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maybe the Gipper doesn’t care who wins anymore

February 6, 2011

The Super Bowl today coincides with Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday, but I don’t

know if that will be as big a crowd pleaser as Janet Jackson’s right nipple.  I have

n0 clue why so many Americans canonize the Gipper.  He was certainly a pivotal

president, but he didn’t walk on water.  He only trickled down.

If people are going to laud Reagan for the 5.5% unemployment rate when he left

office, let’s remember that it hit 10.8% one month during his first term.  He’s

known for lowering taxes, yet raised them every year from ’81 to ’87.  The savings

and loan crisis happened on his watch and the Dow dropped 508 points one day

late in his stay.  He added $1.7 trillion to the national debt.  That was big bucks

back then.

Dutch was key to ending the Cold War, but launched the unwinnable War on Drugs.

He negotiated with Gorbachev over nukes, but invaded Grenada and bombed Libya.

He bi-gendered the Supreme Court with Sandra Day O’Connor, but cut Medicaid and

food stamps.  He shrank the EPA and removed the solar panels Jimmy Carter put on

the White House.  And then there was the Iran-Contra scandal.

My personal beef with him is that he tried to cut a measly $21 million in funding

for 91 storefront counseling centres for Vietnam Veterans.  It was a successful

program, serving more than 50,000 of us.  Public outcry quashed his efforts.

Also, he was lukewarm toward a program to help VietVets exposed to Agent


My bigger beef  is with those who cherry pick his legacy to sweeten his chances for

sainthood.  Sean Hannity nearly wets himself when he talks about Reagan.  Some

conservatives want the Gipper’s image on Mount Rushmore.  Please.  Remember

there’s a man under that myth.  When he died in 2004 the hyperbole could be seen

from space.  The only way I could cope with the flags displayed everywhere was by

pretending they were for Ray Charles, who died five days later.

  1. February 6, 2011 10:14 am

    While I am prone to support anything that tends to make Sean Hannity wet himself (I mean, a girl needs a hobby), I share your doubtfulness of the Reagan legacy. I heard a snippet from a speech today in which he said, something about destroying wealth. I marveled that the very words did not stick sideways in the throat of the speaker (and a rather leftish of center one at that) as the gap between wealth and poverty has never been wider. And will never be, until sometime later today, maybe tomorrow. Saint Reagan, I think not. [ps I’m a friend of Kathy’s, love your blog!]

    • February 6, 2011 8:35 pm

      Monday night’s “American Experience” on PBS will show Reagan in some historical perspective. Hannity will likely not be involved. Thank you for loving my blog.

  2. Meghon permalink
    February 7, 2011 1:29 am

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention the throngs of mentally ill who were dumped out onto the street, and the blatent disregard for the then burgeoning AIDS epidemic. Of course, my personal favorite was the designation of ketsup as a vegetable for school lunch purposes. (In the interest of full disclosure, my kids would gladly pick ketsup as their favorite veggie.) As Andy Borowitz observed: We don’t need birthday tributes to remind us of Reagan’s legacy – the homeless do it every day.

    • February 7, 2011 9:52 am

      I’m glad you and Andy brought that up. Recklessly clearing out the psych hospitals and ignoring AIDS patients are certainly dark marks on Reagan’s record. I was trying to be as fair and balanced as my progressive leanings would allow. And my usually meticulous research (skimming Wikipedia) was influenced by preparations for the Super Bowl. Jude insisted that I sweep the floor AND the cobwebs, even as I pointed out that it wouldn’t matter
      because our two guests were both male.

  3. kris (lower case) permalink
    February 7, 2011 8:15 pm

    i don’t want to say i hate reagan.. but really… i do. he was a horrible president and he did his best to make sure aids was not funded/ignored. trickle down theory…not so much…piss on you theory.. way more accurate… yes george w. was worse by far but that is not saying much.

    • February 8, 2011 9:54 am

      Last night on PBS, “American Experience” had the first half of a look at Dutch. It wasn’t very interesting until it covered his first term, pointing out that his approval rating once dipped to 35%. I assume the second half will continue to catalog his woes. Today’s Alternet has a piece about ten things he did or didn’t do that refute the Right’s skewed vision of him.

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