Ronald Reagan: U.S. President, B-movie actor


Victor Pross

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Ronald Reagan: U.S. President, B-movie actor

RONALD REAGAN WAS A MAN OF HIS TIMES. With the shadow of the Watergate scandal fading away and Jimmy Carter’s aw-shucks-peanut-farmer routine wearing thin, America in 1980 was in a mood for a tough-talking cowboy to ride Washington and whip the country into shape.

Reagan, an actor, unafraid of working with children or animals (a chimpanzee, of all things), star of westerns, football pictures and cigarette commercials, was ready and willing to play the part.

Swaggering into the presidency form the governorship of California, Ronald pitched “Reagonomics,” a fiscal program based on dismantling the so-called Great Society while the deficit sky-high by spending on missiles and weapons systems. He talked tough when it came to the Soviet Union, repeatedly referring to it as the “evil empire” and laying out plans for “Star Wars” satellites that would blow commie nukes out of the sky. Referring to the movie character he played, he passionately asked the American public to “win this one for the Gipper.”

But then, he often related anecdotes about his life that turned out to be the stories of films he made. No bother. Reagan was the roles he played, just as America is the story it tells itself. He, like the American public, drew no clear lines between mythology and reality.

And if, at times, it seemed as if the President (The most powerful Man in the World) was woefully uninformed about the questions, or about the day-to-day operations of his administrations, that seemed to fit to. Reagan, the gunslinger president with the nukes in his hip holster, was the “big picture” kind of guy. He couldn’t be expected to micro-manage every program or arms-for-hostages deal that passed through his office. That’s why he had a staff, after all. Ronnie needed to make appearances and project a movie image.

And if, when asked a question, the great communicator responded with an unrelated and barely coherent story about a movie he made, then the press and public could nudge and wink and pretend the president wasn’t a lunatic.

Reaga_by_Victor_Pross.gif

Ronald Reagan

Edited by Victor Pross
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Victor; Shame on You! You're buying into the whole bag the MSM said about Reagan. I will mention two items. In the last couple of years his letters were released. These are letters Reagan wrote. If there was any question about the authorship the letters were not included. The book is several hundred pages. Another books was of radio scripts Reagan wrote. The scripts are in his handwriting. Reagan had no writer working for him at the time. One of Reagan's speechwriters has said that every speech he wrote come back with corrections in Reagan's handwriting.

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Dragon; It's in his handwriting. If you are interested in the topic you might look at the Anderson's introducation to the Letters where they discuss the standard they used for letters in the book.

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With these small articles, Victor is giving us previews of his upcoming book. I think he is looking for feedback to see if they can be improved.

As a work of caricature, the focus of his book obviously is on polemics.

Michael

Michael,

You are correct. I am looking for feed-back or whatever commentary people care to engage in. That way, I get ideas and I am able to make improvements. In all the “Icons and Idol” posts—Elvis, Einstein, Ronnie, or whatever—you might note a unifying theme that's consonant with the book: that individual’s impact on the culture. Not their bio as such, but what kind of impact they had on the culture, for ill or good. OR, more important: The IMAGE they project. Dragonfly need not worry, when it comes to the people who will grace the pages of Icons and Idols, I have too much to say---too much. Plus, I have been working on this project for four years now, writing and painting…and so I don’t pop these things out overnight.

Thanks, Chris, for your feed-back.

-Victor

Edited by Victor Pross
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Victor,

You did not address Chris specifically, and you are simply wrong about Reagan. I wonder what type of research you have done(considering you are writing a book, and that accurate scholarship would seem to be important.) From what I gather from your post you've opened your mouth like a babe and been fed by the liberal spoon. Given that prominent scholars have taken ALL the evidence about Reagan and have changed their minds about him, I would expect no less from an objectist than at least studying deeply upon the subject before proclaiming some caricature. Let's start with the imminent biography Ducth by Edmund Morris, who had heretofore unheard of access to a sitting president. What do you think of it? I'm assuming you've read it if you are honestly trying to have a legitimate portrayal of Reagan. I think it was a tragic waste. What do you think about the writings of Ronald Reagan in his own words? I'm assuming you've read them if you are writing a book, and are striving to have an honest portrayal of Reagan. What do you think about Noonan's biography? What do you think about D'Souza's work? What do you think about Reagans own diaries or letters? what do you think about his autobiography? I can name others, but I don't want to swamp you. I'll settle for your thoughts on these few. I've read all of these, and many more. It's easy to caricature, especially when parroting. It's much more difficult to be accurate.

Edited by Jody Gomez
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Jody,

Thank you very much for what comes across as an impassioned critique—which I do respect. I was wondering if you could tell me about any specific factual errors I have made about Reagan that you could point out to me. (My subjective humorous take on Reagan is a different story).

Some clarification is needed in regards to my project. Icons and Idols is a lighthearted book, a humorous look at the culture at large. It will cover dozens of different types of individuals in all fields: entertainment, the sciences, the arts and politics. And while it is true that before I dip my paint brush to create a caricature painting, I do considerable research on my subject, but that has to be set within limits due to time constraints. After all, if I read all those books on Reagan you bring to my attention (and an equal amount of books on all my other subjects) it would take me to the year 2072 before the book is published. (And it’s very difficult collecting royalties when you’re dead). :cool:

But on a serious note: When I set out to draw or paint a famous personality I usually know as much about the subject as does the general public, which is nothing more than tabloid personality. Sometimes they are just faces, and this doesn’t tell us much. So research becomes necessary, but as I have said, I must limit that the amount of research I am able to do. Still, I approach caricature as a biographer approaches his subject: research, lots of digging. If my subjects are predominately famous people, I find that doing at least some *minimal research* will spark ideas for a painting that would not have occurred to me otherwise, and the end result will generate a greater emotional response from my viewers. (THAT is very important).

I am trying to re-produce the image that these famous icons and idols have reflected on popular culture, rather than my personal “biased” perspective. (Mind you, if I do come across like a Lefty, that leaves me repulsed, :shocked: and so I am grateful for any way I can improve the text as I am a visual artist first and foremost.

-Victor

Edited by Victor Pross
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The fact that in 1980, Ronald Reagan began his campaign for the Presidency in Philadelphia, MS speaks volumes. He was certainly the candidate of the white racists and fundamentalist christian kooks. And exactly who were the hostages for whom he was trading arms to Iran?

He wasn't a Bozo, he was evil.

Mick

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Michael; Half and more of Americans are not racists or Christian kooks. That's the % who voted for Reagan. I think you are not interested in the truth or facts.

Chris,

Registered voters in the U.S. (1980) 113,043,734

Votes for Reagan (1980) 43,904,153

Reagan received 39% of the vote of all registered voters in 1980, not "Half and more".

It is true that Reagan kicked off his campaign in Philadelphia, MS, where 3 civil rights activists were murdered in 1964. It is a fact that the Reagan administration sold arms to Iran, a supporter of Hezbulla, which murdered hundreds of U.S. Marines in Lebanon in 1983.

I am not a fan.

Mick

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Mike; You are as fair to Ronald Reagan as Mike Nifong was to the Duke Lacrosse team. Maybe in regard to Miss. Reagan was trying to reach who were not involved in the murders.

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Registered voters in the U.S. (1980) 113,043,734

Votes for Reagan (1980) 43,904,153

Reagan received 39% of the vote of all registered voters in 1980, not "Half and more".

Yabut! Not all the registered voter actually vote. Percentages do not count. Electoral College votes count. The only percentage that matters is the percentage of -actual voters- in a State.

Regan won by genuine majority of those who bothered to vote, not by mere plurality. Clinton won both his terms with a plurality vote. But he did garner a majority of the Electoral College vote, which is, legally speaking, the only vote that counts.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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America in 1980 was in a mood for a tough-talking cowboy to ride Washington and whip the country into shape.

Victor, Reagan certainly played up his cowboy image, so where's the cowboy hat in your caricature of him?

Chris, I don't deny the legitimacy of Reagan's victory in the election of 1980; he trounced Carter, Anderson, and Clark among those registered voters who bothered to vote. I merely wanted to point out that he wasn't supported by 50% + 1 of registered voters. You made the claim that a majority of Americans supported his candidacy in 1980; I disagree. As for 1984 ... :( ... I don't want to talk about it. :)

Mick

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Mick,

There is a story that crack cocaine was invented by the people involved in running arms to Nicaragua and this was done during Reagan's time by his people (see the rather famous expose by Gary Webb). My life was almost ruined by crack. I hate that crack was invented. Just hate it. (And meth followed to substitute crack.)

This doesn't stop me from admiring Reagan's achievements, though. I already expect bad things from all politicians. All Presidents have been engaged in monkey-business and they all do some good stuff, too (but usually little). Rarely do I see as much good done by a politician as Reagan did (warts and all).

He presided over the end of the cold war and restored pride to Americans after a couple of tough decades. Just that alone is enough to be a cut way above most other Presidents.

Michael

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Michael; I think the crack cocaine story is bs. It is a demonstration of how pathological the left wing has become. The rest of your post was much better. For every one's information I don't vote for Reagan.

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Chris,

I looked into that crack thing a lot closer a while back. That story simply destroyed Gary Webb (who was an up and coming journalist) and was never rebutted factually as far as I know (it was merely denied). It has been a few years, but after some of the things I have seen up close, I do not find that outside the realm of possibility by a long shot.

That does not mean Reagan knew about it. My impression of him is that if he had discovered something like that going on with his people, I have no doubt that hell to pay would have been a treat compared to what he would have done.

Michael

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Victor, I am in full agreement with Chris and Jody. Reagan was a great man, far and away the greatest president of the 20th century. He was elected into an America where Iran had held American hostages for more than a year and our government was doing nothing abiut it, where Carter had achieved a disastrous inflation rate of close to 20&, where interest rates were sky-high, where the economy was in the doldrums, where Americans were dispirited and discouraged -- and he turned all of it around. With his benevolent spirit and uncommon wisdom, he gave Americans hope again, and a confidence in themselves that had been sadly eroded. By his courage and his refusal to back down, he was crucial to the death of Communism, and thus to the freeing of millions of slaves in Eastern Europe.

A cowboy? A B-picture actor? Ronald Reagan was an American hero.

Barbara

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Victor, I am in full agreement with Chris and Jody. Reagan was a great man, far and away the greatest president of the 20th century. He was elected into an America where Iran had held American hostages for more than a year and our government was doing nothing abiut it, where Carter had achieved a disastrous inflation rate of close to 20&, where interest rates were sky-high, where the economy was in the doldrums, where Americans were dispirited and discouraged -- and he turned all of it around. With his benevolent spirit and uncommon wisdom, he gave Americans hope again, and a confidence in themselves that had been sadly eroded. By his courage and his refusal to back down, he was crucial to the death of Communism, and thus to the freeing of millions of slaves in Eastern Europe.

A cowboy? A B-picture actor? Ronald Reagan was an American hero.

Barbara

Barbara,

You and Jody are proving to be rather persuasive in inspiring me to revise my text for Icons and Idols, and whatever views I wrote are NOT set in stone. I post selections from the upcoming book for precisely these kinds of critiques and feed-back, and I thank you for it.

You might have a tougher job of convincing Mick Russell, mind you. :turned:

-Victor

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Jody,

.And while it is true that before I dip my paint brush to create a caricature painting, I do considerable research on my subject, but that has to be set within limits due to time constraints....

I am trying to re-produce the image that these famous icons and idols have reflected on popular culture, rather than my personal “biased” perspective.

-Victor

Victor, of course you can't research someone you'll be writing only a paragraph or two about in great depth -- but you can make reasonably certain that what you say about the person is correct and that therefore how you picture him bears a relationship to the facts. That isn't what you've done with Reagan.

You need to be careful that what you call the reflection in popular culture of a person you are writing about and caricaturing has not been wildly distorted, as is often the case with many famous people. For example, if you were writing in Gemany about Hitler in the 30's, as he was reflected in popular culture, you would have to write about a great man who was restoring German to its former grandeur. Writing abut Roosevelt in the 30's, you would have to say he was a man who rescued America from the depression; you'd have to ignore the fact that the depression was at its worst in the late 30's, because that was not the common understanding. I suggest that you first make sure that your personal perspective is not biased, and then work from that.

Barbara

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Victor, I am in full agreement with Chris and Jody. Reagan was a great man, far and away the greatest president of the 20th century. He was elected into an America where Iran had held American hostages for more

Barbara

That says something about America in the 20-th century, doesn't it?

The Great Man also sent Marines into Lebanon improperly armed and without a specific military objective. Two hundred and forty one Marines were blown up in their barracks by a Muslim suicide bomber (a portent of Things to Come). The previous week, Marines were shot down in ambush by Muslim mujihadin, members of Hizbollah at the Beruit airport. I personally helped in the burial of one of these young men (I was a member of the Havurah Kadesha - the Jewish burial society) and I participated in the ritual preparation of this young fellow's shot up corpse. I won't forget that --- ever. Instead of coming home, getting married and rasing a family, Allen Soyfert (the victim) is raising daisies in Nashua, New Hampshire. So, I am disinclined to forgive the Great Man for spending the lives of young American men to no discernible end. [The same remark applies to our current Fearless Leader too].

To the Great Man's credit, he helped the Republic of California recover from eight years of Governor (Pat) Brown's incompetence. California was well on its way to becoming the People's State of California.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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The point is that real life is not the world of Atlas Shrugged: you can't divide the population into on the one hand stupid, evil and ugly morons and on the other hand genial, handsome and perfect heroes. Real people may do great things and also stupid and bad things, so there isn't always an easy single classification. I don't feel qualified to judge Reagan's politics, but what I found disturbing is the story that he relied on the advice of the Nancy's astrologer. Even if that concerned only shifting dates of his schedule, it's bad enough that the President of the United States believed in astrology of all things. Now religious belief isn't rational either, but it's (at least in the modern Christian version) seldom used for such concrete purposes as making such explicit predictions and advice, which are based on the accidental configuration of the planets. Praying is not very useful (only as a form of meditation), but it isn't harmful either, it's a form of externalizing your own thoughts. But relying on something like the independent configuration of the planets is like making decisions by playing dice. There are occasions where playing dice might be a good strategy, but probably not in national and international politics.

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Praying is not very useful (only as a form of meditation), but it isn't harmful either, it's a form of externalizing your own thoughts.

Praying can be quite harmful if it displaces action. Praise the Lord, but be sure to pass the ammunition.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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