Notes on the Atrocities Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...
Monday, June 14, 2004
Late Reagan Thoughts
The window for really insightful Reagan commentary has long passed, and yet I still have a comment or two. That's why I started the blog, so nevermind the tardiness, here goes.
Reagan's post mortem, particularly the legislative one, has been instructive. Even before the mourning ended--hell, even before the funeral--shrill demands for canonization erupted from the hard right. (Let's leave aside talk of their ghoulishness--how they could barely wait out the man's disease for his actual death to spring into action.) They want instant recognition, grand recognition, and superlative recognition--nothing's too good for this president, including banishing a founding father from the $10 bill. Memorials, renamings, reframings--is Rushmore on their agenda?
It's been a hell of a year for the hard right, and it's no wonder they want to shift the topic a bit, and remind everyone of the patron saint. They wouldn't mind seeing another Bush ride Reagan's coattails one last time.
But beyond that--don't you think they canonize a little too loudly? The Reagan experiment has been underway for a generation now. Thanks to careful tending by stalwarts like Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Grover Norquist, and Dick Cheney, it has now been taken to its logical extreme. Much like the left, after Vietnam, found its fringes dabbling in Maoism and violent rebellion, the Reagan experiment has now led to Iraq and its apologies.
If the legacy and presidency of Ronald Reagan were assured, we wouldn't see this rush to deify him. What the hard right is telling us, if we look closely, is that the Reagan experiment is mostly a bust as public policy. It has been enormously profitable for those who crafted it, but for America, Reaganism (big guns, big God, and big business) has brought all the benefit of the Gilded Age. The rush to canonize is a rush to try to push the wave a little further, to solidify support in a rigged, perpetual oligarchy. After four years absolute leadership, the name Ronald Reagan is one of the last unsullied jewels in the hard right's trove. They wish to polish it up and mesmerize the nation a little longer. (November should do.)
In poker, if a guy dumps a massive pile into the pot, one of two things has happened. Either he's got a hell of a hand, or he's trying to convince you he does. Nine times out of ten, the bet is itself a tell--if he really had a great hand, he wouldn't try to scare you off; he'd try to coax as many nickels from you as he could.
Well, the righties have just gone all-in to get Reagan remembered. I smell a bluff.