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Reagan Revisionism: Planned Centennial Commemoration Hoopla

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Reagan Revisionism: Planned Centennial Commemoration Hoopla - by Stephen Lendman

A weeklong infomercial followed his death on June 5, 2004, mythology airbrushing truth, including Marilyn Berger in the New York Times, saying:

"To a nation hungry for a hero, a nation battered by Vietnam, damaged by Watergate and humiliated by the taking of hostages in Iran, Ronald Reagan held out the promise of a return to greatness, the promise that American would 'stand tall' again." 

Quoting admirers and critics, she called him a "great communicator," a "made-for-television president (who) never lost his boyish charm or his ability to look Americans in the eye and make many feel good about themselves. (He) was a combination of ideologue and pragmatist who could compromise and still appear to be a man of unbending principle."

One of America's best or worst? For supporters, the former. Critics disagree. Judge him by his record, not the hoopla. Typical praise came from made-for-media historians like Michael Beschloss practically elevating him to sainthood, equating him to FDR, saying it's "not too much to suggest that Americans would give similar thanks that they twice elected Ronald Reagan, a President who saw the chance to end the Cold War in his own time" - an event, of course, he had nothing to do with besides being president on the cusp of when it happened.

Calling him "an exceptional leader," Beschloss praised his "inner strengths (and) political skills....who left an indelible stamp on history, (and was noted for his) powerful speeches...." In fact, according to one critic, they mixed: 

"hokum, bunkum, flapdoodle and balderdash of the type dished out daily by motivational speakers, along with mashed potatoes and turgid chicken breasts," the type language that turned Warren Harding into a laughing stock, "the 29th President who most resemble(d) Reagan (in) physical appearance and intellectual capacity" - big in size, small in wisdom and good judgment - a lightweight at best.

As a former actor he could read his lines, but with no prepared text, he was inept, a simpleton, passive, and detached, the term "damage control" practically invented to mean correcting his frequent gaffes and ignorance of facts any head of state should know. Not Reagan, yet the press barely noticed or cared, nor about the worst of his presidency.

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In his 1988 book, "On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency," Mark Hertsgaard explained how Reagan became the "Teflon president." The scandals during his tenure never stuck because the media gave him a pass, going along with the "Mr. nice guy image," his first term deputy chief of staff, Michael Deaver, saying:

"Ronald Reagan enjoyed the most generous treatment by the press of any President in the postwar era. He knew it, and liked the distinction," though his record deserved condemnation, given no Republican leader since Nixon.

When he died, in fact, truth never exposed popular fantasies. Admirers gushed about his persona, popularity, and how he made Americans feel good about themselves again. They also praised his being right on big issues, and said the world is better off because of his presidency and leadership. CBS anchor Dan Rather called him a master at communicating greatness. Tim Russert on Meet the Press admired his tortured evasion of Iran/Contra culpability as "very believable," and on June 14, 2004, Time magazine wrote:

"the Reagan years were another of those hinges upon which history sometimes turns. On one side, a wounded but still vigorous liberalism with its faith in government as the answer to almost every question. On the other, a free market so triumphant - even after the tech bubble burst - that we look first to 'growth,' not government, to solve most problems."

Time, of course, ignored decades of massive government subsidies responsible for much of that "growth," what looks puny now compared to the trillions given Wall Street alone since 2008 with no end to them in sight. Big government is only bad for popular needs, not corporate ones, on the dole for them a way of life.

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Ready or Not, Reagan Revisionism Is Coming

On March 17, 2010, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and GE announced their partnership in supporting a two-year centennial commemoration of his birth on February 6, 1911. On television, from 1954 - 1962, Reagan hosted the Sunday evening GE Theater and traveled the country as it's roving ambassador, a prelude to entering politics. 

From 1947 - 1952 and in 1959, he also served as Screen Actors Guild (SAG) president, during which time he named members he suspected of "communist" sympathies, telling the FBI and House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) they threatened the film industry. As a result, hundreds of actors, directors, producers, screenwriters, musicians, songwriters and other artists were blacklisted for their progressive beliefs.

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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