Allen Barra | Truthdig | Posted on Feb 13, 2009
“The aftermath of Reagan’s presidency,” Garry Wills wrote in a famous introduction to his 1987 book “Reagan’s America,” “has proved, over and over, that Reaganism without Reagan is unsustainable.” In the two decades since Wills’ book was published, a significant portion of the press and public seems to have forgotten that. William Kleinknecht is on a mission: In “The Man Who Sold the World: Ronald Reagan and the Betrayal of Main Street America,” he is out to demonstrate that Reaganism with Reagan never worked.
Kleinknecht, a veteran crime correspondent for the Newark Star-Ledger and the New York Daily News and an American Society of Professional Journalists award winner, is angry. But unlike many writers who have taken scatter shots at the Reagan legacy, Kleinknecht hasn’t lost his temper—in Henry James’ words, he has found it.
In a fiery and lucid introduction he writes, “This book is born of annoyance: a great bewilderment over the myth that continues to surround the presidency of Ronald Reagan. It gives voice to a vast swath of psychically disenfranchised Americans, millions of them, lumped most thickly in the urban areas on either coast, who never understood Reagan’s appeal.” Kleinknecht’s thesis is nothing less than that Reagan was the “obvious enemy of the common people he claimed to represent, this empty suit who believed in flying saucers and allowed an astrologer to guide his presidential scheduling. …” The great conundrum “is this: none of [the] unmistakable harbingers of American decline is being laid where it belongs—at the door of Ronald Reagan” [emphasis Kleinknecht’s]. Continue reading ‘Allen Barra on the Myth of Ronald Reagan’