FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Shuttles and Air Raids

After waking up last Saturday morning, I turned on the radio and heard a news report on National Public Radio about the apparent breakup of the space shuttle. In my precoffee haze of the morning, I wondered out loud to no one in particular why NPR was running old news stories from 1986. After a few moments of focused concentration I realized I was not listening to rebroadcasts of the Challenger accident but reports of the Space Shuttle Columbia breaking apart in flight.

For a brief and uncanny moment of confusion I re-experienced the 1980s of my youth in roughly 10 seconds of radio news. More to the point, I am increasingly beginning to witness the United States of 2003 riding a Delorian loaded with plutonium stolen from Libyan terrorists and wired with a flux capacitor back to the 1980s of Ronald Reagan. While I wince at hearing concepts like “Reagan’s America,” it is clear to me how determined people in the current George W. Bush administration are reinvigorating the Reagan myth of days past.

The current Bush economic plan, defense plan, foreign policy plan, pick a plan any plan, consists of barely-veiled Reagan mantras about life, the universe and everything. When Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld talks about the New Europe it makes complete sense because it is largely the Europe of the “Cold War-o-riffic” 1980s (minus Soviet Union domination, now replaced by U.S. domination) and a time the Reagan system worked best by saying we’re right and they’re wrong. I dread thinking the war on (insert word here) is the new Cold War for the next number of years, but it is a dogma well practiced by Reaganite bureaucrats and a way of life for people like Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Beyond policy, many of the people working in the current Bush administration are straight out of 1984 (in many, many ways) and my favorite son of Reagan is former National Security Adviser John Poindexter. Poindexter is a rare gem from the Reagan era, the person who orchestrated the illegal selling of military arms to Iran to illegally fund antigovernmental forces–called the Contras–in Nicaragua. The whole thing became known as the Iran-Contra affair and was quickly forgotten; as coconspirator Oliver North made clear, these things had to be done for the safety of the United States. Especially the part of the story where everybody lies to Congress, no one is accountable for what happens, and Reagan cannot remember or does not know anything about the situation.

John Poindexter is now back in action working for the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in the Information Awareness Office trying to create databases capable of tracking anybody anywhere who uses an electronic device wired to a network. The Total Information Awareness program, as the awareness office calls it, was recently denied funding by Congress. But I have faith it will return, not unlike the specter of Ronald Reagan carried on the shoulders of his progeny.

I was talking about the Sons of Reagan, and the apparent re-emergence of Ronny’s 1980s Dance Party in U.S. politics, with a friend and colleague after the Columbia broke apart last Saturday. The irony is, as she rightly pointed out, Reagan does not remember the period in which he was president–by far one of the least impressive and problematic periods in contemporary U.S. history. He is effectively outside of all history and literally has no memory of the past.

In no way am I making light of Reagan’s Alzheimer’s disease; rather, I find it sad that a former president cannot even remember the stories he created to embellish his own legend. In a nutshell, Reagan cannot recall not recalling.

Herein lays the most troubling aspect of any return to Reaganesque policies in U.S. politics: People have forgotten or willfully do not realize how the problems faced domestically and internationally right now are largely the products of Reagan era policy making. I know, I know–the United States won the Cold War against the Soviet Union, but it also meant doing some really stupid things along the way like arming Saddam Hussein. The entire redevelopment of a missile defense system for the United States–lovingly called the “peace shield” in my youth–is the biggest boondoggle ever created by the Reagan administration. The system will not work, never worked and comes at the expense of other programs needing a great deal more funding. I support how President Bush wants to leave no child behind, but it would be nice to see funding match the rhetoric.

It appears the eternal return to Reagan’s America is an unstoppable political force in the White House these days. While I shake my head when I think about the yet-unknown problems created by these policies, I take some relief in the following thought. It was those mighty Reagan years and their poorly thought out long-term effects that helped defeat the previous President Bush in the 1992 election.

Maybe, just maybe, all those memories the Republicans are currently shelving about the 1980s while simultaneously worshipping at the Reagan altar will become exactly what the U.S. electorate needs to dredge up–a constant reminder of the dangers posed by mediocrity in the White House.

JOHN TROYER is a columnist for the Daily Minnesotan. He welcomes comments at troy0005@tc.umn.edu.

 

More articles by:
July 19, 2018
Rajai R. Masri
The West’s Potential Symbiotic Contributions to Freeing a Closed Muslim Mind
Jennifer Matsui
The Blue Pill Presidency
Ryan LaMothe
The Moral and Spiritual Bankruptcy of White Evangelicals
Paul Tritschler
Negative Capability: a Force for Change?
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: ‘Social Dialogue’ Reform Frustrations
Rev. William Alberts
A Well-Kept United Methodist Church Secret
Raouf Halaby
Joseph Harsch, Robert Fisk, Franklin Lamb: Three of the Very Best
George Ochenski
He Speaks From Experience: Max Baucus on “Squandered Leadership”
Ted Rall
Right Now, It Looks Like Trump Will Win in 2020
David Swanson
The Intelligence Community Is Neither
Andrew Moss
Chaos or Community in Immigration Policy
Kim Scipes
Where Do We Go From Here? How Do We Get There?
July 18, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
Politics and Psychiatry: the Cost of the Trauma Cover-Up
Frank Stricker
The Crummy Good Economy and the New Serfdom
Linda Ford
Red Fawn Fallis and the Felony of Being Attacked by Cops
David Mattson
Entrusting Grizzlies to a Basket of Deplorables?
Stephen F. Eisenman
Want Gun Control? Arm the Left (It Worked Before)
CJ Hopkins
Trump’s Treasonous Traitor Summit or: How Liberals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New McCarthyism
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: Repression, Austerity and Worker Militancy
Dan Corjescu
The USA and Russia: Two Sides of the Same Criminal Corporate Coin
The Hudson Report
How Argentina Got the Biggest Loan in the History of the IMF
Kenn Orphan
You Call This Treason?
Max Parry
Ukraine’s Anti-Roma Pogroms Ignored as Russia is Blamed for Global Far Right Resurgence
Ed Meek
Acts of Resistance
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail