Well, it had to happen sometime. Nobody lives forever. Sometimes it just seems that way.
Starting in about 1979, it seemed I was constantly arguing with progressives who thought Reagan was Satan, the anti-Christ, the end of life as we know it. ‘No,’ I would say, ‘he isn’t. It could get a lot worse.’
Reagan–I knew because I paid attention to his time as ‘Governor’ of CA–would talk loud and stoopid of evil empires and selling the govt to business interests and trashing the environment and decide that the right-wing ‘guerillas’ in Nicaragua who were actually ex-Somoza death-squad murderers were heroic ‘Freedom Fighters’ and all the rest of it, but he wouldn’t do all that much about any of it. Ronnie was a talker not a fighter, California proved that.
Oh, there would be depredations and ecological outrages and international relations outrages and phony wars like sending the military to invade a tiny Caribbean island because its openly Marxist president had decided to build an airfield–for tourists, mind you–that early neocon wackos like Richard Pipes were convinced was actually for landing Russian bombers even though it was only half the length it needed to be if it was going to be used for that function and any Russian bomber pilot who tried it would be guaranteed a startlingly quick and unscheduled ocean voyage, but compared to what he could have done and said he would do, there would be very little that was lasting or meaningful except this:
He got elected.
That was–and remains–the worst harm to our country that Reagan was guilty of. He proved to the hard right that if you dress a monster in a friendly clown suit, we would vote for him. Eagerly, happily, and in great numbers. Reagan, just by being successful at playing The Grinch masquerading as your Grandad, made George W Bush not just possible but inevitable. He gave radical, extremist conservatives the model they needed to usurp power in the US: an amiable doofus with a ‘Shucks, ma’am, I’d be happy to help y’all cross the street with them groceries’ charm that came across on tv and a hidden mean streak of wilful arrogance that didn’t. He wasn’t Satan but he made Satan possible.
Actually, all he was was an actor playing the part of a President in one of the earliest of reality tv shows, and this is truly a most fitting memorial:
It puts the blame squarely where it belongs–Hollywood.