Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Putting a Stake in Reagan Hagiography

'Puts a stake in Reagan Hagiography. One of the worst presidents in history' was the caption that accompanied this cartoon on a social networking website. Twenty three years since he was in office, and eight years since he died, clearly Ronald Reagan still elicits strong reactions - both positive and negative - from the general public.

The cartoon itself entitled 'Remembering Reagan' is by satirical cartoonist Kirk Anderson, and is a heavily ironic piece that takes a dig at Reagan hagiography, and attempts to expose Reagan for what he really was. It bitterly mocks those who celebrate Reagan as a saint by stating that people were  tricked by Reagan as a man and an administration who smiled to their faces, whilst picking their pockets. More than anything, in his cartoon Anderson expresses the idea of Reagan as an 'actor'.

 At the time of his election in 1980, and still in the hangover from the Vietnam War, America needed a 'sunshine' president. Someone they could trust to bring hope and prosperity back to their shores. Before he ran for office Reagan had been an actor, starring in a number of films and acting as president of the Screen Actor's Guild. He was known for his charisma and his one liners. By the end of his time as president Reagan had been nicknamed 'The Great Communicator' and his style and image 'endeared him to a great number of people.' However he was also nicknamed 'The Teflon President' and famously known for his 'ability to do almost anything and not get blamed for it', perhaps leading to why he was voted the greatest president in history in a Gallup poll of 2001.

Was it all an act though? Kirk Anderson seems to think so. Either way, the majority of the audience gave a standing ovation - while Anderson stayed seated, laughed at them, and waited for Reagan to leave the theatre.

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