"Hail to the Chief" - The Presidential Discussion (Ronald Reagan's 2nd Term)

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Kimball_Kinnison, Jul 26, 2006.

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  1. Obi-Wan McCartney Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 1999
    star 5
    Well, the Civil War and the Monroe Doctrine are different beasts, I suppose comparing Lincolns civil war policy with the Monroe Doctrine is more on the same footing, but heck, I think Monroe Doctrine has a strong running.

    I mean, Civil War was about whether the Federal Government would control the southern states. Eventually, states may have entered the union, or states may have left, but we still would have had the near 50 states, united or not. If Europe had been allowed to colonize and take over, it would be a completely different continent.

    So I think I'll go with Monroe Doctrine. What about the doctrine itself, how did Monroe get it together and why?
  2. Lank_Pavail Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 26, 2002
    star 7
    All Monroe did with the Missouri Compromise was delay the Civil War, as several other Presidents.

    The Monroe Doctrine could be seen as the US asserting that the Americas are OUR playground, not Europe's. The secdon part was an extension of Washington's warnig to avoid entangling alliances, which was tossed out with the States entering WWI.
  3. Obi-Wan McCartney Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 1999
    star 5
    Weren't we technically attacked in those wars?
  4. Espaldapalabras Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2005
    star 5
    When I think of the Monroe Doctrine I think of America's right to expand from sea to shining sea. Like taking as much land as possible from Mexico.
  5. Kimball_Kinnison Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Except that was Manifest Destiny (a different MD, if you will).

    A large part of it was twofold. First, most of South and Central America had recently won independence from Europe, but France and Spain were making noises about trying to take them back. At the same time, the UK was looking to exapnd its influence into new markets. Both of those were threats to the US's strategic interests at the time, not because the US wanted to control those nations, but because European control would significantly damage the US's international influence.

    Second, you need to remember that the time period was only about one to two generations removed from our own Revolution. John Quincy Adams, the Secretary of State (who is credited with being the driving force behind the Monroe Doctrine) was the son of John Adams (and would later become the next President). Monroe himself was a veteran of the Revolutionary War. There was a lot of public support for the other American colonies (i.e. those in the Americas, not controlled by the US) that had won their independence from Europe.

    Remember also that this was only about 10 years after the War of 1812, which had as one of its causes Britain trying to continue to exert influence over the US. The Monroe Doctrine was seen as a way to help block such efforts in the future.

    Kimball Kinnison
  6. Espaldapalabras Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2005
    star 5
    Hehe, I guess the fact my ony American History classes were in 10th grade 6 years ago kind of shows.
  7. Kimball_Kinnison Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Moving on, we examine a far more recent president: Ronald Reagan's 1984 election and his second term (1985-1989). This term had numerous important events, both domestic and foreign.

    First, during the election, Reagan issued his now infamous sound check before a radio address. ""My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes." These comments were accidentally broadcast, even though they were intended only as a joke for the reporters in the room. In my opinion, it's one of the greatest presidential quotes ever.

    On the domestic front, Reagan nominated 5 Supreme Court Justices, 3 of whom were confirmed (Rehnquist, Scalia, and Kennedy). The reaction to his nomination of Robert Bork is now considered emblematic of most judicial confirmation battles, and has been heavily referenced in Supreme Court nominations since then. He signed into law major tax reforms and a massive reorganization of the Department of Defense in 1986.

    He postponed his 1986 State of the Union address because of the Challenger disaster, and the speech he gave that evening on the disaster is widely considered one of his most memorable ones.

    On the foreign front, he pushed an aggressive foreign policy towards the Soviet Union, especially in his second term. It is in large part because of that policy that Margaret Thatcher later said of him, "Ronald Reagan won the Cold War without firing a shot."

    He initiated airstrikes on Tripoli in 1986 in response to a Libyan-backed terrorist attack on a nightclub in Berlin (killing one American serviceman).

    Of course, no discussion of Reagan's second term is complete without the words Iran-Contra scandal (which could be a thread by itself).

    For many here in the Senate, Reagan is probably one of the first presidents we remember firsthand.

    Thoughts?

    Kimball Kinnison
  8. Darth-Seldon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 17, 2003
    star 6
    One thing Kimball didn't mention which was huge was the Tax Reform Act of 1986. It was a series of compromises between Reagan and the Congressional Democrats but ended up being a major change in America's income tax policy. For further reading in this regard (a book on the legislative process) is "Showdown at Gucci Gulch."
    This was a tax revolution and a real accomplishment.

    Anyway--obviously Ronald Reagan continued his bold strategy with Russia and was able to effectively communicate his plans and American principles to the world. The Challenger disaster is a perfect example where Ronnie held the nation together in grief and stood out as a leader.

    Not everything was outstanding achievements and successes though. Reagan's shining city on a hill was in a state of decay. Iran Contra is the perfect example that Reagan was not in complete control of what was going on in his White House. The President was kept out of the loop and than they had a major scandal on their hands. Ultimately, the Reagan Administration is lucky that the congressional Democrats weren't as unforgiving and ruthless as the congressional Republicans during the Clinton years. Tip O'Neill made it clear that he would never divide the nation over impeachment (unless there were extreme grounds.) This contrats with the malice of Newt Gingrich.

    Anyway the second term was more plagued with scandal and was less effective (as is the case with Presidential terms typically.)

    Bob Woodward points out in his "Shadow" that all presidents following Richard Nixon have been plagued with scandal. It is the legacy of Watergate.

    -Seldon
  9. Kimball_Kinnison Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Actually, I did mention it (albeit in passing):
    My initial posts are only meant to provide a wide variety of themes to discuss. Feel free to provide all of the additional information and direction that you want.

    Kimball Kinnison
  10. Darth-Seldon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 17, 2003
    star 6
    Sorry I read through your post so quick I didn't notice it. My error.

    -Seldon
  11. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 10
    Are we sure Reagan didn't know about Iran-Contra? I mean, the Contras were something of a pet project for him...

    E_S
  12. Darth-Seldon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 17, 2003
    star 6
    This raises an interesting question.
    Many will recall that in 1988 Vice-President Bush claimed he was totally out of the loop and knew little about Iran-Contra. Years later, after losing re-election in '92; diary entries surfaced where Bush discussed intimate details of the case. The fact is that Bush knew a lot more than he claimed.

    -Seldon
  13. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Of course, there are some of us who think that Iran-Contra wasn't so much a scandal, but rather the only action that the misguided Boland Amendment would allow for.

    It certainly represents a contradiction to what I normally support, but it is also wrapped up in the idealism that Reagan wore as a badge of office, and made no apologies for.

    I'd say he was the last President that it applied to.
  14. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 10
    The Administration lied to congress, negotiated with terrorists, funded a group they were told not to and sold arms to a country the US had broken off ties with.

    How is that not much of a scandal?

    E_S
  15. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Well, in a stroke of genius, the weapons were used by Iran against Iraq in order to keep the staus quo in the region.

    The US didn't directly negoiate with terrorists (the group was Hezbollah, ironically) but did so through Iran, which kept US "fingerprints" out of the negoiation.

    In fact, Israel was the intermediary in the beginning. This meant that for a brief time, Israel was supplying weapons to Iran, to secure action on Hezbollah's part.

    Not even the best spy ficition could top that one.

    Most of all, while the intent behind Boland was valid, the execution was probably as unrealistic as can be. The Contras were in the middle of a US organized anti-communist operation, and while the mission might have exceeded its scope, one shouldn't abandon a operation in progress. The last time the US pulled the plug so abruptly was the Bay of Pigs operation, and we all know how that ended up.

    Remember, Argentina was also supporting the Contras, and US involvement prevented the ongoing opertion from becoming too lop-sided for Argentine interests. An Argentine-Nicaragua war would have been devistating in the area.

    What should have happened is that Congress should have gradually withdrawn military support, or at least tied such support to reforms. Instead, what Boland did was cut off all military support while the mission was in full swing, and I think Reagan was smart to engineer a way around it.
  16. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 10
    Oh, don't get me wrong, I don't think negotiating was a bad thing per se; I always suspected the grizzled image of "We don't negotiate with terrorists! [face_flag]" was for public consumption, because pragmatic policymakers don't typically shut themselves off from any potentially useful avenues.

    Still, I guess, it's the idea that Reagan still defied Congress, and the implications on the separation of powers that matter. It's a complex issue, that's for sure, and I think frankly a few people took a hit for Reagan on that matter (I often saw references to the spectre of Watergate when reading about Iran-Contra).

    E_S
  17. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    True, very true.

    I don't think anything really stuck because the entire plan was engineered out of US idealism. It wasn't a scandal that centered around cheating to get re-elected or having sex in the White House or the like. In short, nothing personal was gained.

    It was the closest thing to an 80's action movie that the executive branch ever came to, and who couldn't support that?
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