02 February 2008

Ronald Reagan: Still a Bad President

I am reprinting an old post from 6 April 2007. This current Republican silliness suggesting Ronald Reagan was a great president needs to stop. They are either outright lying, delusional, or drugs are involved. This selection is one of my all-time favorites. Remember folks, Reagan was not a good president, and he never will be. The fact that McCain, Romney, Huckelberry, and those other sad-ass Republicans consider Reagan a hero really tells you something about their knowledge of history and their collective sanity levels.

The unpleasant side-effects of the abysmal and failed Bush presidency are many—too many to be analyzed here. But one that specifically intrigues me is the effort being made by conservatives to shift the historical focus from their current incompetent leader to their past inept leader…..Ronald Reagan.

Granted, conservatives do have an argument—compared to Bush, any past chief executives looks stellar. Hell, William Howard Taft seems like a veritable statesman compared to Bush. This is an opportune time to drag any pariah out of the historical ashes for rehabilitation.

But Ronald Reagan is the one that conservatives place on their political pedestal. While the right has always looked up to Reagan, Bush is now making him look much, much better to conservatives and even to moderate Republicans (if they actually exist).

Two things strike me as paradoxical here. First, if Reagan was a great president (and he wasn’t), conservatives wouldn’t need George W. Bush to draw that distinction. Reagan’s presidency should be able to stand on its own—which it can’t. And second, when Bush was riding high in the polls, the wing-nuts were calling him Reagan’s heir. What happened? It seems Bush is actually the one who has attempted to carry out the radical conservative agenda—why now separate him from their conservative hero when Bush has been doing what the wingers wanted all along?

Well, I won’t try to get into the mind of one of those right-wingers, that would be entirely too difficult and might give me some sort of brain damage. But what is going on is this—Bush’s dismal failures are forcing conservatives to find another champion by which to rally their supporters. I suppose it is a logical move for them—they need their idols and frankly, they don’t have many. Which brings up an interesting question—except for that fellow Jesus, who do the right-wingers look to for inspiration? DeLay….Cheney.....Scalia…..Newt……Mel Gibson????? It is sad isn’t it?

I digress. The point is this—Reagan was not a very good president in spite of the spin that you are going to hear from the GOP for the next few years. He was average at best, and probably a better fit in the below average category.

First, he spent the taxpayer's money like a drunken sailor and incurred huge debts that did not dissolve until Bill Clinton and those big-spending liberals took over. I know the AM talk-show crowd blames Congress for all this—but that just isn't accurate. Reagan showed no inclination to actually cut spending. All he did was talk about it.

Second, please don’t accept the simplistic crap about how Reagan single-handedly ended the Cold War. That is the kind of anti-intellectual drivel that conservatives like to propagate because their constituents need one-dimensional answers. The Cold War must be examined in its entirety, it was never simple. There were numerous factors that contributed to its demise. Americans should know that already—but unfortunately, in the “intelligent design” environment of today, they don’t.

Third—and conservatives should know this but they chose to overlook it—Reagan actually never tried to institute the radical right-wing agenda. He cared about taxes and big government, but seemed uncomfortable with some of the other hot button issues. Yes, he talked about abortion and prayer in school, but never attempted to legislate those issues. They were used basically to fire up the conservative base.

Fourth, and I think this is one of the most important issues…..Reagan made it accepted for conservatives--especially angry white males--to blame the poor and the disadvantaged for the nation's problems. He gave terribly unsophisticated speeches about a welfare queen (always a woman) driving a Cadillac and making $50,000.00 from illegal welfare checks. No one every located that “welfare mom” and it’s clear she was fabricated. But Reagan’s words and encouragement made it fashionable in the 1980s to blame the poor for everything.

Reagan also set race relation back for years. Remember that he launched his 1980 campaign with a states rights speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi—the place where three civil rights workers were murdered in the 1960s. He and his staff knew what they were doing—they didn’t just accidentally stop in that little town. They were sending a message to the racists on the right. Again, making it okay for conservatives to use race to divide the nation.

And his reaction to AIDS was criminal. Why worry about homosexuals—it’s their own fault anyway isn’t it? God is punishing them for their lifestyle. Besides, his constituents didn’t care. This issue alone should have shamed the administration. But once again, those blue-collar, working class “Reagan Democrats" didn’t much care for urban gays anyway—so why do anything? Disgusting.

Scandals like Iran-Contra, massive budget deficits, racism, tax cuts for the rich, blame-the-poor rhetoric, homophobic public policies…..this is what the Reagan administration was all about–and don’t forget it. Just because George Bush is worse doesn’t mean Reagan should climb in the eyes of history. He was who he was—and he was a mediocre president who did great damage to many people on the margins of society. And he didn’t seem to care.

But for the pathetic Republican party, he is about the only national figure they have had in the past 60 years that holds any historical legitimacy (Ike was really the last one!). Isn't it sad being a Republican? At times, I almost feel sorry for them.

01 February 2008

Obama's Immediate Problem

I don't know what is going to happen this Tuesday. My general prediction (if anyone cares) is that if Barack Obama survives--if Hillary Clinton does not pile up overwhelming delegate majorities in the big states--then Obama continues, and his campaign will find itself in a very good position. The whole early primary, front-loading strategy offered an advantage to the most organized, well-know, and wealthiest candidate, which was Senator Clinton. If she doesn't wrap the nomination up on Tuesday, or at least come very close, Obama gains a considerable advantage. I believe the chances are high (70-75%) that Obama will survive and he could be the actual front-runner in a few weeks.

But Obama has an immediate problem that could derail this entire scenario. If you have read anything about this campaign, you have viewed the exit polls and know how Democrats and Independents are voting. Obama appears to be getting the support of young voters, new voters, independents, African-Americans, and the wine-and-cheese liberal set (those Chardonnay drinkers that the Conservatives so despise). Senator Clinton, on the other hand, is polling better with women (especially those over 40), elderly voters, Hispanics, union voters, the traditional low and middle-income Democratic constituencies, and party regulars.

So what's my point? It's very simple--at this stage of the race, Clinton's constituencies are much more dependable. Her supporters are going to cast their ballots. Obama can depend on African Americans as well as those wine-drinking liberals. But his campaign needs to be extremely wary of these new, young voters and those so-called independents.

The media loves to tout the potential electoral power of young voters (the mainstream press actually want it to be 1968 again, things were fun). But that youth vote never materializes--they simply don't go to the polls. They disappoint time and time again. And I suppose an old coot like me can easily be called a cynic for even writing this, but it's true whether we like it or not. I hope I am proven wrong this time, but this is a recurring problem.

Barack Obama is placing a lot of faith in a group of voters who are consistently unreliable. I would be concerned. On the other hand, Hillary Clinton's supporters will turn out in huge numbers, and she can count on that. Her committed and dedicated base might be the critical ingredient on Super Tuesday.

30 January 2008

I'm A Divider, Not a Uniter

I am still undecided on the Democratic presidential race--I would enthusiastically vote for Clinton or Obama in November. Either is preferable to a Republican.

But I am beginning to get annoyed at the Obama supporters suggesting that he has a better chance to "unite the country." What exactly does that mean? And a better question might be, do we really want to be united? I don't and I'll tell you why.

We have lived through 7+ years of total partisanship. The Republicans have never cared about uniting the country. They have ruined the economy, spent the surplus given to them by Clinton, taken money from the poor and given it to the rich, started an unnecessary war, ruined America's station in the world....and the list goes on and on. Have they ever cared about unity? Has Bush ever tried to "reach across then aisle" for support from the Democrats. Hell no he hasn't.

The Republicans do not give a damn about uniting the country. Yes, now that they are in danger of losing even more power, they are paying lip service to unity. But there is absolutley no evidence that they care about it--and we know when they are in power, they have no respect whatsoever for harmony or political compromise.

I don't want unity, I want to shove liberal and progressive programs down their fucking throats for the next decade or so. That's right--I am against cooperating with Republicans for 'the good of the country' because nonsense like that doesn't mean anything, and it isn't going to happen anyway. I want millions for the poor and homeless, steep tax hikes for the rich, troops immediately out of Iraq, single-payer health insurance, free and available contraception for teens, gay marriage.....and the list goes on and on. I want the Democrats to push for all of these issues and push hard. I don't want compromise.

Do you think Republicans are going to help us? I seriously doubt it--and I don't care. I want partisanship, I want to pay them back for the Bush years, I want some measure of revenge, and I want liberal and progressive measures passed and implemented.

Yes, I will vote for Obama, but here is what worries me about him. The first week in office, he will invite a group of Republicans to the White House for a cozy breakfast meeting. President Obama will say, "we need to find common ground, we need to unite the country." And they will proceed to pick his pocket clean: getting what they want and making a fool out of the new president. Because that's what the Republicans do--and if President Obama thinks he can negotiate or do business with these thugs, he will be making a serious mistake.