Reagan Book Review: Gipper a 'Genial Hedonist', Just Look at His Tax Cuts

March 29th, 2007 2:34 PM

Two days ago, I blogged about how the Washington Post's Jeff Birnbaum believes that "without question," Reagan's tax cuts went "too far."

In today's Post, Slate's Timothy Noah went a few steps further in his negative review of John Patrick Diggins's Reagan biography "Ronald Reagan: Fate, Freedom, and the Making of History."

Noah tried his hand at being a shrink, attributing psychosexual motives to Reagan's economic policy. Emphasis mine.:

...Reagan, like just about every other actor who ever passed through Hollywood, had a very hard time viewing sex as something to repress. This genial hedonism would later express itself in Reagan's embrace of supply-side economics. Tax cuts would pay for themselves, he told himself, and when they didn't, he left to his two White House successors the drudge work of reducing the huge budget deficit.

Noah also insisted in his lead paragraph that Reagan's mind will ever remain "a notoriously difficult nut to crack" and that we may never really know if he was an "amiable dunce" or a geopolitical genius.

That in itself a ludicrous notion given the past 20 years of Reagan presidential scholarship, including books that give readers firsthand evidence of Reagan's engaged political mind such as "Reagan, in His Own Hand," which gives the reader rough drafts, revisions, and final drafts of 1970s radio commentaries that Reagan delivered on various domestic and international issues.

Noah has worked as a reporter for Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report, but back in the Reagan years he worked for the Maryland branch of the Kennedy Dynasty (in 1986, to be precise, as Issues Director for a congressional campaign by Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.)