Monday, August 20, 2007

The Man Behind The Curtain

I realize that “redemption through death” is a common narrative for a great many public figures, and that seems to be the case with the passing of Reagan confidant Michael K. Deaver, reported by the New York Times today here.

Though people like Deaver and James Baker seemed to be a bit of a buffer (just a bit, though) between Reagan and some of the full-mooners in the Republican Party, with the latter group blocking Deaver’s appointment as chief of staff to Reagan in 1983 (as the Times notes), Deaver still helped craft the blueprint that Repugs who were somewhat centrist followed a bit under Ronnie Baby’s presidency, with that blueprint being expanded to sickening proportions under Dubya by the very people Baker, Deaver et al tried to keep away from The Gipper lest he end up looking too stupid (yeah, I guess it’s true; the Repugs really don’t understand irony after all).

What I mean in particular is Deaver’s talent (I reluctantly call it that) for putting Reagan in the best possible setting to enhance his faux mythology about himself and our country absent the hard reality that the Repug insistence on tax cuts and budget deficits were not going to be balanced by economic growth over time, with the resulting effect that this country’s infrastructure would begin to crumble (this went hand-in hand with the disgusting demonization of government by Reagan, Deaver, and everyone else of their ilk, though they were all able to cash in to one degree or another as a result of serving in an institution they professed to despise).

As noted here…

To exert as much control as possible, Deaver steered the president away from reporters when he could, instead arranging Reagan in poses and settings that conveyed visually the message of the moment. Presidential news conferences were a rarity, which suited an actor-turned-politician who was at his best when using a script.
By creating nice backdrops for Reagan to spout his revisionist history (such as the one pictured above where Reagan implored Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall) and (as noted) sheltering him much of the time from the probing questions of reporters (remember Reagan walking towards the helicopter pretending not to hear as the blades were whirring, with that gimmick used only to give Reagan an excuse not to answer? I don’t know if Deaver came up with that or not, but I wouldn’t be surprised), Deaver gave ideas to Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, and a whole generation of up-and-coming Repug party hacks into how to manage the press and dictate the desired story lines and provide the pictures they wanted (Deaver’s job was more difficult because our corporate media wasn’t nearly as pliant for the Repugs then as now).

And oh yes, there was another episode in Deaver’s life that preceded the antics of Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, Rob Ney and others (as noted by the Boston Herald)…

Deaver’s own image suffered a setback in 1987. He was convicted on three of five counts of perjury stemming from statements to a congressional subcommittee and a federal grand jury investigating his lobbying activities with administration officials.

Deaver blamed alcoholism for lapses in memory and judgment. He was sentenced to three years’ probation and fined $100,000 as well as ordered to perform 1,500 hours of public service.
The Times story today notes one way in which Deaver stood apart from other Repug cronies, and I should be fair in pointing this out…

Tributes came in from co-workers and from the White House. But a singular message came from Henry Pierce, executive director of Clean and Sober Streets, a substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation program in downtown Washington on whose board Mr. Deaver served as chairman for 16 years.

“Every Christmas Eve without fail, Mike would show up, serve dinner to the residents and their families, play the piano and lead the Christmas carol singing,” Mr. Pierce said. “He would be on hand for every graduation ceremony, and helped place many of them in their first real jobs. He saw the potential in each one of us, and gave his heart to the individual as well as the program.”
Deaver did wrong and I think he did much to damage our political dialogue in the end (to say nothing of feathering his own nest as the expense of a Repug regime that hurt our country, serving as a harbinger for Bushco in the process), but it seemed as if he realized that he needed to give back to others at some point (I’m not holding my breath waiting for this disgusting life form to come to that realization), and for that he should be commended.

Also, I happened to come across this video of Deaver discussing what became his lucrative lobbying business, and I thought it was interesting (not sure who he’s talking to, and I presume that he’s talking about Richard Allen here).

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