The Two Sides of Reagan
Saturday, June 19, 2004; Page A21
My condolences to the staff and management of The Post. I had no idea you felt so deeply about Ronald Reagan. I was a reporter and editor at The Post during the launch of Reagan's "revolution," and we had a somewhat different take on his presidency then.
Reagan nurtured the strong and punished the weak. He fostered the great regressive shift in economic rewards that continues to this day, while ignoring a visible deteriora- tion in the middle class and manufacturing.
His economic theory was cockeyed and did not add up (both parties spent 20 years cleaning up Reagan's deficit mess). But Reaganomics did deliver the boodle to the appropriate interests, the same ones who financed his rise in politics.
A disturbing meanness lurked at the core of Reagan's political agenda and was quite tangible at the time, though evidently forgotten now. We wrote tough stories about that and other contentious questions; I remain proud of the coverage. I would rank Reagan's place in history right up there with Warren G. Harding's. You want to put him in the company of FDR, maybe even Lincoln. Future historians will decide who's right. Meanwhile, I read your funeral coverage as a lengthy, lugubrious correction.
-- William Greider
The writer was The Post's assistant managing editor for national news, 1979-82, and is now national affairs correspondent for The Nation.
Marc Fisher's June 8 commentary on President Reagan's mind-set ["Rosy Outlook Hid Ugly Facts From Reagan," Metro] brings to mind this Reagan quote: "Live your life as a statement, not as an apologist."
He also said that he personally would like to be remembered as "someone who tried and did his best."
Young boy Reagan, lifeguard Reagan, radio announcer Reagan, actor Reagan, Gov. Reagan and President Reagan all lived life as a statement and also did their best without hesitation.
President Reagan continually strove to understand, sometimes before becoming understood.
This left him open to obtuse interpretations, i.e., Fisher's remarks about all of us who admire and support Reagan: "Like their hero, they can't be bothered with the facts."
It is a fact that Reagan willingly gave us the "gifts" he had learned from his own life and not as an apologist.
It is also a fact that he then left it to us to be personally responsible to do the same, instead of going to our graves with our gifts still inside us.
One wonders why, when there are a plethora of examples of the exceptional good that Ronald Reagan the man continually put into effect as his gifts to our world, it was Fisher's choice instead to choose the analogy of someone living the life of an apologist.
-- Allison C. Guy
© 2004 The Washington Post Company