Friday, October 03, 2008

Does she really want to go with a Reaganism?

Perhaps it is merely that all Republicans are required to recite an obligatory Reagan reference when they speak. However, in speaking to the world in these troubled times, I'd have gone with another one than this. In the Veep Debate, Sarah Palin closed in part with the following:
"It was Ronald Reagan who said that freedom is always just one generation away from extinction. We don’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream; we have to fight for it and protect it, and then hand it to them so that they shall do the same, or we’re going to find ourselves spending our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children about a time in America, back in the day, when men and women were free."
Ronald Reagan once recorded the following close:
"And if you don't do this and if I don't do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children's children, what it once was like in America when men were free."
Accepting how Reagan's acting performances continued into his political career, perhaps he later said something like the same in later years yet I'll go with the reference that Jonathan Chait pointed out. The above Reagan quote came when he was buttering his B-actor bread shilling for the American Medical Association. Here's an album cover of his craftsmanship.

This short recording of Reagan was a large part of how the AMA's "Auxiliary" pushed back against Medicare legislation that was already a step back from Truman's goal of rather universal health care. Larry Dewitt serves up a phenomenal Operation Coffeecup: Ronald Reagan’s Effort to Prevent the Enactment of Medicare that is simply amazing scholarship and writing. I appreciated how he began this essay with the following:
"Within hours of the announcement of Ronald Reagan’s death on June 5th 2004, the machinery of politically-interested history was in full swing as Reagan partisans flooded first the airwaves and then the pages of the nation’s newspapers with accounts of Reagan’s life and political achievements. Much of it was in the manner of mythmaking, which was appropriate in a sense: throughout his political career Reagan displayed a perplexing tendency to fictionalize his own personal history when his present political interests could better be served by a self-effacing quip, or a charming anecdote, than by a literal recounting of historical truth."
Mercy if Ms. Palin doesn't remind me of The Gipper. I've covered Cold War Triumphalism and "the misuse of history" previously. I told a young soldier recently that Reagan was the first President I voted against (1984 if you're keeping score at home) and noted a look of sincere shock given how St. Ronnie has been lionized. Although I can't specifically recall in 1980 the following exchange, I was likely watching and certainly have long known of this legendary moment in Presidential politics:

Carter - "... Governor Reagan, as a matter of fact, began his political career campaigning around this nation against Medicare. Now, we have an opportunity to move toward national health insurance ..."

Reagan - "There you go again. When I opposed Medicare, there was another piece of legislation meeting the same problem before the Congress. I happened to favor the other piece of legislation and thought that it would be better for the senior citizens and provide better care than the one that was finally passed. I was not opposing the principle of providing care for them. I was opposing one piece of legislation versus another."

Here we go again? Does anyone remember anything past the "There you go again." It's doubtful. And yet Reagan was lying or at least even then substantially confused about his "another piece of legislation" claim. Edward Berkowitz provides some decent coverage of the period yet you have to work hard to get to some minimal details. Maybe Reagan was thinking of 1965's "eldercare"? Kerr-Mills passed in 1960.

In the early sixties Reagan was General Electric's actor who'd been loaned to the AMA. By 1980 one could argue about exactly who all was doing the handling yet I surely hope many can accept that Reagan had always been handled. Clark Clifford was right to label him an "Amiable Dunce".

Caribou Barbie was a "professional" journalist, with sportscasting being her forte. She has beauty pageant experience in her resume. She was winking and stretching her eyes during the debate! The Brits report it as When folksiness met firmness. "Darn right", "dog-gone-it", etc. She is so pseudo hip that used the terms "shout out" and "back in the day". Gag me with a spoon! Who might be in part of her Kitchen Cabinet one day?

Here we are on the brink of financial institutions allegedly melting down thanks to the right's deregulation fetish. We've got a monster deficit thanks to Bu$hCo's tax cuts for the fat cats. War rages on with plenty of security concerns within and beyond our borders that have been ignored during the Reign of Error. We simply must move past our carbon based fuels. We ...

Truly trouble looms. I'll submit many of our perils have roots in Reaganism. Conservatism that has dominated our politics ever since. And her handlers want to try a "Morning in America" approach? They want to recycle a theme from Ronald Reagan (or his employers?) as he first emerged on the political stage? Maybe she and hers are truly feeling "free" yet I think they are little but fakes. I can only hope America is ready for a change. John Gunn

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