Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Ronald Reagan, The Greatest President Who Ever Lived

Turns out the title of Sean Beaudoin's article is completely ironic. Mr Beaudoin, a young adult fiction writer who grew up during the Reagan era, in fact believes he "was the worst president we've ever had," because in his eyes Reagan is responsible for the idea that it was better to feed the population "shallow simplistic and even demonstrably false statements" instead of the more painful and complex truth. Which has led, in Mr Beaudoin's opinion, to a political system in 2013 where politicians seem allergic to telling the truth, a fact that is hard to dispute, just watch any interview with a politician and notice how they refuse to answer the question they are being asked. I actually remember watching an episode of the Daily Show during the 2012 election when an interviewer asked Mitt Romney what his favourite book was, to which he responded, and I'm paraphrasing here, "I've read a good one recently, but I'm not going to say which." Unfortunately I couldn't find the clip on the internet. Mr Beaudoin also charges Reagan with dragging "gibbering evangelism" into the realm of national politics. 

Mr Beaudoin's article is certainly a much more emotive and opinionated article, than an academic one, with little evidence given to support his statements, he never gives an example of the "shallow simplistic and... false statements" he claims to be Reagan's legacy. While he claims that Nancy Reagan was actually pulling the strings and calling the shots in the White House, he fails again to provide any evidence or examples, causing this argument to come across more as a conspiracy theory than a valid point of grievance against Reagan. 

However his charging of Reagan with leading us to "consume without ethics" that came as a result of Reaganomics and the economic boom, which I highlighted last week with the Air Jordans, because spending that much money on a pair of shoes is honestly hard to justify ethically, is most definitely a valid criticism of the Reagan era and the rampant greed it festered.  

While I personally disagree with his assessment of Reagan, I believe he was far from the worst President and nowhere near as awful as Mr. Beaudoin makes him out to be, it was an extremely interesting article to read simply because of how much Mr Beaudoin seems to hate Ronald Reagan, it reminded me a lot of the way people back home talk about Margaret Thatcher, based mostly off emotions, or in the case of my friends their parents emotions, and are deeply rooted, unwilling to move in their opinions. In admitting that his opinion of Reagan hasn't changed "since high school," he is basing his opinion upon adolescence angst, and isn't really willing to reflect upon it.   

The article does have one major flaw, in that Mr Beaudoin repeatedly launches into snarky, personal attacks on supports of Reagan and members of his staff, making it come across as smug and childish. He calls Arthur Laffer, a "demented toad," James Watt, "truly certifiable" and Pat Buchanan a "race-baiting neo-Fascist buffoon." He also rather distastefully ridiculous Reagan getting shot in an assassination attempt, proclaiming "he really knew how to get shot," which seems rather irrelevant to a debate over Reagan's presidency. 

Linking in with the Brat Pack post from last week, Mr Beaudoin discusses the film St. Elmo's Fire, a film he calls a "turdlet," and how each of the respective characters represent the negative qualities of the Reagan era. 

He declares that they are all "self-centered, morally adrift, penny deep, full of greed, unearned certainty and a complete lack of style," and all totally capturing and reflecting Reaganology, before declaring that St Elmo's Fire is the legacy Ronald Reagan should be eternally condemned for. Whether or not this is supposed to be a serious claim or an attempt at wit and satire, it is certainly an interesting idea, which perhaps sums up the whole article. It is a useful but flawed text reflecting on the Reagan era and presents a view of Reagan that is not normally seen. 

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