By Alan Cho
Ronald Reagan gets 60 seconds of silence. Sixty seconds from when the Alzheimer’s gave one final tug to the gnarled neural fibres of a loosely knitted collection of vague smells and their faces. It’s a horrible disease and no one deserves to die in such an agonizing manner, my condolences to his family and caregivers. But he still only gets 60 seconds.
Which is more than Hitler had. The German dictator probably only received a few seconds of silence, but having only one testicle and shooting yourself in the head will only garner so much empathy from the people, certainly not enough to get them to forget the millions of deaths he was responsible for. When Reagan suppressed information regarding AIDS from 1981 to 1987 there were only the 30,000 recorded deaths. These little things can be overlooked, though, when declaring the man as the greatest president of all time. After all, didn’t the man single-handedly win the Cold War by throwing as much money as possible at it, even as Soviet military spending flat-lined in 1980?
If only all problems could be solved with such simple-minded zealousness. It’s an approach more fitting of those burlesque villains, moustaches-a-twirlin’, from those low-budget westerns Reagan stared in before he stumbled his way into the Oval Office.
Maybe that’s where his appeal lies–cartoon supervillian making cartoon decisions with real world ramification swept behind the prefect ridges of that B-star grin.
After all, he’s not the evil Hitler personified. He’s not even a Roger Moore Bond villain with a penchant for world domination. Reagan’s giant laser, labelled the “Star Wars” missile defence system lies unfinished in some abandoned warehouse in the desert. If anything, he’s just some petty con who bumbled his way into a position of authority. Who else would try to get ketchup reclassified as a vegetable in order to cut spending on the National School Lunch Program? Who else would shrug and feign ignorance when asked if he gave money in secret to the Nicaraguan rebels?
It was as if paying attention to such details was not part of his duty as the most beloved president, as the media seems determined to report.
There is talk of plastering his face over the $10 bill, $20 bill or dime. What a great way to celebrate the man who pushed for the abolishment of social security programs. You can already imagine smarmy Republicans flicking dimes emblazoned with Reagan’s face at the homeless and downtrodden in one last patronising act of spite for the poverty stricken.
So even from an entire country away, away from the hyperbolic declaration of his phantom greatness, we give Reagan the 60 seconds of silence afforded to him.
Good-bye Ronnie. You got 50 more seconds than you deserved.