Magazine | March 28, 2016, Issue

Dear Mrs. Reagan:

We were delighted to welcome you to the Heavenly Paradise Above, and we hope that the past few days have been an easy transition for you. Your reunion with your beloved husband, President Ronald Reagan, was deeply moving, and I say that as someone who sees this sort of thing daily.

In addition, the spontaneous welcome musical performance by Mr. Frank Sinatra was enjoyed by a large portion of our residents — it’s hard to please everyone, as I’m sure you know — and though I must confess to some initial discomfort at the lyrics to the reworded “Lady Is a Tramp,” it was nice to see Mr. Sinatra being so social and approachable. His admittance here was not without some controversy, so please accept my thanks and gratitude for your good influence on him.

And of course it goes without saying that President Reagan has never seemed happier.

That said, Mrs. Reagan, I was hoping there were a few things — small details, really, nothing to be concerned about — that we could review as you settle in and get comfortable for what I hope — what we all hope — will be a stress-free and pleasant eternity.

At this time — and there are no plans to alter or amend this in the future — there is no “governor” of Heaven, much less a “president.” So it’s a puzzler to us why you seem, after (let’s face it) barely a week here, to be suggesting to your husband that he might be effective in either role.

We don’t have “elections” or “campaigns” in the Great Reward, Mrs. Reagan — and judging from how those seem to be unfolding below, I should think this was what the kids call “a feature, not a bug.” And while everyone here enjoys hearing your husband speak spontaneously on a wide variety of topics — I confess that until he sat down with me recently and explained his objections in rational and inarguable terms, I was mildly supportive of single-payer — those conversations are more along the lines of casual, social, spur-of-the-moment-type deals.

On Tuesday, you were observed rearranging the lounge chairs in the Sun Room so as to create an after-dinner-style speaker’s set-up, which was not only inappropriate but unprecedented. Everyone enjoyed President Reagan’s subsequent remarks, and yes, to answer your question, it was much easier and more efficient with the chairs all facing your husband, and, yes, to answer your following question, he did look better when the lighting was adjusted — still, it’s a question of what, exactly, he’s running for.

You should know that until your arrival — and again, Mrs. Reagan, we’re all thrilled to have you here — but until your arrival, your husband was, needless to say, peacefully enjoying himself, reading, napping, catching up with old friends, occasionally performing in amateur theatricals, in a word, relaxing from what was, clearly, the eventful and highly interesting life you two shared.

And then, suddenly: Boom! You arrive and start whispering and he’s running for “governor of Heaven” on what is, quite frankly, an insulting platform. The Heavenly Choir of Angels does not need to be “smaller.” It is supposed to be large. The administration of Paradise — of which, let’s be clear, you have only the tiniest understanding — is not filled with “waste, fraud, and abuse,” and I assure you that Heaven would not be more heavenly if we just “got the Dominions, Virtues, and Powers out of the way.” Do we need all Three Spheres of Angelic Hierarchy? Yes, Mrs. Reagan, we do. All three. And more besides. And I really don’t appreciate the tone your husband takes — the new tone, may I add — when he talks about my personal work in the Heavenly Realm.

There I go again? Yes, Mrs. Reagan, there I go again, and again and again and again. That’s sort of the whole point of Heaven, actually. And despite your husband’s poll numbers (!!!) and his clear popularity with our residents, I have no intention of holding an election or a referendum or whatever it is you have in mind, and I am asking you directly to please stop encouraging your husband in this matter. There is and will be no “governor” or “president” of Heaven, and if you think I don’t see what’s behind your enigmatic smile and your wide, innocent eyes, you’ve got another think coming.

But please, Mrs. Reagan, don’t take this note as anything but a friendly and encouraging — though firm — welcome. And as a gesture of friendship, I’ve arranged to have your husband, should he wish, serve as the president of the Residents Union. He can serve as union president as long as he likes. There’s zero chance, frankly, that he’ll get any farther.

Oh, and I went to the mat and got your red robes approved.

Let’s agree, then, to stop all of this political nonsense and just be happy with what we have?

Yours in welcome,

Peter

In This Issue

Articles

Politics & Policy

Never Trump

Donald Trump’s defenders have taken to arguing that his critics are endangering the Republican party. “I’m used to being the moral scold,” Bill Bennett told the Washington Post, “but Trump ...
Politics & Policy

Beyond the Wall

Mexico has been at the heart of Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign from the very start. When Trump first announced that he would be seeking the Republican presidential nomination, in ...
Politics & Policy

Freedom U

Guatemala City — For years, people have said to me, “It’s too good to be true. But it is true. It actually exists.” These people are classical liberals, or Reagan ...

Features

Politics & Policy

NASCAR Nation

I was still in New York City when the sputtering began. “You?” a friend of mine asked, earnestly. “You are going to do that?” “Why not?” I inquired. “Well, y’know. I wouldn’t have ...

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

Inside the Master

The autobiographical works of Henry James (1843–1916) are from the Master’s later period, and we all know what that means: The style is ornate, and reading it is no picnic. James ...

Sections

Politics & Policy

Letters

My Friend Florence I’d like to express my thanks to John O’Sullivan for his honest and insightful tribute to my dear old friend Florence King, who died recently after a long ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ We wish Trump talked this much about the size of his government. ‐ Did the Founding Fathers talk about penises come election time? Pretty close, actually. Thomas Jefferson’s 1804 reelection ...
The Long View

Dear Mrs. Reagan:

We were delighted to welcome you to the Heavenly Paradise Above, and we hope that the past few days have been an easy transition for you. Your reunion with your ...
Athwart

Trump’s Golden Ticket

Don’t worry, this won’t be as dorky as it sounds. Nerdy, perhaps, but not so dorky. In the fifth Star Trek movie – Hey, come back! Sit down, don’t worry. This ...
Politics & Policy

Poetry

36 WEST PITMAN What witches, what magicians, but . . . they needed Sixty years — the slowest sleight of hand On record. Did they fail to understand We were sufficiently distracted on Our own ...
Happy Warrior

O.J. Trumps Trump

Something surreal happened a few days back. The cable news networks all cut away from the political horse race and their current ratings cash cow, Donald Trump, to focus on ...

Most Popular

Education

George Packer Gets Mugged by Reality

Few journalists are as respected by, and respectable to, liberals as The Atlantic’s George Packer. The author of The Assassin's Gate (2005), The Unwinding (2013), and a recently published biography of Richard Holbrooke, Our Man, Packer has written for bastions of liberal thought from the New York Times Magazine ... Read More
Film & TV

Brad Pitt’s Egotism Is Hurting His Movies

Ad Astra (“to the stars”) is a semi-silly low-serotonin remake of Apocalypse Now in space. A major difference is that Apocalypse Now was a director’s movie. This one, produced by Brad Pitt’s Plan B, is an actor’s movie. Guess which actor comes off amazing in it? Another difference is that Apocalypse ... Read More
Politics & Policy

CNN: Everything but the News

For a while, we thought MSNBC had temporarily usurped CNN as the font of fake news — although both networks had tied for the most negative coverage (93 percent of all their news reports) of President Trump’s first 100 days in office. A cynic would argue that CNN had deliberately given Trump undue coverage ... Read More