Thursday, February 09, 2006


So it seems that the rightwingers have decided that liberals don't know how to behave at funerals. After all, liberals say things they believe. They tell the truth. They honor the dead for the work they did but stress all the work they knew they would still have to do if alive.

So I thought it might be instructive to go look at the kinds of things that the right wingers say at funerals. In 2004 Vice President Dick Cheney said things like this at the funeral of Ronald Reagan:

We think back with appreciation for the decency of our 40th president and respect for all that he achieved. After so much turmoil in the '60s and '70s, our nation had begun to lose confidence.

Can this line be anything but code? That turmoil of the '60s and '70s just happened to include civil rights, students protests, women's rights, gay rights, the struggle to end the war in Vietnam. Of course, the folks who lost confidence are people oddly enough just like Dick Cheney--white guys who like to boss women around and supported the Vietnam War (not so much that they would go and actually fight, but at least they remain in chicken hawk character for their whole lives). How is Cheney claiming these things aren't noble any different from Reverend Lowery pointing out there weren't any WMDs in Iraq?

Oh, wait, it is a lot different. There weren't WMDs in Iraq, and we were lied into a war that has killed thousands of Americans and Iraqis and left that country on the verge of civil war. And the U.S. poor that Lowery defended--all those exposed so vividly after Katrina--get to take the brunt of the latest Bush budget, too.

Then Cheney delivered this whopper:

If Ronald Reagan ever uttered a cynical or a cruel or a selfish word, the moment went unrecorded. Those who knew him in his youth and those who knew him a lifetime later all remember his largeness of spirit, his gentle instincts and a quiet rectitude that drew others to him.

Hmm, how about just these, the quotes most easy to find on a quick Google search? First, there's CA Governor Reagan deciding what's best for students with this gem: "If there has to be a bloodbath, then let's get it over with" on what to do about student protests at UC Berkeley, quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle (May 15, 1969 almost a year to the day prior to Kent State). Sure, there's nothing cruel about suggesting it might be good to shoot students.

Then there's a line like, "Fascism was really the basis for the New Deal" (Time magazine, May 17 1976) , which might just be stupidity, and being dumb isn't cruel, cynical or selfish, it's just not really a great compliment to a U.S. president, even if now dumb goes with U.S. president like sadist boots on Rice.

And given the administration that Cheney is running, uh, part of, I guess it's not cynical to thumb your nose at the world community, so it's probably just chutzpah, or the WASP equivalent thereof that no doubt involves less spitting and balls, that leads to a Reagan quote like, "One hundred nations in the UN have not agreed with us on just about everything that's come before them, where we're involved, and it didn't upset my breakfast at all." That gem was Ronnie's reaction to international criticism of the US invasion of Grenada--the ever-threatening Spice Island--quoted in Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II by William Blum.

Of course, Cheney didn't say that Reagan never lied; Reagan was onto truthiness years before Stephen Colbert was a twinkle in Comedy Central's eye, with great moments like this one during his testimony to the Tower Commission in 1987 (oh, and please don't say he already had Alzheimer's, as he was still in the White House): "A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not."

And what would a run through of fave Ronald Reagan quotes be if we didn't visit that ultimate cynical "joke" that Bootsy Collins and Jerry Harrison had us grooving to on the dance floor: "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes." (During a microphone check, unaware that he was being broadcast on August 11, 1984)

Of ocurse what it all means is that Cheney and Bush simply want to use every public appearance, even those at funerals, as a chance to one-up their political opponents. They can't fit in at Coretta Scott King's funeral because they've been part of all she's opposed her whole life. So they simply abuse anyone who disagrees with them (those who stand with Ms. King are un-American).

Alas, if they were really so keen on Reagan, why did they ignore one of his key quotes in the speech when he kicked off the boondoogle known as Star Wars: "The defense policy of the United States is based on a simple premise: The United States does not start fights. We will never be an aggressor. We maintain our strength in order to deter and defend against aggression--to preserve freedom and peace"?


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