Gipper Gaga 

The once and future con

In response to a question of why Republican voters remain generally unexcited about the array of GOP clowns, creeps and cretins who have given sign they might run for president, a journalist (whose name I didn't catch) visiting a news show I watch with regularity said she believed those voters were wishing for another Ronald Reagan to emerge and sweep away President Barack Obama like the original allegedly swept away the Soviet Union. This answer implied a condition that the Republican superstructure would have us accept as unquestionably true, that Reagan was a great man and a great president.

But which Ronald Reagan did she mean? The one Republicans remember with such idolatry that it borders on fetishism?

Or the one I remember--the Ronald Reagan who disguised a black heart and dull wit beneath a mask of fake congeniality and presided over the most indictment-laden administration in our nation's history; the Reagan who birthed policies that (with further nurturing from the Bush administration) have pushed our country into a mire from which we so desperately struggle to escape; the befuddled frump Reagan who left office having accomplished little more than a massive transfer of riches upwards to the wealthy and the beginning of the end for the middle class; the Reagan who needed a Level 10 image rehab in subsequent years to compensate for a record of deceit, mediocrity and failure?

Ah, but before we delve further into Ronald Reagan, here's your weekly reminder: go to for the petition to put a recall of the new education policies on the ballot, and to for the petition to recall Tom Luna.

If the journalist's observation was correct ... if Republicans are indeed waiting for a latter-day Reagan incarnation to show them the beef, and forget to duck, and tear down all the evil empires, they will have a long and fruitless wait. The man they revere so slavishly never actually existed. That man is a caricature pasted together by manipulating neo-cons terrified Americans might conclude that if the real Reagan, following so closely to the slime of Richard Nixon, were the best the Republican Party had to offer any more, then maybe America would be better off without the Republican Party.

Truth is, the un-doctored Reagan took a $1 trillion national debt left to him by the previous 39 presidents combined and tripled it in eight years primarily by pouring the Treasury into fantasy weapons that would never work (SDI, notably), and to fight a fantasy threat (the Soviets), who in reality were on their last legs before he ever took office. The un-retouched Reagan encouraged Central American fascists in the slaughter of tens of thousands of their own people--an estimated 200,000 in Guatemala, alone--and was never shy about showing his natural affinity to the most vile of racists, be it with his campaigning in the murderous stink of Mississippi or his unwavering support of apartheid in South Africa. The un-renovated Reagan tried his best to eviscerate any hope the environment had by appointing industry pimps like James Watt and Anne Gorsuch to oversee the evisceration, and he smeared the nation's poor by fabricating stories of "welfare queens" dragging the economy down even while de-boning the tax code to benefit corporations. The un-reconstructed Reagan set loose the horrors of promiscuous greed by deregulating savings-and-loan practices, which not only led inexorably to pillage on an epic scale but blazed the trail for future thievery in the banking and insurance sectors.

Back then, even the mushy moderate center realized what a flop Reagan was. By the spring of 1987 (just months before he left office), polls showed that a solid majority of Americans disapproved of the job Reagan had done and believed him to be a liar.

So it was no small feat for reality jugglers on the right to take such a hovel of a human being and give him a brand new coat of hype and horseshit. But for those simpler minds who believe anything such decepticons tell them, it was a simple matter to let slip memories of Iran-Contra, Silverado Savings and Loan and the arrangement William Casey made with the ayatollahs to hold the hostages until Jimmy Carter was defeated. Then it was an even simpler matter to let the mental vacuum be filled with tales of how the Gipper brought down the Iron Curtain with no more than a commandment to "tear down this wall!"--even if the two-year gap between the command and the unrelated event is a tad inconvenient to the myth. Or how the Reagan Years were "Morning in America," particularly for corporate leeches bleeding the taxpayer under the auspices of privatization. Or how a man who confused being in a World War II movie with actually being in World War II is remembered as "The Great Communicator."

In a real way, I suppose, the clowns, creeps and cretins in the Republican presidential field are, down to the last man (and woman), almost as Reaganesque as they all claim to be. After all, one fraud looks pretty much like another.

But as the nation has learned to its displeasure and pain, if you choose to construct your world from scraps of fantasy and threads of make-believe, you should know that sooner or later, you're due for a thorough collapse of the whole flimsy structure. And in so many ways, that is what we are going through now--the lingering aftershocks of a remarkably trivial Reagan, restored to pass for remarkable.

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