June 11th, 2004


It's mourning in America

Quite a few people have expressed pleasure at Ronald Reagan's death over the past week, which annoys me. Reagan was a sick old man who had ceased to be politically relevant a dozen years ago, and Alzheimer's is a horrible way for anyone to die.

Quite a few U.S. conservatives have been trying to claim Reagan's mantle over the past week, which infuriates me. Whatever his other faults (and they were many), Reagan at least had the wisdom to take "yes" for an answer when Gorbachev extended an olive branch -- wisdom which many senior members of the current administration rejected. Reagan made new friends out of old enemies; Shrub and company are making new enemies out of old friends.

And don't get me started about recent suggestions involving U.S. currency....

I cut my political teeth fighting the Reagan administration's policies (I chained myself to the White House fence at one point to protest the nuclear arms race), but I do have to give him credit for leaving office having cut nuclear armaments and set the stage for a permanent end to the arms race. On the other hand, were he in power today, I can easily see the Abu Ghraib scandal having happened -- Reagan was always one to charge in blindly on principle, and was alarmingly blind to the misdeeds of his subordinates. (On the gripping hand, he did have the sense to withdraw from Beirut after the USMC barracks bombing without overmuch macho BS about "letting the terrorists win.") I'm not sorry that he has departed the world stage for good, but you won't find me dancing on his grave.
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