Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ronald Reagan: Evil doing while napping.

Ronald Reagan would've turned one hundred years old today.

It's strange to celebrate an event like this.

It's one thing to observe the day John Lennon would have been seventy, or to commemorate the anniversary of an historic event, like the first Big Mac.

We celebrate Lincoln's birthday, but we don't assign a number to it. We don't lament, "Damn, he'd be 202 years old today; if only he'd ducked."

I made the mistake of pointing out my grandma's hundredth birthday to my wife, even though she had died in an assisted care facility at age eighty-eight. Always the sensitive spouse, my wife replied, "Yeah, it's too bad she couldn't hold on in the nursing home those last twelve years."

Hey, mean wife, I realize my statement was ridiculous, but stop referring to life and death in logical terms.

So here we are, singing the praises of a guy whose antics really held up over time. Some believe that Ronald Reagan personally ended the cold war, demanding that Mikhail Gorbachev "tear down that wall." What many don't realize is that the Soviet Union was already on the verge of economic collapse, and Reagan was actually referring to a wall in the Gorbachevs' guest quarters.

Apparently, Nancy believed there was a camera in it, and she didn't want to be taped "just saying yes" to that virile hunk of president.

The man claimed to have been unaware of the shady dealings during his tenure, such as the arms for hostages scandal, the dirty deeds in Central America and a presidential travel schedule based upon astrological data. So what's worse? A guy who signed off on criminal activity or one who was profoundly oblivious?

Pick your poison, I suppose.

Ronald Reagan busted up unions, he deregulated the financial industry and he threw our nation into a crevasse of debt so deep that we're still feeling its effects twenty years after he left office.

He ramped up the "war on drugs," pouring billions into killing the supplier, rather than treating the user. It hasn't worked.

He slashed mental health funding, which can be witnessed in any urban setting in the rantings of people who desperately need institutionalization, but are depended upon to regulate their own meds while living on the streets.

It's ironic that the President was simultaneously encountering his own bout with mental illness.

He was an actor. The man had great hair, a winning smile and a folksy demeanor. Sometimes I think that we Americans merely desire a President who can re-assure us that we are God's chosen people, grin, hop on a horse and go and clear some brush.

So, before we deify this guy, before we re-write history and place his face on the three-dollar bill, let's look just a bit more closely at Ronald Reagan's legacy. He looked great standing in front of Old Glory, didn't he?

But what was on the inside?

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