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Eric Alterman: Reagan a pathological liar or a moron?

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Woodstock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 06:00 PM
Original message
Eric Alterman: Reagan a pathological liar or a moron?
Edited on Mon Sep-22-03 06:59 PM by Woodstock
http://www.msnbc.com/news/752664.asp?0si=

...
Ronald Reagan was many things, but most undeniably he was a pathological liar. True, he also gave every impression of being an unbelievable moron (which is why Saturday Night Live could once parody his pathetic excuses for the Iran/contra scandal with a skit that depicted Reagan asget this!brilliant and competent). His worshipful, if fanciful, biographer Edmund Morris even called him an apparent airhead. The Presidents famous cluelessness was so obvious during his years in office that his defenders would attempt to deploy it as a defense of his actions, as if he were a small child or a beloved but retarded uncle. The President tended to build these little worlds and live in them, noted a senior adviser. He makes things up and believes them, explained one of his kids.

...

Not only did Reagan make things up, he also forgot some things that most of us consider pretty important. Morris, for instance, let us in on the astonishing fact that the President not only did not know his own Secretary of Housing and Urban Developmentno big whoop, as the guy was, after all, blackbut that Mr. Family Values also failed to recognize his own son while attending his graduation. If any of us had apparent given to such behavior, we might feel compelled to look into some sort of institutionalized care, if only for his own protection.

But another, more significant, little-mentioned tendency of the ex-President was his fondness for genocidal murderers. I do not use the term genocide lightly. Take Guatemala. That nations official Historical Clarification Commission charged its own government with a campaign of genocide in murdering roughly 200,000 people, mainly Mayan Indians, during its dictatorial reign of terror. The commissions nine-volume 1999 report singled out the US role in aiding this criminal counterinsurgency. The violence in Guatemala reached a gruesome climax in the early eighties under the dictatorship of the born-again evangelical, Gen. Efran Ros Montt. Nine hundred thousand people were forcibly relocated and entire villages leveled. As army helicopters strafed a caravan of 40,000 unarmed refugees seeking to escape to Mexico, Reagan chose that moment to congratulate Ros Montt for his dedication to democracy, adding that he had been getting a bum rap from liberals in Congress and the media. His Administration soon provided as much aid to the killers as Congress would allow.

Reagan showed a similar indulgence toward the terrorists in El Salvador. The President and his equally immoral advisers consistently behaved as if they were hired public relations agents for the murderers of children, nuns, priests and peasants. Not long after these killings reached the amazing level of more than 200 per weekin a country with just 5.5 million peopleReagan mused aloud that they were not the work of so called murder squads on the right, but of guerrilla forces who think they can get away with these violent acts, helping to try to bring down the government and the right wing will be blamed for it. In fact, only days later, Vice President Bush flew to San Salvador to insist that every murderous act committed by right-wing fanaticspoisons the well of friendship between our two countries, and that death squad murders could cost the killers the support of the American people. Didnt Reagan know what Bush knew? Does anyone care?

...

Today, the key question about Ronald Reagan remains not only unanswered but unasked. It is just this: How did this childlike fantasist and friend of genocide convince a nation of reasonably intelligent, God-fearing and generally decent citizens to avert its eyes from the heart of darkness that beat beneath his congenial smile?
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kodi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 06:05 PM
Response to Original message
1. all he had to do was tell people what they wanted to hear.
the american people did the rest.

and note, that one of the prime orchestrators of the central american dirty wars waged under reagan is now the US ambassador to the UN, so we cant just blame reagan anymore
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TennesseeWalker Donating Member (925 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 06:44 PM
Response to Reply #1
5. A proud American tradition that continues to this day.
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quilp Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 06:07 PM
Response to Original message
2. Reagan was a charlatan all his life.
It surprised me that voters couldn't see through him. Then along came Bush. An empty man. And they voted for him too. Now nothing surprises me.
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Cappurr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 06:11 PM
Response to Original message
3. Regan had symptoms of Alzheimers years before he left office
I knew it and I'm not in the medical field.

As to why so many people were fooled? I don't know. He seemed like everybodys favorite uncle I suppose. People pay a lot more attention to appearances than they do to policies, unfortunatately. That is why Clinton beat Bush (one reason) and it is why Bush came close to beating Gore.
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madrchsod Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 06:45 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. my dad ,who knew
ronny,saw that after ronny was shot he was no longer the same person.george bush ran the country after that....
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maha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 10:37 AM
Response to Reply #3
13. I agree
My mother has Alzheimer's, and I didn't realize it for a long time. It didn't become apparent until my father died and she had to handle details like bill-paying and driving by herself.

Mind you, Ma is a college graduate who was a hospital head nurse for years before becoming a teacher at the local community college. She was particularly good at math. After my dad died I helped her file insurance claims and pull together her financial records, and only then did I realize she had no short term memory at all; nor could she decipher restaurant menus. But she could still carry on a perfectly normal conversation on most topics.

About that time, my brother (a psychologist), who picked up on the symptoms before I did, told her primary care physician she was suffering from dementia, and the doctor didn't believe it for several more months.

Ironically, it's probably easier for someone in a position of power (like President of the United States) to conceal dementia than the rest of us, because he has people all around him taking care of the details. It's the moment-to-moment details that Alzheimer's patients lose track of first. For the rest of us, if we were unable to pay bills or remember where we parked the car, someone would notice pretty soon.
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madrchsod Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 06:41 PM
Response to Original message
4. ronnie was a
person who took advantage of what was presented to him. he was charming and very likeable which got him in places that anyone else would not have been able to. he was lucky in hollywood, married the right people and knew if he was to get ahead he`d have to listen and he did.after his movie career ended ,he moved into politics because the republicans in california found the perfect actor for their political ends. nancy was a republican and her dad basically told ronnie he`d have to be a republican to marry her,so he did. then as governor of california he was the supreme yes man to the republican party. the 1980election was the turning point between the old guard republicans and the neocons. ronnie got underminded by bush and his neocon friends.bush was the evil devil to the old guard republicans in the west coast but time was running out on them. after ronnie was shot his mental state slipped away..that`s the main reason nancy was so protective of ronnie,he was failing and she didn`t want him to be hurt.
who knows what history will think of ronnie a hundred years from now but i can say he is a tragic figure in american politics. he came from a rotten childhood and became the leader of the freeworld.he was used by those around him for their own gain of power over the political process in the united states for the next 20+ yrs. now these same people found another empty suit to further their power-little george.
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gratuitous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 07:02 PM
Response to Original message
7. Liar or moron? Are those my only choices?
I'll have to sit down and have a good long surmise about that.

And to think that some assclowns in this country want to put that guy's mug on Mt. Rushmore! Bad enough they're naming every public building, work and monument after the Hollywood Twit.
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depakid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 07:38 PM
Response to Original message
8. The phemonenon of teflon Ron
came about because the media corporations and their senior news editors effectively spun or muzzled criticism of Reagan. There were a number of reasons for this, not the least being that the public in general was weary of presidents being torn down. The irony, of course is that if there was ever a president worthy of being torn down, it was surely Reagan. The lies and lunacy of that administration were certainly comparable to this one, the only notable difference being that they were unable to get away with quite as much.

However, the key factor was that Reagan appointed the National Association of Broadcasters' star attorney, Mark Fowler, to dismantle 50 years of responsible media regulation, including things like limits on commercial time (hello infomertials), requirements for childrens' programming, equal time provisions- and of course the Fairness Doctrine. While this greatly the increased the power and the enriched the coffers of the emerging media conglomerates, make no mistake about it, these were probably the most destructive policy changes in the history of American democracy.

As a people, we are all suffering for them to this day- and probably will continue to suffer for many years to come.
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NewYorkerfromMass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 10:15 AM
Response to Original message
9. Absolutely- actors tend to have problems with reality
and pathological liars tend to confuse what they say with what they really believe is the truth. Very complicated psychology, but it's basically a self-fulfilling prophesy mindset.
Reagan was easily a couch and a half worth of analysis.
His wife 2!
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Seneca Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 10:19 AM
Response to Original message
10. a pathological moron
and a moronic liar.
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WoodrowFan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 10:22 AM
Response to Original message
11. BOTH! (NT)
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baldguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 10:30 AM
Response to Original message
12. Moron or Liar?
Yes.
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CWebster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 10:52 AM
Response to Original message
14. Well Alterman
If Reagan was such a liar, why do you cheer on a clueless candidate to be the nominee for the Democrats who apparently wasn't convinced enough not to vote for him? After all, Clark would've been in the position to be privy to these crimes, unlike perhaps, the typical guy in the street.
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maha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 10:55 AM
Response to Reply #14
15. Let me guess -- Dean walks on water.
... or Kucinich, or some other candidate, never made a mistake in his life. Right?
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