I PURPOSELY didn't tune in to the Super Bowl until the coin toss, to guarantee I'd miss the Reagan Fluffing; this morning I sought it out, just to make sure it had managed to be worse than I imagined, which is what I imagined. It was.
Make no mistake about it: much of my dislike of the man is visceral, and all of my visceral dislike is defensible. He was a liar, a nutjob, and a dolt. The patented Charm would have left me cold even if I ever saw evidence of it poking through the hate-filled right-wing politics, which I didn't: I saw Jayne Mansfield and Dagmar exhibit the same congenial ease among throngs of well-wishers, and neither of them should have been President, either. Reagan was a product of the studio system. If you didn't master that malarky you wound up like Frances Farmer, assuming you ever made it to the screen in the first place. You know what they said when he ran for Governor of California: Jimmy Stewart for Governor. Ronald Reagan for Best Friend. Wit? I'm still looking for the joke. "I paid for this microphone"? "We begin bombing in five minutes" ? The man spent too many years surrounded by too many fluffers. It's why Bob Hope made all those bad movies. Look, a wise man does not say "How many trees do you need to look at?" He does not say, in the late 20th century, that evolution is just a theory. A wise man does not claw his way to the middle of an overpaid, almost-wholly capricious trade built on flim-flam and flummery, then use his position to expound on the wisdom of that system and the opportunity it provides all men. Had Reagan used the Bully Pulpit to give every American a decent shot at success I might've at least believed he believed it; that he used it to enrich his handlers--at the expense of that Middle America he pretended to be a part of--says what about him, exactly?
And another thing: go, if you dare, and watch that God, We Need One More Hagiography and Mindless Military Celebration To Really Get This Super Bowl Off To A Great Start deal if you must. Listen to Reagan honor the Challenger astronauts. Don't ask what part he might've played in their demise. Listen to him eulogize the dead on Utah and Omaha beaches; don't ask about the time he sent the second greatest armada in the history of the world to save twelve med school students from 80 Cubans. Ask yourself why there's a goddam asterisk after everything these people claim he ever did. Ask yourself why someone needs a sappy, bombastic soundtrack and a Parson Weems narrative before they imagine they've convinced anyone. Ask yourself how the NFL could throw a flag on Green Bay for "excessive celebration" and keep a straight face.