Politics, Sex, Religion, and all those impolite Human Conversations...

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Location: Oaksterdam, California

Monday, June 07, 2004

The Obligatory Reagan Post

Much ink has been spilled, many keyboards have been pounded (much to the detriment of their R-keys) in eulogizing or reproaching Ronald Reagan. Not to tread over the same ground as everyone else, I’ll limit my screed to my personal recollections of his presidency (just, please, don’t get me started on his governorship). The best blog-a-round post on Reagan is over at the Mahablog.

Reagan once was asked if he felt upstaged by Gorbachev, “Good lord no, I once co-starred with Errol Flynn,” he replied. Reagan films are hard to watch but Desperate Journey from ‘42 and Santa Fe Trail from ’40 weren't so bad because Errol Flynn got top billing.

I remember a little noted campaign quote where he was asked about his advanced age and the risk it might pose, “I will take a senility test,” he quipped, “after I’m elected.” I guess that was the first campaign promise he broke.

I remember in the early years of his administration he cut back on college grants to give the all-volunteer-military recruitment effort incentives such as college grants… Now due to my own personal reaganomics, I went as far as contacting the Air Force ROTC thinking money for school, help with getting a pilot’s license, and maybe, maybe after an ungodly amount of flight-hours, applying to NASA... Instead I went to Europe for the next few years.

I remember being an expatriate during the majority of the Reagan years and, during my travels, people my age asking why the Americans want to turn their homes into a theater of nuclear war by placing intermediate range nuclear missiles in their backyard. I’d tell them that it was Reagan not Americans. I tried to give some background on the Reagan Revolution, thus I became an informal apologist for US foreign policy. Sad to say, even today few Americans follow foreign policy and are incapable of even conceiving that people might not like us owing to that same policy. American foreign policy is frontpage news everywhere else in the world but not in the United States.

I remember coming home once every year or so and seeing what were once considered 'bums and winos' now replaced by a new class called the 'homeless,' and on each return visit their numbers had grown. Domestic policy and cuts in social care turned many mental health patients and families with children onto the streets. I call them the victims of Reagan’s Cold War victory. And if a year of living on the street didn’t make you into a person that needed mental healthcare, I don’t know what would…

I remember a Playboy Magazine interview with the Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, the November 1987 issue with Jessica Hahn on the cover. To paraphrase his perception of Reagan,
“He is like Frankenstein… No, we don’t hate him, he is not a monster like in the film, rather he is a monster made up of all these different pieces and interests, it’s the people behind Reagan we hate…”
People like Ed Meese, James Watts, and Jim Baker - need I go on?

There is more that I recall than can be imparted here. But, I know you’re wondering:

Do I hate Reagan? No, emphatically no. It’s more like hate the sin, not the sinner… Besides I don’t do hate – it takes too much dedication! I’m sure I would have enjoyed having a beer with Reagan (maybe he could dish out the dirt on Errol and Olivia). I believe, apart from politics, Ron and me could have had a wonderful conversation which I doubt could happen with our current Frankenstein.

Ok, you’re wondering:

Do I hate Bush? No, although I’m not sure I would have like to have a beer with him because, first, he gave up drinking and, second, he strikes me as a mean drunk…

But I wouldn’t mind taking him mountain biking