harry Truman and the return of Democratic control of the congress.

In the following clip Reagan endorses Truman in his election bid and Hubert Humphrey for U.S. Senate. His comments are so different from how he governed as President it makes me wonder if his body and mind were taken over by some alien force.

At any rate, almost 60 years later we are seeing the truth that Reagan described then. H/T Thom Hartmann.

Click Here for the recording.

  18 comments for “Ronald Reagan: Un-plugged

  1. Dan Chmielewski
    November 12, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    This is an amazing recording; I think Mike Schroeder’s head would explode if he bothered to listen to it. Ditto for Jon Fleischman and Matt Cunningham.

  2. November 12, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    In 1948 Ronald Reagan was a Democrat. There are many in the Republican party who would like to have us forget this fact.

    Reagan used to be a Democrat? Really????

    Please name one Republican who’d “like us to forget this fact.” On the contrary, I have heard innumerable Republicans point out that very fact.

    President Reagan didn’t need aliens to take over his mind. He just wised up

  3. RHackett
    November 12, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    The state GOP has created a Platonic (sorry no Greek) “Reagan” that no one who lived here when was Governor would recognize. Actually he was much more moderate than his Presidential years. He raised taxes. And the money still flowed to education, roads, water projects. And he signed the most liberal abortion law in the nation.

  4. Dan Chmielewski
    November 12, 2007 at 6:52 pm

    I especially enjoyed Reagan’s enthusiastic endorsement of his good friend Hubert H. Humphrey.

    And Matt, I started life as a Republican. Then I wised up.

  5. November 13, 2007 at 12:07 am


    Funny how libs nowadays like the cast Reagan as not really so conservative. I remember back when he was President when liberals painted him as the single greatest threat to world peace — that is, when he wasn’t trying to obliterate the poor in order to enrich the wealthy, take civil rights away from blacks and push women into a back alley with a coat hanger.

    But now that he’s dead and a beloved national icon, liberals are trying to act as if they know him better than conservatives.

  6. Dan Chmielewski
    November 13, 2007 at 10:18 am

    Matt — I’d make the same arguement about how conservatives say that JFK would be a conservative today.

    I will always remember Ronald Reagan for his work in declaring catsup a vegetable and for cutting my college financial aid in half. Beloved, he is not.

  7. RHackett
    November 13, 2007 at 11:42 am

    Matt. Reagan was all the things you mention. I don’t claim to know Reagan better than conservatives. What I do know is the Reagan that actually served in office was a much different person than he is painted by contemporary conservatives.

  8. November 13, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    Ronald Regan betrayed the conservative cause with his reckless abandonment of fiscal discipline. He is the cause for some of the highest budget deficits in American history, second only to Bush II. Democrats should be embarrassed that Regan was once one of them. Republicans that point to him as a good example of a Republican have forgotten the principles of Barry Goldwater.

  9. November 13, 2007 at 7:03 pm

    Democrats are truly amazing. When Republicans control Congress, then overspending is the Republicans fault.

    When the Democrats control Congress — and they controlled the House throughout Reagan’s presidency — the deficits were Reagan’s fault.

  10. November 13, 2007 at 7:20 pm

    Matt. Reagan was all the things you mention.

    RHackett: you think Reagan was the single greatest threat to world peace? You think he was trying to obliterate the poor? You think he was trying to deprive blacks of their civil rights? You think he was trying to push women into alleys with a coat hanger? Seriously?

    What I do know is the Reagan that actually served in office was a much different person than he is painted by contemporary conservatives.

    Both parties have a tendency to hagiography when it comes to their heroes, but informed conservatives I know don’t view President Reagan through rose colored glasses. There was a gap between his ideals and principles and his actual record — no president or governor ever gets everything they want, and sometimes agree to things they later regret or are not proud of. I’m not a scholar of Reagan as governor, but his record was more conservative than you paint it.

  11. November 13, 2007 at 7:32 pm

    Matt — I’d make the same arguement about how conservatives say that JFK would be a conservative today.

    I don’t JFK would be a conservative today. That thought experiment assumes time-traveling JFK from 1963 to the present day. And if that were possible, I think he would have more in common with the GOP and the Democrats, especially on foreign policy and taxes. Remember, the neo-cons you liberals so despise were former Democrats disaffected by the McGovernization of the Democrats on foreign policy, not (generally speaking) the role of government in domestic life.

    That said, the tendency of modern-day conservatives and Republicans (the two are not always the same thing) to speculate JFK with be a confrere today is based on his muscular Cold Warrior foreign policy and his belief in cutting taxes to stimulate the economy.

    I disagree with that assessment. JFK was a liberal believed in the power and competency of the federal government to guide society. The difference is, back in those days, it was generally Democrats and liberals who were the tax-cutters, not Republicans. JFK’s predecessor, Dwight Eisenhower, rebuffed the 1953-54 GOP Congress’s attempts to cut taxes unless they could be, in today’s parlance — “paid for.” Eisenhower insisted on balancing the budget even at the price of high taxes. He achieved more balanced budgets than any post-war president. Of course, there were also three recession during his 8 years in office.

    Sorry for the long answer, Dan. But it’s an interesting topic and an illustration of how “liberal” and “conservative” can change over the decades.

  12. just asking
    November 13, 2007 at 7:43 pm

    Ronald Reagan was whatever would get him elected! He was politically conservative when it suited his campaigns but lived a wild and liberal holywood lifestyle.

    He was fiscally conservative, yet ran up deficits and promoted “trickle” down economics that haunt us till today.

    His hands off approach to leadership left our country in the hands of zealous and incompetent staff members. The legacy of Iran-Contra, Hussien, Noriega, Marcos, etc… This is what history has to show for our eight years of rudderless government. The fall of the USSR was expidited by Reagan through gluttonous spending of money we did not have!

    Oh and by the way, he was a good Governor for California! And a great campaigner. But like Guliani, a bad father, remember the when he did not recognize his adopted son Michael!

  13. RHackett
    November 13, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    I know Matt.

    He was such a nice guy.
    He tripled the national debt, but he had such charisma.
    He supported apartheid, but he was always personable.
    He backed Saddam, but he made us feel good about ourselves.
    He crushed workers rights, but he was someone you could
    sit down and have a beer with.
    He backed death squads in Central America, but he always
    looked for the best in everyone.
    He looked the other way when Salvadoran allies
    raped American nuns, but he had that self deprecating
    sense of humor.
    He confused old movies with foreign policy, but he
    was always quick with a joke.
    He traded arms for hostages and diverted money
    to drug running death squads, but he never lost his
    sunny disposition.

    What’s funny to me is watching conservatives talk about
    Reagan the same way gay men talk about Barbra Streisand.
    Maybe I’ve missed it, but I don’t see contemporary liberals
    talk that way about JFK.

  14. Oro-agua
    November 13, 2007 at 9:55 pm

    Can my fellow Republicans tell me why the party is putting Reagan on a pedestal and can not even mention Goldwater? Maybe it is because today’s Republicans have lost their way and they don’t want to be reminded of that with comparisons to a principled leader like Barry Goldwater.

  15. Dan Chmielewski
    November 13, 2007 at 10:13 pm

    Matt —
    a thoughful post; but here is JFK’s description of the kind of liberal he was and there’s a lot here I identify with.

    A Liberal Definition by John F. Kennedy:
    Acceptance Speech of the New York
    Liberal Party Nomination
    September 14, 1960

    What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label “Liberal?” If by “Liberal” they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer’s dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of “Liberal.” But if by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal,” then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal.”

    But first, I would like to say what I understand the word “Liberal” to mean and explain in the process why I consider myself to be a “Liberal,” and what it means in the presidential election of 1960.

    In short, having set forth my view — I hope for all time — two nights ago in Houston, on the proper relationship between church and state, I want to take the opportunity to set forth my views on the proper relationship between the state and the citizen. This is my political credo:

    I believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, in human liberty as the source of national action, in the human heart as the source of national compassion, and in the human mind as the source of our invention and our ideas. It is, I believe, the faith in our fellow citizens as individuals and as people that lies at the heart of the liberal faith. For liberalism is not so much a party creed or set of fixed platform promises as it is an attitude of mind and heart, a faith in man’s ability through the experiences of his reason and judgment to increase for himself and his fellow men the amount of justice and freedom and brotherhood which all human life deserves.

    I believe also in the United States of America, in the promise that it contains and has contained throughout our history of producing a society so abundant and creative and so free and responsible that it cannot only fulfill the aspirations of its citizens, but serve equally well as a beacon for all mankind. I do not believe in a superstate. I see no magic in tax dollars which are sent to Washington and then returned. I abhor the waste and incompetence of large-scale federal bureaucracies in this administration as well as in others. I do not favor state compulsion when voluntary individual effort can do the job and do it well. But I believe in a government which acts, which exercises its full powers and full responsibilities. Government is an art and a precious obligation; and when it has a job to do, I believe it should do it. And this requires not only great ends but that we propose concrete means of achieving them.

    Our responsibility is not discharged by announcement of virtuous ends. Our responsibility is to achieve these objectives with social invention, with political skill, and executive vigor. I believe for these reasons that liberalism is our best and only hope in the world today. For the liberal society is a free society, and it is at the same time and for that reason a strong society. Its strength is drawn from the will of free people committed to great ends and peacefully striving to meet them. Only liberalism, in short, can repair our national power, restore our national purpose, and liberate our national energies. And the only basic issue in the 1960 campaign is whether our government will fall in a conservative rut and die there, or whether we will move ahead in the liberal spirit of daring, of breaking new ground, of doing in our generation what Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and Adlai Stevenson did in their time of influence and responsibility.

    Our liberalism has its roots in our diverse origins. Most of us are descended from that segment of the American population which was once called an immigrant minority. Today, along with our children and grandchildren, we do not feel minor. We feel proud of our origins and we are not second to any group in our sense of national purpose. For many years New York represented the new frontier to all those who came from the ends of the earth to find new opportunity and new freedom, generations of men and women who fled from the despotism of the czars, the horrors of the Nazis, the tyranny of hunger, who came here to the new frontier in the State of New York. These men and women, a living cross section of American history, indeed, a cross section of the entire world’s history of pain and hope, made of this city not only a new world of opportunity, but a new world of the spirit as well.

    Tonight we salute Governor and Senator Herbert Lehman as a symbol of that spirit, and as a reminder that the fight for full constitutional rights for all Americans is a fight that must be carried on in 1961.

    Many of these same immigrant families produced the pioneers and builders of the American labor movement. They are the men who sweated in our shops, who struggled to create a union, and who were driven by longing for education for their children and for the children’s development. They went to night schools; they built their own future, their union’s future, and their country’s future, brick by brick, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, and now in their children’s time, suburb by suburb.

    Tonight we salute George Meany as a symbol of that struggle and as a reminder that the fight to eliminate poverty and human exploitation is a fight that goes on in our day. But in 1960 the cause of liberalism cannot content itself with carrying on the fight for human justice and economic liberalism here at home. For here and around the world the fear of war hangs over us every morning and every night. It lies, expressed or silent, in the minds of every American. We cannot banish it by repeating that we are economically first or that we are militarily first, for saying so doesn’t make it so. More will be needed than goodwill missions or talking back to Soviet politicians or increasing the tempo of the arms race. More will be needed than good intentions, for we know where that paving leads.

    In Winston Churchill’s words, “We cannot escape our dangers by recoiling from them. We dare not pretend such dangers do not exist.”

    And tonight we salute Adlai Stevenson as an eloquent spokesman for the effort to achieve an intelligent foreign policy. Our opponents would like the people to believe that in a time of danger it would be hazardous to change the administration that has brought us to this time of danger. I think it would be hazardous not to change. I think it would be hazardous to continue four more years of stagnation and indifference here at home and abroad, of starving the underpinnings of our national power, including not only our defense but our image abroad as a friend.

    This is an important election — in many ways as important as any this century — and I think that the Democratic Party and the Liberal Party here in New York, and those who believe in progress all over the United States, should be associated with us in this great effort. The reason that Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and Adlai Stevenson had influence abroad, and the United States in their time had it, was because they moved this country here at home, because they stood for something here in the United States, for expanding the benefits of our society to our own people, and the people around the world looked to us as a symbol of hope.

    I think it is our task to re-create the same atmosphere in our own time. Our national elections have often proved to be the turning point in the course of our country. I am proposing that 1960 be another turning point in the history of the great Republic.

    Some pundits are saying it’s 1928 all over again. I say it’s 1932 all over again. I say this is the great opportunity that we will have in our time to move our people and this country and the people of the free world beyond the new frontiers of the 1960s.

  16. Dan Chmielewski
    November 13, 2007 at 10:27 pm

    Interesting piece of Ronald Reagan’s liberal legacy; written before he died. Fascinating….

  17. November 13, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    Definition of a conservative, which I read somewhere once: A conservative is someone who thinks nothing should ever happen for the first time.

  18. RHackett
    November 14, 2007 at 11:31 am


    I read that a conservative is a liberal whose just been mugged. And a liberal is a conservative whose just been arrested. Given how many conservatives have recently had run ins with the law, I’m sure they all have a new appreciation for due process and the 5th Ammendment.

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