By MARC MCDONALD
Remember the "What would Jesus do?" campaign that was popular back in the 1990s? It was a slogan used by many Christians as a reminder to follow Jesus in their daily lives.
These days, Republicans have borrowed the phrase as part of their creepy, ongoing deification of their hero, Ronald Reagan.
Recently, right-wing hacks Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham have been touting the Heritage Foundation's "What would Reagan do?" campaign.
The "What would Reagan do?" slogan (often abbreviated as "WWRD") recently took off like wildfire across the right-wing Web. Wingnut bloggers pontificate on the subject and online merchants peddle WWRD T-shirts and other products.
The Republicans can't seem to get enough of Reagan these days. If you listen to a GOP presidential debate, the participants endlessly sing Reagan's praises and proclaim themselves to be the most worthy candidate to carry the Gipper's legacy.
Personally, I find all this Reagan worship rather creepy and disturbing. But what disturbs me the most is that none of it is based on reality. Indeed, the GOP's view of Reagan is based on myth and fantasy.
Take for example, a recent article by Heritage Foundation official Rebecca Hagelin.
"Because Reagan did more than simply take strong, effective positions -- he took positions based on the U.S. Constitution -- principles which never change. Principles as relevant to today’s issues as they were when penned by our nation’s founders. He proved that timeless values are just that ... timeless."
Wow, that's quite heady praise for a flip-flopping, opportunistic politician who started out his career as a Democrat. Take a closer look, though, and you'll see that Hagelin's praise is the sort of cult-like, Kool-Aid-drinking devotion that is totally disconnected from reality.
First of all, there's this Heritage Foundation fantasy that Reagan "took positions based on the U.S. Constitution."
The reality is that Reagan (like George W. Bush) subverted the Constitution and used it like a piece of toilet paper.
Take the Iran-Contra affair, in which the White House ignored the Constitution and secretly sold weapons to terrorists in Iran and then illegally used the money to fund the Contras, the thugs who were trying to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nicaragua.
Although Reagan praised the Contras as "Freedom Fighters," they were in fact nothing more than terrorists who routinely slaughtered civilian men, women and children.
After the Lebanese magazine Ash-Shiraa exposed the Iran-Contra affair, Reagan lied through his teeth and denied the whole story. (So much for the GOP's portrayal of Reagan as a man of honesty and integrity).
Of course, we'll never know the full story of Iran-Contra. The White House team shredded thousands of papers that documented the affair. But what we do know is that Reagan had utter contempt for the Constitution and the rule of law.
In a 1987 special, journalist Bill Moyers documented the whole sordid affair, in "The Secret Government: The Constitution in Crisis," which you can view here. Watching it, I felt ashamed to be an American.
If the wingnuts insist on worshipping their hero Reagan, that's their business. But to try to portray Reagan as a paragon of honesty and integrity (and as a president who respected the Constitution) is a nauseating lie.