Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The G-rift... uh, Gipper

Yesterday, Annette said in comments (regarding Saint Ronnie's #10 position on C-SPAN's All-Time Muthuh-Fuckin'ist Prez-nits list):
I still haven't figured out Reagan.. What the heck did he do that was so great?? I just wish someone would tell me that. Cause I sure don't remember anything.
To which I replied:
I've often wondered the same thing. I've never been able to point to one tangible good to have emerged from that snake-oil salesman's tenure, and much bad, so it has been a continuing source of annoyance tinged with rage to always see Reagan and his legacy treated as some manner of axiomatic good in our national discourse. Naturally, this situation has been by design, but the mandarins of our national media would never acknowledge that.

I once asked my Texas Rethugli-bot, FOX News zombie dad why he had such a glowing love for Saint Ronnie of the Ray-Gun and he told me that it was because he made Americans feel good about their country again. Of course my dad gets teary-eyed to the treacly strains of Lee Greenwood screeching out "Proud To Be An American", so I have always thought his analysis suspect. Since all those dirty fucking hippies (DFH's), queers, uppity wimmin-folk and assorted scary brown people had spent the better part of 20 years making the corrupt, racist, hypocritical white guys running the country for the previous two centuries feel bad about themselves, I guess we should have expected some blowback for demanding, you know, some fealty to the spirit if not the letter of our founding principles -- bad as such things had proven to be for white, male privilege.

At the end of the day, I suspect, it was really all about what it has always been about since Reagan sold his particular brand of toxin as an elixir to a coalition I have deemed "The Stupid, The Deluded and The Corrupt" (h/t to Atrios) -- Good is whatever pisses-off liberals.

And then today Fred Kaplan at Slate.com (unknowingly) gives me an assist by unqivering a few arrows of his own into the Reagan mono-myth:
[Reagan] was, in fact, a babbling nut job who was lucky that Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, a genuine reformer desperate for Western assistance, was on the receiving end


At their first one-on-one talk, Gorbachev tried to talk substance, but Reagan kept telling interminable anecdotes and anti-Soviet jokes, leading Gorbachev at one point to mutter, "On boltayet yeshchyo" ("He's babbling again")


And yet the real dirty secret about Reagan — the one that Republicans would rather not remember or, in many cases, never knew — is that, at heart, he had no stomach for war and detested nuclear weapons.


In his first term, from 1981-85, Reagan escalated East-West tensions, spoke in bellicose rhetoric, and jacked up military spending to 30-year highs. This is the Reagan whom Republican chieftains worship and insist that all subsequent presidents emulate. But in his second term, which coincided with Gorbachev's rise to power, Reagan flipped, making dramatic diplomatic overtures to Moscow and accepting equally dramatic proposals in turn.

Few remember, but many of the Republicans who now tout Reagan's accomplishments pummeled him at the time for "betraying" his followers and their Cold War ideology.
Funny how the arm-chair warriors and draft-dodging He-Men of the Rethugli-goon Party have all chosen to ignore the mediocre and frequently embarrassing truth about Saint Ronnie of the Ray-Gun and instead create the hero myth of their dreams, a patron saint of sanctimony, criminal greed and profitable war-mongering, a noble ideological warrior to challenge the Democrats' most-hallowed FDR and neutralize that lefty legacy, to sweep away the bitter after-taste of the long string of crooks, degenerates and losers they'd fronted since, well, since they ceased to be the Party of Lincoln somewhere towards the end of the 19th century.

Well, they got their man and we've never been the same.


Annette said...

Thank you.. I feel better now..lol I was beginning to think I had missed something back in the 80's there or something...lol cause I sure didn't remember anything special. All I remembered was his bumbling and babbling all the time. Falling asleep at the state dinners and basically embarrassing the country.

As far as your dad saying he made us feel good... Not that I remember.. but I wouldn't argue with someone I don't know so I won't say that to him..

Thanks for posting this..I enjoyed it..

birdiejeans said...

As one of those Brown Wimmin that was causin' the country such grief at the time I remember Saint Ron as the bastard that ignored the rising AIDS epidemic labeling it a gay or Hatian problem then.

What a lousey prick.

Fraulein said...

I make this point all the time when I'm arguing with people who are sort of on the fence politically -- that Reagan was the catalyst for many of the most horrible problems this country has had over the last 30 years or so. People always look at me like I have two heads because everyone has been so indoctrinated into the myth of St. Ronnie. But you do have to wonder if the catastrophic damage caused by Bush the Lesser will cause people to rethink Reagan's legacy to some extent.

chris said...

St Ron is a product of the "liberal media", plain & simple.