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Reagan Casts Giant Shadow Online


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The Medical Dossier

The George Washington University Medical Center in Washington is home to the Ronald Reagan Institute of Emergency Medicine. Reagan was treated at the hospital in 1981 after surviving an assassination attempt by John Hinckley Jr.

But Reagan's legacy leaves its greatest impact on medicine in the form of Alzheimer's research. Reagan informed the nation in 1994 that he was suffering from the incurable disease, leading to more attention and research funding to understand its causes and to seek a cure. The Alzheimer's Association has a special section on its Web site dedicated to the late president. Among them: a page asking users to donate money toward Alzheimer's research in Reagan's name, and information on grants handed out by the Ronald and Nancy Reagan Research Institute for studying Alzheimer's.

They Praised Him...

Many sites eulogize Reagan, elevating him with the sort of adulation that few other American notables have ever managed to claim. Americans for Tax Reform chief Grover Norquist -- himself a not-so-behind-the-scenes architect of the 1994 Republican Revolution in the U.S. Congress -- runs the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project. Its most ambitious goal at this time seems to be an effort to replace Alexander Hamilton's face on the $10 bill with Reagan's. Publius press also features "comprehensive" roundups on Reagan at, run by a group called Kottmann Consulting, presents a glowing tribute to Reagan. The site contains defenses of his presidential policies, a biography, a blog and links to sites like the Franklin Mint that offer Reagan-themed gifts. offers similar information. Its gift shop (also available in German and Spanish) features a $149 presidential bomber jacket, a photograph of Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in matching jeans, blue buttoned-down shirts and cowboy hats. It also offers a Reagan "quote of the day." (Today it's: "Excellence demands competition. Without a race there can be no champion, no records broken, no excellence--in education or in any other walk of life.")

Young America's Foundation hosts, which provides visitors with a map and virtual tour of the Reagans's Rancho del Cielo. The foundation bills itself as a site where young people can learn about Reagan and "his ideals of individual freedom, limited government, a strong national defense, free enterprise, and traditional values."

So what did they name after Reagan, anyway? There's a good list (and here's another), but a sampling includes: an aircraft carrier, a high school in San Antonio, Texas, elementary schools in Bakersfield, Calif., and Nampa, Idaho, the Ronald Reagan Middle School in hometown Dixon, Ill., the Reagan building in Washington, D.C., Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Va., the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana, Calif., and even the Reagan suite at the Westin Century Plaza in Los Angeles.

And speaking of what you can buy, eBay and feature a number of auctions but relatively small numbers of buyers. One popular item on eBay is a sketch of a horse that Reagan, a prodigious doodler, once drew (his inscription reads: "Told you I could not draw"). Forty bids were placed for this item, with the winner paying $2001.89. Also see the "Bowl one for the Gipper" T-shirt and the action figure.

And They Skewered Him...

The Onion handled Reagan with its usual questionable taste -- a brief item on George W. Bush turning the Reagan funeral into a $5,000-a-plate fundraiser and a note that Nancy Reagan is "available at 82."

Liberal satire site lets visitors play the Ronald Reagan Memory Game, a variation on whack-a-mole featuring the Reagans, Oliver North and Michael Jackson among others. Also featured are several vintage posters showing how the Gipper used to hawk Chesterfields. The site, aiming for a balance of whimsy and clumsy humor, concludes that Reagan was "an affably senile zombie propped up by a Nixon-groomed cabal of brilliantly nefarious underlings." Damnation by faint praise?

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