The Reagan Years: Just Say No
They were at it again on talk radio this morning: Laura Ingraham had on Bob Dole and he commented that Ronald Reagan had freed 500 million people. As with most delusions there's a fun side and a very dangerous side. All you had to do was watch the loving embrace the Conservatives gave Dick Cheney at their big meeting this past week, to realize these people have no clue, and in fact, do not want a clue. For them, it's all about creating a fake version of reality and then repeating it over and over 'til it takes on a mantra-like zen of its own. They even tried to re-brand Richard Nixon as a great statesman so there is nothing the right wing machine will not try to pretend.
One way you can tell it's phony is when Rush and the gang say they will now campaign for Hillary Clinton. You remember the Clinton years, don't you? Could it be the right wing radio set was exaggerating how much they hated the Clintons to reenforce their dream view that all things Republican are good? If they were being sincere, then how in holy hell could they possibly talk about supporting Hillary? Republicans may not have a clue, but one still sneaks out for the rest of us, and this is a clue. The whole thing is self-delusional, lemming-following, posturing. There is no intellectual rationale for the Republican Party. It's all talk. It's all a fantasy without even good sex.
One fun question is how long they will wait before revisiting the joke that is George Bush to begin the long canonization process: "You know, we were right after all. He really was our Winston Churchill." I'm looking forward to it. I want to see the movie called, "The Wit and Wisdom of George W. Bush." As he himself would say, "Bring it on."
So it is with no particular surprise that I watched Ronald Reagan become a deity to these people: "If Ronnie hadn't been there that mean Soviet Union would still exist. Ronnie defeated it." For me, Reagan represents a compensation for strident Republicans not having genuine personal feelings. He was all warm and cuddly in cinematic classics like, "Bedtime for Bonzo", and Republicans - who clearly exhibit problems handling such squeamish topics as love and mercy - could latch on to him and adore him from a safe impersonal distance. He was the hug they didn't get as a kid. He allowed them to go right on being mean to the poor for not showing more personal responsibility, and yet still feel all warm about themselves because they loved Uncle Ronnie.
I think the fun part is what they really are saying about Communism when they claim it took Uncle Ronnie to bring the Soviet Union down. But that leads indirectly to the dangerous part for America.
Back in my banquet days, I once waited on a breakfast meeting with Senator Packwood - who despite his problems with booze and women - was one hell of an informed Senator. That's part of the tragedy of his downfall. I've waited on dozens of Senators and Packwood, compared to most, was brilliant. At this breakfast his people handed out a single sheet about the economies of the world. It was not widely known information at the time and I kept one. I might still have it somewhere.
Back then, we were in the Cold War and the two superpowers of the world were America and the Soviet Union. But wait, look at these numbers. Look at the GNPs! Tiny, little Japan was in the process of catching, or had already surpassed this mighty Russian superpower. In fact, the Soviet Union had begun to fail. It was going nowhere but down.
Now the key fact is that this was in 1980, before Uncle Ronnie took office. The fun part is that Conservatives - by claiming it took him to defeat them - are actually being soft on Communism. Listen up, folks: Communism is a bad idea. It gets bad results. The reason the Soviet Union failed was because it rotted from within.
You should have gone - as I did once - behind the Iron Curtain in Germany. Same country, same People, two systems. One side was driving Mercedes, the other side had little joke cartoon cars that looked like you could tear them apart with your bare hands.
Yes, the Cold War was a decades-long drag race between our economy and the Soviets, and yes, Ronald Reagan - by spending like a lunatic - helped in this regard. But I repeat: In 1980, the Soviet Union was already beginning to fall apart and we could have saved trillions of dollars if the Conservatives had just had more confidence in the idea that Communism was stupid. They shouldn't have been so soft on Communism.
Superpowers fail when they can no longer afford to exert their spheres of influence. They simply can't afford it anymore, and they pull their perimeters way in. And then it's payback time.
Okay, this is no longer the fun part of the Reagan-Pretend Game. Now comes the dangerous part: Our empire, our America shows many signs of ending superpower status the old-fashioned way by collapsing economically. That's how superpowers end. By having these delusional Conservatives locked into their false hero worship of Uncle Ronnie, we have blinded ourselves to the true reasons the Soviet Union failed, and we are in the process of going down the same path they did. Oh, and Uncle Ronnie's not walking through that door to save us, either.
So when a Conservative tries to say that Communism is a terrific, vibrant system, and that it took Ronald Reagan to come along and defeat it, just say no.