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A Week With(out) Reagan
by jeanette   June 14, 2004
politics, gay

I don't want to hear the term "liberal media" ever again.

Let me first start by saying this: I watched as they loaded President Reagan's coffin onto the plane at Point Mugu airbase, and I surprised myself as I was getting choked up. This morning, I watched much of the funeral in Washington DC. Again, I got a little emotional, and I'll tell you why. What I saw was Nancy Reagan, small and frail, followed by her children. What I saw in Nancy was a woman who lost her beloved partner of, what, fifty plus years? That made me really sad. Sad that she had to deal with the misery of Reagan's Alzheimer's, that she had to deal with the fact that her beloved partner of more than half her life died, having no memory of her or their years together.

That said...

This week, the "liberal media" have had a sickening Reagan love-fest. Salon.com made some good points:

    "Similarly, NBC's Tom Brokaw said Reagan 'was a beloved American leader, but at the same time our journalistic obligation is to put his whole life and his political career in context. The Reagan legacy has some scandals -- Iran-Contra, his failure to recognize early on the AIDS epidemic. It's a very delicate balancing act.'
    But the fact is that both CNN and NBC failed in attempting that balancing act and in the end fell off the wire. A search of this week's transcripts reveals some passing references to Iran-Contra, but nothing approaching a serious discussion of it -- or of any other of Reagan's less-than-rosy scenarios."

And then there was the huge build up to the so-called "private" service in Simi Valley. Again in Salon:

    "...with priceless pictures and sentimental narrative lines while appreciative producers and reporters neglect to acknowledge the wholesale media manipulation that is going on. There's been little or no discussion, for example, of the long planning for this funeral by Reagan's old political handlers. It's morning again in America -- on a feedback loop.
    (...)That artfulness continued this week in subtle ways. For instance, Monday's viewing of the casket at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley was listed as a "private" family service. Yet it was covered live by multiple cameras, one of which was affixed to the ceiling to capture the dramatic moment when Nancy Reagan laid her cheek on the flag-draped coffin. That "private" image was aired continuously on cable news outlets and appeared the next morning on the front page of dozens of major-market newspapers around the country."
Reagan's always gotten a pass and still does. Yes, Iran-Contra, yes, ignoring AIDS, yes, huge deficit.

That said...

No, I don't think Ronald Reagan was an inherently evil person as are some in our current administration. In fact I suspect he may have been a nice person. I say this for many reasons. I say this because at the funeral this morning I saw Margaret Thatcher, though in very bad health, defying the advice of her doctors to make the difficult trip to America to say good-bye to a dear friend. I saw Bill Clinton with a teary-eyed Hillary, tears that were not for show or political strategy. I saw people on both sides of the political spectrum paying their respects, not necessarily to the politician, but to the person.

I guess I don't know what I'm trying to say. Maybe it's that I'm sick and tired of hearing about the "liberal media" because there clearly is none, and that at certain times it can be OK to separate the politics of a person from the person himself. And no matter what I thought or think of the Reagans, I would have never wished for them in their golden years the awful pain and destruction of Alzheimer's.


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