I really wanted to write a column about why I am opposed to my former governor Mike Huckabee being a Republican presidential candidate in 2012, but I've had a busy week this week and I don't have as much research as I would like to have on the subject. So I've had to cast around for another subject to write about, and was really despairing for a subject matter.
And then, manna drops from Heaven.
Gene Lyons is a liberal newspaper columnist (that's not redundant, by the way) who I have fisked on a near-weekly basis for the past several years. As I explained in my last post, I have gotten away from doing fiskings.
Just when I thought I was out....
I felt the need to address this because it concerns one of my personal heroes in Ronald Reagan, and one of our side's most prolific thinkers in Rush Limbaugh. So, with no further ado....
A fitting celebration
By Gene Lyons
Thursday, February 10, 2011
LITTLE ROCK — Nothing better symbolized Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday celebration than that it should fall on Super Bowl Sunday, with Air Force jets roaring unseen over a hermetically sealed stadium, almost but not quite drowning out a tarted-up former Mouseketeer who mangled the lyrics of “The Star Spangled Banner.”
It was all there: the bombast, the grandiose self-congratulation, the willful blindness, the elevation of showbiz spectacle to patriotic rite.
The Democrats held a convention? Why wasn't I notified?
After which, thankfully, a pretty good NFL football game broke out.
It’s for pseudo-events like the Super Bowl, I believe, that a merciful God gave us high-def DVRs.
This is what passes for humor in Gene's columns. In other words, this is the funniest that Gene (intentionally) gets.
How fitting that George W. Bush, the late president’s vicar on Earth, was seated in a front-row celebrity box to witness the spectacle. Reagan’s genius as a politician was that he repackaged and sold to millions of Americans the comforting daydreams of the 1950s. Not the Fifties as they were-no Korean War, no Army-McCarthy hearings, no lynchings-but as depicted in TV sitcoms like “Ozzie and Harriet” and “Leave it to Beaver.”
Playing the president, Reagan essentially recapitulated the Robert Young role in “Father Knows Best”- firm but fair and unfailingly optimistic. True, Reagan had a disconcerting habit of conflating film scripts with reality: talking feelingly, for example, of his experiences liberating Nazi death camps at the end of World War II, which never happened.
Capt. Reagan of the 1st Motion Picture Unit served in California for the duration of the war, but he got away with exaggerating, biographer Edmund Morris believes, because he’d spent weeks editing raw film footage from Buchenwald. His emotional reaction was sincere.
To an America still nursing a Woodstock, Kent State, Vietnam and Watergate hangover, Reagan’s performance was reassuring. Although his personal coolness was notorious-aides wondered if he knew their names, and even his children complained that he treated them like strangers-the character he played in the Oval Office was hard to dislike.
Here's an interesting link in which Reagan's authorized biographer touches on these two subjects. Look especially under Myth numbers 2 and 3 here.
That’s not to say that Reagan did no harm. Bush’s epic failures came about largely because, unlike Reagan, whose fealty to right-wing ideology was at best inconsistent, he put dogmatic Reaganism into action; hence, the tea party, an other-worldly faction greatly reminiscent of daffy Sixties leftists who argued that Marxism hadn’t really failed because true communism had never been tried.
I'm... I'm at a complete loss. I think Gene is comparing the Tea Partiers to Communists.
Consider a telling exchange on-where else?-Rush Limbaugh’s program last week. Presumably by decoying Limbaugh’s screeners, whose job it is to prevent the host from being confronted by anybody who knows what he or she is talking about, liberal blogger Mike Stark got through.
Stark said that he couldn’t understand why conservatives idolize Reagan. He listed his reasons: “Instead of privatizing Social Security, he raised taxes. We’re all paying higher taxes today out of our paychecks every single week because he decided to save Social Security.”
Talking over Limbaugh’s constant interruptions, Stark continued: “The Greenspan commission. He signed it into law and it raised taxes on Social Security.”
What?” Limbaugh blustered. “Wait, you’re talking about Reagan or [Bill] Clinton?”
“I’m talking about Reagan. Reagan did that. He raised taxes on Social Security. He negotiated with terrorists, sending, over and over again, arms to Iran in exchange for hostages. . . .”
That would be the Iran-Contra scandal that I think probably would have ended in Reagan’s impeachment had he been a Democrat.
Let me pause here for just a second and give you a bit of background on Gene. He and Joe Conanson wrote a book asserting that President Clinton had been “hunted” by reporters in search of a scandal. It is Gene's position that the Clintons were unfairly persecuted while a feeding frenzy invented Whitewater, which ultimately resulted in President Clinton's near-impeachment.
Stark went on: Reagan (humanely) gave amnesty to millions of undocumented aliens. When terrorists bombed U.S. Marine headquarters in Beirut, killing 283 Americans, he (wisely) pulled out of Lebanon’s civil war..
“He’s a tax-raiser, an amnesty-giver, a cut-and-runner, and he negotiated with terrorists,” Stark said. “Why is he a hero to conservatives?”
Limbaugh was beside himself, responding: “Where did you get this silly notion that Reagan raised taxes on Social Security? What websites do you read? Where did you pick that up?”
“Look up the Greenspan commission,” Stark said. “It’s not too hard to find. . . . [I]t’s a matter of history.”
He’s right. payroll taxes increased in 1983 under Reagan. History records that, alarmed by spiraling deficits, he signed tax increases during six of his eight years in office. Even so, his administration tripled the national debt to almost $3 trillion.
Consistent with the GOP’s faith based war on arithmetic, his acolyte, Dubya, then redoubled the debt to $10.4 trillion, leaving a $1.4 trillion yearly deficit.
Note to the tea party: Had Clinton’s tax policies remained in place since 2001, the national debt that GOP politicians pretend to agonize over would no longer exist
So, Dubya doubled the national debt of $3 trillion to $10.4 trillion... Hey, wait a minute! Doubling $3 trillion gets us $6 trillion, not $10.4 trillion! I don't know what kind of calculator Gene is using, but he needs to return it and get one that works!
Oh, wait a minute! Half of $10.4 trillion is $5.2 trillion, which came from the administration before Dubya. Hmmm, if only I could remember what administration that is? It's apparently a mystery administration, because my record books tell me that the administration before Dubya was Clinton.
But in order for Gene to be right about Dubya doubling the debt, Clinton would have to left a debt for Dubya to double. But if Clinton left a $5.2 trillion debt, then he must have increased the debt that Reagan left. Because the last time I checked, going from $3 trillion to $5.2 trillion is an increase.
And Gene just finished telling us that had Clinton's policies remained in effect, the debt would have been erased.
Something doesn't add up here!
But Stark never got that far because Limbaugh hit the mute button, then delivered a lengthy soliloquy about how liberals can’t be reasoned with, only defeated. Is there a bigger faker in American life?
Well, let's sum up the whole exchange here. A liberal blogger lies to a conservative talker's call screeners in order to get on the air, makes a few assertions that are somewhat questionable, and he's hailed by liberals. Meanwhile, the conservative talker is called a “faker” because he isn't able to immediately nuke these questionable assertions.
Let's reverse the positions and see what we have, shall we? A conservative blogger lies to a liberal talker's call screeners and makes some questionable assertions before the liberal talker mutes the conservative blogger and rambles on about defeating the opposition instead of reasoning with them. Is there any doubt about what would happen?
Such an exchange would be newsworthy for two reasons. The first reason is that a conservative would need to lie to get anywhere. The outrage that would follow! A conservative! Lying! Just to make a point! The outrage!
The second reason it would be noteworthy is because of the news that there is a liberal talker. Who knew?
But now? A liberal lies to get on a conservative's program, and liberals just shrug their shoulders and yawn. How often does that have to happen before you get so blasé about it?
Let's face it; if you are a liberal and you have to lie to get on Limbaugh’s program, you are pretty much sunk. It is well known that liberals used to be shuffled to the front of the line whenever they called in. It's something that Limbaugh has pointed out many times. I believe that Limbaugh has moved away from this policy in recent years, though, because of how many times liberals have lied in order to get on the air.
Look, I researched a few of these assertions and have a few links that would clarify why I say that Stark makes “questionable assertions”. But let's face it; Stark has some credibility problems. If he lied then, what makes any of his assertions anything other than questionable at best? Why should we believe anything he says if he has to lie to get on the air?
So, I ask the question that Gene asks, “Is there a bigger faker in American life?” And I'll answer, “If you have to lie to get onto a program that puts liberals at the front of the line, then you may be on the short end of the credibility stick.”
“Ronald Reagan,” ruefully observed Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., “would have a hard time getting elected as a Republican today.”
There’s no doubt about it.
I'm not real sure what the profanity guidelines are here on Pundit Press, but if this breaks any, I'll be glad to alter it.
But my reaction to this sentence is: Horseshit. Reagan didn't work through the Republican Party, but instead communicated directly with the people. He forged a bond with not only conservatives in the Republican Party, but in the Democratic Party, as well. Or have we forgotten the term “Reagan Democrats”? The Reagan Democrats didn't vote for Reagan because he was a moderate. They voted for him because he was able to communicate to them and brought them to conservatism.
And there's no doubt about that.