To get and not to get.
I recall reading an American political columnist in the eighties discussing Ronald Reagan and how so many people both in America and Europe didn’t “get” him. It was very true. As far as they were concerned, he was just some “B” movie actor who was totally unqualified to be President of the United States.
When you stop to think about it, what on Earth could possibly be the qualification for such a crucial job? Certainly if you just want a safe pair of administrative hands, then someone with a gubernatorial or diplomatic background are probably favourite.
However, such individuals tend to be less than inspirational and sometimes that’s more important than just being a capable administrator shuffling papers around the oval office desk. The situation when Reagan took the helm was not good; America had just come to the end of a pretty bad decade and after a string of misfortunes, its confidence in itself had taken some hefty knocks.
A most unpopular and divisive war in which 50,000 American lives were lost was only a few years behind the country and it had ended badly, with North Vietnam invading the South and imposing a brutal totalitarian state, under which it remains to this day.
The then current president Jimmy Carter was floundering around ineffectually in every direction. On both the domestic and foreign policy fronts, he was pretty much useless. Carter had a lot of good Christian intentions and said a lot of really really nice things which the media at the time liked to dwell on, rather than the punch drunk economy that was bleeding manufacturing and jobs to foreign countries, where wages were lower and the product could be shipped back into the States to be sold to unemployed American workers with little or no reduction in price but a hefty increase in profit per unit.
Every tin pot dictator in the world pushed Carter and therefore America around with obvious distain.
There was a feeling the leadership was only listening to small but very loud minorities which were given a complete free pass by the media to bend national policy in their favour, while ignoring totally the wishes of middle America, who were somehow cast as being the cause of the whole dreadful mess and should therefore finance such government largesse, or should I say excess, by being happy to be taxed even more. People were fed up of that.
Does any of that sound familiar?
Carter, like Obama, was essentially a weak president being given an easy ride by an adulatory media who couldn’t bring themselves to criticise a liberal agenda, even if it self-evidently was a train wreck to everyone else but them.
Reagan on the other hand got the full smear treatment from the media. Lying press and fake news were around even then, but there was some semblance of balance, or so it appeared. The first line of attack was ridiculing him and anyone silly enough to support him. It was all very personal, patently untrue but while he didn’t rise to their various slurs, it certainly pissed off working class America who warmed to his basic message.
Reagan was accused of being a racist because the KKK had decided to endorse him, a charge which could have been easily rebuffed by a few minutes research, but we’re talking lying press on their own liberal agenda. As it turns out, Reagan came from a poor family; a Scots/English mother and an Irish father who made a living as a salesman and storyteller. Yes, in those days, you could still earn a few useful bucks for the family pot as a seanchaí in a community.
When you’re down there scraping along in the bottom tier of society, you’ll be doing it in the company of people who aren’t white or of your religion and you notice how hard they have to work to keep the family going, just like you. You don’t have time for racism, because scraping along tends to be a full-time job and you don’t need the extra aggrivation.
Racism is, and always has been, a middle/upper middle class vice, despite what you might have been led to believe.
As a teenager he came across a group of Blacks stranded in Dixon IL because the local boarding house refused them rooms. He took them home, where his mother put them up overnight and after a breakfast, sent them on their way. For the times, his views on race were highly unusual, but it stemmed I think from something so many people noticed in him – he believed in an essential goodness in people. Unlike most people, he never seemed to lose that view all through his life and it does go some way towards explaining the unlikely but very strong relationships he could form with world leaders with a totally different political viewpoint, such as Mikhail Gorbachev.
Trump got the same slur from the very start but I have to think it was done in the face of facts about him which were readily available, even to a chronically lazy media bent on libelling him. To pick a famous example, in 1997 he tried to open a resort golf course in Miami Beach FL but was refused permission by the local authorities. There were a lot of specious reasons given but everyone knew it was because it would be the only resort in Miami which would be open to Blacks and Jews. In response, he sent them two films, “Guess who’s coming to dinner?” and “A gentleman’s agreement“, the former about racism and the latter about anti-Semitism.
They didn’t see the humour in that, so he got refused again. In response, he lodged a $100 million legal suit against them and they promptly caved, forcing the desegregation of most country clubs and golf courses in the city. Apparently one or two still hang on to the old ways and I wish them a most unhappy bankruptcy. Touching on the racism aspects again, it’s worth noting that Palm Beach County is solid Democrat, the supposed defenders of the excluded classes …
There was a brief attempt at implying Reagan had been having dalliances with various starlets, but because of the common knowledge that his marriage to Nancy was phenomenally strong, it never got any traction and also there was still a reticence in those times to using that sort of slur. But times have changed and Trump got the whole proof by nothing more than denunciation from various women of him sexually assaulting them, though the fact that there wasn’t a shred of proof didn’t deter the “respectable” organs of the media making it the day’s lead.
I find it interesting that no affidavits were ever filed or suits opened, and in the aftermath of his election victory, the so-called ladies have all mysteriously disappeared. Given the revelations by Project Veritas and WikiLeaks, you have to wonder if it was the DNC’s dirty tricks department and Podesta at work. On balance I’d say yes; if they weren’t above hiring thugs to create violent scenes outside Trump rallies, hiring people like a pornography star to make baseless accusations of sexual assault against him isn’t much of a stretch.
The age card got played on Reagan heavily. At 69, he was then the oldest president ever elected and various authoritative dogsbodies of the medical variety pronounced with certainty that his body would collapse under the strain. It all of course turned out to be a load of old bollocks.
He went on to serve two full terms, and even survived an assassin’s bullet that might have taken out a lesser man his age. He woke up briefly on the operating table and asked “I hope you’re all Republicans?” to which the chief surgeon replied, “Today Mr. President, we’re all Republicans” to chuckles all around. It was what Hemingway called grace under pressure and typical of his wry sense of humour but he was also doing the leadership thing. He knew they’d have to be nervous as hell suddenly having to operate on the President of the United States – a little quip would relax them.
They’ve never tried the age attack out on Trump, if only because they know demographic changes in longevity mean it’s a lot more older people who actually get off their butt and go out to a polling booth. Trump, at 70, has now taken the age record, but as Nigel Farage remarked about him recently while watching him on his thank you tour across the states, “Look at him, he’s on his fifth rally of the day and still going strong.”
The sincerity of Reagan’s political credentials were brought into question by political theorists in academia because he’d switched from the Democrats to the Republicans in the early sixties, but that was just Churchill’s dictum about a youthful left-winger thinking with his heart transitioning to an older right-winger thinking with his head. In the end, a very stupid thing to say of him because if ever there was a conviction politician, Reagan would be it.
Trump has had the same charges laid against him from the same quarters and also from the Neverwozzers and Hazbeens of the Republican party. He’s not supposed to be a committed Republican. To a certain extent this is true. The people running the GOP and the candidates they run are what’s termed RINOs or Republicans In Name Only. You could have rebranded the party prior to Trump’s arrival as Democrats Mk. II without changing much if anything.
Trump is GOP, but very old school GOP, and I hope he and the popular demand of the influx of new voters he brought in with him will reinvigorate it and pull it back from the edge of the dreaded consensus cliff it’s been teetering over for years.
Great play was made of Reagan never having served in Congress, with his two term governorship of California being dismissed as small beer. Given the dire state California was in when he took it over, the turn around he did on it was nothing short of miraculous. Trump took a bashing for the same reason, but as he’s perceived as being pretty good at running things, this charge never actually went anywhere.
As the very real possibility of Reagan being elected loomed, the focus of the media campaign turned to skewed opinion polls with the helpful advice that a vote for him was a wasted vote; Carter was going to win. In the event, he trounced Carter by a landslide. The same panic reaction occurred towards the end of the Trump campaign. Skewed polls and assurances by celebrities like George Clooney and Leonardo DiCaprio that Clinton was going to win. She didn’t, Trump did, and that was in the face of an unprecedented campaign by a media who’d forgotten they’d have to live with the lies and hate they’d spewed afterwards. They’re counting the cost of that now.
The legacy media, especially the online versions of their content allowed an unmoderated stream of hate to be directed against Trump, to the point where people were openly threatening to kill him and such comments were not censored, but the comments by people protesting against them were. In most jurisdictions around the democratic world, threatening to murder someone is a criminal offence, as is encouraging or soliciting others to do so.
When I come across such criminality, I always send the link via Twitter to the US Secret Service and a hashtag I created called Assassination Watch List, both of which will put them on watch lists inside America and when attempting to enter American territory at airports and ports, they’ll be lucky to get in. If like me you don’t approve of political assassination, I’d encourage you to use the same reporting channels any time you come across such criminal activity.
Carter was lukewarm at best when it came to Anglo-American relations and as happens on such occasions, the feeling was reciprocated both towards him and his embarrassing foreign policies. Reagan came in to power and from the word go always had the USSR in his sights, and found in Margaret Thatcher a strong ally in that aim.
He forged a very strong Anglo-American relationship because he knew Britain was the European country with the history of never giving in to tyranny. Like all good relationships, it went two ways, which proved to be a serious misapprehension on the part of a certain General Galtieri.
Obama’s relationship with Britain never got above freezing point, caused by some bizarre chip on shoulder thing about Empire or such – it was too visceral to be anything other than an emotional hang up. It didn’t help that incidents such as not sending even a junior representative to Margaret Thatcher’s state funeral or attempting to bully the EU referendum by threatening Britain would be last in the queue for a trade deal if it left the EU. That stubbornness Reagan admired swung into play; if even an arsecrack like Obama has the arrogance to try intimidating us to stay in, we’re outta here.
Trump on the other hand said Britain will be in the front of the queue and I can see him getting the co-operation for the full length of his presidency that Obama thought he didn’t need because he’d the queen of the EU, in the dumpy shape of Angela Merkel, in his pocket. 1.5 million immigrants have ensured both she and her policies will be gone next year, and perhaps accompanied by the EU.
Reagan changed American foreign policy from a passive reactive posture to one of rollback, pushing back against the USSR and its influence. The liberal elite wet their knickers repeatedly as he rejigged policy and they assured anyone left who was prepared to listen to them at that stage that he’d start WWIII.
They were wrong, he was right, and within months of the end of his second term, the Berlin Wall came down and the USSR not too long afterwards. Putin and China are in for similar push back treatment after the weakling Obama, no doubt accompanied by the same gnashing of teeth and rending of garments by their fellow travellers in the legacy media. There’s a new sheriff in town.
The really scary thing about Trump for those Democrats with long enough memories, is the real danger he represents of being a rerun of what came to be known as the Death of the Liberal Dream in the eighties that occurred during Reagan’s two terms.
All the same prerequisites and elements are there; a mainstream America that feels pushed around and looked down upon by foreigners and is sick of that feeling, an economy that seems to be rusting down to oblivion and not being helped by dithering politicians and their ever so reassuring words which mean doing absolutely nothing, a mainstream media with an obsessive compulsive fixation on race and gender politics, as well as a non-stop in-your-face view of how pig-ignorant the average American is, but above all the belief that fundamental political change can come, and Trump is the man to deliver it.
They’re right to be scared.
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