Give the Gift of Reagan

Holiday Heart-warmer reagan-mlk-bill-signed.jpg

Here’s a touching remnant from years gone by for Ronald Reagan’s birthday – Reagan signing the bill creating the Martin Luther King holiday. It could be yours through the market moving magic of EBay.

Historical interpretations of these men grows steadily more fanciful and eccentric as we travel further from the actual events. The Chicago Tribune ran the same photo in it’s Swamp blog, with this caption –

“Given the New Hampshire comments by Sen. Hillary Clinton about it taking a president to make dreams a legislative reality, for which she was excoriated by some of Sen. Barack Obama’s supporters, and Obama’s Nevada comments about Reagan being a transformational president, for which he was castigated by Sen. Clinton, her husband former President Bill Clinton and others, this seemed like an appropriate photo to run today”

Transformational, or merely pen-equipped in this instance?

The right wing American Thinker blog has run a highly strange item featuring King and Reagan as Best Buddies of Destiny [with the Pope!]:

“Placing morality above popularity and above “efficiency” has another marvelous trait: It also places you on the moral high ground. Reagan, in this respect, resembles another man whose birthday we just celebrated: Dr. Martin Luther King… It is not coincidence that men like Ronald Reagan, Martin Luther King, and Pope John Paul II were men who’s great power came from a deliberate decision to ignore opinion and to ignore power and to stand instead on the hill of righteousness.

Well. What did Reagan actually do or say about MLK? Historian Robert C. Smith has been unable to get the Reagan Library to cough up it’s papers on his decision making over the holiday. And what we know from the public record isn’t terribly flattering, with Reagan showing solidarity with the most retrograde forces in the Republican Party.

“During the Senate debate, Helms called for the opening of the FBI files on King, which he claimed would show that King was a communist or at least a communist sympathizer. When asked in an October 1983 news conference about Helms’ allegations, Reagan responded, “We will know in about 35 years, won’t we?” (referring to the time for the opening of the FBI files).”

And worse in Time:

“..the White House confirmed an exchange of letters between Reagan and former Republican Governor Meldrim Thomson of New Hampshire. Thomson said a holiday for King would honor a man “of immoral character whose frequent associations with leading agents of Communism is well established.” Reagan wrote back that “I have the same reservations you have, but here the perception of too many people is based on image, not reality.”

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