Tom Goulter - hyphenate, Christchurch

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Ronnie, I hardly knew ye

By Tom Goulter, aged 24

- He had a Garbage Pail Kid modelled on him.
- He spent a lot of time trying to get his cockamamie Star Wars system off the ground.
- I don't know anybody who doesn't think that system was the craziest thing you ever heard of.
- Mikhail Gorbachev, while counting him as a respected political contemporary, says he concluded an early meeting with the man by telling Russian aides, "I have just met a caveman."
- If childhood memory serves correctly, he had some sort of association with fallen bombshell Olympia Dukakis.
- In The Matrix, Cypher is called "Mr. Reagan" by Agent Smith right before he agrees to sell his soul to the machines. Some have suggested this is because many people thought Reagan was evil incarnate. This has always seemed an extremely unlikely piece of reasoning.
- I was raised to believe that Gram Parsons and Roger McGuinn's Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man was an explicit critique of Reagan; however, further research (something I intended to do none of before writing this collection of ill-preserved memories) suggests it was actually a sideswipe at Ralph Emery. Being as I was also raised to believe that the song was originally by Joan Baez, I'm going to file this one under Tangental Things I'll Probably Never Resolve.
- I'd always thought his line, "What does an actor know about politics anyway?" was an apocryphal piece of silliness along the lines of that stupid Mariah Carey "flies and death" quote. Apparently not, though he did also say, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help'", and to honor Mr. Reagan's memory, I pledge to use this delightful bon mot as often as possible.
- Nancy Reagan's Diff'rent Strokes appearance is remembered as one of the canonical examples of jumping the shark.
- He was considered for the part of Ric in Casablanca, and really, if that had happened, I think it's safe to say we'd live in an entirely different world. (One, I hesitate to speculate, with a better Washington and a worse Hollywood).
- His "You Got The Right One, Baby" adverts sold a hell of a lot of Diet Pepsi.

Over the past week I've had very little time for fervent would-be iconoclasts trying to be controversial by dissing Mr. Reagan. If nothing else, it's too easy; how much of an anti-establishment guerilla-opinion do you display by saying anything as dumb as, "I'm glad Ronald Reagan is dead"? (But then, nine fervent would-be iconoclasts out of ten manage to irritate the fuck out of me with their every statement, so that shouldn't be such a surprise). Fair and balanced (with apologies to Bill O'Reilly) critiques of the man and his politics, meanwhile, are surprisingly prolific in the print media (the Press, of all publications, managed to reprint a dignified farewell that didn't gloss over Reagan's gross fuckups as President, though their local comment was a little more simpering); I admit to having avoided anything that looks too truly fawning, as, well, fawning tributes to a President with as patchy a track-record as Reagan's seem almost as pointless to me as fervent would-be iconoclastic ramblings about how good it is that the Gipper's pushing up daisies.
The disclaimer for the above, then, being that as a President, nothing about Reagan's politics impresses me all that much; but he's still a dude, and when death touches a dude, that dude's loved ones have every right to grieve; and while silly little bloggers have every right to write self-deprecating little pieces lampooning their youthful perceptions of that dude's public image, surely fervent would-be iconoclasts can find something better to do than loudly try to deny that dude his right to a decent legacy. You know, as a dude.