June 12, 2004

Goodbye President Reagan

This state funeral was an amazing spectacle. I'm glad I got to watch part of it. For those that thought it too much or over the top, may I suggest they compare it to Princess Diana's funeral, especially if the accomplishments of the two are set side by side.

Ronald Reagan accomplished the tasks set in front of him with courage, grace, kindness, and aplomb. His twilight years were stolen from him by Alzheimer's, but you can't really say he was cheated out of having a full life. I expect to see more state funerals for former presidents in my lifetime, but I don't think any will match this in pomp or circumstance.

I heard someone compare this state funeral to the state funeral forty-one years ago for President Kennedy, but I don't think it is a good comparison. I had just turned four when President Kennedy's funeral took place and, while I have no direct memories of it, I cannot help but have learned much about it over the years. President Kennedy had perhaps half of his life taken from him suddenly and unexpectedly by an assassin's bullet. His state funeral was a time for the nation to mourn our, and his, loss. President Kennedy’s state funeral was imbued with sorrow and sadness, mingled with fear and grieving for what seemed a lost future. America did not recover from the feelings generated by President Kennedy's assassination until Ronald Reagan helped us pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps by reminding us what it meant to be Americans. For damn sure, no one else pulled us up. President Reagan's state funeral was more of a celebration of a life full of accomplishment and achievement, both personally and as a public figure. It is right that there were tears, but it is just as right that there were more expressions of thanks for his successes than tears of remorse or regret.

I am most interested in what effect this may have on President George W. Bush. Not on his prospects vis-ŕ-vis the horserace, but on him personally.

Posted by Charles Austin at June 12, 2004 12:02 AM