Wednesday, June 16, 2004

A President's legacy is not decided by his funeral. Clearly, Reagan was well-liked by the majority of centrist white Americans, who are inclined to get sucked in by major choreographed events (Hands Across America; Janet Jackson's nipple). It lasted a week, it was impressive, even touching at the sunset finale in California. Now it's over except for an encore at the G.O.P. Convention. But the Republicans ought to be careful about this. I didn't want to be vitriolic about Ronnie's two terms because I was sure of one thing: George W. would not do well in the compare & contrast contest. He certainly wants to, but oh how short he falls of Reagan's posthumous projection. A dead Reagan topped a live Bush at the D Day ceremonies. His Challenger eulogy & 1993 farewell note were more moving than anything George had to say. All week Reagan was depicted as firm of belief yet able to compromise; as confident but not an egoist; as a man who did not view his political opponents as enemies; articulate & plain-spoken. I didn't care if these depictions were accurate; they all made Dubya look second rate. Reagan came to office following twenty years of aborted or failed presidencies, one of the most turbulent two decades in American history. He defeated Jimmy Carter, a good man who did good things but who didn't do enough. George W. followed a popular president (more popular on average than Reagan) who led the country through eight years of prosperity & relative peace & who could have done more if his own Congress & then the GOP's, & his own libido hadn't stymied him. But we didn't need George W. Bush. We didn't ask for what George W. Bush is doing. We didn't even elect George W. Bush. Anyone who says a Gore/Lieberman administration would've wussed out after 9/11 is talking hypothetical nonsense. & huge tax cuts for the rich combined with a contrived foreign war (fought by working class & minority kids) isn't the only way of getting a stalled economy in motion. It's just the worst way.

Ron Reagan Jr. made a pointed, not-so-veiled reference to George W. Bush in his touching eulogy: "Dad was also a deeply, unabashedly religious man. But he never made the fatal mistake of so many politicians wearing his faith on his sleeve to gain political advantage." None of the commentators I heard made note of this, although it is well known that Ron Jr. does not admire Little George. To my ears, it sounded like two eulogies. Add YOUR comments here

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"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

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