Sunday, February 06, 2011

Nonstop Praise of Reagan

If he'd been alive, Ronald Reagan would have turned 100 on Sunday, February 6th. Starting on the morning of February 3rd, NPR began running numerous stories on Reagan's legacy. Listen to the first six stories and - aside from two brief mentions of the Iran-Contra scandal and one mention of the Beirut barracks bombing as a "failure" - you will hear no criticisms of the Reagan presidency. A couple of the stories (e.g. 2-4-11 ME & 2-5 WE Saturday) - positively framing Reagan as a pragmatist - noted that contrary to popular beliefs, Reagan did raise taxes and deficits - and did negotiate with the Soviets.

Only in the seventh and final piece, Sunday's ATC interview, is any pejorative assessment of Reagan voiced; the director of an HBO Reagan documentary, after noting many positive aspects of Reagan, states that Reagan "came in many ways to betray that [small town] America...hurt the very America that I know he identified with." This one critique is lost in the flood of praise heaped on Reagan:

  • (Tom Brokaw) "A pure product of Main Street, Heartland America...People were comfortable with him from the start."
  • (Pete Wilson) "Brilliant."
  • (Jaffe) "If there was any was over where Ronald Reagan ranked in the pantheon of American presidents."
  • (Liasson) "...upbeat, forward-looking and self-consciously optimistic - the definition of Reaganesque."
  • (Lou Cannon) "The American people aren't fools. Reagan was able to run on Morning in America because for millions of Americans, it was morning in America."
  • (Liasson) "Doug Brinkley says President Obama is wise to identify himself any way he can with the 40th president."
  • (Doug Brinkley) "Reagan...He's in the DNA of America at the moment. He is beloved by the American people."
  • (Wertheimer) "Ronald Reagan...was part of almost every campaign, mostly invoked by Republicans, but also occasionally by Democrats and sometimes by President Obama." (Fallows) "You could take this as a good sign of the possible harmony and unity in American history that....representatives of all political parties and all political heritages find things in this background, of this tradition they want to align themselves with."
  • (Reagan hometown local) "Nice man. Good person."
  • (Hansen) "...his stature has continued to rise among well as with the general public."
Somehow, NPR inadvertently left out a few details regarding that "upbeat, forward-looking" "nice man" who was Ronald Reagan: his disastrous War on Drugs, his deadly lack of action on AIDS, his promotion of terror, war and torture in Central America and Africa, his riddled-with-criminals administration, his assault on the environment, his crushing of wages and war on unions, and his success in creating a sophisticated, murderous organization of Islamic extremists. Other than that, it was a very fair and very balanced assessment of the Reagan years.


Patrick Lynch said...

It was a wretch-fest for sure. I barely had PBS on long enough to watch the This Old House hour, but judging from their promos last weekend, PBS got in on the Reagan worship as well.

I was a freshman in college when Reagan took office and I had voted against him. I had lost enthusiasm for Carter but felt he was probably more honest than not. Reagan then proceeded to dismantle the very America he propagandised. At the time, I seriously wondered if America was going to be a third world country before the end of the 1980's.

Also had seriously hoped that Iran-Contra would bring him down but I had already grown cynical enough about the political process that I figured he'd survive it though I felt that Reagan and his entire administration should have been in prison for their crimes. I could be remembering it wrong but it seemed NPR was not so overtly right wing at the time.

What kills me about today's coverage of Reagan on NPR and PBS is how they so shamelessly take advantage of the appallingly short memory and attention span of the American people and for the most part get away with it.

informedveteran said...

I wonder if they plan on reairing this one. Given their target audience I guess not.

Porter Melmoth said...

I guess that, after Tom Gjelten definitively proclaimed Ronald Reagan to be a genius (present tense, now and forever), all I need add is the following link to cap things off:


Thought I'd make a couple contributions to the Reagan Legend:

I heard a rumor that there's a team of 'experts' currently embalming the Gypper for installation in a mausoleum to be built in the Mall that'll make the US capitol look like a gopher hole. Eat yer hearts out, Comrades Lenin & Ho, and Chairman Mao, too!

After Warner Bros. dumped his contract, RR amazingly succeeded in getting selected for the US presidency thing. To show Hollywood a thing or two, he also succeeded in getting an allowance for a Cult of Personality to be authorized by the US Gub'munt on the occasion of his 100th birthday, and to celebrate 30 years in the Oval Office.

Happy First Century to Our Permanent Leader And Teacher!

And finally, for your LOL pleasure, one of the most famous secrets in the Reagan Legend:

(I always bust a gut with that one!)

geoff said...

The Raygun Devolution was an awful time to live through and survive, politically. Port's links above are great - to those I'll Harry Shearer's found object, WH footage of the the coin toss from super bowl whatever. You can see how charming and disarming the old gipper is with his acolytes. It's alarming how charming it is to be a-bombing.

Greg Palast's obituary is apt. Notice that predominant in the picture at the top of the people laughing it up, along with Reagan, is George H. W. Bush. He's the real shit behing Reagan.