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06/09/2004 Archived Entry: ""RonTV: All Reagan, All the Time""

"RON-TV: ALL REAGAN, ALL THE TIME." That's what Debra calls the endless coverage her husband's been watching on MSNBC. And ain't that the truth?

NPR's the only mainstream media I get, but damn, they're at least "Half Reagan, Half the Time." I was in the truck for an hour this afternoon, listening to coverage that went something like this:

[Respectfully hushed tones] Yes, LeeAnne, the catafalque has just moved exactly 3.26 meters down the avenue. Progress is ponderous because heartbroken peasant women from the steppes are constantly throwing themselves in front of the procession, after being checked for bombs, guns, knives, and knitting needles by the heroic motherland security cadre, of course. Two point seven more meters now, LeeAnne, and ... Wait ... wait ... what's this? The third horse drawing the caisson has just taken a dump. It was a very reverent dump, LeeAnne, I wish all the world could have experienced it ... truly a dump all the world will remember forever ... a profoundly touching moment in what might be one of the last photo ops of the Reagan legacy ... and there ... yes, there come the ceremonial guards from each of the services, to gently scoop every minute manure fragment for posterity. I'm sure it will be carefully preserved and placed next to the Great Leader in the glass mausoleum being prepared to enshirne his earthly body ...


The fuss being made over Reagan is approximately the same degree of fuss that was made over John Kennedy in the days after his assassination. More so, in some ways. I don't remember any national holiday being declared for JFK. So we've come to the point in our endless state worship where a 93-year-old who dies in his bed 16 years after leaving office is adulated as much as a "fallen warrior" shot down in the prime of his life and the middle of his term in office. Sick. Absolutely sick.

Now, compare this coverage to the coverage that might be given if, say, the world's greatest scientist died -- a man or woman who'd discovered a cure for a terrible disease. Or a great inventor. They'd get five minutes -- if they're lucky.

This is not an anti-Reagan screed. He was no worse (and no better) than any other president. It's about what our country is becoming. For the first several days after his death, NPR reporters kept referring the to "national funeral" planned for this week. Somebody must have clued them in to the terminology, because this afternoon they switched to the more usual "state funeral." But they truly might as well hold a funeral for our nation, if this sort of wallowing state-worship is what we've come to. Ronald Reagan was a man with an extraordinary career and he certainly deserves credit for that. But let's have some perspective!

There's at least some hope in the hinterlands, though. Ever since the sign went up in our local post office window, announcing they'd be closed Friday so everybody could spend the whole day wearing sackcloth, wailing, and rending their garments over the Tragic Loss of Our Glorious Ex Ruler, the postmaster says he's been hearing an earful from the locals, who didn't think much of Reagan as an actor, didn't give a damn about him as a politician, and don't see why some old dude with Alzheimers who hasn't been on the national scene in years should cause them to miss their mail. Now that sounds like a nice, properly skeptical and disrespectful-of-authority American attitude.

At least now when the P.O. rushes the Ronald Reagan memorial stamp into production, as they did with Richard Nixon in such unholy haste, we're likely to get the self-sticky variety. Thank heaven! When Nixon was suddenly our Great Posthumous National Hero (and lets not ask how the Ultimate Slimeball Tricky Dick made that transition), we were expected to lick his backside -- something we can probably avoid with Ronnie.

Posted by Claire @ 09:27 PM CST

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