OUR LONG NATIONAL DAYDREAM: A Political Pageant of the Reagan Era by Sidney Blumenthal

OUR LONG NATIONAL DAYDREAM: A Political Pageant of the Reagan Era

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A collection of eight years' worth of journalistic writings by Blumenthal, staff writer for the Washington Post. Taking his title by standing President Ford's characterization of the Watergate epic as ""our long national nightmare"" on its head, the author argues that the Reagan era was, in effect, a suspension of belief, ""a daydream."" Blumenthal has a knack for finding symbolism in incidents that others take for granted. Thus, he remarks on sitting in the Anatole Hotel in Dallas during the 1984 Republican Convention while Reagan's advisors ""were entranced with the movie Ghostbusters"" and its relevance to the upcoming campaign. In Reagan's America, all things seemed possible: ""We would be rich, powerful, and sleep well."" It was a time, like the 1920's, of ""sybaritic self-indulgence."" One-half of this book is concerned with peripherals to the Reagan presidency: the Democrats' campaign in 1984; analyses of John Glenn, Mondale, Ferraro, and Jesse Jackson; McGovern's aborted effort to garner the nomination; and Gary Hart's new politics. We are reminded, along the way, of some often overlooked facts, such as that Elliott Abrams, so visible at the Iran-contra hearings, is son-in-law of neoconservatives Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter. But it is Blumenthals characterizations of Reagan that hold this work together. ""The central story about Reagan is not that he misses facts. It is that he has a world view in which facts are not important."" Or, ""Ronald Reagan's hypocrisy works so effectively because he doesn't know he's a hypocrite. . .he has 'Master-Carded' the recovery: reelect now, pay later."" Looking ahead, the author swipes at George Bush as a ""Yankee who tried to make it as a cowboy. . .the Reagan understudy without the Reagan audience."" Big-league commentary from one of journalism's rising stars.

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 1988
Publisher: Harper & Row