Thursday, February 10, 2011

Please scrap that nomination for sainthood

I wrote a few days ago about a few reasons why the 100th birthday of Ronald Reagan is not a joyous occasion. I'll expand on that some more.

I got an anonymous email response to the first post. What I have here is condensed because the writer is lengthy, though can rant well.

Ah, Reagan... how much time do I have to write about the worst president I've ever experienced?

The core sources of my deep disgust with him and his presidency are:

Conscious preparation for warmongering -- Reagan spent freely to enlarge and refit the U.S. military, which I will admit had been neglected somewhat in the aftermath of its humiliating defeat in Vietnam. Reagan deliberately and consciously prepared our military to be the insensitive and inept hammer in foreign affairs that we have seen since. Bush I and II followed that legacy with 6 wars: Grenada (1989), Panama (1990), then the Gulf War in 1991, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. In between, Clinton maintained the peace. All six of these wars are Republican misadventures that trace clearly back to Reagan.

Vast corruption -- An extraordinary number of Reagan appointees went to prison or resigned under pressure because of corruption of many kinds. Republicans conducted a feast of public looting during the Reagan years.

Enormous and irresponsible increases in the federal debt -- Reagan tax cuts combined with unbridled military spending vastly increased the country's debt.

• I could go on...

Reagan was a terrible President. The Reagan years taught me all I have come to understand about the real values and "principles" of the Republican Party.

We've named so many things for Reagan (starting with that airport in DC), perhaps we can add one more -- The Ronald Reagan Memorial National Debt.

I had mentioned that Reagan had done nothing when the AIDS crisis hit. Here's a bit more. This link contains a photo of the first Names Project, an AIDS memorial in which the dead were remembered with quilt panels. The first display of quilts was in the National Mall in October 1987 and the 1,920 panels fill the area between the Capitol and the Washington Monument.

By the time Reagan mentioned AIDS in public in 1987 20,000 people had died. If the victims weren't mostly gay people the president would have surely said something immediately after the CDC declared it to be an epidemic after 413 cases and perhaps 130 deaths. But that mention wasn't because he was about to do something to help the situation. It was to say (in part), "After all, when it comes to preventing AIDS, don't medicine and morality teach the same lessons." Meaning, AIDS was a judgment from God and it was "killing all the right people." (I don't think that quote was from Reagan). And why did Reagan allow this? He was cozying up to the Religious Right.

I was asked, so what could have Reagan done about AIDS?

*Provide desperately needed leadership, give a hint he at least was concerned about the suffering of the gay community, treat gays as human. Though all those names quilts were outside Reagan's door, he did not appear among them.

* Directed the vast resources of the government towards at least (1) comforting the victims, (2) spreading the word how to prevent the disease from spreading, (3) helping find a cure or at least a treatment program.

That post about Reagan and AIDS points up another reason for disgust with him. He was the one who invited the Religious Right into politics. We're still trying to mollify them, 30 years later.

Here's a summary the legacy. I'll leave it to the reader to note how many of these policies are cherished by the current GOP.

* Declared government to be the problem, implying a government that doesn't meet the needs of the people is the best kind of government.

* Broke the connection between government income and expenses resulting in enormous increases in national debt.

* Encouraged the rich to feast on the poor.

* Pushed for deregulation in which the taxpayer gets stuck with the bill.

* Preparation for warmongering.

* Vast corruption.

* Invited the Religious Right into politics.

* Was pleased at the deaths of so many gays due to AIDS.

Saint Ronnie? Nope.

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