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UPDATED: What happens when America worships a bronze idol

If you're wondering why things have been so slow around here this week, there are several reasons. One has been lots o'  stories for the new and improved Daily News (now with 100 percent more booty on the front page); I had actually announced that on days when I had assignments for the paper there'd be little or no posting, but then I announced that in 2005 so you're excused if you don't remember. The other reason has been this guy looking bronzed and ready at top of the post. With Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday looming on Sunday (I hear they're planning to have some kind of football game in his honor...good idea!), I've been in the blogging kitchen all week, whipping up some light and fluffy pieces that I can begin to share here.

The first one is up tonight on, and it goes something like this:

This is not a harmless myth, but a political fairy tale that has brought disastrous real-world consequences for America and its citizens for more than a decade.

In the name of the Gipper, the nation has not only encouraged unbalanced budgets and corporate greed beyond anything that Reagan would have imagined or condoned, but waged a bloody war in Iraq that Reagan biographers such as Lou Cannon, who covered him for three decades, agree he would have never supported.

Instead of acknowledging that Reagan's 1980s presidency has been misrepresented to create disastrous policies in the 21st century, the body politic is doubling down on the Gipper -- on both sides. The Republican presidential sweepstakes for 2012 is shaping up as a competition for who can cite Reagan most often, while the Obama has been said to be engrossed in Cannon's exhaustive and balanced portrayal of Reagan's up-and-down presidency, "Role of a Lifetime."

In a recent op-ed for USA Today, Obama praised Reagan for "a spirit that transcended the most heated political arguments, and one that called each of us to believe that tomorrow will be better than today."

There's more. Pretty soon I should have a link to my Reagan op-ed in the Washington Post. For reals. So come back later this weekend for updates.

UPDATE: Here's an excerpt from my book, "Tear Down This Myth": How the media created the legend of Ronald Reagan.

"I was worried about that." Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne said at week's end on CNN. "I mean, I think what you've had is a sort of 30-year campaign on the conservative side to say the media is liberal, and now I think you're having another reaction from liberals who are saying, wait a minute, when we look at a week like this, a week of praise for Ronald Reagan, it is very hard to say we have a liberal media anymore."

Or you could just read the full monty -- "Tear Down This Myth: The Right-Wing Distortion of the Reagan Legacy."