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Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004 Goodbye and Good Riddance

by : PHIL GASPER
Sunday June 6, 2004 - 23:46
16 comments

By PHIL GASPER

Ronald Reagan has finally died at age 93. Predictably, politicians from both major parties have issued gushing tributes to this venal and vicious man, who was happy to slash workers’ wages, see families thrown onto the street, support sadistic death squads and bomb other countries, if this was in the interests of the American ruling class.

Meanwhile, if recent history is any guide, the mainstream media will steer well clear of providing an accurate portrayal of Reagan, the man and the president. Last year, in a stunning act of cowardice, CBS canceled its much-publicized "docudrama" about Ron and Nancy, The Reagans, caving in to a campaign by the Republican National Committee, right-wing radio hosts, Fox News and conservative Internet sites. The movie was instead shown later to a much smaller audience on the Showtime cable network.

Conservatives attacked the film for portraying Reagan as homophobic, and Nancy as a domineering wife and mother who pulled the strings behind the scenes while abusing her children. They were apparently even more incensed that James Brolin, husband of liberal icon Barbra Streisand, played the part of Reagan.

While The Reagans was undoubtedly a monumental example of third-rate TV schlock, examples cited by conservatives of substantial inaccuracies didn’t hold up. One complaint was that the movie showed Reagan ignoring the AIDS crisis because of its association with gay sex, and telling his wife, "They that live in sin shall die in sin."

But in real life, Reagan refused to mention AIDS publicly for six years, under-funded federal programs dealing with the disease and, according to his authorized biography, said, "Maybe the Lord brought down this plague," because "illicit sex is against the Ten Commandments."

C. Everett Koop, Reagan’s surgeon general, later revealed, "because transmission of AIDS was understood primarily in the homosexual population and in those who abused intravenous drugs, the advisors to the president took the stand, they are only getting what they justly deserve."

In the movie, Nancy slaps her 5-year-old daughter, Patti. In real life, Patti wrote, "I first remember my mother hitting me when I was eight. It escalated as I got older and became a weekly, sometimes daily, event."

In the movie, Nancy insists, "Ketchup is a vegetable! It is not a meat, right? So it is a vegetable." In real life, Reagan directed the Department of Agriculture to classify ketchup as a vegetable in September 1981 in an attempt to slash $1.5 billion from the federal school lunch program.

Conservatives also criticized the movie for what it did not include. "Does it show he had the longest and strongest recovery in postwar history?" asked Reagan’s White House press secretary Marlin Fitzwater.

But Reagan’s economic policies were a disaster for working-class Americans. Reagan presided over the worst recession since the 1930s, and economic growth in the 1980s was lower than in the 1970s, despite the stimulus of military Keynesian policies, which created massive federal budget deficits and tripled the federal debt. By the end of the decade, real wages were down and the poverty rate had increased by 20 percent.

The real problem with The Reagans was not that it was too critical of the Reagan presidency, but that it was largely uncritical. According to The New York Times, the movie "paints [Reagan] as an exceptionally gifted politician and a moral man who stuck to his beliefs, often against his advisers’ urgings."

Reagan was many things, but "gifted" was not one of them. "Poor dear," remarked British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, his closest international ally, "there’s nothing between his ears." As for a "moral man," Reagan’s morality included union busting—beginning with his dismissal of striking air traffic controllers in 1981—an unprecedented war on the poor, opposition to civil rights and support for apartheid South Africa. The "moral" Reagan trained and supported terrorists, including the Nicaraguan contras ("the moral equal of our Founding Fathers") who killed over 30,000 people, and Islamic radicals in Afghanistan who later formed the al-Qaeda network.

Reagan was also a liar. In November 1986, he publicly denied that his administration had been illegally selling arms to Iran and using the proceeds to fund the contras. One week later he was forced to retract this statement, but denied that the sale was part of a deal to free U.S. hostages. The following year, Reagan admitted that there had been an arms-for-hostages deal, but denied he knew anything about it.

In 1992, that too proved to be a lie when former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger was compelled to release notes from a January 1986 meeting revealing, "President decided to go with Israeli-Iranian offer to release our 5 hostages in return for sale of 4,000 TOWs [U.S. missiles] to Iran by Israel."

The man whose administration spearheaded class warfare on behalf of the rich, dragged American politics to the right, and rebuilt US imperialism after the Vietnam debacle, is dead. Good riddance.

Phil Gasper is professor of philosophy at Notre Dame de Namur University in California. He is a member of the National Writers Union and a frequent contributor to Socialist Worker and the International Socialist Review . He can be contacted at

pgasper@ndnu.edu

http://www.counterpunch.org/gaspar0...



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Commentaires de l'article
 

> Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004 Goodbye and Good Riddance
Monday June 7 - 02:23 - Posted by 84fa1f4ea3eedd04...

Phil needs to take his own life.




> Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004 Goodbye and Good Riddance
Monday June 7 - 05:13 - Posted by 1d4e28fb4b2a86f1...

Phill, I would say Good Riddance when you die of Old Age...but I have CLASS




> Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004 Goodbye and Good Riddance
Monday June 7 - 05:21 - Posted by 78412c28c8c129e7...

It is a pathetic man who only has the courage to write when his target is dead.




> Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004 Goodbye and Good Riddance
Monday June 7 - 05:31 - Posted by 50ef210f2348f313...

Nearly everything you said about Reagan was a lie. Shame on you. It is specifically because of people like you that we needed a President like Reagan so much. His legacy will long outlast your idiocy.



You Say Everything Phil simply Reported(really) about the great Obfuscatator - was a lie?
Tuesday June 8 - 08:59 - Posted by 8fb7dc0d265b0bd4...

OK . There will never be an answer to this one -because Plutocratic Reagan-supporters are such Pathological liars( they have to be to support such a regular liar as Reagan) - Well here it is, child: WHICH exactly of Phil’s statements about Reagan was a ***lie***? ?

Can’t answer that one Ay? Well try this one on for size also: "Ronald Reagan left the United States after his term of 8 years sleeping at meetings ’in office’ - with the Biggest Fiscal DEFICIT that any US president had ever EVER saddled the people of this country with." Reagan’s DECICIT on leaving office was the Largest debt the country was EVER left by ANY president. Clinton left the US with a nearly Billion dollar SURPLUS in funds. OK you can’t answer that one ... So now Change the Subject - since you can’t refer us to any data or facts to refute this - and tell us how ...

..."Well umm .....Reagan’s ’Moral’ effect on the country was far better than Clinton’s and THAT was the important thing." OH ? So supporting the DEATH SQUADS of the Nicaraguan Contras who burned people alive and SKINNED people alive - was That also proof Reagan’s ’moral’ character ?? Get some Facts man. SOME FACTS before you Embarrass your self anymore on here. As I understand it this posting board is for Adults who understand Fact from administration propaganda. Get a civics teacher or someone who KNOWS something to educate you. Try it - You’ll like it!



> Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004 Goodbye and Good Riddance
Monday June 7 - 05:45 - Posted by 28a5c61a46b546ed...

I have never read your messages before sir. However, after reading this message I can only say that you seem to have embraced a cruel and sad interpretation of this world. You have enjoined to rejoice at the demise of a man who defended others’ freedoms, and who did what he thought best during a hard time. Even Gorbachev, a man who Reagan taunted with such words as "Tear down this wall!" had nothing but respectful words to say of him. For you now to post such invective, while it is your right, demonstrates that you do not understand the responsibilities that come with those rights. May you live long enough to regret your abuse of the dead, and to learn to respect those who have passed before you after living to the best of their ability while they had the time.




> Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004 Goodbye and Good Riddance
Monday June 7 - 14:15 - Posted by da765052ccc33187...

Thank you for your opinions on Reagan. I too was disappointed in his policies. Ignoring AIDS, Iran-Contra, union bashing... I respect him in his death, but despite being a great orator, he was no great president. Thanks Phil for boldly telling the truth while the mainstream media completely gloss over this ’legacy.’

But contrast Reagan and George W...and you see just how far we’ve fallen.




> Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004 Goodbye and Good Riddance
Monday June 7 - 16:54 - Posted by 77fd9b0f4e76a18f...

Phil, you HACK.

Half truths and disinformation about a man that THE MIDDLE CLASS LOVED! Reagan gave us hope, which is more than anyone else could at the time.

Reagan was more of a man than the entire liberal wing of the democratic party. Get it straight!




> Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004 Goodbye and Good Riddance
Monday June 7 - 17:26 - Posted by e98536df3a2ad3f1...

Socialism is a terrible thing. Look at Europe. We could use another Ronald Reagan to keep this country great. Why do people flock to the U.S.? Economics. Freedom. If we bow to the socialistic tendencies, the reasons people want to emigrate to the U.S. will no longer exist. A president is a figurehead. He doesn’t provide jobs, businesses, or rights. He does represent hope. Reagan gave us that. He tried to execute the laws. That is all that we could ask.




> Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004 Goodbye and Good Riddance
Monday June 7 - 22:43 - Posted by 7414ad38b51b446f...

This is a view professor of philosophy at Notre Dame?
God help our kids ...




> Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004 Goodbye and Good Riddance
Monday June 7 - 22:52 - Posted by 49a4a067b7e83e46...

Well done, Phil. Your article is a refreshing break from the breathless, gushing accounts being endlessly played on all mainstream media outlets—even NPR. It’s just sad that so many of our fellow Americans have such superficial, uncritical, and uninformed views on history and politics. I am more and more embarassed to be an American with every passing day. No wonder the world views us as a bunch of thuggish morons.

Dr. Frank D., Seattle, WA




> Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004 Goodbye and Good Riddance
Monday June 7 - 23:08 - Posted by 3ef8c7d46b683561...

Well Dr. Frank, it sounds as if your meaning of "refreshing" means that fiction amuses you more that factual evidence. Why are you still practicing medicine in America, since we all are not quite up to your standards of pristine conduct, or overall knowledge of "all that matters"?
Let me guess: the "Dr." title refers to abortion as your main income? Makes sense, since your hatred of a conservative is evident.



> Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004 Goodbye and Good Riddance
Tuesday June 8 - 05:37 - Posted by 34e1a42df752c4e3...

The truth is as refreshing as a glass of cool water
on a hot summer day of hyperbolic ’gushing
tributes’ to a stupid man who played President.




Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004 Goodbye and Good Riddance
Thursday February 5 - 02:37 - Posted by Jim - d0556444c5a8d6a6...

Reagan is a hero who defeated the Soviet Union and brought patriotism and morals back to our country. If you dont like it here get the heck out either way I do not think Reagan really would give a damn about how you feel.




Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004 Goodbye and Good Riddance
Monday August 20 - 04:15 - Posted by MiserableOldFart - e397ba981736f935dd2dbefcb35176bc...

Yeah, sure, and the people riding around at night with the pointy hats were actually nice folks..



Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004 Goodbye and Good Riddance
Monday August 20 - 04:14 - Posted by MiserableOldFart - e397ba981736f935dd2dbefcb35176bc...

This is the best and most succinct article I have ever seen covering the raygun presidency. It should be printed, verbatim, in every single history text.

The people who are angry at Prof. Gaspar are the kind of people who worship raygun and who still believe that FOX "news" is real. They are pretty much permanently divorced from reality.







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