J u l y   2 0 0 4

No time for love

Ronald Reagan: Robin Hood in reverse
Dear Dr. Jones
by GZO Jones

here do old Beats go to retire? GZO Jones headed for Brazil. We've found scant documentation that he can even keep a beat, but that has nothing to do with the fact that Jones always makes deadline and, one way or another, never shies away from a question. He likes to consider himself some sort of missing link between the 1950s and the new century. We like to consider that he works cheap.

Dear Dr. Jones,

Is it my imagination, or does diet soda taste better than it used to?


Dear U,

I don't drink the stuff. Scotch and frozen water, however, have maintained the same taste and nutritional value for more years than I can remember.

– Jones

Dear Dr. Jones,

I'm guessing you have an opinion on the latest dead president. Care to share?

Remembering Reagan

Dear RR,

I'm so glad you asked. The recent love-fest over Ronald Reagan's passing seems like misplaced sentiment, rose-colored glasses and a country starved for a father figure – no matter how dysfunctional.

But I think the third-rate actor and his "just say no" wife paved the road to the biggest problems the world increasingly suffers from today.

OK, Reagan had a certain flair for clever quips and a seeming lack of malice. Yet he brought about the Robin Hood reversal that's still so much in vogue: take from the poor and give to the rich.

That's some legacy.

Furthermore, Reagan ignored AIDS when he might have nipped it in the bud, denied trading weapons for hostages and called ketchup a vegetable when pressed to explain budget cuts to school-kid programs. He was no friend of minorities, social services and the homeless. He supported Saddam Hussein and practically invented the budget deficit.

And let's not forget the response to 241 Marines who were blown up by terrorists in Beirut on the Gipper's watch: Ronnie pulled out. I'm guessing that the families of those soldiers weren't all atwitter in their tributes.

As for communism, it was a house of cards that was primed to crash and burn. Although here I'll give Reagan his due: he joked his way into Gorby's heart, which probably accelerated the fall. And even for detractors, that "tear down this wall" speech was pretty compelling stuff.

But in my opinion, Ronald Reagan was the first cartoon president (which makes the incumbent a cartoon's cartoon). And that is not to say that a cartoon can't be dangerous.

Because in the final analysis, smiling while sticking the knife in – that's the Republican way. How else to see a political party that thrives by appealing to the rich, the none-too-smart, the bible thumpers, the old and the scared? What could be more cynical than that?

Nevertheless, Reagan fooled enough of the people enough of the time to win four convincing landslides (twice the California governorship, twice the presidency).

But leading millions of people down the wrong road doesn't make someone a great leader. The coming years, not the past month, will assign the man his proper place in history.

So I'll leave you with these thoughts: Ronald Reagan might not have been the original wolf in sheep's clothing, but they could have given him an Oscar for the role. Which, as the U.S. heads toward its November vote, brings to mind an old saying that I've used time and again: people get the government they deserve.

Prove me wrong this time ... please!

– Jones

Examine more advice from GZO Jones, visit his Web site and e-mail your question, large or small, to gzojones@hotmail.com.

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