Bum’s rush for the spawn of Ronald Reagan
At long last—really & truly— ‘Morning in America’
By Thomas Adcock
Copyright © 2013 – Thomas Adcock
NEW YORK, near America
Months after his inauguration in January 1981 as fortieth president of the United States, Ronald Wilson Reagan made a state tour of Latin America. His itinerary included Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Mexico. On his return to Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, under cover of night, the new president—a grandfather with boyish pompadour and Hollywood teeth—was met by a clutch of reporters eagerly await on the tarmac.
What happened in the next few minutes seemed, at the time, a triviality: the daffy remark of a lovable foozle, an obtuse retiree from the low-budget movie industry of the 1950s. In retrospect, it now seems the herald of America’s last three decades of über conservative political darkness—its genesis in the genial stupidity of Ronald Reagan (which masked his casual cruelty and calculated criminality), but perhaps now ended by last week’s crushing electoral defeat of the proto-fascist, so-called Tea Party.
Late though the hour on that wintry night of early 1981, Mr. Reagan, a trouper who died of old age in 2004, was pleased to entertain his journalistic welcome-home committee. When asked for his general impressions of the Portuguese- and Spanish-speaking continent south of the U.S., the president twinkled his famously twinkly eyes, cocked his handsome head, and, in an oddly quizzical tone, told the television cameras, “Well, you know…? It’s all different countries down there.”
We laughed it off, at the time. Much of the country was fearful and selfish then; we were a people ripe for political exploitation by the usual fat-cat suspects. Mr. Reagan, whose credits include co-starring with a chimpanzee in the 1951 motion picture “Bedtime for Bonzo,” kept us laughing at many things he said; how skillfully wore his masks. For instance, “Trees cause more pollution than cars do,” he declared, in support of relieving automobile manufacturers from liability under environmental laws governing ground level ozone pollution—commonly known by the acronym GLOP.
Ketchup is hereinafter the vegetable component of public school lunches, Mr. Reagan told us, and federal funding for children’s meals was accordingly slashed. Labor unions must be “tamed,” he said, a notion that betrayed his political endorsement by union air traffic controllers—and the Screen Actors Guild, which saw to his brisk earnings from bad movies and television. He claimed knowledge of a Chicago “welfare queen” who drove a Cadillac car to grocery stores where she bought food with government scrip. Mr. Reagan never mentioned the lady’s race, nor had to for a certain sect of “Christian” America.
Boldest of Mr. Reagan’s crimes in office was his sub rosa direction of sales in war matériel to Iran, in direct violation of a Congressional arms embargo. He used the revenues to support “Contra” paramilitary rebels in Nicaragua opposed that country’s democratically elected government—in direct violation of three laws enacted by Congress to ensure U.S. neutrality in the violent conflict. Fourteen presidential lieutenants were indicted in the federal courts for these subterfuges, resulting in eleven convictions. The mastermind lurking in the White House was never called to the dock. Upon succeeding Mr. Reagan in office, in 1988, President George H.W. Bush pardoned all who were convicted and incarcerated in what corporate media insisted on calling the Iran-Contra “scandal.”
In light of all this, and with the emergence in 2008 of Barack Obama as the nation’s first (gasp!) African American president, the late Ronald Reagan naturally became God the Father to a Tea Party cavalcade of bigots, Babbits, and blowhards in need of a mythical yesteryear of principle and patriotism. A yesteryear of pale complexion, and of a certain Christianity that a certain prophet and pinko of ancient Nazareth would not likely recognize.
We laughed at the Tea Party, at first. Who could take such people seriously—these benighted “patriots” with supermarket tea bags dangling from the brims of their funny hats? Did they know how ridiculous they looked—these pawns of billionaire tax-dodgers and inspired gimmickry: linking the legend of brave eighteenth-century American colonists who vandalized tea-laden British ships with acronymic jingoism—“Taxed Enough Already?”
And besides, aren’t tea parties for little girls with imaginary friends?
Nevertheless, in the space of four years the Tea Party subsumed a once respectable Republican Party. Teapublican buffoons were consequently elected to Congress, where they set about vandalizing democracy. They were, and are, ideological zealots in the cause of quashing the nation’s progressive hopes upon election of a black president; worse, a liberal; worst, an intellectual.
Buffoons such as Ted Cruz and Louie Gohmert of Texas, Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota, Mike Lee of Utah, and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee jazzed mobs of Tea Party true believers at rallies all over the country. Placards were waved about: photo-shopped portrayals of Mr. Obama with a Hitlerian moustache—or else hovering a slice of watermelon, a popular bit of Tea Party nuance. Eventually, guns were waved; for a change nobody has been killed—yet.
Still, we laughed. Who could take these people seriously? The boobs and buffoons insisted, and do today, that climate change is a hoax, homosexuals are Satan larvae, women should shut the hell up, blacks were better off as plantation slaves, Jews killed Christ, and the president is a gay communist from Kenya who hates America.
When the laughter died down, the Republican Tea Party achieved its real purpose behind the jokes: its Congressional membership, masters of parliamentary end-runs around democratic process, shut down the government for more than half the month of October—as an ultimately futile demand that President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, a modest private industry-based health insurance scheme for universal coverage variously deemed “socialist” or “communist” by crack-brained radio talk show hosts, whom Teapublicans see as oracles.
The shutdown’s economic damage to the nation amounted to $24 billion (€18 billion), according to the Wall Street financial analyst firm Standard & Poor’s.
“People are probably going to realize they can live with a lot less government than what they thought they needed,” crowed Ms. Blackburn, a lifelong right-winger and bubbly Christian evangelist who claims that her husband, Chuck, founded something called the International Bow Tie Society. She was among the first wave of elected officials to welcome Tea Party know-nothings into the Republican fold.
For good measure, Ms. Blackburn and her co-religionists nearly forced the U.S. government to renege on its debts, despite consensus among economic scholars that this would lead to global catastrophe. Market fiascos may yet come in the New Year, however. In bargaining with the president they despise, the Republican Tea Party agreed to end the shutdown only through January 15, when political standoff and parliamentary shenanigans will resume.
Or maybe not.
Last week, in state and municipal elections from coast to coast, Republican Tea Party boobery was given the bum’s rush. On November 5, voters showed buffoons and wannabe buffoons the door. Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry? The sentiment was a continental blast of fresh air in a country occluded by thirty-three years of murk (with but a brief spell of semi-relief under the conservative, albeit kindly, President Bill Clinton).
On election day, the American people showed they have had enough of a Republican Tea Party gone much too far. Although the losers have yet to absorb what happened, their inevitable fall was predictable, and chronicled in these good electronic pages last March under the headline “Suicide by Stupidity”.
In the long run of history, stupidity is invincible—as are hatred and the fascist impulse. But we’ve tamped these evils down here in America, perhaps for a decade, maybe two. Meanwhile, consider this representation of last week’s good tidings:
• In Virginia, capital of the Old Confederacy in the nineteenth-century era of slavery, voters rejected the gubernatorial candidacy of Ken Cuccinelli—the state’s incumbent attorney general, self-identified “family values” man, and first Republican Tea Party lawyer in the nation to file a nuisance lawsuit against Mr. Obama in the cause of preventing children and their parents from benefitting under the president’s health care program; a man bent on gutting environmental safety regulations; a man stridently opposed to legal abortion, including in cases of rape or incest.
• In Alabama, the strongest of Teapublican strongholds, homophobic Obama-hating sorehead Dean Young was soundly thrashed in his bid for a seat in Congress. Even at this writing, he refuses to concede defeat to the man who thrashed him.
• Here in New York, voters ignored Republican Tea Party candidate Joe Lohta’s branding of Democratic Party opponent Bill de Blasio as a “socialist” sure to incite race riots; after all, the Italian-American Democrat is married to a black woman. Likewise ignored was oh-so-subtle red baiting by the odious press baron Rupert Murdoch and the daily filth he publishes in the New York Post. In the run-up to election day, the Murdoch rag published a cover story about a class trip to the now defunct Soviet Union that included a young Mr. de Blasio. On November 5, Mr. de Blasio, who aims to ameliorate an immoral income gap between poor and even middle-class New Yorkers and billionaires gobbling up real estate where regular people lived for generations, defeated Mr. Lohta by a landslide seventy-three percent of the vote.
Last week, the dead foozle’s campaign slogan of thirty-three years ago may at long last be honest statement: It’s morning in America.
The “gloomiest night will wear on to a morning,” wrote Harriet Beecher Stowe in her anti-slavery opus of 1852, Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Life Among the Lowly, a novel that helped precipitate the American Civil War of 1861-1865. And we are wise to heed counsel from the German philosopher Eckhart von Hochheim (1260-1327), known as Meister Eckhart: “Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.”
Now that the gloom of political obstructionism has lifted for a time, there is much social progress in need of commencing—but quick. The American people are impatient. They said so last week, and will surely say so again in the larger federal elections one year hence, in November 2014.
A pragmatic agenda must deal with income disparity (Mr. de Blasio’s central concern); the inequity of unlimited and anonymous corporate support of right-wing political candidates; ceaseless efforts by the Republican Tea Party to disenfranchise voters they have particularly offended—blacks, Latinos, women, gays and lesbians, the elderly and the young; domestic terrorism made possible by the American gun industry, which the Republican Tea Party has successfully exempted from product liability law; and massive intrusion by the National Security Agency into the privacy of all Americans all the time, as well as all our friends abroad—most notably, Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Venomous right-wing rhetoric and behavior have had their moment, though we may hear their sputterings for a while. Case in point: the wily Teapublicans Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky still hold seats in the U.S. Senate, where they tout themselves as deserving promotion to the presidency in 2016. But Mr. Cruz is likely interested in bigger fish—he is heir to his father’s lucrative “Purifying Fire Ministries” racket—and Mr. Paul seems of late to be imploding, what with recent revelations of his stealing published research texts of others and passing off same as his own—word for word—in speeches, articles, and books of his putative authorship.
Mr. Paul blames “hacks and haters” for his troubles, creating for himself the impolitic status of unrepentant plagiarist. He also speaks fondly ofolden days when the Southern honor of a gentleman such as himself knew licit recourse by challenging detractors to a duel.
I have written the foregoing in great confidence. But how am so sure that we have not much longer to endure the buffoonish likes of Messrs. Paul and Cruz and Young and Lohta and Cuccinelli, ad nauseam? How do I know their constituency of boobs will come to naught?
I know because the California political analyst Ronald Prescott Reagan, son of the late president, has predicted as much. During an appearance last Friday on MSNBC television, he said of Teapublicans, “They’re old, white, Southern, and fading into the sunset“.
Thomas Adcock is America correspondent for CulturMag