Sunday, June 13, 2004

How Can We Miss You When You Won't Go Away? 

Yes, it's time to give Ronald Reagan a rest -- he's had such a busy week -- but it's so darned hard to let go. We'd been rooting around in search of the prefect sendoff and had just about settled on Alexander Cockburn's "Ronald Reagan in Truth and Fiction (and Yes, He Doomed the Crew of the Challenger)" (thanks to Zemblan patriot M.D. for the tip), which, although fairly lengthy, has a remarkably high concentration of nasty one-liners per column-inch:
The problem for the press (which groveled before him, at least until the Iran-contra scandal broke) was that Reagan didn't really care that he'd been caught out with another set of phony statistics or a bogus anecdote about Auschwitz. Truth, for him, was what he happened to be saying at the time. When the Iran/contra scandal broke, he held a press conference in which he said to Helen Thomas, "I want to get to the bottom of this and find out all that has happened. And so far, I've told you all that I know and, you know, the truth of the matter is, for quite some time, all that you knew was what I'd told you." He went one better that George Wasdhington in that he could't tell a lie and he couldn't tell the truth, since he couldn't tell the difference between the two.

His mind was a wastebasket of old clippings from Popular Science , SF magazines (the origin of Star Wars) lines from movies and homely saws from the Reader's Digest and the Sunday supplements. He had a stout belief in astrology, the stars being the twinkling penumbra of his incandescent belief in the "free market," with whose motions it was blasphemous to tamper. Astrologers exulted when they saw his visit to Bitburg was timed to coincide with a concurrence of a full moon while at its perigree with the earth, along with a total eclipse of the moon. Elsewhere in the heavens Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto appeared to move retrograde. The same four planets appeared retrograde a year later when Reagan bombed Libya.
And that, believe us, is only a sample.

But then, courtesy of No More Mr. Nice Blog, we stumbled across the ultimate Reagan tribute: WMFU Radio's "Commemorative Ronald Reagan Hyper-Patriotic Blowout" from 9 June 2004. The playlist contains the obvious classics (Ramones, "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg"; Gil Scott-Heron, "B Movie"; Minutemen, "This Ain't No Picnic"; Heaven 17, "We Don't Need No Fascist Groove Thing"; Gang of Four, "I Love a Man in a Uniform"), a sweet selection of obscure novelty items (Spencer & Spencer, "Russian Bandstand"; Ron & the DC Crew, "Ronnie's Rap"; Jim Backus, "Delicious"), and -- centerpiece of the set -- a genuinely astonishing 12-minute radio interview with Reagan himself.

Which we can just about guarantee will give you a better sense of the late President than any six articles we could post here.

Requiescat in pace.

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