12 November 2003

Revisionist Reaganism

CBS is still backpedaling for its decision to yank the broadcasting of a miniseries on "The Reagans", claiming that the conservative outcry was not the ruling factor, just that "it was a moral decision, not an economic or a political one". I've searched and scanned the right wing internet zines, enduring the third grade reading level of many of them, but I've yet to see what the big hullabaloo is about. In fact, you can review the series script as it's been posted online. About the only specific knock against it is the literary license taken for a quote about AIDS -- "They that live in sin shall die in sin". But several biographers and historians have attested that he indeed spoke of AIDS as God's punishment for those inflicted with the deadly disease. Yes, there's a few other "fly on the wall" type conversation blurbs publicized from the cancelled show that are a dramatization of affairs, but nobody minds too much when Bob Woodward does it, or the propaganda flacks who twisted the Jessica Lynch story or just about any televised bit on the Kennedys. I suppose much of the criticism is directed at the portrayal of Ronald Reagan as a heartless ogre. But then again, here was a man who refused to acknowledge the existence of poverty in America and shared anecdotal stories with the public that were simply fiction.

Arizona Republic Viewpoints contributor Mark Genrich's The BS in CBS is a classic illustration of conservative hypocrisy. Mr. Genrich pronounces the production a "mendacious fiction" based simply on a few blurbs of dialogue, and not having even seen the show. It seems conservatives are so set on embracing the Reagan mythos, despite the historical record that marks a subpar presidency.

I haven't read the entire script, but I bet that the story, centered in scandalous personal travails of the Reagan clan, omitted some far greater historical truths:

  • Giving missles and weapons to Islamic terrorists and rewarding hostage taking while publicly disclaiming such actions.

  • Charge of an administration seeped in corruption. Much was made of the impropriety during Clinton's watch, but under Reagan/Bush, his staff claimed over 30 felony convictions (in contrast to 2 for the Clinton years) and departments like HUD were awash in wrongdoing.

  • Harsh economic times that funneled an incredible increase in income to the upper 20% of Americans but left the average working American with a lower standard of living and a larger tax bill, despite being heralded as a tax cutting champion.

  • Support of murderous regimes in Central America and the approval of the South Africa system. Of course, this was a man who was against the 1964 Civil Rights Act and supported segregation, rekindling the Republican's "Southern Strategy" that began with Nixon.

  • Lying repeatedly to the American public about the Iran/Contra scandal, trashing the Constitution in a gross Machiavellian display of hegemony.