Monday, June 07, 2004

Speak no ill of the dead?

I'm sure most people, liberal or conservative, agree with Rosemary Esmay:

Bitter partisanship has no place at the moment. Now is the time for grace and maturity - if those can't be managed then silence yourself until the President is buried.

Not every one feels that way. Bill Hobbs and A Small Victory have found plenty of hateful commentary from the hard Left.

But as this post over at The New Criterion points out, much of the posthumous praise distorts Reagan's achievements:

But as the Left has softened to Reagan in the past decade, so disingenuously, so slickly considering the biting rhetoric of the 1980s, the faint praise, the hazy encomia, and the agreement-after-the-fact we see now are all the more insulting to his legacy. This cold warrior rid the twentieth-century of its second totalitarian regime by surmounting the complete resistance of the establishment that eulogizes him today.

We need to remember that victory in the Cold War and the rejuvenation of the economy came in the face of fierce opposition. Reagan was mocked, maligned, and slandered. (The Corner has some choice examples.)

Reagan was great because he was steadfast and he persevered.

It is not just the Left that is overlooking this point. OTB points to this column by Charles Krauthamer:

Reagan’s luck was to find a nation in trouble — in post-Vietnam retreat and disorientation. His political genius was to restore its spirit. And his legacy was winning the longest war in American history, the long twilight struggle of the cold war.

Krauthammer goes on to say, "he achieved all that with two qualities: courage and conviction." Which is mostly true but it still leaves out one important quality.

The situation facing Jimmy Carter was not all that different than it was when Reagan took office. Carter thought we should put the Cold War behind us, Reagan thought we could and should win it. In 1981 he was one of the few who thought it was possible. More than luck, Reagan had vision to go along with his conviction and his courage. We are in danger of forgetting that in the fog of "hazy encomia".

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