AN INSIDIOUS PACK OF SCOUNDRELS
By LIONEL ROLFE
The insidious pack of scoundrels running for President on the Republican side make it difficult for me to figure out if I should shit or go blind in the event Obama were defeated by one of them.
On the one hand, it’s clear that the smartest among them is John Huntsman. He’s not an obvious scoundrel like a Perry or a Bachmann. He is intelligent, and for that reason I hope he is not the candidate. He’s the only one who would have a chance of successfully going head to head with Obama. Hopefully he won’t be the Republican candidate, I guess, but then I get the chills. I used to think that Ronald Reagan was a man who could never be elected president. I was wrong.
What if a Perry or a Bachmann won? Maybe both will be on the Republican ticket. Perry is what he is, a venal on the make politician, owned by sinister billionaires with nightmarish designs on our democracy. Bachmann sounds like something cooked up in a Tea Party laboratory. I think it’s her eyes–she sounds like a possessed robot run by someone just off stage, pulling the strings, perhaps electronically.
Gingrich is the wily and demonic presence always in the background who aims to be our next Joseph McCarthy or Torquemada.
Ron Paul has a certain genuine quality in his persona, which makes him more appealing, especially when compared to the others, but he’s so incredibly pigheadedly wrong in most of his beliefs. I think he’s sincere, and genuinely believes in many of the same democratic ideals I do, but he lives in a parallel universe to mine.
Ronald Reagan, all said and done, really was a B-rate actor with little intellectual capacity. He was a twisted product of the New Deal, which he wanted to destroy. He grew up poor, and ended up hating poor people. I suppose that could be explained by any number of psychological aberrations. But in the process, he was a product of the New Deal, and accepted more of its parameters than he probably realized.
Reagan’s own daughter Maureen, with whom I used to have long conversations on occasions, obviously got her brains from her mom, not her dad. In those days, although I think later she came to terms with her, she hated her stepmother Nancy. Anyway, she knew her father’s limitations well. She found him inflexible and unbending in his thinking. She knew that his intellectual horizons were limited in many ways. She loved him, but also understood he was no intellectual giant. He was what he looked to be–a product of the Hollywood studios who really couldn’t separate what was fact and fiction even if he was delivering the lines for each on a sound stage in Culver City, or wherever.
He may or may not have believed everything in the scripts he was given, either in his acting career or political career, but you couldn’t tell that. He wasn’t a consummate actor, but sometimes was much better than you might expect, especially when he was playing villains.
In his political career, his scripts were fed to him with big letters on Que cards by his Kitchen Cabinet, made up of the richest men in Los Angeles then–a car dealer, a chain drugstore owner, and various other flotsam and jettison of the job creator class.
He started wars now and then, as any one who becomes President apparently must, but when they didn’t go well, his script writers knew about rewrites.
Perry wants you to think he’s a thug in whatever glorious cause he says he believes in–he’s proud of it. So take him at his word. He’s a killer. I don’t think Reagan was such a proud thug. He wasn’t necessarily a killer, and never was a soldier except when he was on the sound stage and he was cast as one.
If a war went bad, he declared victory and split. In a way you could say he was a lover. I spent a bit of time around the man and his B-movie matinee idol archetype was very real. I saw him woo a meeting of the mostly hardware-store owner types’ wives who made up the local Republican women’s auxiliary in Newhall and La Crescenta. When Reagan walked into the large wood-paneled room immediately outside his office, the women’s auxiliary literally swooned, so much so it was plain that if I said they were experiencing instantaneous orgasms, I wouldn’t be exaggerating much.
I once had an uncomfortable meeting with him in the governor’s office, the details of which I won’t go into now.
Reagan was more of a buffoon than a killer. I always suspected he had gone senile not much after he became governor of the Golden State, but it didn’t much matter. He had his scriptwriters.
Huntsman is very conservative, more in that old fashioned Republican gentleman of yore who respected science and good music. Huntsman is a different kind of cat in this gaggle of presidential pretenders. He’s a passable pianist–his daughter plays a lot better. I say this as the son of a concert pianist of some note. I certainly don’t like his politics, but he’s not totally reprehensible. He has some brains. I don’t think he’s as smart as Obama, but for a Republican, he’s as close as you get.
Perry is another matter. Perry is one of those Southern politico types you just know is corrupt and demagogic to the extreme. He’s the archetypical southern politician who is essentially a thief than a leader. He’s the kind of man who could lead a Putsch.
Reagan went down in history as a great strikebreaker, a scab. He had been president of the screen actor’s guild, but mostly he went down in history as the man who first broke the backs of labor. And that was his function if he was to please his cabal of monied backers, some of whom had sleazy backgrounds.
Still, he was a product of the New Deal, and despite himself had a certain sense of fair play and social contract built into his genes.
I survived the Reagan governorship in California, although not without some serious damage. But I know if Perry were somehow to win, I wouldn’t want to be in that universe–anymore than I would want to live under anyone’s fascism in any universe. No, I’d opt for my own universe, and withdraw from his. I don’t know quite if that’s the same thing as dying, but I would not want to live in a place run by that thug.
Reagan surprised, and became not only governor, but later president. The country never recovered from his influence, although I don’t think he was ever the guy that the current crop of Republican presidential pretenders are.
Huntsman is possibly the dark horse, who in the end will grab the prize. But push comes to shove, Obama is clearly head and shoulders over all the Republicans, including even Huntsman. I think in a head on meeting, Obama would prevail. But I don’t dismiss Huntsman. I do dismiss Perry.
Even if Obama loses, we’re lucky that a man of his talents have been at the helm in this terrible era of overwhelming problems. A lesser person would only have made it worse. A Perry would end the union.
Lionel Rolfe is the author of “Literary L.A.,” about which a documentary is being made (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Literary-LA/115509071864686?sk=wall). Many of his books, including “Literary L.A.,” “Fat Man on the Left,” “The Menuhins: A Family Odyssey” and “The Uncommon Friendship of Yaltah Menuhin and Willa Cather” are available digitally in Amazon’s Kindlestore.