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Forgive me, Zombie Reagan

I owe Ronald Reagan an apology. Not for the graphics. Okay, yes, for the graphics…but not just for the graphics. I owe him an apology because when the press told me he was an idiot, I believed them. But in my defense, I believed he was an idiot and I loved him anyway.

I was just hitting my teens when the Vietnam war ended in shame (my big brother was one of the last draftees — the most persuasive argument I know for an all-volunteer army). Then Watergate. The energy crisis(es). The Iranian hostage crisis. Stagflation. A president named “Jimmy.” Oh, it was a terrible time.

We had our 200th birthday and the press was full of stories by learned men about the death of empires. Two centuries was a pretty good run, everyone agreed.

We made shit products and charged too much money for them and nobody wanted to buy. Instead of making things better or cheaper, we tried to guilt each other into buying our own junk with strongarm appeals to a patriotism we didn’t really feel (“look for the union label” the Textile Workers sang to us on the TV. Buy our shoddy, overpriced crap or you hate America).

Everything cost too much and nobody had enough and we were COLD all the time. We — my family — ate a lot of game. Greasy stews and small furry animals bleeding out in the sink; that’s what the Seventies mean to me. That, and disco.

Malaise was busting out all over. It was pervasive. Drenching. It got right down into your bones, like damp cold. It worked its way into the drapes like a ripe stink. It was all over for America, we were all done.

Jimmy Carter didn’t totally own the malaise, but he was the perfect front man. Turn down the thermostat and put on a sweater, he said. You aren’t so special, he said. Pride goeth before a fall, he said. You’re going to poke an eye out with that thing, he said. America elected Jimmy Carter to atone for her sins, because surely God was mad at us.

The media assured us that sour, spiteful, shriveled up whey-faced bitter schoolmarm Jimmy Carter was going to be president forever.

When Ronald Reagan kicked his ass, it was like Spring after Winter. Like rain in the desert. Like all the bad things in all the stories coming untrue at once. Like lollipops, quilted toilet paper and a pony for Christmas. Every Christmas.

I was not all that political. Maybe, in a way, that made the contrast more vivid to me.

For years, I was so distracted by the difference Reagan made that I largely missed what a remarkable man he was his own self. The press helped me here: Bush Derangement Syndrome didn’t flare up out of nowhere. Ronnie led the way on this one, too. Damn, but the media hated that man.

Well, forgive me. For I have just boughten the Reagan Diaries and I shall readen them cover to cover.

So help me Zombie Reagan.




Wait! You didn’t pick the guy with the great hair?
Did you learn NOTHING from me?


Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: February 12, 2008, 4:54 pm

It’s very difficult for someone who didn’t live in that era or see it first hand to really understand what Reagan meant and did for America. Reading his speeches leave you stunned, even without his homespun, winsome delivery they are so powerful and profound, he made the best case for conservatism ever stated and he did it with style.

Comment from Muslihoon
Time: February 12, 2008, 5:14 pm

All hail Ronaldus Maximus!

Remember that incident with Reagan, of blessed memory, demanding the Soviets to tear down that wall? Wasn’t supposed to happen. His advisors thought it was too confrontational. Wouldn’t want the Soviets to pour more money on nuking us rather than bread and butter, no? But Saint Ronnie said it anyway, and that became iconic of American impertinence…which was and is a good thing!

I may get plenty of flack from right and left, but W is our post-9/11 Reagan. Or he would be if he communicated more. I don’t care much about his mangling the English language: he just needed to reach out.

Whoever our next potential savior may be, I hope he’ll learn that lesson from Reagan the Great: communicate, and the Nation will support you.

Comment from Gnus
Time: February 12, 2008, 5:29 pm

Mom always said that I had to take up for myself. “You’ll get your ass kicked if you don’t,” she’d say.

To me W’s greatest failing is/was that he didn’t take up for himself. All those charges from the left. Why didn’t he sit down and explain the way things really were?


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 12, 2008, 5:30 pm

I have a bad feeling this is how our leftist friends see Obama: a cool breeze after a hot Summer.

I’d say let them have their man (we aren’t going to win EVERY election), if it weren’t clear how very far to the left he is. He’s been careful not to articulate specific policies, just vague, happy words like “hope” and “change.” I wonder how long he can get away with that, and what will happen if he stops.

Comment from Muslihoon
Time: February 12, 2008, 5:41 pm

“My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.”

Audio here.

*wistful sigh*

Comment from Muslihoon
Time: February 12, 2008, 5:47 pm

* When Mondale challenged Reagan for the presidency in 1984, there were plans to make Reagan’s age an issue. Reagan easily defeated that plot by saying in a debate, “I will not make age an issue in this campaign. I’m not going to exploit for political purposes my opponents youth and inexperience,” and then proceeding to beat Mondale until he cried like a little girl.

* Speaking of girls, the Mondale candidacy was notable for being the first with a female on the ticket. It was also notable for being the losingest campaign electoral wise by a major party, getting only 13 electoral votes with 525 for Reagan. Most news stations didn’t even bothering coming up with a color to show which states Mondale won.

* The only state Mondale did win, Minnesota, eventually rejected him in a Senate bid making him the only major candidate to lose in all fifty states. Not so great a record, but what have you done of note?

Via Frank J.’s Know Thy Greats: Ronald Reagan.

Comment from Muslihoon
Time: February 12, 2008, 5:49 pm

For the record: I hate Obama. He might be the only reason I’d vote even for Huckanidiot.

Of course, this is sort of personal for me. When he was running for senator, he promised us Illinoisans he would not run for president. I can’t trust him at all. I feel personally betrayed.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 12, 2008, 6:11 pm

Eh. I just have this feeling, Musli.

Of course, when it comes to predicting elections, I’m pretty much always wrong…

Comment from Muslihoon
Time: February 12, 2008, 7:06 pm

Oh, Your Grace, I can certainly see why others would be smitten by him to whatever degree. I just have difficulty joining that wagon.

Comment from Muslihoon
Time: February 12, 2008, 7:09 pm

Feh, 我不能看中文!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 12, 2008, 7:18 pm

Well! Babelfish says, “I cannot look at Chinese.” Is that a translation of 我不能看中文, or is it telling me the translation engine cannot look at Chinese?

Is your Chinese character set busted, Musli? Because it’s showing up right on my screen, just like a cool gangsta tattoo.

Comment from Muslihoon
Time: February 12, 2008, 7:20 pm

Oh, I meant “read” not “look”. Which is strange if I’m writing it in Chinese.

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: February 12, 2008, 8:24 pm

I suspect that the left does see Obama as a sort of Reagan who’ll lead them all out of misery, but unlike the 1980 election, the rest of the nation doesn’t share this feeling. People know it’s just not that bad out there, no matter what the press tells them – at least they know it’s not personally that bad. People old enough to remember the Carter economy know for a fact what it was like and how different it is now.

Having gone through those years is like insulation against media lies about the economy. Worst economy since the Hoover years? Please. I remember double digit inflation and unemployment. This is nothing.

Comment from Mrs. Peel
Time: February 12, 2008, 8:43 pm

Reagan was president for the first quarter of my life. Which probably explains a lot.

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: February 12, 2008, 10:57 pm

I was too young to notice much of the infamous Carter “malaise”. In fact, my parents did pretty well during those years so we didn’t lack for anything really. I do remember long lines at the gas stations though. We lived in Maryland at the time. My older sister used to bribe me with a stop at the ice cream parlor if I went along to keep her company while she waited to get gas. I didn’t pay much attention to politics for most of Reagan’s terms though. Mom & Dad liked him so that was good enough for me. It’s only in hindsight that I understand what a remarkable man he was and what he managed to do.

Comment from Lemur King
Time: February 14, 2008, 11:19 pm

Hey Wease, just catching up a bit but I’m still behind. I know what you mean about the whole “dissing the guy who was a good prez and I didn’t even know it”. Another amazing thing about him is that the guy was ALWAYS writing letters to people on a personal level. That says something.

As to “Zombie Reagan”, remember, the guy had a sense of humor. I recall the “commence bombing in five minutes” remark which got out over the airwaves. I gotta believe that in this context, he’d see the humor – the candidates look pretty grim… and they are *alive*.

Well, that was how I put it to folks on my blog when I linked you.

So, ARE t-shirts going to be made or was that a cruel teasing joke? I mean, how many people could really say they they had a Zombie Reagan t-shirt? Sorry if you already posted an answer to that, but I’m late in getting back to work, as the joys of salaried pay just keeps on coming.

– LK

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