Let the parsing begin
This site is sometimes criticized for being hard on Senator Obama, but there is just no way to rationalize away these comments:
Excesses of the '60s and '70s? Reagan provided clarity? Like Iran-Contra, "Star Wars," the largest deficits then ever known? The greatest transfer of wealth from the poor and middle class to the wealthy then ever known? Optimism and dynamism? Is that not the type of superficial platitude for which the likes of Chris Matthews are known? How about the optimism and dynamism of Reagan's non-response to the then-just-emerging AIDS crisis?
I'm sorry. There is no way to excuse that statement, and it says a lot about Senator Obama's vision of change and bipartisanship. You can watch the entire interview here.
Talking Points Memo offers these ostensibly mitigating remarks, from an appearance Senator Obama made on Meet The Press:
But I think, when I think about great presidents, I think about those who transform how we think about ourselves as a country in fundamental ways...And, you know, there are circumstances in which, I would argue, Ronald Reagan was a very successful president, even though I did not agree with him on many issues, partly because at the end of his presidency, people, I think, said, “You know what? We can regain our greatness. Individual responsibility and personal responsibility are important.” And they transformed the culture and not simply promoted one or two particular issues.
Successful politically, yes- as is Bush. Which is something about which to be speaking favorably? Wow. And because he said:
...even though I did not agree with him on many issues...
That's supposed to mitigate:
...because at the end of his presidency, people, I think, said, “You know what? We can regain our greatness. Individual responsibility and personal responsibility are important.”
Individual and personal responsibility? If that's not rhetoric right out of the right wing playbook, I don't know what is. Reagan didn't believe in individual and personal responsibility, he believed in letting people sink or swim. Those who couldn't swim were on their own. To drown.