FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Beatification of Ronald Reagan

The excess of emotion expressed in the nation over the hundredth anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth might lead one to conclude that he wasn’t the 40th President of the United States, but God. Ronald Reagan was the last president whom many Americans say they feel good about but–in a culture devoted entirely to making one feel happy and building up one’s self-esteem–that is understandable. Regrettably, we haven’t seen anything yet about the beatification of the country’s first trickster president (George W. Bush was the second).

When President Reagan was running for re-election, as a long-time Washington resident and commentator, I felt duty-bound to place a bumper sticker on my automobile that said “Honk If You Think He’s Senile.” Plenty of people honked their horns or waved from passing vehicles, and there were also the people who kept trying to remove the sticker from my bumper. My point was simple: the evidence was already there well before the second inauguration that Reagan was suffering from senility and should never have been reelected. Were people simply not paying any attention to his pronouncements and those silly movie lines that crept into his speeches? Were they that infatuated by his engaging smile? The people around him knew what was happening, but what could possibly have driven them to think of the country first? Still, I have to confess that senility started to look positively desirable when W Bush entered the White House.

It’s questionable how history will judge Ronald Reagan, but two facts are indisputable. First, he rang up the fastest and the largest deficit in the country’s history up to that time, which conservatives still won’t admit. And second, it took the foresight of Bill Clinton to begin to correct the problem. All for naught, of course, since they were wiped out by W Bush and his cheerleader, Vice President Cheney, and his audacious remark: “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter.” Republicans today want Americans to believe that the entire debt of the country has been amassed by Barak Obama, forgetting that our current economic morass had its foundations during the Reagan and Bush years. I’d call Republican attitudes toward the country’s deficit a case of selective amnesia.

After the deficit, Republican sycophants like to credit Ronald Reagan with the end of the Cold War (as his followers have argued for years), ignoring that simultaneously Reagan began the country’s move from Capitalism to Corporatism. Reagan convinced many Americans (including leaders of both political parties) that government is bad and, consequently, that taxes are unnecessary and even un-American. Until recently, being Americans meant that we can have it all for free. Tax money spent for infrastructure, for education, for health—even unnecessary wars—is an evil. This is the dirty little secret about Conservatives: they hate Democracy because what it means is having to share what you have with others, helping the less fortunate, people who have been passed over by the budget cuts for the rich and have felt the impact of the reductions of every program intended to help those at the bottom. The gap between the rich and the poor in the United States has grown so quickly that the American Dream is nothing more than a mirage for most of the people in the Middle Class, let alone those at the bottom. The end of Democracy, initiated by Ronald Reagan, pretty much was finished by Bush II.

After Reagan’s death, Republicans had a field-day, and Democrats (always accused of lacking patriotism) had to remain silent as monuments were constructed, as buildings were re-named, and postage stamps began to bear the former president’s likeness. Americans haven’t seen anything yet. As my wife says, the most endangered national park is now Mt. Rushmore, which Republicans have talked about for years as a fitting memorial to their beloved hero. There’s also been a continual cry to put Reagan’s image on our currency, which so far has been thwarted. If he deserves to be anywhere it should be on the hundred dollar bill, reminding Americans that the hundred dollar bill is the new ten dollar one.

Thus the beatification of Ronald Reagan continues to ignore basic rules of economics just as the old issues of equality and helping others has been turned upside-down. And how can we forget Reagan’s initiation of the concept of the preemptive strike (Granada, a major threat to the world’s stability)? Ronald Reagan’s legacy could not have come at a better time for subsequent global displacements brought forth by George W. Bush.

So what would be a suitable monument for Reagan on the Mall in Washington, D.C.? Three gigantic balls, hanging down from the firmament–the traditional pawnshop symbol–to remind all Americans that Reagan hocked our future.

Say one for the gypper.

CHARLES R. LARSON is Professor of Literature at American University in Washington, D.C.

 

 

 

More articles by:

Charles R. Larson is Emeritus Professor of Literature at American University, in Washington, D.C. Email = clarson@american.edu. Twitter @LarsonChuck.

January 22, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
On the Brink of Brexit: the Only Thing Most People Outside Westminster Know About Brexit is That It’s a Mess
Raouf Halaby
The Little Brett Kavanaughs from Covington Catholic High
Craig Collins
Why Did Socialism Fail?
Dean Baker
The Trump Tax Cut is Even Worse Than They Say
Stanley L. Cohen
The Brazen Detention of Marzieh Hashemi, America’s Newest Political Prisoner
Karl Grossman
Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars
Haydar Khan
The Double Bind of Human Senescence
Alvaro Huerta
Mr. President, We Don’t Need Your Stinking Wall
Howard Lisnoff
Another Slugger from Louisville: Muhammad Ali
Nicole Patrice Hill – Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Scarlet “I”: Climate Change, “Invasive” Plants and Our Culture of Domination
Jonah Raskin
Disposal Man Gets His Balls Back
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail