A Menagerie of Outspoken Opinions on Science, World Politics, and Geek Culture

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

He's Dead Boys! Let's Get' im!

Predictably, the liberal privateers have begun their raids against Ronald Reagan's "shining city on the hill" now that its leader lies in state and the citizens mourn his passing. And have no doubt that these people are privateers; thugs on the sea of political thought who operate with the unofficial sanction of the leftist powers-that-be.

First up we have Christopher Hitchens, a writer for Vanity Fair who seems rather level-headed outside of his apparent desire to kick the body of a dead President. Hitchens' article "Not Even a Hedgehog" focuses on Reagan's "stupidity", lambasting the 40th President for his mistakes of memory and speech.

No one, least of all me, is going to call Ronald Reagan a genius. He was a man of great personality, vision, and courage, but of average intelligence. Reagan knew this, and it is precisely why he surrounded himself with bright folks; he wasn't smart enough to run the country by himself, but he was smart enough (and modest enough) to understand that and to appoint scholars and thinkers where appropriate. No one can be all things ... Reagan was at least enough of a man to deal honestly with his shortcomings.

Furthermore, the mistakes Reagan sometimes made while speaking could happen to anyone. In fact, they happen to everyone; let's take a look at an excerpt from an interview with Hitchens himself:

"...Mark Halperin's piece in The Wall Street Journal this week? He was a former speechwriter for Vice President Dole..." (emphasis mine)

I found that after looking over the guy's work for about 15 minutes, so I'm sure there's plenty more where that came from. Shucks, Christopher, you misidentified Bob Dole as The Vice President of The United States ... how stupid of you. Why, you're not a fox or a hedgehog either.

You're a jackass.

Next we have Trapper John of Daily Kos, who undoubtedly thinks he's being even-handed in this post about Reagan's death. To be fair, Trapper isn't mean or derogatory ... but he does spew the same old liberal pablum that the left reflexively vomits every time you say "Reagan":

He earned the enmity of many of us on the left through his dismantling of the New Deal and enabling of a culture of greed -- but we should not forget that he was once one of us, an FDR Democrat. His journey to the far right mirrored a similar, if less dramatic, shift that occurred in the general American psyche. And while Reagan cannot be excused for his utter failure as president, we must never see him solely as a symbol of a shameful era ...

Trap is a good writer and unraveling this takes a bit of work; there is objective truth mixed in with a lot of subjective opinion and outright bullshit.

Reagan certainly did make an enemy of the left by dismantling The New Deal. It's why he was voted into the White House a second time - and in a landslide victory. No one but rich white people from New England ever actually liked The New Deal, Trapper, and the people it was meant to help benefited far more from the economic boom that took place after Reagan unshackeled us from it. Remember that one single shred of direct evidence (better jobs and more of them) is superior to a mountain of social theory ("the government can help people better than they can help themselves"). Dismantle The New Deal? You're goddamn right he did.

Is America a culture of greed? Did Reagan enable it? Perhaps Trap's readers - and my own - would like to go here and here to find out.

Next: Reagan was a liberal Democrat in his youth. Yep, so was I.

Any man who is under 30 and is not a Liberal has no heart; and
any man who is over 30 and not a Conservative has no brains

- Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

It is also true that there was a "shift in the American psyche" around the time Reagan took office. Trapper John apparently laments this; he undoubtedly longs for an era of contempt for the military, rampant Soviet Imperialism, double-digit inflation, an endless hostage crisis, and flagging patriotism. From the mid-60s right through the end of the 70s this country suffered both mismanagement and a crisis of spirit, and we all know that just as many conservatives are to blame for it as liberals.

But Reagan ended that. He led us back to confidence and competence. The shift in psyche was not so much "to the right" as it was "away from failure". Trapper is disingenuous in his allusion to the idea that it was anything else.

Lastly we come to the characterization of President Reagan as a "failure" and his legacy as a "shameful era". This is nothing but rhetoric and is the section of Trapper John's post that qualifies as naked (and blatantly untrue) propaganda. Under Reagan's leadership inflation was slashed, jobs were created by the millions, and the military was restored to strength and honor. Patriotism grew and defeatism virtually disappeared. Soviet Communism finally fell. How does this make the man a "failure"? And the era that Reagan ushered in was one of unprecedented growth and saw America arise as the world's only superpower. How is that "shameful"?

Trapper, I challenge you to go out and ask Americans which era brings them greater shame: The one before Reagan (the 70s) or the one after (the 90s). I already know what kind of answers you'll get, but you quite obviously need an education on the subject.

There are a load of other liberal pundits and pols and armchair quarterbacks who now feel it's finally safe to trash former President Reagan (a dead man can't punch you in the mouth or embarrass you in a debate no matter how much you deserve it). I'm not going to attempt to refute all of them here, but John Hawkins has rounded many of them up over at Right Wing News. You all should follow his links, read the articles, and, if you have a blog or can write a letter to the editor, spend some time debunking their bullshit. We all owe Ronald Reagan a great deal; the least we can do is stand up to defend him and his shining city from the jealous and vindictive pirates who now seek to plunder it.