“Will Bunch is writing a book.” When I heard those words a few years back from progressive polymath and all-around great gal Jen Nix I started getting excited. I only knew Will in passing at that time, an email between us here and there perhaps.
But I certainly knew his work. A columnist at a major newspaper (The Philadelphia Daily News) who was unafraid to take issue with the MSM-constructed conventional wisdom. An unbelievably talented writer that “got” new media and was as comfortable writing a hard-hitting, well-researched post online (Attytood is the blog, if you don’t read it daily, you’re missing something) as he was in printed pages. And in the time I have gotten to know him since, I can add, without hesitation, one of the best guys out there, bar none. In a business where what you see in public can be different than what you experience behind the scenes, what you see is what you get with Will.
So it is no surprise, knowing all that, that his new book, Tear Down This Myth, How The Reagan Legacy Distorts Our Politics And Haunts Our Future, is pitch-perfect while blowing a hole in the established CW all at the same time.
As someone who wrote a book on another mythical figure of the Right (John McCain), it is hard to explain just how many doubters you run into along the way. By the end of his ridiculously run campaign, McCain helped prove the thesis of my book, that he was not the straight-talking Cincinnatus of American media lore.
But Will had a much tougher task than did I, as Uncle Ronnie is not around in the time of liberal blogs, progressive talk radio and the Stewart-Colbert one-two punch to have his policies and persona deconstructed with the mockery, exposes and you know, facts, that helped remind Americans that George W. Bush’s mission was not accomplished, unless said mission was the dual destruction of our economy and foreign policy.
And this is why Will’s work is so important. Because as he makes abundantly clear in the book, George W. Bush could have only existed after Reagan was Sainted as he was, by a far-right Reagan Legacy Machine devoted to ensuring that we were presented with a massively distorted view of his reign of error. (It is why in many a county across this country, some highway, byway, or porto-potty is named in his honor, lest we forget his Greatness).
So tell me if this sounds familiar: a cowboy who just loves clearing brush on his ranch; a President who abrogated the Constitution to run a parallel foreign policy that would have never been accepted by the American people had the truth been told; a “leader” who talked like a fiscal warrior while saddling us with mounds of debt because of ill-considered tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
How about all the talking points we heard when we dared questioned Mr. Bush’s capacity for the job. “He’s surrounded himself with good people,” or “he’s decisive,” because, you know, it’s so much easier to be decisive when you don’t bother with all that crazy reading stuff.
In other words, until, as Will has done so masterfully, we all join him in Tearing Down This Myth, the GOP will keep churning out dunderheads for the most important job that exists, comparing them to the mythical Reagan and providing a shield against any penetrating questions about their readiness and fitness for the job.
Anyone remember Sarah Palin? How she was “Reaganesque” when she gave simple, fact-challenged speeches? Or how in each GOP debate, there was an orgy of Reagan-self-comparison, with everyone from Mitt to Huck trying to wear the mantle?
Let’s try and take that strategy away from them, by telling the country the truth about how Reagan turned people against many of the policies and beliefs that had made this country great over the previous half-century with complicated distortions (supply-side economics anyone?) or very simple lies (“welfare queen”). Let’s make sure that for future generations, facts are not “stupid things.”
We can start right now. Buy Will’s book. Buy many copies. Make it a best-seller. Make sure people know the truth.
*One final note: I want to make it abundantly clear that I speak for myself and not my employer, The Ohio Treasury Department.