Thursday, June 10, 2004

Observations on the reactions to Ronald Reagan's death

I look on in amazement at the incredible numbers of people who are lining the roads to catch a glimpse of the passing motorcade, and visiting the viewing of President Reagan's casket, and the outpouring of tributes and television specials extolling the former president as a great American leader. He is credited with the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the fall of the Communist Empire. He is credited with having "saved" our failing economy, and in general, he is spoken of by pundits and admired by multitudes for his character and his smile. In fact, there is talk of replacing another president on a piece of U.S. currency!

All this comes as a surprise to me, as neither I nor my family or friends remember the Reagan era in quite that way. We remember the cuts in spending and the general draconian way that the Republican administration sought to dismantle many aid programs, as well as many cuts in other areas.

I can only surmise that the present feeling that pervades America is one of insecurity, and one of disillusionment with the last few administrations in Washington. The awful events of September 11, 2001, divide time as we know it into two parts, and we want to remember, maybe even fantasize, about an America before 9/11, an America before the Patriot's Act, and even an America before Bill Clinton was caught having sex in the oval office with Monica.

Maybe President Reagan seems to embody for us an "Apple Pie and Mom" time that never was, his smile giving us the same feeling of confidence in a man of integrity that John Wayne and Bob Hope also gave us. And so we mourn not just Ronald Reagan, but that decisive, confident feeling that all is well with America, and all is right with the world.

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