Thursday, August 1, 2019

Is anyone shocked by ‘the Gipper’s’ quip? It explains so much trash talk

The latest bit of historical trivia to make it into the “news” – former President Ronald Reagan said something racially offensive.
REAGAN: Would he be proud of old quip?

It was back in the days when Reagan was governor of California, and when he made a telephone call to then-President Richard M. Nixon – which means it was one of many that got captured on audiotape.

SO WE KNOW that Reagan was calling to tell the president the United States ought to drop out of the United Nations. Specifically, he was upset with a U.N. vote that sided with mainland (as in Communist) China over the island of Taiwan.

Which it seems members of the Tanzania delegation began dancing about when the vote was taken in 1971 (a year before Nixon made his own visit to mainland China to try to restore relations).

And resulted in the Reagan-esque line, “to see those … monkeys from those African countries – damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes.”

To which Nixon chuckled, according to the tapes that are the source of reports in The Atlantic, which told of how the quip originally was withheld due to privacy concerns – which Reagan’s death in 2004 made a moot point.

THERE ARE THOSE acting as though this disclosure is some sort of revelation of great significance. As though we ought to be shocked and appalled that a public official could say or think anything quite so vulgar.
But let’s be honest; this was Ronald Reagan – the one-time actor who probably wishes we’d all remember him solely for playing the part of one-time Notre Dame football player George Gipp.

Remember that line about “Win one for the Gipper” that supposedly was a motivational speech to get future Fighting Irish gridiron guys to march to victory? And was one that Reagan fanatics used to like to play off of to describe their own attachment to the man?

But Reagan also is the guy who used to use the line on the California campaign trail, “A hippie is someone who looks like Tarzan, walks like Jane and smells like Cheetah.” Which was always good for a laugh amongst ideologically-inclined supporters who might then write out a campaign contribution check.
The 'trio' that made Reagan politically

WHICH CERTAINLY SOUNDS like it’s in the same spirit as claiming Africans were barefoot AND monkeys.

Heck, I suspect that if the line had become as publicly known as his “Tarzan” quip, the same people who thought that funny would have found the “Africans” line hilarious! And quick to dismiss people who are offended as being overly touchy.

Something to keep in mind whenever we’re forced to contemplate the legacy of the Reagan presidency – and the 1980s, in general.

For the real Reagan wasn’t anywhere near as polished as the cinematic image. Perhaps he should have had Robert Buckner, the writer of “Knute Rockne, All American” to script out his political life, as thoroughly as he did that film, which is recognized by the Library of Congress as a classic of American cinema.
Reagan's highlight? Or lowlight?

ALTHOUGH I MUST admit to always finding it a bit ironic that Reagan would mock “hippies” with Cheetah the chimpanzee.

Since the future president’s most prominent role as an actor was in the 1951 comedy film, “Bedtime for Bonzo,” where he was a college professor who helped to try to raise the namesake chimp with human morals.

Did Bonzo grow up to be a Republican ideologue spouting off much of the rhetorical nonsense we hear passing for political theory these days?

That would certainly explain a lot of 21st Century trash talk!


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