Despite the sadness, this has been a wonderful week for America. I dread the return to “normalcy.”
We not only had a chance to remember Ronaldus Magnus with condign dignity and decorum, we also had the opportunity to remember once again that “they” are always wrong.
“The second-greatest president of the 20th century dies (with Theodore Roosevelt coming a close third), and the liberal establishment that alternately ridiculed and demonized Ronald Reagan throughout his presidency is in a quandary,” writes Charles Krauthammer. “How to remember a man they anathematized for eight years but who enjoys both the overwhelming affection of the American people and decisive vindication by history?
“They found their way to do it. They dwell endlessly on the man’s smile, his sunny personality, his good manners. Above all, his optimism.
“‘Optimism’ is the perfect way to trivialize everything that Reagan was or did. Pangloss was an optimist. Harold Stassen was an optimist. Ralph Kramden was an optimist. Optimism is nice, but it gets you nowhere unless you also possess ideological vision, policy and prescriptions to make it real, and, finally, the political courage to act on your convictions.”
Andrew Sullivan this morning has a marvelous medley of things “they” were saying about the living Reagan.
“I wonder how many people, reading about the [‘Evil Empire’] speech or seeing bits on television, really noticed its outrageous character…Primitive: that is the word for it….” -Anthony Lewis of the New York Times
“A few years from now, I believe, Reaganism will seem a weird and improbable memory, a strange interlude of national hallucination, rather as the McCarthyism of the 1950s and the youth rebellion of the 1960s appear to us now.” -Arthur Schlesinger Jr.
As Krauthammer notes, “they” supported the nuclear freeze, ridiculed strategic defenses, and (as shown above) mocked him for telling the truth about the Soviet Union. Reagan’s monumental achievements are embarrassing to “them.”
“So now they praise his sunny smile. Normally, people speak well of the recently deceased to honor the dictum of being kind to the dead. When Reagan’s opponents speak well of him now, however, they are trying to be kind to themselves.”