Is this too soon?

  For the past two days 80% of the channels I get have been running tributes to that most beloved of Presidents, Ronald Reagan. I am actually restraining my hand not to put down in words just how much I reviled him and why, I spent much of yesterday working some of that venom out of my system while contributing eulogies to other blogs. Reagan was only marginally less vile than Bush II in so far as when he was feeding you crap he managed to spread it out thin and got all the lumps out so it went down smooth, even if you ended up gagging on the flavor. Our dear baby Bush serves it up nugget-style straight out of whatever special interest group or contributor he is currently sucking up to. Everything else about their politics is exactly the same.

  Before I finally made it to bed this morning an idea for a t-shirt and/or bumper sticker suddenly came to me, call it the atheist version of divine inspiration. I wonder though if this is too soon considering that a Republican saint still lies in state? Even though I detested the politician I do have sympathies for the family during this time because he was a human being who, I have to believe, had some good qualities. Besides, the idea was not NECESSARILY directed at Rayguns passing (though it will probably be assumed that it was) it just seemed like a clever bit of text to underscore the Bush environmental failings in an election year. And to take a cheap shot at Republican politics in general.

“Old Republicans never die, they just leach into the ground water to poison future generations”.

  On the back I see a portrait of Bush with a list of his environmental record like concert dates (if there is enough room). On second thought maybe it is too subtle.

20 thoughts on “Is this too soon?

  1. It is not too soon – the conservatives certainly wasted no time elevating him to semi-divine status after all. (Loved the T-shirt idea!)

    I struggled to write a tribute that didn’t sound just terrible or goulish, and failed.  Then re-edited over and over again until I realized that I am conflicted about Reagan because I liked him and hated his policies. 

    Reagan was an example of why charm, likeability, and “nice-ness” are assets, not virtues.  I really believe Reagan was good-hearted and meant well.  I’d much rather have had him as a neighbor than a president, though.

  2. Let’s give some credit where it’s due. While he wasn’t by any means single handedly responsible for it, Reagan certainly hastened the end of the cold war. Ran up some impressive deficits in doing so, but just the same he did play a role in it.

    One of the things I try to take heart in is the idea that every President is a human being with a good side and a bad side and often on reflection I can see where past Presidents have done some good along with whatever bad they accomplished. Even Nixon had some impressive accomplishments in his time despite the monumental fuck up he managed to get himself into that ended his career. G.W. is seriously the only President I’ve had a major problem with so far and I have a hard time imagining what good I’ll see upon reflection in the future.

    Reagan isn’t my favorite President, but I’m willing to give him credit for doing some things right. Even Bush Sr. wasn’t too bad in comparison to his son. Hopefully I’ll be able to look back on this administration some day and find something worthy that came out of it even if I can’t think of what it might be right now.

  3. I was rumaging through my old tapes about a month ago and came across one that i had totally forgotten. It was “Last Scream Of The Missing Neighbors” by Jello Biafra & D.O.A. Very political and all about reagan era, but the really scary part was listening to it in context of our present regime. Things never changed they just got better at marketing it to you. 

    – Full Metal Jackoff

    Just like Rome
    We fell asleep when we got spoiled
    Ignore human rights in the rest of the world
    Ya might just lose your own

    As the noose of narco-militarism
    Tightens ‘round your necks

    We worry about burning flags
    And pee in jars at work
    To keep our jobs

    But if someone came for you one night
    And dragged you away
    do you really think your neighbors
    Would even care….

    Wonderful site btw, i stop by everyday.

  4. My spin on the cold war was to outspend Russia and effectively put them out of business. We did indeed to this and as Les said, “ran up some impressive deficits”. Is that bad… :shrug: That fact is that we won that one and Reagan helped in this effort.

    He’s also credited in the release of the hostages in Iran. He was in office for what, a week? Did Carter do absolutely nothing in helping to get the hostages released?

    I guess if I have to be labeled, I’m a democrat. Because, I sure hate what the republicans are doing to this country!

  5. Hey decrepitoldfool, before I forget again I did read your tribute. You managed to be both civil and objective at the same time, I am impressed. I probably need to work on both where Reagan is concerned.

  6. Incredibly well said Les, couldn’t agree with you more.  I had the exact same opinion today when talking about it with my teachers – the only difference is that Reagan was lofty, and Bush is just a pigheaded bastard.  My civics teacher had a great point about the whole thing.

    Half the reason everybody thought Reagan was so great was because he was the sensational follow-up to a primarily depressing presidency led by the environmentalist Jimmy Carter, who PUBLICLY announced with his wife that they had turned down the thermostats in the WHITE HOUSE and that they were afraid they’d never be able to turn them back up.

    Reagan, on the other hand, who had a myriad politicians guarding his every move, had a much more upbeat look at things.  Of course, he sent us into a huge national debt while he kept everybody “happy”, but the Republicans don’t seem to care.

    The problem that I have with Republicans for the most part (and I have to admit I’m resorting to one of my teachers’ points again) is that they’re primarily a group of people who claim to hate governmental rule over the people, and yet they take every single thing that the GOP shoves up their righteous asses.  My mother always told me it happens to most white males at the age of 35.  If you can stand it, listen to Rush Limbaugh for five minutes.

    Despite the fact Democrats are almost the same way (i.e. Lieberman and, I’m terribly sorry to say, KERRY), they’re the lesser of the two evils.  We need somebody to clean up this financial mess we’re in, and re-electing Reagan Jr. isn’t going to do it.

  7. Wait a sec…

    ERIC wrote that one!  Sorry Eric, I give YOU credit for the point that Reagan was like Bush is today.

    Still good point though, Les.

    I’m tired and I’m drinking wine.  As you can already tell, it’s not quite the best combination when you’re trying to make sense of things.  Still better than any Republican, though!  (TIDDY-BOOM)

  8. Les, I have to disagree with you on this point. Reagan did not hasten the end of the Cold War he hindered it! I’m still pissed at that old fucker for the shit he did to this country. Thinks he can go around “committing boners” and just laugh it off. Where did you think W gets most of his ideas (prolly should say where Rove gets his ideas – somehow connecting the word “idea” with dubya just feels WRONG). Beware the vast right-wing propoganda machine!

    Richard Ned Lebow and Janice Gross Stein over at the Atlantic wrote an excellent article a few years back, I still have a link to it in my collection.

    Here’s a snippet…

    Reagan’s commitment to SDI made it more difficult for Gorbachev to persuade his officials that arms control was in the Soviet interest. Conservatives, some of the military leadership, and spokesmen for defense-related industries insisted that SDI was proof of America’s hostile intentions. In a contentious politburo meeting called to discuss arms control, Soviet armed forces chief of staff Marshal Sergei Akhromeyev angrily warned that the Soviet people would not tolerate any weakening of Soviet defenses, according to Oleg Grinevsky, now Russia’s ambassador to Sweden. Yakovlev insists that “Star Wars was exploited by hardliners to complicate Gorbachev’s attempt to end the Cold War.”

    President Reagan continued to regard the Soviet Union as an “evil empire” and remained committed to his quest for a near-perfect ballistic-missile defense. To break the impasse, Gorbachev tried at the two leaders’ summit meeting in Reykjavik to convince Reagan of his genuine interest in ending the arms race and restructuring their relationship on a collaborative basis. For the first time, the two men talked seriously about eliminating all their countries’ ballistic missiles within ten years and significantly reducing their arsenals of nuclear weapons. Although the summit produced no agreement, Reagan became “human” and “likable” to Gorbachev and his advisers, and the President, convinced of Gorbachev’s sincerity, began to modify his assessment of the Soviet Union and gradually became the leading dove of his Administration. The Reykjavik summit, as Gorbachev had hoped, began a process of mutual reassurance and accommodation. That process continued after an initially hesitant George Bush became a full-fledged partner.

    The Carter-Reagan military buildup did not defeat the Soviet Union. On the contrary, it prolonged the Cold War. Gorbachev’s determination to reform an economy crippled in part by defense spending urged by special interests, but far more by structural rigidities, fueled his persistent search for an accommodation with the West. That persistence, not SDI, ended the Cold War.

    Gorby was planning change long before Reagan got his chance to prop up dictators, rape our pocketbook, and spread his special brand of anti-Sovietism. Anything in the name of fighting the “Evil Empire”. It was all bullshit and just another way taking from the poor and giving to the rich.

    A few pearls from the old fart…

    “You know, if I listened to him long enough, I would be convinced that we’re in an economic downturn, and that people are homeless, and people are going without food and medical attention, and that we’ve got to do something about the unemployed.”—President Reagan, 6/8/88, accusing Michael Dukakis of misleading campaign rhetoric.

    “It’s true hard work never killed anybody, but I figure, why take the chance?”

    “The American Petroleum Institute filed suit against the EPA [and] charged that the agency was suppressing a scientific study for fear it might be misinterpreted… The suppressed study reveals that 80 percent of air pollution comes not from chimneys and auto exhaust pipes, but from plants and trees.”

    “I don’t know. I’ve never played a governor.” –asked by a reporter in 1966 what kind of governor he would be.

    “I would have voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964”

    “You can’t help those who simply will not be helped. One problem that we’ve had, even in the best of times, is people who are sleeping on the grates, the homeless who are homeless, you might say, by choice.”

    And who could forget…

    “Facts are stupid things.”—Ronald Reagan, 1988, a misquote of John Adams, “Facts are stubborn things.”

    You know, I can’t think of one damn thing (besides trusting Gorbachev) that he did for this country that I would consider good.

    Then again, maybe I’m just an insensitive bastard!

  9. Maybe instead of “Old Republicans” it should be “Neo-Conservatives”. I like some Republicans but strongle suspect that neocons are nothing more than solid hazardous waste in a permeable wrapper.

  10. “I have just signed legislation that outlaws the Soviet Union forever.  The bombing begins in five minutes”
    – Ronald Reagan, joking about the end of the world and sending SU’s nuclear defenses into high alert.

    The Soviet Union was an evil empire, though.  How was it not an evil empire?

    Reagan’s “Tear down the wall” speech did inspire millions of people to recognize the end of Communism as a viable ideal.  But communism was coming down with or without the Gipper.  Three Soviet prime ministers got sick and died while he was in office, so the country was in a terrible mess.  The military was in almost complete control and it really could have been a disaster.  Gorby, not Reagan, somehow manuvered that empire through those rapids without an unimagineable slaughter.  Someday history will recognize what an amazing thing Gorby did.  Lot of Russians are still pissed at him, though.

    Eric, thanks!  My first draft was really nasty and my wife sent a link out to all 42 of her email newsletter recipients to it (most of whom worshipped Reagan) so I had to do fast editing to get to what I felt without sounding like a ghoul.

  11. I repect Reagan as a human being but to hear the tributes the last few days makes my stomach turn.  He was a mediocre actor and continued to perform that way in office.  It is right to speak well of the dead but don’t raise them to sainthood just because they died.

    My word is got.

  12. If nothing else, you have to admit his joke about outlawing the Soviet Union was pretty fucking funny.

    I still say he wasn’t a bad President for the most part, but wasn’t anything I’d consider a “great” President either. Certainly not worth bumping Alexander Hamilton off the ten dollar bill for nor modifying Mount Rushmore over as some folks have suggested.

  13. I repect Reagan as a human being but to hear the tributes the last few days makes my stomach turn.

    Momma, I said much the same thing in today’s entry in my blog.

    Word: “not”

    Which serves quite well as the answer to, “OB, are you buying into the myth of Reagan’s being ‘one of the best Presidents ever’?”

  14. It is argueable that Reagan is the most beloved President. The Center for American Progress

    http://www.americanprogress.org/site/pp.asp?c=biJRJ8OVF&b=6228#7

    just published this blurb.

    Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) blustered that Reagan was “the most popular president in the modern era.” But while Reagan enjoyed his share of support, Gallup polling data shows that his popularity was in line with other modern presidents

    The graph is very interesting. At the end of their first terms Reagan polled even with Clinton, and Bush I and Carter were equally unpopular. At the end of their second terms Reagan polled below Clinton. Bush II is on his way to matching Bush I and Carter.

  15. There is an excellent book, called Empire of the Czars that goes into quite a good bit of history regarding the Russian people, and why communism seemed a viable alternative to the people.  They had been so oppressed and dominated by dictatorships for so many generations that this new idea was worth a shot.  The fact that it was based on a flawed doctrine is hindsight.  The people of the Soviet Union were no more evil than we are, and their government was no less ruthless in their aims of conquest than ours was with the American doctrine of Manifest Destiny, by which we justified the conquering and domination of this continent.

    That doesn’t mean the Soviet Union was a good thing, and it doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have fallen, but the term Evil Empire is marketing bullshit. 

    As to Reagan, despite the deficit he left us, he was instrumental in restoring America’s pride in our military, and our military’s pride in itself.  Not just with funding and much needed improvements, but with policy changes that stopped the services from becoming dumping grounds for miscreant youths who saw it as an alternative to jail time.  That’s about the only good thing I can say about him.

    Despite the above, I think he was one of the worst presidents we’ve had.  His administration was comprised of the worst Washington had to offer, adept at backroom dealings and spin control, and not much else.

    The war on Drugs is a joke, and we ought to be sticking the widow Reagan with the bill, since she played such an active role in driving it to its fulmination.  Now, any president who tries to back it off will be seen as a hippie.

    Civil rights and freedoms have been set back at least a generation by the Reagan-Bush-Bush triumvirate.  Another four years of this idiot, and we’ll be lucky if we can even walk around without barcodes on our necks.

    Better save the rest of my rants for a Bush thread. I’m getting off topic. 

    Reagan: 10% Beef, 90% filler.  Some artificial coloring and flavor added.

  16. Funny you mentioned that Skippy, I was thinking about getting a tattoo of exactly that! Well, actually my first thought was to put it on my forehead, but it’s hard enough to impress prospective employers.

  17. The week of Reagan is finally over. Although I can see why NBC and CBS covered the funeral, I was really disappointed by PBS running five hours of remembrance last night—8PM to 1AM CDT. Bill Moyers was to have reported on Tom DeLay’s alleged illegal fund raising acivities. (Texas only has one law concerning fund raising and DeLay appears to have violated it.) It would be nice to see that guy do the perp walk.

    http://www.buzzflash.com/alerts/04/06/ale04008.html

    catchca = wish. Hmmmm.

    The Nation, June 10, posted an article by William Greider titled The Gipper’s Economy.

    Here is his take.

    Reagan was a fabulist. He told stories—often charming, sometimes loony—in which sentimental images triumphed over facts, warmth over light. So it is entirely appropriate today that the major media, draped in mourning, are solemnly fictionalizing his presidency. Reagan spun them around brilliantly, used the White House reporters and cameras as hapless props in his melodrama, ignored the tough questions and stuck unyieldingly to his scripted version of reality. This was partly conviction, partly the discipline of an “old pro” movie actor. It appears to have worked with the press. Their memorials to the “Ronald Reagan story” sound more like his fables than the events I witnessed.

    What’s left out? For one thing, a chilling meanness lurked at the core of Reagan’s political agenda (always effectively concealed by the affability), and he used this meanness like a razor blade to advance his main purpose—delegitimizing the federal government.

    Greider goes on to describe the meanness. One instance was his appeal to racism. Reagan began his 1980 political campaign the Mississipi county where three civil rights workers were murded in the 1960s. He invented the myth of the welfare queen arriving in her Cadillac to collect food stamps. Then there was the talk of not wasting money on lazy, shiftless people. (Anyone believe they really didn’t mean black?) Another instance is the social Darwinism of his policies—get government off our backs, encourage the strong and forget the weak. During the 80s we first began to see homeless families on the streets. I also recall that discussions began about having to reduce operating hours for public libraries.

    He goes on to say—

    Reagan’s great accomplishment was ideological—propelling the ascendancy of the right—but the actual governing results always looked more like hoary old interest-group politics. Wealthy individuals, corporate and financial interests got extraordinary benefits (tax reductions and deregulation) while the bottom half got whacked whenever an opportunity arose. His original proposition—cut taxes regressively, double military spending, shrink government and balance the federal budget—looked cockeyed from the start. Yet when the logic self-destructed in practice, conservatives were remarkably content, since they had delivered the boodle to the right clients. After my notorious account of Reagan’s economic failure, based on my conversations with Stockman, was published in the December 1981 Atlantic Monthly, the Gipper likened me to John Hinckley, the would-be assassin who shot him. So much for Mr. Nice Guy.

    Both parties would spend the next twenty years cleaning up after the Gipper’s big mistake. They collaborated in an ongoing politics of bait and switch—raising taxes massively on working people through the Social Security payroll tax while continuing to cut taxes for the more affluent and to whittle down government aid for anyone else. The Gipper had taught Washington an important new technique for governing—how to fog regressive tax cuts past the general public without arousing voter retribution (the media can be counted on to assist). The trickery continues to succeed. Pre-Reagan politics used to address various economic inequities. The great injustice confronted by George W. Bush was the estate tax on millionaires

    Greider finishes by briefly discussing the economic damge done by Reagans ‘sunny message’ and the resulting growing chasm of inequalities.

  18. Anyone wanna lay bets now on how much airtime and column space they’ll devote to Carter when it’s his turn?

    Poor Jimmy.

    (captcha word:  else)

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