Ah... Reagan? Give anybody eight years and he/she will make enought mistakes to disappoint. There are a number of Democrats who have begrudgingly admitted that Reagan did some good things while in office. Some hardcore partisans will never admit he did anything good, just like hardcore Republican partisans won't admit FDR did anything good. Here's a quote:
"He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing."
Guess who said that? Barack Obama! Even he had some positive things to say about the man. In a nutshell:
1)Reagan restored our country's defenses (neglected after the Vietnam during the '70's),
2)restored our economy (except for a recession in 1992, we had economic expansion from 1983 all the way to 2000),
3)Helped hasten the fall of communism (with a little help from the Pope, Lech Walesa, Thatcher, and SDI)
4) Restored America's national pride (after the malaise of the '70's and the loss in Vietnam).
5) Balanced the budget.
6) Wait, he didn't balance the budget. The price of getting his tax reform through and defense buildup - which helped hasten the fall of communism - came at the expense of the deep domestic cuts that he also favored (that Tip Oneil would not allow) and, a balanced budget. However, a balance budget would come in the '90's with economic growth, a Republican congress, and a pragmatic Democrat named Bill Clinton.
Those are some big accomplishments but he also presided over some debacles: the marine barrack bombing, Iran Contra, and the nomination of justices that voted to uphold Roe V. Wade ( of course if his initial choice for supreme court had been approved, Roe v. Wade might be overturned by now, but Bork was "borked" and abortion on demand remains the law of the land - thanks Democrats!
Of course, Carter was a complete joke of a president, and he has been an even worse ex-president. Obama, however is giving him a run for his money.