Another Roadside Attraction

US Highway 10, straight shot from Houston to LA, and on the way, roadside signs:

“SEE IT NOW! 25 Miles ahead!”

“THE AMAZING DISPLAY! 10 miles ahead!”



He was who and what he was. A man -- charming, gracious, likeable, acting out a role.

I never liked him and it often galled me that he could be so damned charming and gracious and likeable. But that’s irrelevant -- whether I liked him or not is a comment on me, not on him.

Certainly -– ahh, these times are such that we actually have to say it -– disliking someone is not the same thing as saying he’s bad, or evil, or there’s something wrong with him.

That said, the dismembering of Ronald Reagan’s still slightly warm body for personal and political fodder is tacky, reprehensible, and totally sleaze-o-rific.

Those who build castles on the right tell us how he persuaded youth to go to a conservative philosophy, to believe in and support –- oh my, what a coincidence! –- the very same agenda in all details that THEY espouse. What crap.

Those who live on the left offer praise to his trans-partisan congeniality in a don't-hit-me gesture to encourage a ceasefire from the feces-flinging that is so integral to Republican administrations since and their Nixon-Bush-Bush players.

People liked him. And he liked people.

People vote for presidents for reasons that have almost nothing to do with policy. They vote for the candidate with these qualities:

1. The one they perceive to be stronger.
2. The one they perceive to be enjoying the campaigning more.
3. The one they like better.
4. Sometimes, also, the one with whom they feel safer, not always the same as stronger.

Nothing about policy, nothing about actual human value or worth – those three factors, with possible variation for an incumbent, but that would fall under #4. Check it out:

1964: LBJ over Barry Goldwater –- any questions? The American public was encouraged by the LBJ forces to perceive Goldwater as too dangerous. Remember the threat? If Goldwater wins, the USA would (1) send the Marines into Vietnam, (2) bomb Hanoi, and (3) mine Haiphong Harbor.

1968: Nixon over Humphrey –- the dark one not remembered by the young; the flaky one, his liberal record of standing for the poor and working not known, had been totally compromised by the years of kissing LBJ’s ass in public.

1976: Carter over Ford –- Come on -– Ford was the President of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Couldn’t even win statewide to become a senator. Installed by the criminal to play rear guard and pass out pardons. Carter was clean.

1980Reagan over Carter -– Carter was clean but not having fun (“a great malaise”). Reagan was a happy guy, made his Republican Convention acceptance speech by doing a series of “If he (the Red Rooshian) says this, I’ll do this,” and he struck a tough pose. “And if he does that, I’ll do that…” and then a different “I am the eagle-eyed cowboy riding the range” pose.

1984: Reagan over Mondale -- Same same same, but even more so. (And Mondale's mother’s name was Claribel -– there went the potential votes of a generation. ”Hey kids, what time isn’t it?”)

1988: Bush over Dukakis -- Polls at the end of the Reagan Second term said that by a margin of something like 60-40, Americans, including Republicans, wanted a Democrat to become president. The Democrats managed to find the one candidate who looked like he’d NEVER enjoyed himself and came on weaker than even GHW, who was wearing the wimp label with something like pride. And of course, that high-minded Bush campaign of “Tell ‘em he’s a nigger-lover -– do the thing with Willie Horton,” worked wonders with the Klansmen. (And you wonder why they say the Bush family is the most vicious, vindictive bunch of thugs Washington can remember ever having seen.)

1992: Clinton over Bush -- Billy was having a GOOD time, and stood in there, smiling, while Bush was spotlighted as perhaps the most clueless public figure in America.

1996: Clinton over Dole -- Get real: dour Dole versus Slick Willy? Interesting how the Right Wing adored the fact the Reagan was ‘The Teflon President,” loved enough for people to overlook minor indiscretions and major screw-ups” but hated it when Clinton proved equally loved enough for people to overlook his.

2000: Bush Lite over Gore -- Once again, the Democrats found a man so unlikable, so wooden and so unable to speak his mind, he only beat Bush by half a million votes and then got too cute with the Florida recount, thereby allowing the Lollipop League of Five to further denigrate the Constitution.

Ronnie got elected, re-elected, and held in reverence through his decline because people liked him, loved him, appreciated him and enjoyed him. Not because he cut subsidies for poor people (I always thought Crack Cocaine was part of his plan for economic “Enterprise Zones” in the inner cities.), not because he beat the Red Threat on Grenada, and certainly not because he appointed James Watt to supervise the destruction of the environment ("Jesus is coming back and we need to use it all up."), but because he was loved and enjoyed and smiled through the pain and accepted blame for screwups and said he was sorry, he wasn’t perfect, but was really trying to do the best he could. Maybe that was so,that he was doing the best he could.

So when a hypocritical shit like Richard Perle, who publicly tore him a new asshole for envisioning an end to the cold war with Premier Gorbachev, raises him up to kiss the very scars he inflicted, and uses his new-found humility to insist that Ronnie would back his current disastrous play 100%, even though he would not have -- and didn't --while alive. I guess what he means is, now that he's dead, Dutch won't oppose it. I can only imagine the Late Mr. Reagan looking at him and saying, “Well… there you go again.”

And all the rest of them, hanging on to their theocratic careers and failed neocon fantasies, tossing the dead man’s bones like dice, swearing that if Reagan were alive, he'd stay the course of this modern geopolitical Titanic they're steering, the conveniently-timed passing allowing the present incumbents to point, “Look at him. Don’t look at me –- Don't look at us -- that would be disrespectful to HIM. Pay no attention to what we’re doing behind the curtain.”

I used to imagine Ronnie and Nancy sitting around at night, and Ronnie saying, “Mommy, why is it I have to associate with such lowlife monsters in order to try to do some good? Am I a monster? Am I hurting people?” An important set of questions for anyone to ask from time to time.

I never thought many of the things he was doing were good, and yes they were hurting a lot of people, but dislike him or not, perhaps he actually thought they were good things to do at the time.

He seemed to be a nice man, even if his role was to smile congenially while his hired guns took care of the back-alley murders.


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