AUTHOR: Beth TITLE: DATE: 6/11/2004 01:14:00 PM ----- BODY:

Goodbye, Gipper

Because I retain at least a marginal shred of decency somewhere in my brain, I have refrained from editorializing about the Ronald Reagan fetishism that has been going on since his passing last weekend. It's not over yet, of course. But I'm going to say this now because the fact that it's still going on is exactly my problem. I apparently missed the meeting where we decided that Ronald Reagan--the author of the economic and sociological pathology known as Trickle-Down Economics, which had my parents and me delivering advertising circulars to make ends meet in the late eighties, and one of the key players of the international travesty known as the Iran-Contra Affair--was a Great President. Hell, I didn't even get the memo about it until Reagan died. Now it seems that in a mind-boggling stroke of revisionism, America worships Ronald Reagan. To be honest, my first reaction when I heard he was dead was largely one of indifference, coupled with a sense that it was probably a blessing given his advanced dementia. I was still six months away from being born when he was first inaugurated, and all of eight years old when he left office. I always liked Nancy Reagan because she reminded me of my grandmother. That's pretty much it. In the years since, what I've learned about recent American history has made me less than a big Reagan fan. Given that it is customary to show respect for the recently deceased, however, I decided to just kind of avoid the whole story altogether; but over the past week it's grown harder and harder to ignore the hoopla surrounding his passing. Especially if you listen to the Hillman Morning Show, as I do--host Greg Hill is slavish in his devotion to all things Republican. But what has intruded nonetheless in my daily life about Reagan's funeral ceremonies has left me a little bewildered. By comparison, Richard Nixon was slapped in a cardboard box and shipped off to an unmarked grave. Pardon me if I'm simply ignorant, but since when is the man who backed vicious guerillas in South American jungles while sending arms to Iran and giving American workers (most notably air-traffic controllers) the economic ass-raping of the last century worthy of a funeral of the type not seen since John F. Kennedy was assassinated? Is this ringing a little off-key to anyone else? I'll tell you when I really got sick of hearing about the Gipper: last night as I sat, disenfranchised twentysomething, munching on some fried chicken I found in the fridge in my parents' living room. The chicken tasted good (I'm sure you're relieved to know), but different from the KFC my parents usually get. In fact, it tasted strangely like Popeye's Chicken, which has largely vanished from our area. As I ate, I wondered which chicken it was. I caught myself moments later inspecting the chicken closely, and I was immediately horrified by what I was actually doing: looking for a logo. That's right, I was looking for a brand name stamped on a piece of leftover fried avian flesh. Gee, thanks, President Reagan.