Alternative eulogy

Jun 9, 2004 at 12:00 am

Far be it from us to speak ill of the dead. We’d rather skewer the living. But we’re willing to make an exception to add some balance to the idolatry being heaped upon Ronald Reagan. To help keep the Reagan presidency in perspective, we offer this view from Jill Nelson, author of the book Straight, No Chaser: How I Became a Grown-Up Black Woman.

“On civil rights Reagan was a complete disaster,” she writes. “He tried to gut the Civil Rights Commission, to stop the extension of the Voting Rights Act in 1982. His administration was relentless in its attacks on affirmative action. Not only did he nominate Robert Bork to the U.S. Supreme Court, but he got an incredible number of white male right-wingers onto the judiciary. He created the fictional ‘welfare queen’ to attack the poorest and most in need in our society.”

That comes to us courtesy of the lefty nonprofit Institute for Public Accuracy, which also posted online ( the comments of Holly Sklar, co-author of the book Raise The Floor: Wages and Policies That Work For All Of Us.

“Ronald Reagan was a master at the con game George W. Bush calls compassionate conservatism. Reagan gave us big tax cuts for the wealthy, big hikes in military spending and big budget deficits. In the words of Reagan budget director David Stockman, ‘Greed came to the forefront. The hogs were really feeding.’ Reagan’s debts were paid with the payroll tax hikes and painful cutbacks in education, healthcare and other crucial programs.”

And don’t forget the Iran-contra scandal and his administration’s support for brutal right-wing thugs in Central America.

David Corn of The Nation magazine offers other reminders from the bad ol’ days of RR, including: voodoo economics, ketchup as a vegetable, polluting trees, silence on AIDS, the invasion of Grenada and Star Wars, among many, many other things.

Then there’s the Detroit News’ laughable banner headline, which credited Reagan with restoring the nation’s “hope.” Gee, News, we weren’t aware we’d lost hope.

But history turns out to be a relative thing. As bad as Reagan seemed during his eight years of napping in the White House, the Gipper seems like both an off-the-charts genius and humanitarian when compared to our current commander in chief.

Contact News Hits at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]