Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead!

Carl Brooks

This is a determinedly uncompromising obituary to one of the 20th century’s most controversial figures, two-term President Ronald W. Reagan. To compare him in infamy is hard- Ulysses S. Grant might have some currency as a Reagan pre-cursor, a sham president manipulated at will by underlings running what was acknowledged as the most corrupt administration yet seen. But Grant had a resume that might have, on the face of it, qualified him for presidency- he won the civil war and ended slavery.

Reagan was 100% hollow, a man unfit to govern a subway car- his only skill was acting. He could make people feel good. That alone should disqualify you from leadership; feelings are not reality; they more often obscure it. He chirped his way into the White House, riding a white horse and grinning the gipper grin, on the back of as nasty, vile and corrupt bunch of wonks as had yet been seen in American government and presided over the decade that defined modern America. It, like Reagan, was an affirmation of lies. Reagan’s presence allowed for the indulgence of all that is worst in the American character- selfishness, indulgence and pious cruelty, all while “feeling good about America again!”.

The nabobs draw up their furrowed brows and ape profundity; the news is non-stop Reagan, and even his die-hardest antagonists, who swore blistering invective at him while he was president, mumble in their beards and nod at the assesment of his “legacy”. He’ll be remembered, they say, for standing tall againt the Soviets, for marching at the forefront of wealth and free trade, and restoring America’s faith in itself after Vietnam and Watergate.

In fact, the Soviet Union was faker than Reagan, reaping the bitter rewards of a centralized economy- Kermit the Frog could have taken credit for “standing up to the Reds” . As for wealth and free trade? Code words for taking jobs overseas and creating an underclass of desperate Americans. And what was the result? The biggest gap between rich and poor until today and the scantimonious kicking of the desititute. Reagan held up the non-existant welfare queen, blacker than night, big lipped, big hipped, and breeding to beat the band, and used her to snooker white America into fearing and hating people who could have used a little Christian charity, while corporate CEOS looted America’s coffers.

And Reagan didn’t restore faith in America-he destroyed America’s reputation. Throughout the world, Reagan is synonymous with Latin American death squads, CIA torturers and murderers, African dictators and Middle Eastern madmen. He trained the mujahideen in Afghanistan, who became the Taliban; he grinned his endearing grin while Saddam Hussein ran hog-wild and murdered Kurds. He tamped down democracy and liberty in favor of strongmen who could keep their people down and do business. In the ultimate two faced hypocritical prostitution of values, he ran drugs for money and arms and sold them to a country we had set our allies at war with- the Iran-Contra affair.

Or let us wonder at his wife, whose cheery attempts to fight the crack cocaine her husband’s underlings had imported managed to put most of LA under martial law for years on end, spending money that could have built schools, hospitals and and careers on jail cells for underemployed young American men.

If Reagan made you proud of America again, you weren’t paying attention.

Truthfully, is it fair to blame the man for every peccadillo committed by his winged monkeys? Sure- if you get to sit in the big chair and play with the shiny buttons, you get to take the blame, even if you, ah, don’t recall, Senator.

But it’s not that people like him had bad hearts; they were, and remain, ignorant, and that is the saddest part of all. How can you not pity a man who , having ascended to the most powerful position on the face of the earth, consulted astrologers? The man thought Vietnam started out as two countries and that air pollution came from trees. Our great shame as a nation is that we let a patent idiot pretend to drive the bus and make put-put noises while evil men lied, murdered and looted from the back seats.

Reagan spent his twilight years in decline, unable to witness the fight against the poverty and the crime he helped create, unable to understand the depredations of the international corporations he subsidized, and uncaring that his handlers got back in the White House under a president yet more false and more ignorant. The last years of his life are a more fitting tribute to the man than any eulogy that could be written- what better end for a man whose most famous words were, “I don’t remember, period.”?