The last eleven days passed by without the veins popping out on my neck as I listened to yet another conservative wax nostalgically about America's great loss. The liberals were there too, noting that "in spite of ... [questionable Reagan policy of choice] ... optimism ... [likable personal attribute of choice] ..."
It's not that I don't still believe that Reagan's tax policies led to a huge reversal back toward the economic injustice that reigned at the dawn of the industrial revolution. Nor that I've come to believe that many third world innocents weren't royally screwed and often killed (or worse that they somehow deserved it) if those who represented their cause happened to have the 'wrong' economic ideology.
But in the eighties I was an angry young liberal, who when I saw an unquestionable wrong, inferred that those contributing to it necessarily were motivated by pure evil. Many of my friends at the time were inclined to believe that Reagan himself was just dumb and duped, but I correctly observed that he was actually quite intelligent, and so concluded that he must therefore be immoral. I see now, that though my leanings haven't changed, there is an awful truth that many Presidential decisions carry horrific implications regardless of the path chosen. To his credit, I think that Reagan actually did realize this, but once he decided on a course knew how to put a happy face on it and ignore the downside, causing many of his detractors to think he was just stupid.
There is an interesting parallel today, in that many are convinced of Bush's stupidity in his dogged pursuit of failed policies. An intellectual he is not, but he still must be smarter than the average Joe. I suspect (though I certainly can't claim to know it) that the younger Bush lacks the FULL appreciation of the true gravity of his responsibility, which most former Presidents including Reagan have had. It's hard to conceive that any President would not be burdened by their awesome responsibility. Reagan and Clinton both had the acting ability to hide that burden from the public. Nixon and Carter did not.
As some try to paint the Bush presidency as the extension of Reagan's legacy, much to the chagrin of Ron Reagan, Jr, liberals will usually try to deny the comparison, often avoiding emphasis on their own disagreement with Reagan, with an exception here or there.
At the end of the day, as a voter, it's not really necessary for me to know what's in Bush's brain or his heart, or how he compares to Reagan. It's sufficient to know that his policies are frightening in global proportions. As the focus turns away from the laurels for the deceased, deserved or not, I'll press forward to move for regime change here in America.