[reprinted from the Washington Post, by Tom Toles]
Da Doo Ron Ron
Okay, I’m calling it. On the same authority that the Wizard of Oz cited, the Universitatus Committeeatum e pluribus unum, I’m officially declaring the Reagan Era at a close. I think we can all agree on the name. Republicans never tire of naming any stationary object after Mr. Morning, and the rest of us can acknowledge that his shadow fell across the period that began with empty smiles and ended in genuine tears. The 60’s were the 60’s, and the 70’s were the 70’s. Decades with a clear character or lack of one. The 80’s were decidedly the 80’s. But the 90’s were really just more 80’s, and the 00’s were still more 80’s.
The proximate marker that caused me to bracket this period and make this declaration was this graph that appeared in The Post showing Americans’ savings rates. It shows a pretty straight-line decline from the early Reagan years until the Great W Recession. Yes, I’m naming that, too. The savings rate has now started going back up. It’s just one indicator, but representative enough to seal the deal.
What was the defining characteristic of the Reagan Era? MAKE BELIEVE. Deficits described as Discipline. Recklessness dressed up as Rectitude. Ideology substituting for Information. Optimism as a cover for Opportunism. It seemed too good to be true, and it was. What comes next? Don’t ask me just now. I’ve done enough here for one day. –Tom Toles