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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?

February 12, 2008 — 3:14 pm
Comments: 16