Please skip this post entirely if you really heart the Gipper and spent any part of this weekend feeling remorse over his demise. Especially if you teared up.
So, you know how I haven't really been blogging that much about politics lately?
I'm having a mild relapse.
My sister had to remind me on several occasions this weekend that it's always sad when people die, and that moaning and spitting at the television, as Aaron Brown smiled wistfully about what an amazing man Reagan was and droned on and on, might be a little rude.
Well, I don't care. Reagan was a hateful, terrible man who used devious means to win his presidency, didn't mention AIDS for six years, sold arms to terrorists in Iran and used the money to fund more terrorists in Nicaragua, lied under oath, said ketchup was a vegetable and that trees cause pollution, increased government spending exponentially, turned mentally ill people out in the streeeet in droves, and left office with the largest deficit in history (though the Boy King is well on his way to breaking that record.) Oh, and there was that pesky little thing about him arming corrupt regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He was a bad, awful, stupid man and this endless dirge of media coverage is about to make me puke. It's not good for my blood pressure.
I had predicted that RWR would die just before the election, but now I guess they'll use Regan nostalgia to distract us from ugly talk of troop shortages and insurrection in Iraq, an economy that's still much weaker than it was 3 years ago, pending high-level indictments in the Plame case, and the Enron tapes until the conventions, and then magically unearth Osama in October.
I'm afraid to turn on the radio or watch any news because this treacly Reagan sobfest is impossible to avoid.
Regarding his supposed great accomplishment in destroying the Evil Empire, I read this excellent (but sadly unattribued) quote on another forum. Feel free to borrow it.
"Saying that Reagan had anything to do with the collapse of the Soviet Union is like jerking off to a centerfold and then convincing yourself that she came too."
Some more perspective:
Reagan was able, by virtue of his towering talents in (communicating), to sell to the American people a flood of poisonous policies. He made Americans feel good about acting against their own best interests. He sold the American people a lemon, and they drive it to this day as if it was a Cadillac. It isn't the lies that kill us, but the myths, and Ronald Reagan was the greatest myth-maker we are ever likely to see.
Mainstream media journalism today is a shameful joke because of Reagan's deregulation policies. Once upon a time, the Fairness Doctrine ensured that the information we receive - information vital to the ability of the people to govern in the manner intended - came from a wide variety of sources and perspectives. Reagan's policies annihilated the Fairness Doctrine, opening the door for a few mega-corporations to gather journalism unto themselves. Today, Reagan's old bosses at General Electric own three of the most-watched news channels. This company profits from every war we fight, but somehow is trusted to tell the truths of war. Thus, the myths are sold to us.
The deregulation policies of Ronald Reagan did not just deliver journalism to these massive corporations, but handed virtually every facet of our lives into the hands of this privileged few. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat are all tainted because Reagan battered down every environmental regulation he came across so corporations could improve their bottom line. Our leaders are wholly-owned subsidiaries of the corporations that were made all-powerful by Reagan's deregulation craze. The Savings and Loan scandal of Reagan's time, which cost the American people hundreds of billions of dollars, is but one example of Reagan's decision that the foxes would be fine guards in the henhouse.
Ronald Reagan believed in small government, despite the fact that he grew government massively during his time. Social programs which protected the weakest of our citizens were gutted by Reagan's policies, delivering millions into despair. Reagan was able to do this by caricaturing the "welfare queen," who punched out babies by the barnload, who drove the flashy car bought with your tax dollars, who refused to work because she didn't have to. This was a vicious, racist lie, one result of which was the decimation of a generation by crack cocaine. The urban poor were left to rot because Ronald Reagan believed in 'self-sufficiency.'
Because Ronald Reagan could not be bothered to fund research into 'gay cancer,' the AIDS virus was allowed to carve out a comfortable home in America. The aftershocks from this callous disregard for people whose homosexuality was deemed evil by religious conservatives cannot be overstated. Beyond the graves of those who died from a disease which was allowed to burn unchecked, there are generations of Americans today living with the subconscious idea that sex equals death.
The veneer of honor and respect painted across the legacy of Ronald Reagan is itself a myth of biblical proportions. The coverage proffered today of the Reagan legacy seldom mentions impropriety until the Iran/Contra scandal appears on the administration timeline. This sin of omission is vast. By the end of his term in office, some 138 Reagan administration officials had been convicted, indicted or investigated for misconduct and/or criminal activities.
Some of the names on this disgraceful roll-call: Oliver North, John Poindexter, Richard Secord, Casper Weinberger, Elliott Abrams, Robert C. McFarlane, Michael Deaver, E. Bob Wallach, James Watt, Alan D. Fiers, Clair George, Duane R. Clarridge, Anne Gorscuh Burford, Rita Lavelle, Richard Allen, Richard Beggs, Guy Flake, Louis Glutfrida, Edwin Gray, Max Hugel, Carlos Campbell, John Fedders, Arthur Hayes, J. Lynn Helms, Marjory Mecklenburg, Robert Nimmo, J. William Petro, Thomas C. Reed, Emanuel Savas, Charles Wick. Many of these names are lost to history, but more than a few of them are still with us today, 'rehabilitated' by the administration of George W. Bush.
Ronald Reagan actively supported the regimes of the worst people ever to walk the earth. Names like Marcos, Duarte, Rios Mont and Duvalier reek of blood and corruption, yet were embraced by the Reagan administration with passionate intensity. The ground of many nations is salted with the bones of those murdered by brutal rulers who called Reagan a friend. Who can forget his support of those in South Africa who believed apartheid was the proper way to run a civilized society?
One dictator in particular looms large across our landscape. Saddam Hussein was a creation of Ronald Reagan. The Reagan administration supported the Hussein regime despite his incredible record of atrocity. The Reagan administration gave Hussein intelligence information which helped the Iraqi military use their chemical weapons on the battlefield against Iran to great effect. The deadly bacterial agents sent to Iraq during the Reagan administration are a laundry list of horrors.
The Reagan administration sent an emissary named Donald Rumsfeld to Iraq to shake Saddam Hussein's hand and assure him that, despite public American condemnation of the use of those chemical weapons, the Reagan administration still considered him a welcome friend and ally. This happened while the Reagan administration was selling weapons to Iran, a nation notorious for its support of international terrorism, in secret and in violation of scores of laws.
Another name on Ronald Reagan's roll call is that of Osama bin Laden. The Reagan administration believed it a bully idea to organize an army of Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union. bin Laden became the spiritual leader of this action. Throughout the entirety of Reagan's term, bin Laden and his people were armed, funded and trained by the United States. Reagan helped teach Osama bin Laden the lesson he lives by today, that it is possible to bring a superpower to its knees. bin Laden believes this because he has done it once before, thanks to the dedicated help of Ronald Reagan.
In 1998, two American embassies in Africa were blasted into rubble by Osama bin Laden, who used the Semtex sent to Afghanistan by the Reagan administration to do the job. In 2001, Osama bin Laden thrust a dagger into the heart of the United States, using men who became skilled at the art of terrorism with the help of Ronald Reagan. Today, there are 827 American soldiers and over 10,000 civilians who have died in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, a war that came to be because Reagan helped manufacture both Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden...
One itty bitty jot of perspective from the Washington Post:
...His first tax cut when a deep recession pushed unemployment to 10 percent and drowned the budget in red ink.
He was widely portrayed as uninformed and uninterested in details, the man who said trees cause pollution and once failed to recognize his own housing secretary.
He was often depicted as a rich man's president with little feeling for the poor, as symbolized by the administration's "ketchup is a vegetable" school lunch debacle. Detractors said he was presiding over the "greed decade."
During the 1984 campaign, Reagan stood in front of a senior citizen's project built under a program he tried to kill--but his aides didn't care, concluding that the pictures were more important than the reporters' contrary words.
Journalists had a field day digging into administration corruption. Senior officials in the Environmental Protection Agency and Housing and Urban Development Department, along with ex-White House aide Michael Deaver and national security adviser Robert McFarlane, were convicted of various offenses. Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger was indicted but later pardoned by the first President Bush.
Reagan's siding with the Nicaraguan rebels was enormously divisive, and negative coverage of the Iran-contra scandal devoured much of his second term. "Crisis Blemishing President's Hands-Off Style," said a 1986 Washington Post article by Lou Cannon, Reagan's biographer.