A New Economy, a Plague, a Fallenwall, and a Desert in Flames
In This Chapter
Rise and fall of Reaganomics
The AIDS crisis
Victory in the Cold War and the Persian Gulf
The presidency of James Monroe (1817-25) ushered in an “era of good feelings,” a time of perceived national well-being. Much the same happened during the two terms of Ronald Reagan, the most popular president since Ike Eisenhower. Where President Carter took a stern moral tone with the nation, admonishing his fellow Americans to conserve energy, save money, and generally do with a little less, President Reagan congratulated his countrymen on the fact of being Americans and assured them that all was well—or would be well, just as soon as he got “big government off our backs.”
For a time, business boomed during the Reagan years—though the boom was largely the result of large-scale mergers and acquisitions, the shifting back and forth of assets, rather than any great strides in production. True, too, the Reagan administration saw the beginning of the end of the Cold War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, which the president called an “evil empire.” Yet, during the Reagan years, the national debt also rose from a staggering $1 trillion to a stupefying $4 trillion. And the period was convulsed by a terrible epidemic of a new, fatal, and costly disease, AIDS, which the administration met largely with indifference and denial.
Many things good and bad befell the Reagan years, yet, for the most part and for most people, only the good seemed to stick. The bad slid off Ronald Reagan with such ease that the press dubbed him the “Teflon president.”