At the passing of each conservative legend we are reminded that liberals stick to some basic rules when commenting on these passings. These rules of the road (of the funeral procession, if you will) are thoroughly predictable and the subject of much guffawing by conservatives, while liberals remain clueless that their act has gotten old:
1. The only good conservative is a dead one, primarily because they can be used to diminish contemporary conservatives. (“Unlike Reagan, that miserable X never…” is the surefire argument for leftists who never had a nice word to say about Ronald Reagan while he was alive.)
2. No mention is allowed of the left’s hysterical opposition and venom during the deceased’s lifetime now that the leader has achieved political immortality.
3. He who was a “crackpot” right-winger now provides support for a range of liberal causes ranging from gay marriage to tax hikes.
4. While absconding with the deceased’s record and acknowledging his or her achievements, no connection can be made by the left between the leader’s conservative policies and the great success the leader achieved. And certainly no policies equally apt today (peace through strength, breaking the back of unions) can be credited for the deceased’s greatness.
5. The deceased’s greatness is only attributed to identity (woman, grocer’s daughter, actor) and personal characteristics (good humor, rhetoric, tenacity). Indeed the more these are built up, the more unique becomes their greatness and the less chance there is for another conservative giant.
6. Per No. 5, the personal qualities they now laud (courage, tenacity) are the very things the left despised during the deceased’s lifetime, although they were given different labels (recklessness, pig-headedness).
7. No time can be spent explaining the left’s mess, which opened the door to the conservative legend’s ascent to power, most especially if the mess was brought about by liberal policies still in vogue.
8. Whichever surviving kin has the most negative take on the deceased is pronounced the most credible interpreter of the deceased’s record.
9. However conservative was the deceased, he or she is reborn as “practical” and a “deal maker” after death.
10. Allow no self-reflection on why no liberal icon in the past 50-plus years is regarded with such affection and esteem. Hence, the incessant search continues for the left’s own Reagan or Margaret Thatcher. Hint: They won’t find them because the policies the conservative giants employed to success are despised by the left and the personal qualities celebrated by the left (ruthlessness, emotional reserve) are in retrospect not qualities to be admired.