June 11, 2004

More Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan’s Funeral


The media’s coverage of former President Reagan’s funeral today, and the public events leading up to it is, and has been staggering. For example, ABC News on line has coverage that includes approximately 60 links among which are “Pen Pals,” “Alzheimer’s Inevitable Path,” and “A Glance at U.S. Ronald Reagan Memorials.” I guess we needed some time off from “The War on Terror,” the war in Iraq, the miscarriage of justice at abu Ghraib prison, and the apparant responsibility for the misuse of our nations power by the current president of the United States.

I don’t know whether or not Ronald Reagan was one of our great presidents as so many of our pundits seem to have decided during the past week. However, I know he was a good president having cleaned and polished the image of our damaged national self respect after the loss of so many of our own sons and daughters in Vietnam (How soon we forget Mr. Bush!). He grappled admirably and successfully with the Soviet Union’s Gorbachov. He also began the process by which the word “Liberal” has become a dirty word in our national politics. To be objective, his legacy concerning minorities is tangled and unclear. He granted amnesty to thousands of illegal Latino immigrants in 1986. Nonetheless, at the same time he began the process that has erroded the (at the time) flourishing civil rights movement to the point that in 2004 it is Okay for the president of the United States to propose an ammendment to the consitution that would classify a group of citizens as second class.

Reagan in Spain

In July of 1987 I took Rebecca, my now deceased wife, on a trip to Spain. We toured for 14 days; Madrid, Seville, Granada, Valencia, the Levant, and Barcelona. Our tour group was booked through a Spanish company and was composed of a melange of people from all over the world; Australia, Japan, The Philippines, Israel, South Africa, Argentina, to mention most, but I’m sure not all. Everyone spoke Spanish or English as well as a minimum of one other language fluently. Rebecca and I were the only tour members who spoke but one language - parochial Americans, we. One statement having many variations made by our tour mates stands out in my mind.

“Your actor president projects a powerful and shining image of the United States to the world.”

Perhaps in death Ronald Reagan is helping to chip a bit of the dirt off the twenty-first century tarnished Imperialistic image we have projected to the world and ourselves.

* Dr. William J. Ball, “Images of American Political History,” Teaching Politics, “http://teachpol.tcnj.edu/” (Friday, June 12, 2004, 9:32 A.M. EDT)

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