Sunday, February 06, 2011

Ronald Reagan is 100 (If he weren't dead)

Besides the Superbowl hoopdedo and Ground hog's day, not to mention the impending meltdown of the thugs who run Arab countries in the Mideast...there is the non-story of dead President Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday.

I have 63 year old 16mm Kodacolor movie my dad shot of Ronald Reagan judging a local beauty contest at the pool of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.Reagan was a 2nd-rate washed up actor in 1948, and if it weren't for his lead-ins to the TV show "GE Theater" in the 1950's, most of us wouldn't know about him today.

It was that presence, plus an ability to read other people's words and sound real sincere, and a measure of political ambition fueled and flourished by wife Nancy, that is the reason so many jaw-droppingly ignorant republicans still love his legacy.

Did I miss something amongst the commentaries about his 2-term slosh as the "Great Communicator," in that he was party to, and possibly even initiator of, crimes against the State as well as utterly abrogating his presidential oath of office to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution?" This morass became known as the "Iran-Contra Affair," of which few citizens understand or care about.

The history of US Presidents abounds in scandals too numerous to mention. Some were political for the sake of power, like Nixon's Watergate.Others were awash in historical events that no one cares about anymore--Harding may even have been poisoned in office. Grant's appointees were so blithely money grubbers that he stood aside and let the chips fall where they may--which is why even his hands-off not knowing what's going on get him listed often as one of the worst presidents in history.

After Watergate, there was a feeling in the land that subsequent laws enacted to provide more vigilance of our elected leaders--politicians after all, the least noble of professions--would prevent another scandal, at least, or attempt to take over the government at most, from happening again.

While the conspiracy-mongers among us, or at least the wink-wink cynical know-it-alls, understand that politics by definition breeds duplicity and deceit--in order to provide the uppity-word version of that, which is "compromise," on a day-to-day basis most of us non-paranoiacs don't see the government as trying to subvert the law on every level in every minute.

So, 10 years after Watergate, when the winds of "The Iran-Contra Affair" started blowing across the country, it was a little bit harder to believe that the Great Communicator Ronald Reagan was involved in anything corrupt or dirty--like selling arms to Iran, which was against the law, in order to provide funds for the Nicaraguan rebels--Contras--whom again by law the US government could not openly support or of course, give them any money.

Big scandal. People should have gone to jail:

"In the end, fourteen administration officials were indicted, including then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. Eleven convictions resulted,
some of which were vacated on appeal. The rest of those indicted or convicted were all pardoned in the final days of the George H. W. Bush
presidency; Bush had been vice-president at the time of the affair. Some of those involved in the Iran–Contra affair who were convicted of felonies
and subsequently pardoned, later became members of the administration of George W. Bush."

Every time I see that sound bite "Mr. Gobachev, tear down that wall," I imagine the Soviet Premier with trowel and pick in hand yelling back at Reagan, "I've been working on this for awhile but no one seems to care anymore."

Reagan wasn't just a bad President--he was a non President.

Still, it was fun to take the kids to see his library and trudge through the actual Boeing 707 that he used in office. Boy can you cover up a lot of manure if you have enough money!

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