Monday, August 29, 2005

20/20 Foresight

As someone with a little bit of training in the field of history, I think that the current wave of revisionism within the blogging/conservative talking-heads world is very interesting. A lot of the columns/blogs or shows I watch on TV or listen to on radio have a clear message: ALL PAST DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTS WERE IDIOTS AND/OR TRAITORS! Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage and the granddaddy of them all, Rush Limbaugh, along with all the more minor conservative "experts", pundits, bloggers and people who write into the local newspaper to give their Big Elephant-tinged opinions all seem to have an amazingly similar outlook and it all involves splashing every Democrat in U.S. history with tar and feathers, while every Republican has been a genius. Ronald Reagan, to listen to all the aforementioned, is practically a god who single-handedly whipped up on the Commies and made the U.S. a wonderful place to live.

What freakin' planet were these people living on, particularly during the '80s? In my opinion, the last really good Republican President was Theodore Roosevelt and even he had his moments that, in the light of the present day, weren't so hot. Lincoln, the first true Republican as President, is one of my heroes, but remember, he also played pretty fast and loose with the rules when dealing with opponents during the Civil War, suspending such minor rights as habeus corpus and occasionally even free speech. Compared to Lincoln and Roosevelt, however, every Republican President since has either been a crook, a reactionary or a do-nothing. Anybody remember the Teapot Dome Scandal of the Twenties? How about the Depression? How about them old white-bread Fifties, when I was born, under good old Ike? Pretty good times unless you were black or suspected of being a Commie pinko sympathizer (or at least called one by someone behind your back). Howza 'bout Nixon? Or Ford? Or Poppa Bush (remember "READ MY LIPS! No new taxes!")?

But they all pale in comparison to Reagan and George W. Bush. Conservatives nowadays almost go orgasmic at the mention of either of them. Reagan's face is on just about any website or advertisement about the purchase of gold coins, because he's the guy who allowed all of us little people to own gold again as a hedge against the coming dark days when the dollar became a second-rate currency (oops! That seems to have already happened under the bold leadership of our current President). He was called the Great Communicator, basically because he took his massive skills in acting and read stuff written for him by any number of conservatives like Peggy Noonan (who's making a living these days, as far as I can tell, writing books about how wonderful Ronny was). Frankly, Ronny basically spent the Soviets under the table, mortgaging our future by building an 800-ship Navy, looking into Star Wars-type technology for shooting down incoming warheads and making supposedly not-for-public-consumption statements about bombing Moscow and starting WWIII. He let Ollie North run wild, trading stuff to the Iranians (not our friends then or now) and supporting ruthless guerillas in Nicaragua, all in some weird back-door deal to free hostages in Lebanon. I never understood that stuff then and still don't. I just know that Ollie gets a lot of TV time on FOX News as "consultant", which ought to tell you a lot right there.

But even Reagan pales in comparison to W, the new poster-boy for the right-wing of American politics. Give him credit, he (or rather his managers like Dick Chaney and Karl Rove) has managed to bamboozle the electorate not once, but twice. It helps when your brother (the Governor) and your campaign coordinator (masquerading as the Secretary of State) give you a hotly disputed election in Florida, of course. W, through dirty tricks, outright lies and pandering to the religous nutcases who think that the earth was created 6,000 or so years ago, has managed to get us into one of the worst situations our country has ever been in, yet his supporters still weep at the mention of his name and reject all calls to critically look at what he's done (or not done) as President.

Republicans used to proudly say (before Reagan and Bushes 1 and 2, of course) that they were the "Party of Peace", since they hadn't started the Civil War (them bad old Southern DEMOCRATS did that one), the Spanish-American War (well, Teddy had a little bit to do with that one, but the Spanish blew up the Maine first! Well, they probably didn't, but that's never bothered too many Big Elephants); WWI was a Democratic job as was WWII. Korea? Well, that was Truman's mess that Ike got us out of. Vietnam? Democrats again and it took a Republican like Tricky Dick to extricate us with honor (and got thousands of refugees in the bargain). However, starting with Ronny Raygun, we've managed to get into all sorts of foreign adventures, whipping up on such menacing world powers as Grenada, Panama and Iraq (not once, but twice!).

Don't get me wrong; Democrats have managed over the years to screw up things just as much as the Big Elephants, but at least they aren't quite so smug about it, nor nearly so self-righteous. Democrats tend to feel guilty about taking taxpayers' money and getting servicemen and women killed in foreign adventures. Republicans just tend to make proclaimations and self-serving defenses about such things. The day will come, with any luck, when a new centrist political party will rise up, unfettered by the nutcases of most 3rd-Party forays, and bring some sense back to the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Until then, we'll have to settle for folks who keep telling us how much better they are equipped to run things than the rest of us poor bastards.

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