The Moment of Truth — June 12, 2004

The Incontestable Greatness of Reagan

Welcome to the Moment of Truth, the Hubble Telescope instead of the usual faceful of ashes.

With the face of an iguana and the hair of Desi Arnaz, Ronald Wilson Reagan was a real piece of work. And I of course mean that in a good way. He was an asshole. Again I mean that in a good way.

I’m not sure what I mean when I say, “I mean that in a good way.” But I do know that all of Reagan’s flaws were actually virtues. And I guess that’s just how you’re supposed to remember him. Edmund Morris, author of the Reagan biography, Dutch, for example, recounted a story of Reagan recounting a story in which, Reagan said, he had sat across the campfire from Mikhail Gorbachov and told him something like, “Well, MacGrew, it’s high time your Bolsheviks at the OK Corral hit the long and dusty.” I’m paraphrasing. Then Morris, in admiring reverie, tells us something like, “Of course, that incident never occurred. It was a scene from one of his movies. But it just goes to show how committed he was to his image, his myth, and the pride he had in American strength.” Or some such crap. Which I mean in a good way.

See, to me it sounds like Reagan couldn’t distinguish reality from fantasy. The President of the United States couldn’t tell the difference between an actual event in his life and a scene from a hokey western. And by hokey I of course mean superb. But Morris has a different view: Hey, he couldn’t tell fantasy from reality! Yahoo! And he had his finger on the button! What a golden time that was.

And by golden I mean crappy.

Similarly, during this whole hoopla celebrating the slick-haired iguana’s death, I heard on NPR some chump who had been in the Reagan administration say something like, “He wasn’t a detail oriented person, he didn’t waste time with a lot of information—he kept his mind focused on his convictions.”

So now we see that eschewing knowledge and comprehension is a virtue, as long as your ignorance is the basis for strong convictions. I guess you can see why, when I called the Reagan administration guy a chump, I got kind of wistful. Chumphood is a noble career path.

Let me tell you, when Nixon died, I danced around singing, “Nixon’s dead, Nixon’s dead, lalalala Nixon’s dead.” But I didn’t dance when Reagan died. And I won’t dance until I’m sure he’s not going to rise again and appear to his followers to tell them the Good News of the coming Kingdom of God.

The truth is, I found everything about Reagan disturbing and sad—which I’m not complaining about, I mean, there’s nothing better than feeling disturbed and sad—in the way I felt while watching Werner Herzog’s remake of Murnau’s classic “Nosferatu.” I kept saying to myself, “How can they not see he’s a vampire? He’s blue and he has webbed ears and rat incisors.”

Now, I know what you’re thinking. And the answer is no. Putting Desi Arnaz’s hair on the Nosferatu would not have helped. It would have made it that much more sickening. Though, hey, who doesn’t love to be sickened, right? But there’s a time and a place for all such joyful frivolity.

CNN reported that those who visited Reagan’s casket were “dignitaries and ordinary Americans.” That’s it? There weren’t any Jews? Because ordinary Americans is code for good old hardworking white Christian heterosexual family people. It’s appropriate to use such crypto-hate speech when describing the funeral of the man who invented crypto-hate speech when he coined the word “welfare queen.” Weirdoes, black people, poor people, immigrants, intellectuals, East Coast liberal elites, homosexuals—they don’t fall under the rubric of ordinary Americans, neither in Reagan’s America, nor at his funeral, nor in CNN’s description of it. I guess they would then by default be considered dignitaries. Which is great!

“Dignitaries and ordinary Americans.” That’s great! What a great man, to attract those two groups of people to his funeral. And what a simply t’riffic, biased, loaded description. Truly, journalism at its finest. It’s even insulting to those non-dignitaries who went to see the casket. Not just famous people, but nameless losers came, too!

That is why CNN is the universe’s most elegant object.

Reagan was a father figure to many. He gave America back her pride, after she’d been defiled by peace protesters, the Civil Rights movement, and other America-defiling dignitaries. He brought calm, hope, courage and happiness back to those who didn’t give two squirts about military/industrial murder and civil rights, those ordinary Americans who need a big strong daddy to tell them everything’s okay. A nation of sniveling superstitious emotional weaklings with elbow joints in place of brain matter and egos fragile as the eggshells of eagles who’ve lived on trout tainted with DDT. Which was banned thanks to the environmental movement, those damn dignitaries.

And that’s all simply succulent and peachy!

Yes, America was just learning to examine itself realistically, as a mighty superpower with a democracy robust enough to confront its domestic and foreign flaws, and perhaps even overcome its government’s corruption. There was a critical public discussion going on, and it was shaping up to be a painful process. Thank god that delusional ignoramus came along with his convictions to cut the conversation short and weave us all into his nostalgic fantasy. What a great man.

He did not fear the cruelty of other men, and he was a rebel who lived by his own rules. This is evinced by the fact that he was more than willing to subvert the law to make sure Nicaraguan hospitals got blown up by hired thugs funded by arms sales to Iraq and crack sold to US citizens. That takes conviction. To kill sick people and medical personnel, that just goes to show Reagan was not afraid of death!

Reagan believed in the good old-fashioned virtue of poverty. That’s why he made sure so many people were out of work during his administration, and why he started the anti-labor and anti-tax trend that has left dignitaries such as teachers and tradespeople and other workers of all skill levels with wages and infrastructural conditions that have lagged behind corporate profits by twenty years and billions of dollars. Workers are more virtuous now than ever, thanks to Reagan’s convictions. He was just like FDR, only inside-out! And what’s more attractive than an inside-out person?

Yes, Reagan was a blessing, especially to those who got the sucking end of his poop popsicle. He was an inside-out, delusional, ignorant death dealer who subverted civil and human rights everywhere he could so long as it profited corporations. If that’s why the Soviet bloc collapsed, it’s analogous to a drunk driving a truckload of jelly jars full of nitro-glycerin as part of plan to assassinate Hitler, and accidentally crashing it and blowing up the fences and guard towers around Auschwitz. And then staggering away, leaving the Russian mafia in charge.

Now I can see why so many rightwing fanatics want to name the Pacific Ocean after him. He was like an ocean of virtue.

Remember when they named the Washington, D.C. airport after him? After he fired all those air traffic controllers for striking? I remember overhearing a couple pilots, several years afterward, calling it National Airport. Airline employees who had to interact with that airport refused to call it by the name of the man who had denied the collective bargaining rights of their fellow workers and thrown them out on the streets. So it was kind of stupid to spit in their faces like that by naming it after him, since they were in a position to spit right back.

And that’s unbelievably inspiring and scrumptious.

In their ongoing project to memorialize a man everyone supposedly loved but no one wants to see an image of, the rightwing Reagan worshipers wanted to replace FDR on the dime with Reagan, but people are so proud to be able to identify a president on a coin who isn’t wearing a wig or some other idiosyncratic hair thing that the right finally surrendered. Then they got the idea to replace Andrew Jackson with Reagan on the twenty, but the entire state of Tennessee blew a gasket. Then they wanted to put Reagan on the flag of Grenada in place of the nutmeg, but the Grenadans were still sore about having their election overturned by Reagan’s invasion. The big move after that was to try to get Reagan on the South African krugerrand instead of that loping springbok. When the delegation of Reagan fanatics got to South Africa to make this pitch, however, they discovered that, despite Reagan’s best efforts, the country was now being run by black people.

But as far as we know, Reagan never pissed off anyone living on the moon. That’s why Grover Norquist wants to carve Reagan’s likeness on the face of the moon, so it can watch over us at night, like a giant nightlight in the shape of our big strong daddy. Who is Grover Norquist? He’s been called, even by other conseratives, such as pundit Tucker Carlson, a “mean-spirited, humorless, dishonest little creep.” Which is another way of saying he’s just a sweet, lovable, god damn genius!

And now Reagan is dead. Which only illustrates how wonderfully human he was. Breathtaking. And he’s in a box and under the ground, an example of his great humility and modesty. Perhaps one day he will rot and turn to dust, in that grand manner he had of reposing and disintegrating, so gracefully, almost effortlessly, that won him so many lifelong friends.

One of those lifelong friends was Margaret Thatcher. And she is a totally frigid, heartless, soulless, fascist skank. But she wears it well.

This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!