"An Unusually Effective President" - Prof. Chester Pach spoke about Ronald Reagan at ASL

On June 13, 2013, Professor Chester Pach from Ohio University gave a talk titled, “Re-reading Ronald Reagan and the Neoliberal Revolution” at American Studies Leipzig as part of the Summer Lecture Series. As Prof. Pach pointed out, roughly 25 years after Reagan left office, his presidency still influences today’s US politics—not only in the Republican Party, but also among Democrats. Pach, who is currently completing a book on Ronald Reagan, wonders, however, how well today’s politicians and the American public actually understand Reagan, considering that there is more appreciation for Reagan today than there was shortly after his presidency.

With two examples, a clip from Saturday Night Life and the music video “Land We Live In” by Genesis, Pach showed how popular culture in the late 1980s portrayed Reagan critically. “Criticism like this oversimplifies a complex historical figure,” Pach said. Through his research in the Reagan library, he found that Reagan “brought his ‘script’ to the White House, it wasn’t written for him. He started working on it while he was still working in Hollywood. I’d say he was the best presidential speech writer since Woodrow Wilson.”

As to why Reagan’s reputation today is higher than ever before, Pach concluded that “Reagan was a practical and unusually effective president rather than simply a conservative politician.” With the ability to compromise, his skills as a communicator, and a certain amount of gut feeling, Pach said, Reagan became a symbol of American values and hope.

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