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Guest column: Times have changed since Reagan’s day
by Kevin Foley
Guest Columnist
May 15, 2014 01:15 PM | 8143 views | 4 4 comments | 63 63 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kevin Foley
Kevin Foley
Ronald Reagan was a former union president and New Deal Democrat who turned on his egalitarian convictions once he made a pile of money in Hollywood.

As California’s governor, he vilified Cesar Chavez, champion of downtrodden migrant workers who toiled in the fields of Reagan’s patrons, the state’s wealthy produce growers.

When Chavez led a strike, Reagan, munching grapes like Julius Caesar, pronounced the labor leader and his cause “immoral” at a produce grower’s banquet.

I lost a lot of respect for Reagan but after he was elected president, I accepted him as America’s leader.

Reagan made mistakes and he had victories. His winning smile and self-deprecating demeanor endeared him to supporters and opponents alike.

He worked with the Democratic-led Congress because Reagan came to recognize there were big problems only the federal government could solve.

Some on the far left viciously attacked Reagan, but those critics were on the fringe, kept there by responsible mainstream Democrats like House Speaker Tip O’Neill, who considered Reagan a friend.

Agreeable disagreement was the norm.

In 1983, Islamic terrorists bombed the U.S. embassy in Beirut, killing 17 Americans, including the CIA’s top Middle East intelligence expert.

Democrats didn’t politicize the tragedy and blame the president or call for his impeachment. We understood and accepted that sometimes bad things happened in dangerous places.

My, how times have changed. What went wrong?

Political civility began eroding after Reagan abolished the Federal Communication Commission’s Fairness Doctrine in 1987. Political speech had to be balanced, said the rule. When a broadcaster presented one point of view, it had to offer opposing opinions, too.

Once the Fairness Doctrine was gone, a little-known former disc jockey gave voice to the fear, anger and confusion many conservative radio listeners felt over America’s fast-changing and complex socioeconomic and political landscape.

Rush Limbaugh dumbed down the discussion, making it fashionable to attack progressives in simplistic, demeaning and often dishonest terms; women’s rights advocates were “feminazis,” environmentalists “whackos” and President Obama “Barack the Magic Negro.”

Republican leaders, terrified of Limbaugh, never pushed back. Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta, even apologized to him on the air for telling the truth.

In 1996, Roger Ailes launched Fox News Channel. More right wing voices were soon heard but as their number increased, the tone of the debate rapidly declined, with facts frequently taking a back seat to distortions and half-truths.

When Obama became president, any restraint media conservatives had shown was blown away in a cyclone of outrage over a black Democrat moving into the White House.

Conservatives hurled unfounded accusations at the new president. Reagan was never compelled to produce his birth certificate. Why was Obama?

On 9/11, horrified, Democrats didn’t charge President Bush with dereliction of duty and call for multiple investigations. Instead, we rallied to Bush seeking his reassurance and leadership.

Imagine what conservatives would be saying and doing if 9/11 happened on Obama’s watch? Their pathological obsession with Benghazi suggests the answer.

Liberals are just as guilty of dragging the dialogue into the gutter, counter right wingers. That’s false equivalency; most progressive commentators don’t want to become the thing they abhor.

When MSNBC’s Martin Bashir crossed the line last year, he was fired. But there are seldom any consequences in the conservative media for crossing that same line.

Legitimate criticism of the president is fine, but why, from the conservative point of view, is virtually everything Obama does a failure when the facts say otherwise?

Whatever happened to giving our president the benefit of the doubt or credit when it’s due? What happened to respecting and supporting America’s lawfully elected leader?

Conservative commentators are fond of declaring America is headed downhill. I agree.

Until we become better informed citizens and start living our country’s motto, e pluribus unim, we’re doomed as a nation.

Kevin Foley is an author, writer and public relations executive who lives in Kennesaw.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Jay S
May 17, 2014

Maybe "The Neighbor" doesn't allow advertising by its guest columnists, but, if your tag line includes "author" it might be beneficial to the "author" to include "of the best selling book, 'Oops, I forgot my Brain' or whatever.

Anywho, the Fairness Doctrine is at the root of all evil, according to the famed writer and 'public relations executive?'

Because it led to Limbaugh which led to Bush, which led to general incivility. I'll give Mr a Foley a pass on the horrible stuff that was said about Bush 2, as he may have been busy 'authoring' during that time, but may I suggest a Google search for that will be more productive than one seeking the collective works of Kevin Foley. There were (are) entire web sites devoted to the horrible things written about the younger Bush.

Growing up in the age of Reagan, as it would appear Mr Foley also did, I can say with some certainty that Reagan was portrayed by the leftish media as a dolt and doddering idiot who amazed them by uttering coherent sentences.

So, while Congressional/Executive relations were certainly better in those days, it is ignorance of history to think that the general coarseness of our political discourse is much worse today.

In fact, throughout American history, political discourse has been much, much worse. But, history, for the liberal, is never much use, inasmuch as it tends to discredit their brand.

Mr. Foley points to Martin Bashir, who was just one of many egregiously horrid MSNBC on-air talent espousing hatred and stupidity, and claims no right winger has ever been forced from the air.

It's funny he lays blame at Limbaugh's feet, because it was that same Limbaugh who was forced off ESPN's Sunday NFL pre-game show for even suggesting that Donavan McNabb was spoken of more highly by commentators because of his color, and who subsequently was prevented from purchasing part of the St. Louis Rams probably due to this lingering effects.

Finally, the suggestion that the Fairness Doctrine is a good thing is interesting coming from someone who makes his living in the media, and likely understands that means state regulation of speech, which, he we'll knows is protected by the First Amendment.

But, Harry Reid and his minions, of which I suspect Mr Foley is one, have never truly thought much of that first, and most important to our republic, Amendment.
Robert Daugherty
May 16, 2014
I don't think I have ever had the displeasure of reading such a one-sided almost totally

inaccurate piece of liberal diatribe in one column in all of my life.

First off Tip O'Neill & Ronald Reagan where gentlemen and conducted their business in a respectable and dignified manner, Barack Obama & Harry Reid are 2 of the most conniving politician's in the history of the United States. For starters the 2 of them pulled every trick in the book to pass the ACA that is a complete bust and is in the process of destroying the greatest healthcare system in the world. The bill consisted of over 2300 pages which nobody had a chance to read and then we were told that we had to pass the bill so we could see what was in it by the illustrious House Speaker Pelosi. Had we had that chance to read it, it would have never passed. The American public were totally lied to and now we are suffering the consequences of it.

While the Democrats controlled the House and Senate in the 1st 2 years of Obama's presidency they jammed the $800 Billion dollar stimulus package through and proceeded to spend that to support their union buddies and distributed the rest of it to every conceivable liberal project they could think of right down to studying shrimp on a treadmill.

Now they are in the process of totally ignoring our immigration laws, releasing thousands of convicted illegal immigrants from our prison system into the general population. They refuse to complete securing our borders, they falsify the deportation figures and for the most part leave us totally at risk of preventing another 9/11. I could go on and on but there is not enough room in this comment column to list all of the discrepancies in this totally misleading and one-sided piece of garbage.

By the way liberal talk radio & television has failed on every attempt to find an audience and MSNBC & CNN are almost nonexistent in the ratings. People are finding out that the MSM is totally in bed with this administration. I'm waiting to see when and if the press wipes the egg off of their face.

The Benghazi and IRS scandals are finally coming to light and maybe, just maybe the American public will come to see how corrupt this administration really is.

Mary Jean
May 16, 2014
Thankfully, there are brilliant Georgians who know the correct facts to challenge Kevin Foley's blatant errors.
howard cosell
May 30, 2014
Read "The Party is Over" by Mike Loftgren. Mr. Loftgren is a Republican who spent 28 years on The Hill working in the House Budget Committee.
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