June 29, 2004

WHY AREN'T THEY AMERICAN?:

Forty Million Frenchman (Robert Brustein, 06.24.04, New Republic)

The two shows under review this month--the death, funeral, and canonization rites of Ronald Reagan, and the 2004 Tony award ceremonies--both prove Bernard Shaw's definition of popular democracy as a system "that substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few." That our countrymen could have elected this good-natured, engaging, but utterly inconsequential B-movie actor to two presidential terms is commentary enough on the weakness of the democratic electoral process. But to hear pundits and pollsters claiming that Reagan should now be considered one of the great presidents of history, below only Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy (FDR apparently having dropped down a memory hole), is to enter the realm of the preposterous, if not the occult. Yes, his genial smile and crinkly quips made everyone feel good about themselves, except those afflicted with such un-American disorders as homelessness, minority status, and AIDS.

Two of those groups are by definition so disaffected from society that they're unlikely to share much in its triumphs, but no one's ever adequately explained why black America wouldn't have shared in the pride of waging and winning the Cold War nor why blacks wouldn't have felt better about the Reagan recovery that continues to this day than about the Great Society recession of the 70s. Does Mr. Brustein really intend to portray racial status as a social pathology?

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 29, 2004 6:58 PM
Comments

Mr. Brustein simply shares the surprisingly common belief that black success and Republican success are antithetical.

Posted by: Brandon at June 29, 2004 7:40 PM

But to hear pundits and pollsters claiming that Reagan should now be considered one of the great presidents of history, below only Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy (FDR apparently having dropped down a memory hole),

Everyone apparently agrees Washington is below FDR and Kennedy? Am I taking crazy pills?

Posted by: mike earl at June 29, 2004 9:38 PM

Annnnnnd...... "FDR dropped down the memory hole"? What the hell is he talking about? Virtually everyone was saying that it was Reagan who was the biggest of the second half of the 20th century, FDR the first. Kenndy was mentioned in comparisons of charm and charisma.

This is just a minor example of a major part of the cultural landscape today that is beginning to genuinely frighten me.... we are flat out living on two different planets, if not universes. What planet did FDR "fall down the memory hole"? Not this one. But Brustein, I guess, "feels" that he did, just as I am certain he feels Michael Moore to be a courageous messiah. That's all that is necessary. It is now true, end of story.

Posted by: Andrew X at June 29, 2004 10:06 PM

My guess is he feels FDR is not brought up in daily conversation the way he should - there's a plausible reason for that: FDR's place in history is evident to all, and as such does not need to be discussed.

When the TIME magazine Man of the Century hoo-hah was going on, I had no idea who, had I a vote, I would give my vote to. But I had no hesitation in calling FDR American of the Century, and I can't stand the guy.

Posted by: John Barrett Jr. at June 29, 2004 11:04 PM

Side note: As far as Woman of the Century goes, it's gotta be Madame Curie or Margaret Thatcher.

Posted by: John Barrett Jr. at June 29, 2004 11:07 PM

This twit may know his audience, but doesn't know his history. I found this piece today, by a Black journalist, on what the Reagan Presidency meant to Blacks. A few tidbits:

  • "black business receipts increased ... [at] an annual average growth rate of 7.9 percent (compared to 5 percent for all U.S. businesses)."

  • the Black middle class grew by one-third.

  • "blacks gained 15 percent of the new jobs created during that span, while accounting for only 11 percent of the working-age population."

  • "the black jobless rate was cut by almost half between 1982 and 1988."

  • Sounds pretty oppressive to me. Now how does that stack up to the benefits to the Black community derived from snarky theater critics?

    Posted by: Dave Sheridan at June 30, 2004 5:58 AM

    Leftists like Brustein believe that they can erase the successes of the American Right by merely wishing them away. As he erases Reagan, he adds JFK in his place. Luckily for the rest of us, only other leftists are listening to this drivel.

    Posted by: Michael Gersh at June 30, 2004 8:04 AM

    help me Doctor , I'm afflicted with homelessness and my minority status seems to be acting up again.

    Posted by: JonofAtlanta at June 30, 2004 8:08 AM
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