Tuesday, June 08, 2004

The Deification of Ronald Reagan

At the risk of offending some of you, I just cannot sit back and watch silently as Ronald Reagan is transformed into a godlike figure. None of this will come as any surprise to those who know me at all.

I have been grappling for years with Reagan’s popularity among my fellow citizens. The guy was a lightweight B-movie actor who did more damage to our country in his eight years in office than our most reviled president, Richard Nixon. Thanks to Reagan, we saw our deficit soar, largely in part to his ill advised tax cuts and defense spending on such preposterous things as the proposed Star Wars Missile Defense System. Our country was embarrassed globally by the Iran Contra Affair which marked the unfortunate entrance of Oliver North into the popular lexicon. The rich got richer, and the poor got poorer. Nancy employed an astrologer to tell her the most judicious days for her and Ronnie to act on things. His stance against reproductive rights was appalling. However, as I look back on his long list of offenses, I think the worst thing about him was his incredible callousness when the country began to deal with the burgeoning AIDS crisis. His inactions probably caused the disease to spread much further than it would have had serious interventions been put into place. It was a reaction to the Christian right and most likely to his own latent homophobia. It was sickening.

Reagan as beloved American patriot. It’s just so wrong. I was 25 years old when Reagan was first elected in 1984 and remember the incredulity I felt when people of my age told me they were supporting him. It’s akin to the feelings I have when ordinary middle class people tell me that they love George W. Bush. Simply put, Reagan didn’t, and Bush doesn’t, look out for us! Yet we supported Reagan overwhelmingly, and we are only now just beginning to question W en masse. What the hell is wrong with us that we couldn’t suss out Reagan or Bush?

Am I totally off the mark here? I understand well the phenomenon of forgetting the bad things when someone dies, and that’s okay if it’s someone in your family, but to my mind not at all okay if it is your president.

But that’s just my two cents.


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