Photo above: “And this is how I plan to screw the American Middle Class.” Ronald Reagan in a televised address from the Oval Office outlining his tax policy. (Wikipedia)
One of the great mysteries of the modern day Republican Party is their reverence for President Ronald Reagan. You can list everything Reagan did that is antithetical to the GOP philosophy of today … and they will just stare at you for a few moments and then sidestep the question or point and go back to idolizing our 40th president. Whenever they mention Reagan’s name we expect to see the Heavens open up and the Choir of Angels sing his name: “RONALD! REAGAN! Ooo-oooo-oo-ooo!”
One shouldn’t speak ill of the dead — but we do all the time when we’re talking about dead presidents. He was no friend to the common working person. He did more to suppress wages in this country than any other president in history. He did do a few smart things though: he raised the debt ceiling 17 times and raised taxes several times — but that was after his horrendous tax cuts of 1981 that caused the national debt to balloon to more than $2 trillion dollars before he ran for his second term. He was cashing checks the taxpayers were forced to pay, one way or another.
The interesting part of this being that today’s GOP claims to be against having a national debt — despite being the party that has increased the debt whenever they held the reins of power in the past 30 years. They are against raising the debt ceiling — unless they can throw women, children, students and the elderly under the bus with cuts to social safety net programs.
One thing they do have in common with Ronald Reagan: they are very pro war. Doesn’t matter where the war is: Ukraine, the Middle East, East Asia — just goddam it! Get our troops onto some foreign soil so they can kill people. We can’t let’em kill anyone here in the U.S. There’s some sort of law thingy preventing it (the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878). But wouldn’t it be great if we could drop the 82nd Airborne down in South Central L.A. so they could start killing all those gangbangers? Ah … the stuff dreams are made of …
But I digress. The GOP loves going to war. In 2001 they decided one war, in Afghanistan, wasn’t enough so they dusted off their old plan from their Project for the New American Century club (PNAC) to invade Iraq — it has oil, dontcha know? — remove Saddam Hussein and voila! Instant power brokers in the Middle East. With zillions of gallons of oil gushing out of the ground to make our U.S.-based oil companies gazillionaires!
It didn’t quite work out that way. In actuality it ballooned our debt to $6 trillion by the end of 2008 … George W. Bush followed along in Reagan’s playbook in that regard.
Reagan started a war in Grenada, and then inserted out troops into Lebanon as a peacekeeping force. When terrorists bombed a building where hundreds of Marines and other military personnel slept Reagan made the (not so) obvious choice. Rather than retaliate against the perpetrators who killed 241 Marines and military personnel on October 23, 1983 … Reagan admitted defeat and pulled our troops out of Beirut.
Meddling in the affairs of others has consequences — like the Beirut bombings of the U.S. and French troops — just as doing nothing in response to the bombings has consequences. From an interview he gave to John Miller of ABC News, bin Laden said, “We have seen in the last decade the decline of the American government and the weakness of the American soldier. He is ready to wage cold wars but unprepared to fight hot wars. This was proven in Beirut when the Marines fled after two explosions, showing they can run in less than twenty-four hours. This was then repeated in Somalia. We are ready for all occasions, we rely on God.”
That’s on Ronald Reagan and then Bill Clinton (Somalia). But, Reagan did give a nice speech about the Marines in front of Jerry Falwell and his crowd.
Before we digress any further: the GOP loves starting wars. They just don’t know how to finish them. Or maybe they don’t want the wars to end. Senator John McCain, when he was running for president, famously said we should keep troops in Iraq for a hundred years if need be. The GOP faithful may have thought McCain was soft on many “conservative” principles, but they got in step behind him on that endless war thing.
And now they want to go to war with Iran … and wouldn’t you know it, we already have. In Iraq and Syria our war machine aircraft are bombing ISIS targets that are being attacked by Iran-led ground troops. Yemen has fallen into a civil war and our military is assisting Saudi-backed forces that are trying to seize control of the country AND wipe out al Qaida in Yemen (AQAP). And the Saudi-led forces are in conflict with the Iran-led forces that want to take control of Yemen — but both want to get rid of AQAP. Confused?
And this is all a direct result of Bush starting his war with Iraq at the behest of his neocon masters.
It’s hard to stick to the topic and not digress because everything is connected. Reagan’s disastrous policies in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon begat Usama bin Laden; George H.W. Bush’s Persian Gulf war fomented more hatred towards the U.S. and then George W. Bush’s war in Iraq just swung the doors wide open for terrorists to gain a strong footprint throughout the Middle East.
This all came into my thoughts this week because Ted Cruz, that wacky senator from Texas, announced he was running for president at Liberty University, Jerry Falwell’s little place. Cruz likes to invoke Ronald Reagan’s name as often as possible, to let the extreme wing of the GOP know he knows who is front and center on their freak flag.
Which begs the question: Why do conservatives hold Reagan in such high regard? He was a tax and spend conservative that started the downward spiral of our nation’s Middle Class.
Ted Cruz was the first candidate to officially declare his candidacy, but he’s unlikely to stay in the race until the end. He’s trying to grab the extreme right of the party before any other candidates, appealing to Christian conservatives and Teabaggers alike. He says all the Obama-bashing things he needs to say to get the extreme elements of his party to like him, but in the end Ted Cruz is just too crazy for the average American voter. And once other Republicans get in the race his support will begin to dwindle. The Tea Party might like their “wacko bird,” but the rest of the country won’t have anything to do with him and his Republican colleagues in the Senate will do everything in their power to derail his campaign. They either dislike Ted Cruz or they hate Ted Cruz.
But they all share one common trait: they all think Ronald Reagan is the greatest president, at least in the 20th Century. And that alone should scare middle class voters.
We can’t afford another president and Congress that is going to steal from the Middle Class and give it all to the Romney Class, all while blaming the people depending on the social safety net when they (the GOP) explode the deficit once again.
Ronald Reagan: the worst president in my lifetime. If Senator Cruz were ever elected to that office he would most likely wear that crown. Yes, it’s a low bar to crawl under, but could it get any worse? Let’s not find out.
Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the elected government officials and business were so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that.