Rotting Reputation of Ronald Reagan, Part 2: The Legacy of
Deception and Division
June 26, 2001
Part 1: Prologue to a Lethal
Ronald Reagan was a bit of a pioneer when it came to politics
- after all, he discovered that the proverbial back exit in
the actor's studio was also a back entrance into the political
arena. He was also highly ambitious, but I won't extend that
as a compliment. Reagan was extremely impoverished while growing
up. In destitute conditions such suffering can make a person
a merciful saint - or in his case a very dangerous person
who is without mercy and will prevail upon the weak and helpless
to suit his own goals. He stopped at nothing because he wouldn't
let anything like morals and restraint prevent him from accomplishing
what he wanted to.
Back in 1932 Reagan had a job in radio broadcasting recreating
baseball games for the Chicago Cubs. Even though he wasn't
actually present at many games, it was still his job to make
radio a little more exciting by giving the audience the feel
of being at a live baseball game. Of course that's not a crime.
That's showbiz. "Dutch" Reagan as he was known back then managed
to distinguish himself tremendously in this line of work.
On one occasion it turned out that for one reason or another
he didn't get an entire game he had to rebroadcast. Nevertheless,
the people had to be entertained. So entertain them he did
- by making up his own play-by-plays as he went along. As
it turned out not only was he gifted with his voice but also
quite creative. His imagination crafted a level of suspense
and excitement absent from your typical game of Major League
It was only a baseball game yet you had to give credit to
a man who could pull a stunt like that on the American public
and get away with it. It turned out to be something of an
M.O. for him as he made his way into politics by using that
same appeal on people's hearts and minds with abundant ease.
Reagan realized that people will believe a bigger lie than
a small one. He was a wizard of propaganda and launched the
media machine that would eventually stop reporting news and
start behaving more like the Ministry of Truth from George
The Cold War mentality was also at a level not seen since
the McCarthy era, and was useful to isolate Democrats and
liberals alike while casting them as "commies" who didn't
want to work but just siphon off tax dollars while the good
conservative folks had to work to support them indirectly.
Of course none of that was ever true, but Reagan was ruthless
and there was a purpose behind his flag waving: to divide
and conquer the growing amount of poor people in order to
distract them from the real pitfalls of Reaganomics. And for
good measure it helped to turn back civil rights legislation,
which angered many minorities. Soon the myth of the Angry
White Male emerged and the two groups started pointing fingers
at each other, fighting over who should get what resources.
On top of that there was further deceptiveness. A related
tactic for Republicans to this day is to simply label ex-Democrats
as "bipartisan" or "non-partisan," yet
treat dissenters within their own party as pariahs who would
be punished severely for the errors of their ways. But as
the saying goes, try to paint everything with the same moral
brush and you'll have sloppy work.
Many - not all - Conservatives to this very day engage in
the type of doublespeak that was first instituted by the Reagan
White House. Any kind of civic-minded criticisms of extreme
policies or individuals are quickly dashed as being some sort
of evil meant to prevent any real progress. This doesn't just
apply to liberals or Democrats but even former P.O.W's like
John McCain. But this sort of my-way-or-the-highway mentality
is actually a road to destruction, evidenced clearly by moderates
who are run out of their own party, thus weakening its base
as a whole.
Likewise it turns out that there is still a great schism
between many people, a lot of wounds that are still slowly
healing from the damage caused by Reagan's extreme agenda.
But at least there is some healing taking place. Reagan had
his own 11th commandment of "Thou shalt not speak ill of another
Republican," but it turns out that some conservatives are
seeing such a so-called commandment for the divisive rhetoric
and some are making efforts to turn things around.
It's fairly certain that the legacy of the right-wing lunatic
fringe is at this point uncertain. Perhaps we can still be
saved with the help of civic-minded citizens who want to see
this country recover completely from its sickness and overcome
its blight brought on by the Great Deceiver - a man who ultimately
fell into the trap of his own lies.