This weekend, while antiwar activists outside the White House denounced the “terrorists,” “war criminals,” and “torturers” in the Bush administration, attention quickly shifted to one of George W. Bush’s predecessors. But if the current president inspires unhinged anger, news of president Reagan’s fading health put many protesters in a more celebratory mood.
”Good riddance to Reagan,” remarked Virginian Jared Hermann. “He deserves what he gets and more. He should be tried for war crimes.” A friend concurred. “You just wish the worst on him that you can possibly wish,” admitted Ian Roberts. “I don’t want to wish death on anyone, but it seems with Reagan you really want to….” Reagan’s poor health, he opined, was “karma.”
As a nation mourns President Reagan’s passing, many on the hardcore left cheer.
“We need to clap when he dies,” declared protester David Barrows, who stood in front of the White House wearing a George W. Bush mask and giving Hitler salutes. Barrows said Reagan should be remembered “as the villain he really was. He was responsible for the deaths of students at Berkeley. He was responsible for deaths in Grenada–the trumped-up silly revolution to prove how big a man he was. He was responsible for the torture of a lot of people in Central America. He should be despised. Sorry, I do not forgive people who cheat the innocent out of their lives and kill peasants.”
“I’d almost be willing to say I hope he doesn’t die too soon because that just means more things are going to be named after him,” said a D.C.-area high-school student; another teenage boy labeled the 40th president a “fascist.” For a woman who traveled to the protest from New York, Reagan was a “reactionary,” “the arch-enemy of the poor people of the world and of the people of the United States,” and the man who ushered in “the beginning of the end for some civil rights that people held in this country.”
“My general practice is to speak only well of the dead or not at all,” noted Leonard Sanford of Waldorf, Maryland. “However, Mr. Reagan and his clique caused a lot of evil to this country and started this country on the wrong path. They did it with malice. They maliciously hurt a lot of people. It won’t be with sorrow that I grieve his passing.”
Some were more moderate in their sentiment. “I didn’t like his policies at all,” said World War II veteran Joseph Murphy, “but there was a gentleman I couldn’t help but like.” Cinda McGwynn of North Carolina reacted to news of Reagan’s fading health saying, “That’s too bad.” “He was an old idiot and a lousy president, but I’m sorry he’s sick and everything.”
Expressions of compassion, however, were heavily outnumbered by venomous words.
“He’s a fascist, of course,” New Yorker William H. Depperman said of Reagan. “He is a slime; basically, a horrible, horrible person. People didn’t like him. They despised him.”
No, they actually loved him. And perhaps that is the key to understanding why even on his death bed Reagan evoked such hate from these extremists. President Reagan’s policies not only proved wildly popular, but they proved the Left wrong.
Reagan defeated the Evil Empire while academics told us to resign ourselves to peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union. Campaign rhetoric depicted candidate Reagan as a trigger-happy warmonger, but President Reagan expanded the defense budget and became the greatest peacemaker of our time. The Left derided Reagan’s tax cuts as “trickle-down economics,” but by slashing top rates from 70 to 28 percent, Reagan helped unleash 92 months of economic growth, create 18 million new jobs, and enlarge the gross national product by a third. After a decade of Watergate, Communist expansion, gas lines, defeat in Vietnam, the Iranian hostage crisis, and economic malaise, many liberals argued in the late 1970s that America should accept our new, debased position. Reagan rebelled and restored a nation’s pride.
At nearly every turn, Reagan succeeded where the Left said he would fail. Sore losers have yet to get over it.
–Daniel J. Flynn is the editor of www.flynnfiles.com.