A country needs heroes, but I hope we’re astute enough to resist the continuing efforts of many politicians and pundits to reconstitute the profoundly mediocre Ronald Reagan into a kind of American colossus and photoshop him into Mount Rushmore–where his orange-dye pompadour would presumably dissolve to a more stately granite gray.
I’m not being gratuitous—I think the image of Reagan’s “greatness” is as phony as his hair. Quite in the spirit of the B-movie president, the mythologizing requires a full Hollywood-style recasting and reshooting of the 1980s, the era of his presidency, to make it shine like a splendiferous golden age. Maybe it was if you lived in a mansion somewhere, but for many people—probably most people—things were way below wonderful.
Here, during the hundredth-anniversary year of Reagan’s birth, are a few things one should remember about our fortieth president and his so-called “morning in America.”
• Homelessness became a fact of life in many American cities and towns, even reaching rural areas. Let’s not forget how shocking a sight and condition this was–belying our country’s vaunted prosperity.
• The rich became richer, but for average workers, wages fell. The gap between the wealthy and everyone else in the country dramatically increased. The poverty rate in cities grew.
• The AIDS scourge spread across the country and the world, virtually ignored by Reagan and his admi… >>>