To mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Ronald Reagan’s son Michael wrote an opinion piece for Fox News’ website in which he argues that his father was a better “friend” to black Americans than Barack Obama.
Starting with a riff on the old notion of Bill Clinton as the country’s “first black president,” Reagan writes that he “could make an even stronger case for my father, Ronald Reagan, as ‘our first black president.’—but I won’t make that claim.”
“I don’t want to diminish the justifiable pride African-Americans take in having a president who is genetically and culturally black. Our first black President is Barack Obama,” Reagan continues. “But the past two years have made one thing clear: Ronald Reagan was a far better friend to black Americans than Barack Obama has been.”
Reagan, who is a political consultant and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation, asks readers to consider the fact that unemployment among blacks has risen since Obama took office. He then cites “African-American columnist Joseph Perkins,” who found that “African-American unemployment fell from 19.5 percent in 1983 to 11.4 percent in 1989” while “[t]he black middle class expanded by one-third during the Reagan years.” Reagan omits that ‘83 marked the point at which the economy began to recover from the ‘82 recession.
Today, as our nation honor’s Dr. King, less than a month before the hundredth birthday of Ronald Reagan, it’s fitting to note that Ronald Reagan did more to improve the lives of African-Americans than any other president since Abraham Lincoln. Unfortunately, we have to acknowledge that America’s first black president has made life worse for us all—and especially for black Americans. History does not judge presidents by the color of their skin, but by the content of their policies.
Read the whole thing here.
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com