Ronald Reagan is dead.
I am not a member of his fan club.
I’ve said plenty of things about him that I don’t regret, but I would choose not to say them in front of his family or in public on the day that he died.
I did not and do not hate him, though. Hatred is such an utterly wasted emotion, especially in politics.
There are things to admire about the man no matter what your political leanings. He gave real hope to millions of suffering people when he spoke these words at Brandenberg Gate in West Berlin.
General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
I’ve felt sorry for Reagan for years. He was one of the two most powerful men in the world, and during his final years he couldn’t remember what he had done. To be so successful in life and then to have the entire experience cruelly erased is just another form of dying.
I don’t want the man’s picture on my money or his head on Mt. Rushmore. But he did some good in this world and for that I thank him.
Kindest regards and best wishes for his family.
UPDATE: Matt Welch:
And so it was that when the old fella said “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” I laughed at his blustery naivete, as I did whenever he uttered the phrase “Evil Empire.” Needless to say, I was wrong about that, and he was right, and I’m still ashamed about it.
Yes, I can say the same and I should have. He was right and I was wrong. Thing is, I knew he was right when he said it. Of course I knew the Soviet Union was an evil thing. I never went through a communist or socialist phase, I was just afraid he was egging them on. What I didn’t understand, because I was just a kid, was that most people who lived in the Soviet Union agreed with him. I’m sure I’m wrong about some things now and I’ll be wrong again in the future. But I’m not making that mistake again.