Monday, January 14, 2008

"What Would Reagan Do?" Campaign Continues GOP's Creepy Deification Of The Gipper

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.

Hagelin writes:
"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.

8 comments:

chris wilcox said...

Ray-gun wasn't even awake most of the time he was in office. What I would like to know is who really was running the country while he was in office?

Marc McDonald said...

Decades from now, when historians analyze what caused America's reign as a superpower to end, they will likely point to Reagan's gigantic deficits as the beginning of the end for the U.S.

Saintperle said...

Interestingly, while the animatronic Mitt Romney was attacking Senator McCain for backing "an amnesty bill," McCain responded by telling him It wasn't amnesty, that there are requirements for residence and citizenship. But he continued -- and he's the only one who has dared to mention this -- President Reagan DID grant actual amnesty to undocumented native Americans from south of the line we drew and called our border -- straight out, no strings attached amnesty, you're all forgiven and can stay.

But they need to deify Reagan since they can't worship Saint Barry of Goldwater anymore since his ACTUAL conservatism meant he had no objections to gays in the military and that a woman's decisions about reproduction were none of the government's business.

Manifesto Joe said...

What would Reagan do? Probably drift off to sleep during the meeting.

And, as you point out, Reagan was far from the man of immovable principle that right-wing mythology depicts. As governor of California, he was in favor of abortion rights and presided over tax increases. He changed his tune when it was politically expedient.

But the man seemed to lead a charmed life. The term "the Teflon presidency" was coined during his administration. I remember, and followed intently, one screw-up after another, one outrage after another, throughout the '80s. And yet, few people noticed then, and few remember now. The revisionist history is indeed frightening.

Anonymous said...

What did he do? Inquiring minds would like to know.

Marc McDonald said...

re:
>>But the man seemed to lead a
>>charmed life. The term "the
>>Teflon presidency" was coined
>>during his administration.

Yeah, I always thought that the "Teflon presidency" phrase was just code for "The media has its thumb up its ass and can't be bothered to hold Reagan accountable for anything."

Just the opposite of the Clinton years. Then, each and every right-wing nutcase allegation against Clinton was explored in detail by the MSM, day after day, month after month.

It didn't even matter if the charges were totally bogus (Whitewater, HaircutGate, etc.). The MSM still honored each and every wingnut allegation with extensive coverage.

In the George W. Bush era, the MSM has once again fallen back into an eerie slumber. Stories of staggering importance to the nation have been ignored, (or not reported at all) in the U.S. media, from the Downing Street Memo to AttorneyGate to PlameGate, etc. etc. Incredibly, over 7 years, the MSM hasn't held Bush accountable for ANYTHING at all and has looked the other way, as the Bush team has run this nation into the ground.

WageslaveZ said...

-Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's-

I guess we'll be rendering The Gipper the honor of the man who started The United States' slide into third-world hegemony...

This is as ironic as the right-wing evangelicals being all gay for the fire-and-brimstone Old Testament version of the Bible instead of the New Testament messages brought from JC like they should...

I say we're better off speaking Mandarin in the next five years under Chinese hegemony than living under another right-wing a-hole...

-The jackals lick their paws in whitewashed halls-Smashing Pumpkins

Anonymous said...

The deification of the press may be right around the corner. With the announcement that Landmark Communications (several newspapers, The Weather Channel, etc.)is for sale; the Reverend M.G. "Pat" Robertson is rumored to be an interested party. Under the guise of supplementing the journalism program at his Regent University in Virginia Beach, Robertson may end up controlling the content of the local Virginian Pilot newspaper. This paper is circulated in the Southeastern Virginia and Northeastern North Carolina area; a population base of around 3 million. I could imagine the new masthead featuring Reagan and God with their fingers touching. The New York Times would appear to be a liberal rag next to this potential. Ronald Reagan could be the Posthumous Editor-in-Chief. Don't you wonder what type of coverage a political campaign would be like under this leadership?