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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Gracing the Fifty: Reagan vs. Grant 


Republican Congressman Patrick McHenry (no doubt close friends with James McMadison and George McWashington) has proposed substituting Ronald Reagan for U.S. Grant on the fifty dollar Federal Reserve note. My first reaction was to support the idea, but mostly because it would embroil the Congress in another pointless squabble between now and the November election. Every minute spent posturing about the proper way to honor the various great presidents is a minute not spent passing laws that will actually hurt the country. Burn that clock!

That said, I found the opposing argument, from (admittedly liberal) presidential historian Sean Wilentz, persuasive. It absolutely must be discussed at length before any final decision is made, preferably in lengthy Congressional hearings comparing the achievements of the Grant and Reagan administrations, after which I would probably support retaining Lincoln's general.

But I want to hear more.


11 Comments:

By Blogger Bomber Girl, at Sun Mar 14, 09:30:00 AM:

Awful idea. But if the Soviets, I mean Russians, want to rename the ruble after him, why not.  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Sun Mar 14, 09:43:00 AM:

Reagan "embraced Gorbachev" and "took the first important steps" in winning the cold war"????

Errr...this guys is a history professor????

What is his text book: The New York Times????

Reagan was a man of principle in an era of situation ethics. I agree he probabply doesn't belong on money...but he needs at least to be remembered without the intellectual dishonesty that inbues liberal academia.

You AGREE with these counterpoint????? Sheesh!!

At least I agree with the part about keeping Congress busy with this cat toy whilst we all be sure to register to vote them into oblivion.  

By Blogger TOF, at Sun Mar 14, 09:47:00 AM:

What I took away from that piece was that you can't trust historians.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Sun Mar 14, 09:57:00 AM:

It takes a long time to settle the history of a presidency, at least 50 years. People have to die, diaries read, documents declassified. Most importantly, the history needs to be written by somebody who was too young to have developed an opinion in the moment. The history of the Reagan years that will set the tone for the long term will probably be written by somebody is who about 25 right now. And even then, as the Grant case shows, reputations can change because people have an ax to grind.

Reagan was a great president, mostly because of his insights about the Soviet Union. Those included both confrontation and conciliation at critical moments when others advised against (the State Department in the former -- "tear down this wall" -- and hawks in other moments). Note well, though, that Reagan even had foreign policy failures. His policy toward Iran and Iraq was pretty much a mess from beginning to end.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 14, 05:03:00 PM:

I see no reason to proceed with this. It will lead to Carter and Clinton on other notes.

Then when power shifts in Washington the same fight will be repeated.

That is one reason we should not have FDR on the dime. (And I believe Eisenhower is on the dollar coin. Haven't seen one in years.)

The issue itself is petty, which is exactly why our politicians will bicker, pose, and waste time and effort.

Ninety percent of political effort is devoted to such garbage. And that percentage is rising.

IMO we should gradually replace the portraits with natural scenes, etc. But that is me, others will disagree.

The most likely outcome is that the Obama Monument will become the only symbol of government and appear on all stamps and money and eventually the flag. (The monument itself will be atop the Capitol Dome.)  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Sun Mar 14, 06:42:00 PM:

The Obama Monument?

There's some fodder for speculation...

...a bronze teleprompter?

...nothing on a pedestal (transparency)?

...perhaps just a black hole on the Washington Mall where people can throw in coins.

We should really have some sort of ediface to tear down when the revolution ocmes.  

By Anonymous J, at Mon Mar 15, 04:57:00 AM:

I agree ... get the dead guys off coinage and currency. Look to the 1890s or so for some cool images on cash, and really neat coinage, in particular the indian images.

This beefing over which dead president belongs on a coin or bill is silly. It's been a damned long time since we switched 'em up though. Time for something more interesting than Lincoln, who's had the cent for over 100 years, or Jefferson, the nickel since 1938, Washington on the quarter since 1932 ... bring back lady liberty, we need her more than ever.  

By Blogger DEC, at Mon Mar 15, 02:22:00 PM:

J. "in particular the indian images"

I vote for American Indians. I also would like bison and grizzly bears.*

(* Regular commenter Christopher Chambers probably would prefer a black bear. That's okay, too.)  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Mar 15, 08:55:00 PM:

If people are upset about replacing Grant on the $50, how about bringing back the $500 bill into circulation? Given the way we are printing money we are probably going to need them once the inflation kicks in. Is there a McKinley fan club out there that would try to block it?  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Mon Mar 15, 11:25:00 PM:

Heh...Obama is gunning for his pic on Food Stamps!  

By Blogger DEC, at Tue Mar 16, 11:35:00 AM:

Re: "If people are upset about replacing Grant on the $50..."

There's an old Hollywood photo of actor Ronald Reagan in a cowboy outfit with a hangman's noose around his neck. Maybe critics would be willing to put that one on a fifty-dollar note.  

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