Saturday, January 19, 2008

Bet on Reagan

If the Colbert Report can be believed, there actually is something that’s illegal in Las Vegas: betting on Presidential elections. Too bad: a bookie could easily offer one hundred to one odds that Ronald Reagan will win the nomination of both parties.

If it were just the Republicans, the odds could be a million or ten million to one. It isn’t just that there’s an ignorant and lazy second-rate actor, Fred Thompson, running. All the candidates are carrying the flame – even the whacky libertarian Ron Paul. There are bets to be made on the Republicans: will Preacher Huckabee’s Christian Taliban break away from the neo-cons and tax cutters (who have as much chance of making it into Heaven as a camel does of walking through the eye of a needle)? Will Mitt the Family Guy’s Mormonism repel the morons? Will “maverick” war monger John McCain announce that the sanctimonious Senator from the Likud, Joe Lieberman, will be his VP (as he was Al Gore’s)? Will his comparative decency on immigration do him in? Will anybody be dumb enough to vote for Rudy G? There’s money to be won and lost betting on these and similar questions. But no one, in his right mind, would bet against a Reagan victory – not when there isn’t one candidate in that whole pitiful bunch who will dare hint that maybe the Gipper wasn’t God’s gift to Creation.

On this, you’d think the Democrats would shine as lesser evils; and perhaps they do. But deeds speak louder than words. Bill Clinton did more to dismantle what was left of New Deal and Great Society institutions than Reagan dreamed possible; he all but completed “the Reagan Revolution.” He might even have done what no Republican can – start to privatize and therefore undo Social Security – but for the interruptions caused by his dalliance with Monica. [As I’ve written before, making it with that zaftig lovely was his finest – and most humanly understandable – achievement in all the decades since he avoided the draft.] Reagan-friendly words were not altogether absent either in the days a Hillary victory would restore. Perhaps the low point came when President Bill presided over the renaming of National Airport – now known as Reagan Airport to all but the handful of us who still refuse to utter the name. [Travelers to the DC area now have to land at BWI (recently named for a good guy, Thurgood Marshall!) to avoid flying into an airport named for a sleaze ball (I’m not counting Lord Baltimore). Between John Foster Dulles and Ronald Reagan, it’s a close call. It could be worse, though: it might have been brother Allen. But fortunately (or not), he lived too long.]

What about Obama? Here’s what he told the editorial board of The Reno Gazette last week: “I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like wth all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn’t much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think … he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity, we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.”

John Edwards had an apt reply. He is quoted as saying that Reagan “…did extraordinary damage to the middle class and working people, created a tax structure that favored the very wealthiest Americans and caused the middle class and working people to struggle every single day…” He went on to promise that he would “never use Ronald Reagan as an example for change.” But, of course, Edwards’ campaign, not being one hundred percent on corporate America’s page, has been scandalously ignored by the corporate media and their allies at NPR. It has also been betrayed by opportunists in the Democratic Party and the labor movement. That’s why the chances Reagan will win in both parties are at least a hundred to one.

Note: for more on the past week’s events in the race for the Democratic nomination, this piece by Bill Fletcher is right on target.

No comments: