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Barack Hearts Ronnie: An Old, New Song

Erica Jong

I've already said I'll work for the Democrat who gets the majority of delegates -- whether Hillary, Barack, Edwards or Kucinich. But if Barack is such a breath of fresh air, why is he raving about Ronald Reagan?

Reagan -- the Hollywood red-baiter who rose from president of the Screen Actors Guild to president of the United States even though he was already senile. Reagan who gave us tax cuts and "trickle down" economics that didn't work -- except for the rich and richer and richest. Reagan who let "mommy" (Nancy) run the white house with the aid of her astrologer. Reagan whose horse was smarter than he was.

Give me a break. One of the most disgusting sights in recent years was the genuflecting before this total fraud that went on at his funeral. And the hypocritical bullshit being trumpeted by the networks! Where were all the actors and writers and directors whose lives he ruined? I guess they were dead. But -- what, me worry? -- in America nobody knows one crumb of history, so Ronald Reagan's vicious red baiting, how he rose to prominence by smearing other actors and writers and directors, was totally forgotten.

I suppose Mr. Obama has forgotten too--scholar of history that he is. Perhaps he was not alive in the 50s so he knows nothing about it -- the Army-McCarthy hearings, the smearing of creative artists who donated to Spanish Civil War Relief even though they were not "card-carrying" communists. They happened, like my parents, and their friends, to have given money to help little Spanish children, orphaned by the Spanish Civil War -- and ever after they trembled lest Ronnie Reagan and his ilk witch-hunt them.

What charity have you given to that some future McCarthy might call a "commie front"? What charity have you supported that some future Ronnie Reagan might out you for, claiming you were a disloyal American? Doctors without Borders? Is it a leftist sham? Or, since we don't have commies any more, is it non-patriotic because it started in France and before Sarko "the French were, cheese eating surrender monkeys"?

Remember "Freedom Fries" you guys?

So Mr. Obama is not such a new style politician after all. He's just a politician -- invoking Ronnie Reagan as if he were God Almighty, using his name as code as the Repugnicans do, trying to pump himself up as a man of the people by mentioning this total fraud as a hero.

I don't mind. Politicians are politicians and they do their thing -- praising the popular, putting down the unpopular -- invoking Reagan for his geniality -- which was probably just dementia. But Americans don't remember the past -- so we are doomed to repeat it.

I want a president who is not a politician and not a hypocrite -- but I don't see such a candidate around.

They all pander -- except Kucinich -- but he probably panders too and I just don't know it because of the thin coverage in the so-called mainstream media.

Barack, I'll vote for you if you get the nomination. And I'll work for you, too. I'll talk to my right wing neighbors in south- eastern Connecticut where I have voted democratic for three decades -- (a very short line).

My neighbors vote for Representative Christopher Shays who we vainly tried to replace with Democratic/feminist/anti-war Diane Farrell, and Senator Joe Lieberman, who is not good for the Jews. And who is certainly not a Democrat. Nor anti-war, nor anything really but a cynical politician. So are they all. Who else runs the gauntlet of a punishing campaign?

My Connecticut neighbors may still think the GOP will protect them from radical Islam. They may still hope the GOP will get rid of inheritance tax. They love their tax cuts more than they love their planet. They love their children, but they'd rather leave them money -- because, hey, in America, money is all we have to keep the wolf from the door.

I will talk to them about greening the planet (for real not just oil company PR) and about the little children maimed and killed in Iraq and about who's really protecting America rather than just doing photo ops. I will try my hardest for the democratic nominee even though many of my neighbors have never voted democratic in their lives.

But let's get real: every politician raises money and every politician (including Barack Obama) wants to get elected more than he wants to tell the whole truth. A pure, new politician? I don't think so. The Ronnie Reagan reference gives him away. He knows the election will be a popularity contest in benighted America, and he's not giving up anything he thinks might get him into the pop-u-lar people clique.

He's running for president of the High School G.O. They all are. Let's not romanticize any of them --bnnot dead red-baiter Ronnie Reagan, nor almost-dead former POW McCain, nor hard-working feminist Hillary who failed to leave Bill because she loved him and she knew she'd never find another man as clever (and smart women like smart men -- even if they are sex addicts), nor rich-lawyer-populist John Edwards, nor handsome Harvard man Barack with his perfect white/black background and his adorable girls.

Hey --if you want a non-politician, folks, you can't vote for anyone. And that's not a good idea either.

Erica Jong is the author of eight novels including Fear of Flying, first published in 1973, which will be re-issued this year by New American Library in a new edition.

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