Ronald Reagan is getting like Monty Wooley in The Man Who Came to Dinner. He won’t go away and continues to make outrageous demands, which makes the entire American household suffer for his self-aggrandizement and indulgence. This despite the fact that he’s dead.
The Republican Party will not LET him go away, invoking his name to squeeze any votes out of his legacy, which keeps getting re-worked and burnished to suit the current packaging needs.
It is amusing to hear Republicans talk about how the Tea Party is disgracing Reagan’s legacy. Huh? He wrote their playbook, and they’re forgetting how Reagan created the template and blueprint for them. The Tea Party is following the Reagan playbook at every step.
Since his death, Ronald Reagan has been lionized and canonized by the American media. Perhaps the greatest myth, and one of the greatest spin jobs in history, is the notion that Reagan’s foreign policy brought the collapse of the Soviet Union. Communism was a flawed political-economic theory whose weaknesses caused it to collapse upon itself. Communism was an ideology built on lies, corruption and the abuse of the very workers it espoused to honor. By accelerating the arms race, and draining American resources for greater needs, Reagan is falsely given credit for bankrupting the Soviet economy. The Soviet political economy had been bankrupt for 70 years, and the military infrastructure was “painted rust.” Sure, Reagan outspent them. But at what cost to us?
The Gipper, The Great Communicator and the Father of the Conservative movement has been lionized as “the sunny guy who brought us ‘Morning In America.’” He is fondly remembered as a genial man and effective governor and president. Effective at what?
What am I not remembering here? What are THEY not remembering here?
Reagan and his cadre never were good sports. I remember The Great Communicator as being the master of double-speak, namely of accusing the opposition of his own sins. Reagan and his boys paved the way for all the excesses of both Bush administrations; “excesses” is a euphemism for a lot of bad things:
Reagan was the first president to brazenly place foxes in charge of the hen houses at the Cabinet level. Reagan Attorneys General Edwin Meese and William French Smith viciously attacked the very civil rights and equal protection laws they were charged with upholding. Until Reagan, affirmative action was a sacred program that gave hope to impoverished Americans.
Under Reagan’s watch it became fashionable to punish people for being poor.
Under Reagan, James Watt and Ann Burford Gorsuch were placed in charge of the Interior Department and Environmental Protection Agencies. Their legacies were to auction off the precious natural resources they were charged to protect. Watt gave us the side show of ethnic jokes that managed to offend blacks, women and Jews in one spiel. Gorsuch gave us the Superfund scandal. Remember?
Under Reagan, school lunch programs were severely cut back or eliminated. Ketchup was declared to be a vegetable in order to satisfy nutritional requirements.
Under Reagan, pre-natal medical and nutritional programs for low-income and working mothers were ended. Children died as a result; so did some mothers before they could give birth.
Under Reagan, more high-level government officials were indicted than in any administration in history
Under Reagan, the bizarre fantasy known as “Star Wars” was given billions of dollars and legs. More than 25 years later, it is still walking and soaking up even more billions to protect us from a threat that no longer exists. But it’s great campaign fodder, so it lives.
Under Reagan, most Federal job training and employment programs were ended.
Under Reagan, food stamp allowances were reduced and the new requirements made many needy people ineligible.
Under Reagan, the Legal Aid Corporation was eviscerated. This enabled unscrupulous landlords, corporations and utility companies to abuse consumers, with the confidence that the people they’re stealing from wouldn’t be able to get effective legal assistance to fight them.
Under Reagan, the US went from being the world’s largest creditor to being the largest debtor nation. Until Reagan, a balanced budget was a sacred cow of the Republican philosophy. Under Reagan, the federal budget suddenly became a tool to eliminate the many programs that Roosevelt and LBJ initiated to help people get fed, find housing and jobs, and get medical care. This ushered in the mean-spirited conservative agenda; they eliminated programs they didn’t like by eliminating the revenue through tax cuts and budget cuts. Out of this evolved Newt Gingrich’s now dubious “Contract With America” and the mean-spirited, draconian policies of both Bush Administrations.
Under Reagan, the US military became a tool of political jingoism not seen since Theodore Roosevelt. Superfluous excursions in Grenada and Panama , among other countries did a lot to boost ratings, but not much for national security.
Under Reagan, ketchup became a vegetable. That’s always been my favorite. Reagan’s cutbacks in the federal school lunch program elicited criticism that there was no longer funding to provide a “balanced diet” to schoolchildren, including fresh vegetables. Reagan argued that ketchup is a vegetable because it is red and comes from tomatoes. The “liberal” media yucked it up about that one for few days and then forgot about it as soon as the next outrage got their attention.
Under Reagan, we had our first American president honor Nazi war dead at Bitteburg , Germany .
Under Reagan, it suddenly became dangerous for Americans to travel abroad to countries where we had previously been welcomed. US Foreign Policy under Reagan manifested a profound ignorance about geopolitics, the balance of power and other issues.
Under Reagan, it became OK to sell military supplies to a declared enemy ( Iran ) and use those profits to prosecute an illegal war ( Nicaragua ), and oust other popular elected officials ( El Salvador ). Under Bush Jr., it became OK to re-hire the people who enabled that scandal into sensitive national security positions.
Under Reagan, it was considered acceptable to have made a deal with the regime of Ayatollah Khomeini in advance of the 1980 Election, in order to ensure that the American hostages would remain in captivity until after the election. What could be more unconscionable? Reagan used American lives as political fodder before he was even elected. They were released the day he was inaugurated.
Under Reagan, the American ayatollahs were also empowered. Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and other religious right-wing ideologues were brought into the policy-making fold. That led to the ongoing agenda to eliminate a woman’s right to choose a full range of health care options, and not just abortion. It led to censorship of textbooks that didn’t give equal time to creationism as the theory of evolution. It’s not unfair to argue that Reagan’s giving political legitimacy to Falwell and Robertson, was the precursor to Bush Jr.’s “Faith Based Initiatives” that so brazenly dishonor our separation of church and state.
Under Reagan, the need to humor and dignify the religious right led to years of denial and inactivity, while the AIDS crisis reached epidemic proportions. Since AIDS was considered a “gay disease”, Reagan didn’t dare utter the word for his first six years in office.
Under Reagan the Camp David plan for peace in the Middle East came to a grinding halt. Clinton re-started the process to great acclamation and hope, and Bush Jr. let it die again. Is there a pattern here? Reagan turned a blind eye to Israeli brutality toward the Palestinians, demonized the leaders of a legitimate national liberation movement, and ended any pretense of dealing with Israel and the Palestinians in an evenhanded manner. He enabled the hatemongering and brutality of Manachem Begin, Benjamin Natanyahu and Ariel Sharon. The US response to Israel ‘s incursion into Lebanon was to do and say nothing, even when Sharon enabled the massacre of Palestinians at Sabra and Shatilla in 1982.
Whereas Reagan and the Bush boys have fed Israel’s self-destruction by indulging their every “security excess”, Obama has been a true friend to Israel by continuing the tradition of generous assistance, while calling out the elements of realpolitik that need to be recognized. Sadly, many American Jews can’t get past the “Israel Card” in any campaign. “Is it good for the Jews?” the ask; illuminating the profound confusion between Judaism the religion and Israel , the manifestation of Zionist ideology. Not all Jewish people genuflect when Romney says, “Obama hasn’t been a true friend to Israel because BLAH BLAH BLAH . . .”
If this dinner guest hasn’t overstayed his welcome, he might never leave if Romney is elected.
H. Scott Prosterman
Published: Friday, 14 September 2012