June 9, 2004

Reagan Dies

I don’t have a strong need to say anything about Reagan’s death, but I may as well have a place to record a few comments and observations. A semi-directed ramble, but hopefully not too long.

First, I remember my parents liking the guy. I was fairly young when he took office. And I remember the shock on the day the president was shot. I remember being upset, and watching the TV for details after coming home from school.

Later in my life, I remember finding that there were a number of things I didn’t like about this president. I remember SDI and Star Wars as a joke. (I just heard a tape of Rush Limbaugh making fun of the people who considered SDI as a joke…) In computing science and defense, Star Wars was a joke. It was beyond our capabilities.

He was not that popular in my neck of the woods. But what don’t remember is criticism from liberals sinking to the type of attacks Clinton was treated to during the 90’s. And now this level of political discourse is de rigueur. I have pulled out all but a few stops in my criticism of Bush.

But whatever the past, we’ve seen an outpouring of respect for Reagan in the wake of his death. I’m going to disagree with a lot of the meta-discussion and use this as a opportunity to attack on our current president. No apologies, either—this is what’s on my mind.1 All this support for Reagan is less about Reagan than it is about this country feeling the need to pull together over something. Yes, Reagan is the focus, but Bush has divided us so bitterly, any excuse to come together is welcomed with open arms.

And so, it is an interesting example of how poorly Bush has been able to capitalize on a public that would love to come together under a leader who could have turned around the 2000 election debacle by being magnanimous rather than, well, a real wanker.

In addition to the plain respectful folks who just want to be decent, Reagan-lovers are coming out of the woodwork. Some of them are annoyed that there isn’t more gushing going on. I’ve heard callers on the local AM station complain (and I’m not kidding) about all the grudging liberal respect for Reagan. Yes, he was complaining that liberals were being respectful to Reagan. He was further annoyed that liberals on Monday were pointing out some of what they saw as failures in his presidency. Once again, there is this odd concept that anything but complete lockstep thought is offensive. Even when people are respectful, it’s not good enough. You will be assimilated.

Romney has made Reagan’s funeral an official state holiday in Massachusetts. Boy, he really wants to be president someday. The UMass Dartmouth Chancellor, however, was untouched, and the university will not be shutting down.

1 To anyone who would say I’m taking Reagan’s death as an opportunity to slam Bush or the right: I don’t need to be given an opportunity. Bush sucks, and so every day brings a new opportunity. If Reagan throws Bush into sharp contrast, that’s not my fault.

Posted by James at June 9, 2004 3:16 PM
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interesting thing about those who complain about 'not enough respect' - seems to me that they aren't separating the person from the president. you can certainly offer respect and condolences without rubberstamping everything he did as good.

and i remember the day he was shot, too. heard it on the radio at work, and thought 'oh, no - not again!' amazing, the impact of such events, as it's not as if i were around when Kennedy was shot.

Posted by: beth at June 9, 2004 3:48 PM

I thought "oh no, not again" too, not because of Kennedy, but because John Lennon had been shot by a similarly deranged person a short time earlier and I was still reeling from that. I think the Pope may have been shot around the same time too - not sure exactly when that happened.

Not that I had similar feelings about those three men. Not hardly. I just remember a lot of assassination attempts within a fairly short time, and wondering, was this typical and I never noticed before, or are we going through some crazy phase?

I don't have a lot of nice things to say about Reagan, but I'll give him credit for consistency. When Lennon was killed, Reagan (who had been elected, but not yet taken office) said that it was a shame, but that he still opposed gun control. After Reagan was shot, I wondered if he still felt the same way. He did. Crazy? Maybe. But reliable as oatmeal.

Compared to Bush, I think Reagan was swell. (Hell, I even liked Original Bush better than the Next Generation model. And if this clown gets re-"elected," I think he will give Nixon a run for his money too.)

And I will give Nancy credit for her attempts to promote stem cell research in his name. I had always thought of her as somewhat useless, but she came through for him.

Okay, as praises go I realize the above are all pretty lukewarm. But it's as close as I can get to saying nice things about Republican presidents, and it's a nice change of pace. I'm sure I'll be sore tomorrow, though.

I don't want the guy's face on money, I don't want the mail to stop on Friday in his honor, and I've got plenty to say about Romney. So I think I'll be my usual pissy self soon ehough. :o)

Posted by: Julie at June 9, 2004 6:47 PM

ooo - i'd forgotten Lennon and the Pope! not that they were shot, mind you, but the time frame.

'Compared to Bush, I think Reagan was swell'- not sure what i think of Reagan and his legacy, but he was surely a step (staircase?) up from 43. s'funny, each President has left me with a sort of sense memory. Carter is the first one i recall clearly, and his term was sort of like a late, hot summer day with gnats buzzing around. Reagan was like fizzy pop candy, or Chinese food. 43... one long, painful ulcer attack.

Posted by: beth at June 10, 2004 1:04 PM

I understand about the sense thing. #41 was also a painful ulcer attack, but it went by a lot faster. I know it was a whole four years. But the last 3.5 years have felt like a decade.

As for #42... man. Even then, I knew those were good days, or at least okay days, but I didn't realize how fleeting that feeling would be. It just seemed right - like it would be that way forever. Why would anyone want to screw up such a thing?

I suppose the lunatic babblings of Rush and his pals should have been my hint that it was too good to last, but I didn't think (back then) that anyone was taking those guys seriously.

Posted by: Julie at June 10, 2004 3:41 PM

I'm still waiting for my mink coat to trickle down.

Posted by: Patti M. at June 11, 2004 2:22 PM

Mink coats don't trickle. See, that's the problem with trickle down economics. You pour a big bucket of money on the people at the top, but only the really little coins are big enough to trickle down through the cracks.

Posted by: briwei at June 15, 2004 12:53 PM

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