Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Reflection In Blood

Killing time last night, I came across a link at Facebook that startled me. It really shouldn't have; I read much worse on a daily basis. Still, it typified what many of my more liberal, mule-centric friends and acquaintances are writing and saying these days, still in love with Obama or the idea of Obama, despite mounting evidence undercutting his "promise," such as it was. So consider this a friendly if stern response. These people are not my enemies, but many of them need to knock the fog from their minds.

Though he may not believe this, I like Lance Mannion, and enjoy his forays into pop culture and how it affects him and his loved ones. But when Lance saunters into politics, well, that's where my enjoyment usually ends. Like many in the newcritics crowd, whom I've met and partied with, Lance is beholden to the Democrats, regardless of any complaints or quibbles he might have.

I haven't read everything he's written about Obama, but based on what I've seen, Lance is pretty much in the tank for our new Father Leader. No surprise. Hardly an unpopular stance. Al Gore's pathetic surrender in 2000 drove countless liberals 'round the bend, and they've waited eight long years to embrace a president of their own. Didn't matter who. Kerry. Edwards. Hillary. All would have sufficed. But Obama's even more special, what with historical CHANGE and all that. So numerous libs cling to him, which clouds their vision and makes them say and write things that I suspect they'd never say had McCain won instead.

Would Lance have reconsidered Ronald Reagan under a McCain regime? Somehow I doubt it, but there's only so much of the human mind I understand. In the wake of Obama's brave order to kill Somali hijackers (who, according to Chris Floyd, were essentially unarmed and trying to negotiate a truce), Lance, along with many liberals, praised the action, convinced that killing poor Africans would show reactionaries how badass Obama truly is. But Lance went further, wondering if Reagan would've been equally heroic. Based on a book about Reagan, "Tear Down This Myth" by Will Bunch, Lance concludes that Obama and Reagan have more in common than not, which I agree with, though not in the way Lance does. But that's another argument.

What threw me about this post is how Lance portrayed Reagan, softening the edges in order to make the old actor palatable to his liberal readers. How else to consider this passage:

"Here, though, what I want to highlight is another difference between Reagan the actual human being and the Right Wing Hero conservatives idealize and idolize.

"Reagan was nowhere near as bloodthirsty.

"In fact, if the bodies are ever tallied, it will probably turn out that Ronald Reagan was directly responsible for the deaths of far fewer people than any other President since Eisenhower, except Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. Barack Obama may already have more blood on his hands."

Okay. Eisenhower oversaw the overthrow of the Iranian and Guatemalan governments, the latter of which turned into the hemisphere's grisliest slaughterhouse. Ike also helped undermine the Geneva Accords, establishing a client state in south Vietnam, which began jailing and murdering dissidents, the body count in the tens of thousands. This of course set the stage for direct US involvement, ultimately killing anywhere from 2 to 4 million people. (Eisenhower offered the French nuclear back-up at Dien Bien Phu, which France wisely and mercifully declined.)

Gerald Ford had less time to kill people, but he made his mark, backing and financing Indonesia's invasion and occupation of East Timor, where a third of the Timorese population was wiped out in Pol Pot-style violence. Not bad for an appointee. Jimmy Carter kept the Timor abattoir running, while backing state violence in El Salvador, military rule in South Korea (the Kwangju massacre killing some 2,000 people), and helping to assemble, train and arm reactionary Muslim elements in Afghanistan, the bloody effects of which, ahem, remain very much with us today. Obama does have blood on his hands, which will stay a moist crimson so long as he's in office. And while he's already out killed Bush in Pakistan, Obama's nowhere near Reagan's body count. That will take some doing. But I have faith that Our President will make an inspired effort to match one of his political heroes.

Not that Lance is blind to Reagan's faults:

"I'm not forgetting all the people who did die because of what he did, all the people in Central America killed by the Contras and the Death Squads we trained and supported, all the people who died of AIDS because he refused to acknowledge the crisis."

But this is an aside, a caveat to Lance's larger, more flattering point, that Reagan thought things out before ordering a hit. I'm sure that Reagan thought of a good many things. Yet let's remember that Reagan financed and defended mass slaughter in Central America, from El Salvador to Guatemala to Nicaragua. The numbers are staggering, given the size of these countries. If a Third World leader killed a portion of who Reagan killed, he or she would be viewed as another Hitler. But Reagan? He not only got away with it, he survived the so-called Iran/contra "scandal," which in reality was a systemic cover-up, aided in large part by Democrats and our ever vigilant Liberal Media. Since then, the focus on the Reagan years has gotten warmer and fuzzier, as liberals like Lance see the "positive" side to the Gipper.

Lance testily insisted that I read Will Bunch's book before commenting, but based on Lance's summation, I see no need to waste my time. I trust that Lance read Bunch closely and carefully, and if this is what he took away from it, then nein danke. I'll stick with Edmund Morris' "Dutch," an avant garde take on Reagan, as Gore Vidal put it. Morris doesn't linger on theory; he gives us Reagan the individual, to the degree that there was something to grab onto. Why people are trying to re-think Reagan is beyond me, since the evidence is damning and overwhelming. I suspect these are practice runs for later assessing Obama, but then, only a cynic would say that.