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Rich on Reagan
November 16, 2003 9:14 AM   Subscribe

Terrific Frank Rich piece (NYT link) on Angels, Reagan, and AIDS in America.
posted by adrober (35 comments total)

 
I liked this David Shaw LATimes column from last week on how "The Reagans" should've been done.
posted by wendell at 10:01 AM on November 16, 2003


they're both great...thanks! (I can't wait to see Angels)
posted by amberglow at 12:09 PM on November 16, 2003


No matter what efforts at deconstruction are made, Reagan's legacy is already set in concrete. He is the President who defeated Soviet communism. This places him behind Frank Roosevelt as the second most important President of the 20th Century.

Nothing else, good or bad, that he or his administration did, mattered beyond their years in office. Not a great economy, and not crushing the spirit of the democratic party; not Iran-Contra, and not the first legally protected disease.

And no number of progressively fictional fantasies will take that away from him, even if their burning hatred gives Barbara Streisand and her friends ulcers.
posted by kablam at 12:42 PM on November 16, 2003


Reagan's legacy is already set in concrete.
I would say part of his legacy is certainly set in stone--on the tombstones of the thousands and thousands of people who died of AIDS while he did nothing. Just because a guy did some good things doesn't mean you hide the bad things and inaction.
posted by amberglow at 12:46 PM on November 16, 2003


Whew! I'm certainly glad whatsisname, Clinton, was able to cure AIDS by caring about it. Assuming a sociopath can actually care about anything. His legacy is profound: Didn't do anything, but felt everyone's pain. Got impeached.
posted by kablam at 2:05 PM on November 16, 2003


It's not about personally caring (altho that helps)--it's about allocating money and providing a bully pulpit with the public, the NIH, and CDC, establishing programs and passing anti-discrimination laws, and all that stuff, kablam, for a disease that had already killed more than vietnam while reagan was still in office. Things like establishing commissions on AIDS (with actual people afflicted on the commissions), and the Ryan White act, and many others.
posted by amberglow at 2:16 PM on November 16, 2003 [1 favorite]


Reagan had no more to do with the fall of communism than he did men landing on the moon. Occupancy of the White House does not confer credit for concurrent events.
posted by Mo Nickels at 2:44 PM on November 16, 2003


Actually, kablam, George H.W. Bush is the president who defeated the Soviet Union.

How inconvenient!
posted by Ptrin at 2:49 PM on November 16, 2003


Oh gosh, Reagan was bad because he didn't cure AIDs.

yawn.

Why can't homosexuals take responsibility for their role in the propagation of HIV infections? It was their culture and practices that facilitated HIV infection and tipped the balance to epidemic. Even before this male homosexuals known for their association with transmission of disease, hepatitis is an exemplar.

Perhaps the burden should not be on the heterosexual community to blindly accept homosexual "culture", but rather on homosexuals to moderate their practices and hence transmission of disease.
posted by paleocon at 6:00 PM on November 16, 2003


The conventional wisdom about the winning of the Cold War was that by creating the biggest peacetime military buildup in US history, and in particular accelerating the Star Wars SDI initiative, the US forced the USSR into an arms race that it could ill afford to maintain and finally broke it financially and politically. That the Berlin Wall collapsed and the Politburo was overthrown on Bush Sr.'s watch was more an issue of timing than anything that Bush Sr. did beside stay Reagan's course.

Otherwise, I agree that Presidents shouldn't necessarily get the credit or blame for what happens on their watch - some of what afflicted Jimmy Carter was an outgrowth of what had already happened during the Nixon and Ford eras, while Clinton can scarcely be credited with doing anything much to foster the economic good times during his eight years -- or successfully defeating Osama bin Laden before the disastrous attack that happened on W's watch. (How W has dealt with same is, of course entirely and directly his and his Administration's responsibility, however.)
posted by alumshubby at 6:07 PM on November 16, 2003


Paleocon,

That is a WONDERFUL point. On that same note, I think anyone who smokes and gets lung cancer should be held accountable for their practices and that our president should completely drop all funding for lung cancer research, awareness and treatment since those that smoke in sin, die in sin. Add to that heart disease funding for anyone who overeats or money for drug/alcohol rehabilitation since anyone who engages in that behavior deserves to suffer.

What's most fucked up about your post is the notion that gays are somehow blameworthy for the spread of AIDS when the government--who knew so much and offered so little--kept so many in the dark about why and how their behavior was risky. Which is why AIDS education and awareness is the single most important weapon we have right now in stopping its spread.

But what really pisses me off about your nasty, completely offensive post is the ridiculous idea that AIDS is a gay problem today when the fastest rising group of HIV infections is amongst black women.

I work at the legal aid AIDS project, helping those who've contracted the disease prepare their living wills, fight insurance companies who drop them and protect them from bigots like you who fire them from their jobs. Perhaps you can come to work with me tomorrow and tell these mostly heterosexual, poor and uneducated AIDS patients that their disease is their fault or the fault of the gay men who volunteer their time to help them. In any case, I hope when you or a loved one contracts some terrible disease the response you get isn't a "yawn."

*angriest post ever*
posted by adrober at 6:51 PM on November 16, 2003


adrober = my new favorite MeFite.
posted by stonerose at 7:37 PM on November 16, 2003


His legacy is profound: Didn't do anything, but felt everyone's pain. Got impeached.
posted by y2karl at 9:30 PM on November 16, 2003


alumshubby: what you cite is definitely conventional, but hardly wisdom. The refrain I have heard from specialists on the topic is that the USSR believed that communism was imune to red ink. They began running deficits in the late 70's, handwaved the problem away, and finally reaped what they had sown a decade later. Arrogance and economic mismanagement, no more, no less.

Blaming Reagan for the collapse of the Soviet Union is like blaming Osama for our current deficit. Never attribute to maliciousness that which can be explained by mere incompetence.
posted by Ptrin at 9:58 PM on November 16, 2003


have you guys read the latest book by paleocon?


posted by mcsweetie at 5:56 AM on November 17, 2003


Ptrin: If I follow you, what you're basically saying is that Reagan's policies and the USSR reaping what they'd sown was basically coincidence, right? If so, I concede that's a view I hadn't heard before.

Could it be possible that the truth was somewhere in between -- that as it became evident that Humpty Dumpty was beginning to teeter on the wall, that Reagan & Co. supplied the decisive push?
posted by alumshubby at 6:07 AM on November 17, 2003


> Blaming Reagan for the collapse of the Soviet Union

Blaming? Freudian slip? But if you're truly unhappy that the USSR is gone and are looking for somebody to blame, Reagan is as good a devil as anybody. I expect there are any number of folks around here (especially now that We're Left, They're Wrong has belly-uppified) who deep down miss the "alternative superpower" and wish it would come back. After all, it set such a golden example of enlightened AIDS policy.


> That is a WONDERFUL point. On that same note, I think anyone
> who smokes and gets lung cancer should be held accountable
> for their practices and that our president should completely
> drop all funding for lung cancer research, awareness and treatment
> since those that smoke in sin, die in sin. Add to that heart disease
> funding for anyone who overeats or money for drug/alcohol
> rehabilitation since anyone who engages in that behavior deserves
> to suffer.

People who get themselves into hideous trouble by doing stupid things with their bodies should, at the very least, have to state that they were stupid and are sorry. One very often hears smokers with emphysema and/or cancer moan "Oh why oh why did I ever start smoking?" One does not hear people with AIDS moan "Oh why oh why did I ever start fucking?" Anyone who ain't sorry for the bed (of whatever type) he made for himself should certainly be allowed to die in it with his contumacy dignity undisturbed
posted by jfuller at 6:31 AM on November 17, 2003


"One does not hear people with AIDS moan '"Oh why oh why did I ever start fuckin?'"
Right. They prance around proudly and boastfully, showing off their lesions and colostomy bags and touting their many unsafe lays. Jfuller, that's almost as stupid as paleocon's point except it crossed out the word "contumacy" so was oh so much more powerful.
To suggest that AIDS victims are any less remourseful than cancer victims is ridiculous, homophobic and indicative of an administration that cared more about jelly beans than thousands its dying citizens.
posted by adrober at 10:28 AM on November 17, 2003


> To suggest that AIDS victims are any less remorseful than cancer victims
> is ridiculous,

I see a considerable constituency for the idea that we should spend whatever it takes on medical research for a vaccine to make it safe to fuck strangers.

But I don't see any comparable support for spending whatever it takes to make it safe to smoke cigarettes.

These two cases ought to be exact parallels. So if shame and exclusion are so obviously necessary parts of the right response to smoking-related health problems, it strikes me that we logically need a great deal more shame and exclusion in our response to health problems related to stranger-fucking. If there's remorse for high-risk lifestyles, it needs to be high-profile remorse. And I want to hear more people go "Ew. You fuck strangers? That's nasty!" the way they go "Ew" when some poor addict lights up a fag.
posted by jfuller at 11:42 AM on November 17, 2003


it strikes me that we logically need a great deal more shame and exclusion in our response to health problems related to stranger-fucking.
It seems to me that as long as you include those stranger-fucking heteros, shame and exclusion might make the vast majority of the population (young singles as well as cheating spouses) excluded. How about realistic sex education and free condom distribution?
posted by amberglow at 12:16 PM on November 17, 2003


But if you're truly unhappy that the USSR is gone

in your right rulez left drulez wet dreams maybe.
posted by mcsweetie at 12:20 PM on November 17, 2003


What a tactful word to end your post on, jfuller.

What does shame and remourse have to do with medical research? Why should anyone have to apologize for behavior that exists across all political lines? Remourseless stranger-fucking as a reason to withhold medical treatment would empty almost every bed in every city in every country.

And it sounds to me like you want permission not to say "You fuck strangers! That's nasty!" but "You fuck men! That's nasty!" Unfortunately, cigarette smoking and consensual gay sex differ in one important way: the former, even at its best, is an act of self-destruction while the latter, even at its worst, is an act of love.
posted by adrober at 12:21 PM on November 17, 2003


> the latter, even at its worst, is an act of love.

Hold that thought right there. There's the prancing around boastfully, I've bagged an instance! Help me, I got a turrible disease because of Loooove, which is a Good Thing.

Twaddle. Stranger-fucking has no more to do with love than blowing your nose has to do with love. It's just using another person for your own self-gratification. If it's consensual, it's consensual in the same way two junkies sharing their works is consensual. There's nothing whatever to be proud of there so, stranger-fuckers, skip the pride nonsense and take your fair dose of shame and exclusion to go with your tax-funded medical rescue.


> And it sounds to me like you want permission not to say
> "You fuck strangers! That's nasty!" but "You fuck men!
> That's nasty!"

Well, you have permission to post for me from now on, and shoot down whatever it is you want to say I said.
posted by jfuller at 1:19 PM on November 17, 2003


If your issue is with stranger-fuckers, that's fine, cause chances are it includes you too. If your issue is with gay men who have AIDS exclusively, then that's the problem.

Also: if stranger-fucking is "just using another person for your own self-gratification," you must not be very good in bed.

Unless you're abstinent, jfuller, I think you're tempting the fates to send a nasty case of crabs your way. I look forward to the press conference, your public apology, and the shame and exclusion that come with the crab-killing ointment. I'll lead a troop of homos who will prance around in t-shirts boasting: "LOOOVE INFESTED JFULLER'S CROTCH."
posted by adrober at 1:51 PM on November 17, 2003


jfuller: There's nothing whatever to be proud of there so, stranger-fuckers, skip the pride nonsense and take your fair dose of shame and exclusion to go with your tax-funded medical rescue.

No reasonable gay man is either proud nor ashamed of being homosexual. It's simply a fact of our psychology and physiology, for which there's no reason on earth why we should feel shamed or be excluded, any more than you should for your obviously latent homosexual tendencies. C'mon, jfuller, 'fess up: what was it? One too many boners in the men's locker room after gym class? One too many glances at Peyton Manning's nice, firm ass? 'Cause, jfuller, as we all learned in grade school, the ones with the loudest, most attention drawing rants are the ones who are most likely to be hiding the very thing they would have others feel shame for...
posted by JollyWanker at 1:58 PM on November 17, 2003


> If your issue is with stranger-fuckers, that's fine, cause chances are
> it includes you too.

It did once but I got better.


> Unless you're abstinent, jfuller, I think you're tempting the fates to
> send a nasty case of crabs


I'm not abstinent, I'm monogamous. I've fucked only the one person for going on twenty years, and have not strayed from the reservation, and (AFAIK) neither has she. That may not be normal, as you and amberglow suggest, but it is normative. At any rate, neither of us has been troubled by AIDS (or crabs) in that length of time. Those are just things that happen to the lower orders who need our help and support as they try to lift themselves out of their degradation. Here, friend, have a hand up. Don't mind the rubber glove.
posted by jfuller at 2:21 PM on November 17, 2003


So what do you say to those who aren't partnered yet? I can be monogomous with someone who hides their HIV status from me and become infected. I can also have sex with a stranger and stay healthy. It seems in your moral universe, the "right" choices just happen to be the ones that you've made.
posted by adrober at 3:43 PM on November 17, 2003


> It seems in your moral universe, the "right" choices just happen to be
> the ones that you've made.

Yep. Or vice versa.


> So what do you say to those who aren't partnered yet?

Frankly, I hope the legal-marriage thing comes through for you. Then we can require a doctor's certificate of bug-freeness for a marriage license, and once the discrimination issue is put to rest we can outlaw fornication on public health grounds. Won't stop fornication, but it will throw a new light on folks who say I got a turrible disease while engaged in criminal congress, fix me at taxpayer expense right now!
posted by jfuller at 4:29 PM on November 17, 2003


and once the discrimination issue is put to rest we can outlaw fornication on public health grounds.

something tells me you're not too big on that whole "liberty" thing.
posted by mcsweetie at 4:51 PM on November 17, 2003


wow, this got ugly.
posted by palegirl at 9:57 PM on November 17, 2003


Strange, yes. The metamob is over in metatalk stringing up paleocon for his relatively benign comment and giving me a pass. I've either got a lot of get out of jail free cards or else they're all like "that one can say 'contumacy,' better tiptoe around 'im."
posted by jfuller at 4:12 AM on November 18, 2003


I bet it's because he's a right winger and we only tolerate left wingers here.
posted by mcsweetie at 5:54 AM on November 18, 2003


Why would I have wanted to say anything to you, jfuller? You have no heart. You do have some nice words, though. It doesn't make your arguments any more compelling. So here's your scrap of attention. Enjoy.
posted by attackthetaxi at 6:02 AM on November 18, 2003


jfuller: "I've either got a lot of get out of jail free cards or else they're all like "that one can say 'contumacy,' better tiptoe around 'im."

Or it could be a rare illustration of a posting history (in this thread at least) that defines the phrase, "beneath contempt".

Your a hateful little troll and I find it reasuring that most people (myself obviously excluded) have the sense to ignore your verbal diarrhea.
posted by cedar at 6:02 AM on November 18, 2003


Sullivan responds in The New Republic.
posted by Mighty at 11:56 AM on November 19, 2003


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