I must respond to Barbara Kellerman’s article (Editorial Pages, March 9), “A President for All Seasons.”
An actor breathes life into someone else’s words. He lives in that character for the hours or days while performing. The audience is mesmerized by this illusion. If the script is pleasant, beautiful, uplifting, with no ugly undertones, they come away feeling comfortable and sleep well. But if, on the other hand, the story is about squalor and unhappy people, most people wish to banish this from their memory rather quickly.
Reagan has capitalized on this human foible. He tells us a story about “A Shining City on the Hill"--everyone smiling, beautiful homes, happy children but very, very few minority faces. This is Hollywood hype, the art of illusion and Reagan is the Wizard of Oz.
Kellerman also seems to be mesmerized, for she states, “Clearly Ronald Reagan is not a man of high intellectual accomplishment, nor does he seem sufficiently capable of empathizing with the growing numbers who are socially and economically deprived. On the contrary, his incurable optimism appears to blind him to some of life’s unpleasant realities. But this same optimism also is a major asset: It taps into the sense of unlimited possibility that has been at the heart of the American national character for more than two centuries.”
Baloney! It is not optimism that allows him to walk over the bodies; it is selfishness and greed and that is why his popularity grows. He says that people sleep on the grates and in the streets because they choose to, and this relieves a lot of people of a hell of a lot of guilt.
He talks a lot about family but ignores his own. He talks about religion but does not attend church. He talks about better education but continually cuts the budget. He rants for more arms while pro-claiming he wants peace. he is a “photo-opportunity” President and, if the press dare to ask him questions, he calls them “S.O.B.'s” (and they let him get away with it). Without his Teleprompters he is nothing. We have seen this over and over again on how he cannot respond to a question without prompting from “Mommy.”
You might say that he lucked out where Jimmy Carter’s luck ran out: double-digit inflation, mainly due to oil price, and the hostages who, incidentally, all returned alive. But the press has been very kind to Reagan regarding the death of the Marines in Beirut, the secret invasion of a tiny island, and the death of soldiers returning home for a holiday on a badly maintained, chartered airplane.
After six years in office the Teflon is so thick that it is almost impossible for anyone to penetrate it. His fabrications and misstatements, while confusing fantasy with fact, continue. No one wants to talk about “Mr. Nice Guy,” not even the Democrats.
Personally, I think a lot of his popularity comes from misplaced sympathy. He has been forgiven for a lot of things because of the attempted assassination in his first term and the cancer in his second. I do not feel that either of these events should excuse him of what he has done against the old, the disabled, the unemployed, the poor and, particularly, the poor children of this nation. I can only hope that history will reflect this.