RONALD REAGAN - RIP
There will be millions of words written about this man in the next few days by writers far more skilled than I. However, this being my blog, I guess that I can write whatever I want, no?
I voted for RR with some trepidation. An ex-actor? Even though he had been president of the Screen Actors Guild (can you imagine that liberal leftist bastion electing someone like him today?) as well as governor of California. I must admit that when the Ayatollah Khomeini released the hostages 24 hours before RR was sworn in, I breathed a sigh of relief. I failed to understand why Carter was allowed to be the one who welcomed them back in Germany, when it had to be obvious to all why they had been released. Fear. I had failed as yet to understand for whom I had voted. A gentleman. A real gentleman. A gentleman of the type that we had not had in the White House since, perhaps, General Eisenhower (and his actions toward President Truman on inauguration day were less than generous). A gentleman who would grant the defeated incumbent a little grace as he left office, without that first hint, ever, of I-told-you-so, or, look-what-I-did.
Grace. I like that word associated with RR. I like the sound and feel of it with regards to his demeanor, his actions, his beliefs, his legacy. Grace. Graceful. Full of grace. Amazing grace. Gracious. Graciously. With grace.
I read an poignant story some years ago. While he was still able, he took long walks away from his little ranch with his Secret Service escort. He passed by an outdoor basketball court each day, and liked to stop and shoot a few hoops with some kids that he always found there. He did not remember that he had been there the day before with those same kids, even when gently reminded of it by a Secret Service agent. For some reason, the kids never questioned why this old guy wanted to introduce himself and learn ther names, every day, again and again. The reporter, or whomever recounted this story, I can't remember now, said that the kids seemed to realize that he was someone special, and treated him with great deference and patience. Unusual for kids. Grace.
I will forever believe, perhaps because I want to believe, that it was principally he who brought the Soviet Union to its knees. I like to tell my friends and acquaintances, despite an occasional answering guffaw, that RR simply began using our most powerful weapon against the Soviets. He started writing checks. Strategic Defense Initiative needs a few billion? OK, here you go. I like to imagine the virtual round-the-clock meetings inside the Kremlin, struggling to respond. Well, we can take a little from here and a little from there, and, after weeks of agonizing toil, they matched it. RR just wrote a check, then went to lunch. When he was told that, well, it may require a few more billion, Hey, OK, here it is. Need any more, just let me know, I'll be at lunch. More agonizing hours, days, weeks of sweat and worry inside the Kremlin, until they had again scratched out enough to match him. Then he is informed, well, maybe its more of a challenge than we thought and will require even more billions than our last estimation. Oh? Hmm. Well, alright, here is another check for whatever you need, and keep up the good work. After the usual round of non-stop, round the clock agony in the Kremlin, they realized that they had no more with which to match him. Bottom of the ninth, two outs, full count. Strike three.
I suppose that the scenario that I like to think happened, did not, in fact, really happen. But who knows for sure? I imagine him pondering at great length as to what we might have to use against the evil empire that they didn't have and to which they could not respond. Nukes? No, they've got them, and more. Tanks?. Likewise. Planes and ships and rockets and guns and bombs and men? Nope, they've gottem all, twofold. How about money? Ah, there we go. Money they don't have. OK, We'll just spend them into obscurity. And he did.
In the millions of words that are being written now and will be written about him in the future there will be, no doubt, many that are less than generous. To those who write such words I say this. In 100 years, school children will be studying Ronald Reagan's life, times and deeds. Will anyone even remember your names?