Updating the ancient Greek myth of the Chimera
The New York Times weighs in on presidential wannabe Sarah Palin‘s commemoration of what would have been the 100th birthday of conservative icon, Ronald Reagan:
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Sarah Palin opened a weekend centennial celebration to Ronald Reagan by declaring that the United States was lurching toward a “road to ruin,” a nation so beleaguered by debt and out-of-control government spending that an urgent change in direction was needed in Washington….
Except she forgot to mention that if deficits and government spending is a runaway train, then it was her beloved Ronnie Boy who was the engineer that drove the train off the rails through a combination of tax cuts, dramatic increases in defense spending, and foreign policy blunders.
…Ms. Palin entered the room only for her speech and left immediately after.
As Cenk Uygur would say: Of course… The last thing her handlers wanted was for her to engage in an unscripted dialog with people who know that Africa isn’t a country, and who know what newspapers and magazines they read. This wasn’t a Fux News television studio she was performing in.
But back to Saint Ronnie’s vaunted legacy that today’s Teabaggers are so eager to identify themselves with. Mark Sumner over at The Big Orange asks us to remember the Real Ronald Reagan:
As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of our 40th president amid glowing plaudits, folksy reminiscence, and an abundance of praise, it’s important to remember one thing: the election of Ronald Reagan is the central and enduring tragedy of our age…
The general acceptance of the ideas behind Reagan, and the movement of those ideas from the radical fringe into the mainstream of American politics, has shaped a world in which fantasies are accepted as givens; a world in which positions that are not only unproved, but disproved, are seen as foundations to build on. These ideas have destabilized our economy, accelerated the destruction of our environment, and set back the advancement of human rights. They, and the man who delivered them into our living rooms, are now so coated in mythology and media adoration that we accept them not just as American, but as America, despite the fact that these ideas – the conservative daydream — represent the single greatest threat to the continued progress of our nation and our world.
The primary message that the “Great Communicator” spread in soothing tones and often high-minded words borrowed from the Puritans, was that the enemy of the middle class was not the wealthy, but the poor….
Like that mythical Cadillac driving Welfare Queen who…
… has eighty names, thirty addresses, twelve Social Security cards and is collecting veteran’s benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands. And she is collecting Social Security on her cards. She’s got Medicaid, getting food stamps, and she is collecting welfare under each of her names. Her tax-free cash income is over $150,000.
Reagan’s welfare queen also featured one more important number: she was 99.9% imaginary. However, Reagan managed to sell this ugly fantasy not as a description of an individual criminal, but as a condemnation of a class of people. The conservative class warfare that Bill Buckley and the boys had nodded about in the steam rooms of exclusive clubs, became the accepted wisdom in the taprooms of Peoria. What was holding back the middle class was not executives and speculators pocketing millions, it was poor mothers getting a few hundred a year in food assistance. Americans became convinced – and still are convinced – that some vast pool of “urban poor” was draining the wealth of the nation.
ThinkProgress.org has compiled a top ten list of the greatest of the Reagan Myths, introducing it as follows:
But Reagan was not the man conservatives claim he was. This image of Reagan as a conservative superhero is myth, created to unite the various factions of the right behind a common leader. In reality, Reagan was no conservative ideologue or flawless commander-in-chief. Reagan regularly strayed from conservative dogma — he raised taxes eleven times as president while tripling the deficit — and he often ended up on the wrong side of history, like when he vetoed an Anti-Apartheid bill.
1. Reagan was a serial tax raiser. As governor of California, Reagan “signed into law the largest tax increase in the history of any state up till then.” Meanwhile, state spending nearly doubled. As president, Reagan “raised taxes in seven of his eight years in office,” including four times in just two years….
2. Reagan nearly tripled the federal budget deficit. During the Reagan years, the debt increased to nearly $3 trillion, “roughly three times as much as the first 80 years of the century had done altogether.”… Reagan enacted a major tax cut his first year in office and government revenue dropped off precipitously. Despite the conservative myth that tax cuts somehow increase revenue, the government went deeper into debt and Reagan had to raise taxes just a year after he enacted his tax cut. Despite ten more tax hikes on everything from gasoline to corporate income, Reagan was never able to get the deficit under control.
3. Unemployment soared after Reagan’s 1981 tax cuts. Unemployment jumped to 10.8 percent after Reagan enacted his much-touted tax cut, and it took years for the rate to get back down to its previous level. Meanwhile, income inequality exploded…
4. Reagan grew the size of the federal government tremendously… He promised to cut government agencies like the Department of Energy and Education but ended up adding one of the largest — the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, which today has a budget of nearly $90 billion and close to 300,000 employees. He also hiked defense spending by over $100 billion a year to a level not seen since the height of the Vietnam war.
5. Reagan did little to fight for a woman’s right to choose…
6. Reagan was a “bellicose peacenik.” He wrote in his memoirs that “[m]y dream…became a world free of nuclear weapons.” “This vision stemmed from the president’s belief that the biblical account of Armageddon prophesied nuclear war — and that apocalypse could be averted if everyone, especially the Soviets, eliminated nuclear weapons,” the Washington Monthly noted…
7. Reagan gave amnesty to 3 million undocumented immigrants…
8. Reagan illegally funneled weapons to Iran…
9. Reagan vetoed a comprehensive anti-Apartheid act. which placed sanctions on South Africa and cut off all American trade with the country. Reagan’s veto was overridden by the Republican-controlled Senate…
10. Reagan helped create the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden…
I would include another one: Reagan cut and ran from Lebanon after the greatest act of post-WW2 terrorism ever visited on the American people– the suicide bombing by Hizbollah of the Marine barracks at the Beirut Airport that killed 241 Marines.
Methinks that if Reagan were alive today and wanted to run for president, he wouldn’t make it past the first batch of Republican primaries. The Teabaggers would eat him alive with a record like that, if only they could distinguish myth from reality…
Back to the hypocrisy of Sister Sarah. Palin recently canceled a speech to The Sharon K Pacheco Foundation, a non-profit group from Colorado dedicated to raising money for military families adversely affected by the wars Mama Grizzly so fearlessly supports. As she explained on her Facebook page:
“Due to an onslaught of personal attacks against Governor Palin and others associated with her appearance, it is with deep sadness and disappointment that, in the best interest of all, we cancel the event for safety concerns.”
But as Digby notes:
The announcement also states that no direct threats had been made against anyone, but said that the “increase in negative rhetoric against the former Alaska governor” after the Tucson shooting “raises concern for her safety and the safety of others despite the call for civility in America.”
The Post points out that May 2 is also the date of a NBC/Politico 2012 Republican presidential candidates debate, to be held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California.
What better way to obscure her crass opportunism and hypocrisy than by playing the patented Poor Sarah victim card?
Reagan was my governor for eight years, my president for another eight. He did more than any single person to set this country on its present course of self-destruction. The two Bushes certainly played their parts, as did Clinton‘s sell-out to Wall Street. Should Sarah Palin becomes president of the United States, I will interpret that as judgment from The Most Highs that the great US experiment in representational democracy has failed. Miserably.
When Benjamin Franklin was asked what kind of government the Founders had hammered out in Philadelphia in 1787, he replied:
“A republic, if you can keep it.”
I’m not feeling so good about that “if” right now. The plutocrats are winning, bolstered by the consequences of The Supremes’ Citizens United ruling, a malignant virus that has only just begun to infect our body politic. Teabaggers continue to mistake the disease for the cure, a triumph of the modern Reich Wing propaganda machine that has brought to fruition the ancient prescription of those who habitually seek unjust power over their fellows:
First they sell you the disease, then they sell you the cure.