arteejee

A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Friday, February 11, 2011

There I Go Again: The Gipper Turns 100

Ronald Reagan was never, is not, and will never be bigger than Jesus Christ!

There! I said it, and I don’t care if his admirers damn me for my opinion. I particularly don’t care if those pushing the Ronald Reagan Legacy project — which aims to name everything nailed down in this country after him — are horrified to hear my pronouncement.

The celebration of his centennial birth last weekend was a time to re-examine the Gipper’s legacy. Pundits from both sides weighed in on his greatness and/or how overrated his reputation has been. It was also amusing to see how many of today’s Republicans jumped on his ideological carcass in an effort to claim that they are his political heirs.

In the days since the celebrations, there has been some second-guessing (not unusual) by even more pundits about today’s Reagan worshippers. Some noted that today’s Republicans have suffered from selective amnesia when it comes to the Gipper’s accomplishments. Yes, he cut taxes and built up the military which many credit with helping the Soviet Union’s slide into financial ruin. The end result was, however, the beginning of the deficit which now, 30 years later, they decry. In their minds Reagan shouldn’t be blamed for the deficit.

And these people want to have the exclusive right to rule this country?

Technically, today’s deficit isn’t the same one Reagan started. There was one period of prosperity in the 1990s when, yes, taxes were raised and the country had a surplus with which we could have done many marvelous things...like improve our infrastructure. This period of prosperity is now recorded in the history books as “the Clinton administration”. I hasten to point out here that Clinton was, and still is, a Democrat.

Hmmm, a Democrat overseeing a period of great economic times. That’s not supposed to happen. Go figure!

The parallels between Reagan’s supporters then and his supporters today are also similar. Both are now recognized as radical right-wing fringes of the GOP. In the 1980s, the fringe was more closely aligned with evangelical Christianity and they called themselves the Moral Majority. Today, those with the same mindset want to be known as Tea Partiers. The fact that they want to be associated with a common beverage — and not some harder type of libation — might be a sign of progress, but I doubt it. I wouldn’t mind if they were known as the Beer Bingers; God only knows they might be easier to live with if they went through the day soused to the gills. Okay, so the angry rants by some of their members would be interrupted occasionally with intense puking, but hey, that might still make them easier to deal with...or not.

I can’t praise Reagan, but rather I can briefly note his accomplishments good, bad and indifferent. Okay, so he built up our self esteem with his “It’s morning in America” theme, and he did display a willingness to compromise with the other side. (There’s that “C” word again!) His deficit building and his tepid response to the AIDS crisis are still sore spots with many people today.

My ability to see some good things come out of Ronald Reagan’s term has tempered my opinion against all the things with which I disagree. For many of us, the man had a polarizing effect on society. You either loved him or hated him with a passion. I don’t think he was the worst president ever (a more recent administration which I shall not name has a lock on that honor), but I’m not ready to start carving his visage next to Washington’s on Mount Rushmore either. Eventually Reagan, like all of the other presidents before and after him, will be judged as products of their times and how their actions continue to influence American society today and tomorrow. With this mind he was neither 100% saint nor 100% devil.

He certainly wasn’t a God.

(Thank you for reading. Never mind the Gipper. Win one just for yourself.)

1 Comments:

Anonymous Janey said...

RTG: Beautifully written, with a clear head and an objective voice, as always.

I am one of those still bitter toward Reagan, for at the peak of the AIDS crisis, which was during Reagan's presidency, he never mentioned AIDS publically. I'll never forget, and never forgive, that his failure to respond allowed a generation of gay men -- my peers -- to die.

February 11, 2011 at 9:00 PM  

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