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Warning: If you like Ronald Reagan, even the slightest bit, stop reading now. It’s going to get bad. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, and don’t send angry letters. If you go beyond the upcoming period, you only have yourself to blame.

When news of the Emperor’s death reached my household, there wasn’t sobbing, solemn looks or anyone saying, “Poor Ronnie. We hardly knew ye.” I was cheering. I think I even did a jig. You see, I’m not big on any authority figure, but this former president/actor/governor/actor/con artist/actor really rubbed me the wrong way.

What bothered me about Ron wasn’t the fact that he was a marginal actor, but that he remained an actor while in the White House. What irritated me about the guy wasn’t that he was a union man (the president of the Screen Actors Guild SAG), it was that he fired strikers. What downright pissed me off about him wasn’t that he claimed to a grand jury not to remember or know what the people beneath him were doing in regards to antitrust and criminal activity involving SAG and MCA, it’s that decades later, as president, he claimed the same thing about a totally different — but far more important — bit of criminal activity, and people bought it without blinking. What offended me about Reagan wasn’t the fact that he let Oliver North draw up plans to hand over the government to FEMA in case of a civilian uprising or “flood of refugees” from Central America, it’s that FEMA is now part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and it looks like all the paranoia first associated with North’s plans may actually have some validity. What made me bitter about Reagan wasn’t that he called he called Somoza’s National Guard (full of rapists and murderers known as Contras) “freedom fighters” and likened the mujaheddin warriors fighting in Afghanistan in the 1980s to our “founding fathers,” it was that Osama bin Laden was part of that mujaheddin Reagan so praised. Native Americans may get the irony behind that statement, but it is still offensive.

In the days following his death, the media did the expected thing. It praised him constantly and consistently. Any previous complaints, and there weren’t enough when there should have been, were glossed over or totally changed.

(I even heard one pundit claim that Reagan’s firing of the air traffic controllers boosted the American job market because companies were more likely to hire people when they thought they could fire them.) People interviewed on the streets, many of them wiping tears from their eyes, only had positive things to say. Frankly, it disgusts me that this is the legacy we are being spoon-fed, but I’m not surprised that people are buying it.

In America, image is everything. I remember getting into a debate with a woman about David Duke. I told her of his past, and she said to me, “He couldn’t believe all that. He’s too good looking.” Reagan’s image, that of the shuffling, jelly bean eating fool, served him well. It allowed him and his administration to get away with murder — literally. People didn’t think he was capable of such things, and the media never really delved into his actions too deeply. That same media is now giving his reputation, the one they helped foster, one last shine before putting him to rest.

America can believe what it wants. If it wants to remember the love story of two actors who starred in “Hellcats of the Navy,” that’s fine by me. If it wants to remember the image of grandpa chopping wood months after a Jodie Foster-obsessed actor tried to end his life with a bullet, that’s its problem.

If it wants to remember the Gipper “ending” the Cold War, go right ahead. I have different memories.

I remember a man, who may or may not have been suffering from Alzheimer’s while in office, who was a more polished liar than Clinton. I remember a turncoat hypocrite who would rather make backroom deals than be honest with the people he served. I remember a drug-runner who had no respect for the justice system, yet demanded that of others. I remember a man with ties to criminal organizations — ties that made him a very rich man. I remember a man who sponsored terrorists in the form of Contras. I remember a man who compared the group that eventually gave rise to the al Qaeda to Thomas Jefferson and company.

I remember a man who should have never been in office in the first place because he was a vindictive m**********r with an axe to grind.

If the new coat of paint given to Reagan’s legacy doesn’t make you sick, you are either ignorant or just as much a monster as our former president. Yeah, I’m glad he’s gone, but I would much rather he was never given the power to do all that damage in the first place. I guess if there’s any good to come out of this, it’s that there’s now one less spot in Hell … though I’m sure they’ll make room for his wife.

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