The fanatical devotion to the late Ronald Reagan displayed by Republicans of all stripes as well as other Americans who view their lives through a prism of sentimentality rather than what really happens brings to mind North Koreans with their parades and rallies….A whole nation brainwashed by clever marketing and a television presidency carefully scripted and managed.
We are reminded again about this cult-like zeal this week as Nancy Reagan complains about being snubbed by President Obama….I’m not sure who she thinks she is that the current president has to kiss her pinky ring….If I was Obama I would tell her to kiss my ass!
The truth is Ronald Reagan was the nation’s first MTV president who communicated almost solely in soundbites and warm, fuzzy images and movie lingo tough guy talk….”The great communicator” dumbed down the communications process to the point where people didn’t bother scrutinizing his real record.
The Reagan years were a disaster for America domestically….Reagan’s deficit spending coupled with tax cuts on upper incomes in the mistaken view that if rich people are taxed less they will contribute more to the economy (A canard disproven time and time again by many economists including John Kenneth Galbraith) rather than hoard the money or invest it outside the country or spend it on things that don’t help the economy almost bankrupted America in the early 90’s and it took a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, to restore fiscal sanity much like what is happening now in 2009.
Ronald Reagan branded the poor as weak and lazy and basically declared open warfare on them….Domestic programs were slashed in order to give millionaires the chance to greedily cling to more of their wealth….Homelessness rose in the 1980’s and the quality of education in poorer neighborhoods dropped….One of Reagan’s legacies is the number of mentally ill people on the streets as he decimated the budget for state run mental institutions.
Ronald Reagan ignored AIDS when it first appeared not only condemning to death many Gay Americans but also hemophiliacs and others who rely on blood transfusions….His comments at the time were the usual Republican religious malarkey.
And it’s funny because Ronald Reagan, like many fellow Republicans, was a total hypocrite….The details of his life did not match the moral pose he struck….He was a distant father who couldn’t relate to any of his children and he was twice married….While fellow actors such as Jimmy Stewart and Clark Gable went and fought in World War II, Reagan stayed home and basically dodged the draft….The model for Vietnam era Repubs such as Dick Cheney, George Bush, and Dan Quayle….I can totally understand skipping Vietnam (although it’s strange if you support a war you won’t go fight in yourself) but World War II ???!!!! That’s borders on treason! And let’s not forget his second wife, back when she was aspiring actress/starlet Nancy Davis, was particularly well known as someone who made the round of casting couches and was renowned among perverse Hollywood royalty for a certain sex act she performed really well.
The Reagan myth, when broken down, rests largely on foreign policy….”Reagan is the man who won the Cold War” is what is said but the truth is more complicated….What Reagan did was force the Soviet Union into an arms race it couldn’t afford and then waited until it bankrupted itself….This would have happened anyway as the Soviet Union’s system was financially decrepit….It just would have taken longer….In the process, as I’ve already noticed, Reagan almost bankrupted America.
Reagan funded right wing insurgents in Nicaragua that seeked to topple a people’s revolution….He also funded right wing movements/governments in Guatemala and El Salvador where human rights violations and even genocide were commonplace without a peep from the US Government….Countries such as Indonesia, Chile, and South Africa (Apartheid era) were America’s buddies.
Human rights were decoupled from foreign policy in the Reagan years and it seems common sense often was as well…. In addition to the examples in the previous paragraph, Israel committed mass murder in Lebanon, America funded the Muhajeddin in Afghanistan including a young rich guy from Saudi Arabia named Osama Bin Laden, Iraq was goaded into a war with Iran (Saddam Hussein was our pal in those days) that resulted in a million people dead….At one point, the US, through what was known as Iran-Contra, was cynically funding both sides of the conflict hoping to up the body count.
Ronald Reagan himself I believe was nothing more than an actor, a ventriloquist’s dummy for powerful corporations and intelligence organizations….I believe he was mentally incompetent, basically senile for much if not all of his presidency….Alzheimers just doesn’t appear one day out of the blue but is indicated by a mental decline over a long period….Whenever Reagan spoke off the cuff or was not being watched by his handlers, pandemonium reigned….Anyone remember ”I’ve outlawed Russia. Bombing starts in ten minutes” or “Ketchup is a vegetable”?
My favorite Ronald Reagan story was about his Housing and Urban Development Secretary Samuel Pierce (The only African-American in his cabinet and the only cabinet secretary to last eight years)….Whenever Reagan met Pierce, he would refer to him as “Mr. Mayor” confusing him with then Mayor of Washington DC Marion Barry who is also black but looks nothing like Pierce.
The Reagan years for me were all about you are who you say you are rather than what you really are….This type of self-invention is at the heart of America’s complete absence of reality in how they view the world….Ronald Reagan was the first television president in that he was not really a real person but rather an almost totally created character….The way many in America view the years of his presidency is like remembering a TV show or movie one has seen in the past….Both are fiction with no basis in real life.