Sunday, June 07, 2009

Once and For All, Can We Please Admit Ronald Reagan Was Not Funny?

Chris Matthews, among many others, STILL quotes Ronald Reagan's "jokes"... especially "There you go again." Even today, it's still invoked on cable news as some sort of high watermark of political wit. Sarah Palin even clumsily quoted the line in a vice presidential debate, interrupting the flow of her clumsily saying everything else.

Unlike Sarah Palin, however, "There you go again" is not a joke. Not by any definition. Has no actual joke structure or even content. Worse, it's not funny. Never was. If anything, it's just a cheap way to belittle what your opponent just said without having to refute it. Kind of the definition of being a douchebag.

It seems even more so when you watch the actual clip and see what Reagan was responding to. President Carter was pointing out that Reagan began his political career campaigning against Medicare. Which is completely, 100% true. (You can listen to the proof here, if you can stand it.) So when he denied it, Ronald Reagan was lying. There you go again.

President Carter was also talking about how this country needed national health care. Which we still desperately need and still don't have. Because douchebag politicians still trot out the old Reagan "socialized medicine" wheeze. So there you go again.

See, the reason we have videotape and Google and all that is so we can eventually realize that the people we made fun of at the time may have deserved better. Yes, Sinead O'Connor tore up a picture of the Pope on
SNL, but do you remember why? It was to protest the Church's silence on the sexual abuse of children by priests. If it seemed funny and crackpottish to you at the time, does it still?

And can we finally admit that Al Gore was right about the "lockbox"? And that sighing in exasperation when George W. Bush was debating was actually the sensible response?

Only when we cleanse our media of the myths of the past can we begin the serious work of fighting the myths of the present.

1 comment:

Michael Markowitz said...

A comment on this post was mistakenly left by Anonymous on the post here. It's reprinted below:

Anonymous said...

You're absolutely right about Gore's sigh. Here's a guy criticized for years for having no emotion. He shows some emotion -- through an authentic, reasonable, response -- and he's criticized for that too.

He may have connected with more voters with that sigh than through anything else he did during that campaign.