The poor souls at Slate seem to have been pushed over the edge and into an unseemly frenzy of anti-Reagan pieces by the former president’s death.
Meanwhile, the New Republic, also a bastion of liberal thought, has published two terrific articles that Inkwell commends to your attention.
According to Masha Gessen, Reagan “was wrong about everything, except the one thing that mattered most.”
“Ronald Reagan made things difficult for me in the mid 1980s,” writes Gessen. “As a college student in New York City, I agreed with more or less everything my liberal friends thought of Reagan–except I thought he was right about the Soviet Union. No one had been so right before. To my friends, the words evil empire reflected the substance of Reagan’s character: judgmental, tasteless, sanctimonious, imperious, impolitic. To me, they reflected the very character of the country, the USSR, where I had grown up, and even as a left-leaning 18-year-old in New York City, I was willing to forgive the American president almost anything for being the first head of state who finally spoke the truth.”
Andrew Sullivan describes the view from an English school:
“My first impressions of Ronald Reagan were formed from a long distance,” writes Sullivan. “In England in the 1970s, he was regarded as something not too far away from Dr. Strangelove impersonated by a chimp. It’s hard to recall now but when he was elected in 1980, many Europeans were genuinely frightened by Reagan. They believed that a nuclear war was imminent, and that this stupid cowboy would blow everything up. Wearing a ‘Reagan ’80’ button in my high school was therefore a form of punk revolt against the social-democratic pieties of my teachers. Johnny Rotten couldn’t have shocked quite so effectively. Backing Thatcher was bad enough. But supporting Reagan was simply unforgivable, a sign of impending lunacy. One teacher gently took me aside and asked me whether I was experiencing trouble at home. What else could explain a 17-year-old’s fixation on tax cuts and missiles?…”
Andrew’s piece is only available to subscribers, but even this bit gives a sense of the way many people once thought of Reagan.
Or you could read Slate, if you log on quickly, before the men in white coats take away the staff.