jeudi, août 10, 2006

On Ronald Reagan and Hypocrisy

As far as I know, I had two things in common with Ronald Reagan:

We were both carbon-based life forms (I still am); and
We both liked jelly beans (I still do).

This will all make sense in a second, bear with me.

When I was in high-school, I had the great and good privilege to participate in a program sponsored by the American Legion called Boys’ State (I think I blogged about this before). At Boys’ State I was elected to go to Boys’ Nation. It still ranks as one of the highest honors of my life, and I enjoyed it a tremendous amount.

We landed there in the summer of 1984 (guess who was campaigning and taking advantage of good pub?) and got to meet President Reagan at the White House, in the Rose Garden, where I had the best lemonade I’ve ever had in my entire life. It was perfect. I’d spent most of the day considering what I would say if I had a chance to speak to the President. I was not a fan. I disliked his “ketchup is a vegetable” policy on school nutrition, I disliked his policies on the mentally ill, his policies on welfare and his disrespect toward welfare recipients, his appeals to patriotism and nationalism, the way the treated the Air Traffic controllers, and, later, Iran Contra.

I disliked how he was given and took credit for the release of the Iranian hostages even though it was Carter’s play and they were released during Reagan’s inauguration, and I disliked how he was given and took credit for the fall of the Soviet Union (as though the preceding 40 years contributed not at all, as though him saying “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” carried the day. As though there was no rational action on the side of Gorbachev or the Soviet Union itself.

And I got a chance to meet him.

And as he walked toward me, I decided that I was going to ask him about welfare – that was the comment policy that bugged me the most. I took a step toward him. Secret Service agents were everywhere.

He smiled at me, and then…


And then…

I found myself listening to him talk about how being in the presence of young men always made him think of his youth and riding horses and of the military and bravery.

Friends, he was gorgeous. His eyes were amazing, and he had the broadest shoulders I’ve ever seen. He had a great smile, an even better handshake, and more charisma than anyone I’ve ever met. He smelled great.

I never got around to my question. And, what’s worse, we took three pictures with the President. In every one I would have sworn I was looking at the camera, but in every one, there’s printed proof, I was looking at the man instead. Mesmerized is what I’d call myself. Mes-mer-ized.

At least I had the strength of my convictions?

Which brings me to jelly beans. I usually stock up at Costco, but it’s 20 miles away, and I don’t get there very often. In between, the cheapest place to get my reinforcements is Wal Mart.

And it’s not even close. I usually go somewhere else and pay a little extra, but every now and then, in spite of my self (and my convictions) I sneak into Wal Mart, grab a couple of bags, pay the man and leave.

So, thinking about Reagan helps me think about my own deficiencies and how I am, like most, not always in line with my philosophies.