Tuesday, June 08, 2004

What He Said

Lots of eulogies for Reagan. Lots of execrations of Reagan. I feel almost an obligation to add something. But over the last 15 years, I’ve gradually realized two things about Reagan’s legacy: (1) It is a profoundly mixed bag, filled with substantial chunks of both good and bad. (2) It’s hard to even distinguish the good chunks from the bad ones.

Anything else I added would just be a repeat of Will’s post, so I’ll quote him in full, with emphasis added:
I am fairly nauseated by the Reagan retrospectives, left and right. It's dispiriting to see that it [is] apparently next-to-impossible for human beings to go beyond their ideological commitments and make a more or less objective assessment of a man's accomplishments. We see all the usual mechanisms of ideological insulation. Any good during Reagan's reign would have happened anyway. Reagan's scandals are justified by his larger visionary struggle against unfreedom. All our ills are directly traceable to Reagan's malign influence. All good is directly traceable to Reagan's forward-thinking moral clarity. It's really just too, too much. Why do we not see that there is no need to make devils or gods of men?

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