66 Things to Think About When Flying Into Reagan National Airport by David Corn
The firing of the air traffic controllers, winnable nuclear war, recallable nuclear missiles, trees that cause pollution, Elliott Abrams lying to Congress, ketchup as a vegetable, colluding with Guatemalan thugs, pardons for F.B.I. lawbreakers, voodoo economics, budget deficits, toasts to Ferdinand Marcos, public housing cutbacks, redbaiting the nuclear freeze movement, James Watt.
Getting cozy with Argentine fascist generals, tax credits for segregated schools, disinformation campaigns, "homeless by choice," Manuel Noriega, falling wages, the HUD scandal, air raids on Libya, "constructive engagement" with apartheid South Africa, United States Information Agency blacklists of liberal speakers, attacks on OSHA and workplace safety, the invasion of Grenada, assassination manuals, Nancy's astrologer.
Drug tests, lie detector tests, Fawn Hall, female appointees (8 percent), mining harbors, the S&L scandal, 239 dead U.S. troops in Beirut, Al Haig "in control," silence on AIDS, food-stamp reductions, Debategate, White House shredding, Jonas Savimbi, tax cuts for the rich, "mistakes were made."
Michael Deaver's conviction for influence peddling, Lyn Nofziger's conviction for influence peddling, Caspar Weinberger's five-count indictment, Ed Meese ("You don't have many suspects who are innocent of a crime"), Donald Regan (women don't "understand throw-weights"), education cuts, massacres in El Salvador.
"The bombing begins in five minutes," $640 Pentagon toilet seats, African- American judicial appointees (1.9 percent), Reader's Digest, C.I.A.-sponsored car-bombing in Lebanon (more than eighty civilians killed), 200 officials accused of wrongdoing, William Casey, Iran/contra.
"Facts are stupid things," three-by-five cards, the MX missile, Bitburg, S.D.I., Robert Bork, naps, Teflon.
"Watching the news, how can anyone still claim that there's a liberal media bias? It's like a 24-hour Reagan cocksuck right now."—interrobang
Furthermore, having been a college student in the late '60s-early '70s, I often feel like a superannuated Regency buck, peering around at all the prim young Victorians and trying to remember not to say "leg."
"Your venom now would sting a lot more if I weren't forced to wonder whether or not you were too busy drinking beer and trying to lay the cheerleader (or quarterback)...or, worse, fantasizing about same rather than actually trying to do it...instead of caring about the deaths of some dirty faggots. Since I am forced to wonder, given that I faced cold-dead apathy from right and left twenty years ago, your venom now is ineffectual and petty. But, hey, spew away if it makes you feel better."—WolfDaddy
"I am also sad that this virtually cements a GW Bush win in November."—Ynoxas
On Saturday afternoon, Ronald Wilson Reagan ascended bodily into heaven. Long may he be remembered, for single-handedly destroying the Soviet Union as it was poised to conquer the free world; for rising up in the form of a winged dragon and breathing the pestilence of AIDS forth upon the American continent; for his courage in providing arms to the people of Iraq, Iran, and Central America to defend themselves against the dark threats lurking in Iraq, Iran, and Central America; for his stunning tax reforms, which made jewel-bedecked sultans of the poorest paupers in the land; for his recklessly and disastrously bringing the world to the brink of global nuclear annihilation while following the dark whims of Biblical prophecy and astrological portents; and most of all, for coming to represent all our preconceptions of what America should and shouldn't be.
Was Ronald Reagan the best president? No, nor was he the worst. But the important thing is that now, long after his passing, he can be idealized, transformed and transfigured by time and ideology into a symbol of everything we desire or loathe in America, so that Ronald Reagan the man is utterly erased and replaced with Ronald Reagan the Icon, a convenient projection of our most feverish motivations in animatronic Hall-of-Presidents form.
When we keep our leaders larger than life, they become larger than our ability to rationally discuss them. We apply wondrous sobriquets, classifying the giants of the Oval Office with Catholic precision, making saints and Mysteries of men. Who can question the fighting spirit of the Happy Warrior, or the resilience of the Comeback Kid? The very invocation of their names becomes a sacrament or blasphemy, and as long as we keep their memories blown wildly out of proportion, we'll never have to confront them.
And how much more comfortable that is for us. The danger of Reagan the man, after all, is that we might learn from him. The man was real - a flesh and blood president whose triumphs and failings might lead us to question our own preconceptions. Reagan the Icon exists only in our mind, a creature of our prejudices and ideologies - a figure from unhistory who threatens to teach us nothing.
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