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At the same time, Reagan did not enmesh America in any major military engagements. The invasion of Grenada was a minor sideshow; as was, to all intents and purposes, the bombing of Gaddafi’s Libya in the Gulf of Sidra. Moreover, by calling it a “strategic redeployment,” Reagan terminated the deployment of forces in Lebanon in the aftermath of the October 1983 bombing of Marine barracks in Beirut. He thereby avoided America’s becoming too entangled in that complex, militia-driven country. Moreover, he did not let alliances always stand in the way of America’s moral leadership. He dispatched his close friend, Nevada Senator Paul Laxalt, to inform President Ferdinand Marcos, America’s long time Filipino ally, that it was time to step down, which the latter did, however reluctantly.

Reagan’s practicality extended to domestic issues as well; his actions rarely matched his rhetoric. He certainly was no moderate; instead he was a committed conservative, as his breaking of the air traffic controllers strike early in his administration clearly demonstrated. Nevertheless, he was no extremist either, and, while always approaching any issue from the position of bedrock, principled conservatism, he nevertheless also demonstrated a pragmatic streak as well. He called for smaller government and lower taxes, but worked with the Democratic-controlled Congress to push through a major tax hike. He never did much with regard to socially divisive issues such as abortion. He did not incite racial or any other divisions among different groups of Americans. When faced with the Iran-Contra scandal that could have brought down his presidency, he first appointed Senator John Tower to head an independent investigative commission, which, like a formal Congressional investigation, cleared him of personal wrongdoing. He then brought in David Abshire, the president of the Center for Strategic  and International Studies and a man widely recognised for his integrity, to clean up the White House staff. Finally, and no less important, despite differing with them on policy matters, he maintained comity with the Democrats, famously playing golf with the Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill.

The spirit of mutual respect that governed Reagan’s relationship with O’Neill had long been a hallmark of Congressional behavior. Even the Watergate scandal had witnessed cooperation between Sam Ervin, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Select Committee conducting the Watergate investigation, and the Republican members who served on that committee with him. Certainly, there were always members of Congress, particularly in the House of Representatives, who spoke for the extreme wings of their respective parties. In the main, however, members of the House and Senate did not permit partisan differences to interfere with personal relationships. Thus although they were ideologically remote from each other and were bitterly divided over the Reagan’s nomination of Robert Bork to a seat on the Supreme Court, Senators Orrin Hatch and Ted Kennedy maintained a widely recognised friendship and on occasion worked together to lead bipartisan passage of key legislation, such as the landmark act that provided health insurance for half the nation’s uninsured children, and the 2009 Volunteer and Education Act that focused on national service. Similarly, Alaska’s Senator Ted Stevens and Hawaii’s Daniel Inouye were so close that they were seen, and described themselves, as virtual brothers. Their relationship enabled them to pursue a generally bipartisan policy on matters of defence spending regardless of which party was in the majority. Indeed, it was difficult to identify any differences between them.
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untenured
October 5th, 2018
10:10 AM
Let's pretend the U.S. political system is not a kleptocracy that values its gerontocracy above all. The stench of corruption pervades every process. Rotten to the core, but not a cause for concern.

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