If you are a right-wing Republican, you have every reason to believe that you have died and gone to Heaven. Surely it must be the Promised Land where a president is taking up arms against the "evil empire" on two continents.
The dream that was deferred in 1964, when their idol, Barry Goldwater, was buried under massive fears of his recklessness, is coming true on a tropical island where, at long last, the commander-in-chief is, figuratively speaking, wading ashore to do battle with the communists who infest Central America.
"His finest hour," said right-wing guru Richard A. Viguerie of President Reagan's invasion of Grenada, which Reagan said posed a threat to our security that was not immediately visible to the rest of us.
The right liked everything about the action, but perhaps the timing gave them the biggest thrill. Another president, out of consideration for the country's nerves, might have postponed the fresh shock of a new military operation so soon after the tragedy in Lebanon.
Reagan showed he had the right stuff. He gave the "forward" order while stunned Americans watched the parents of Marines clutching photographs of their sons and unable to look out the window for fear of seeing uniformed messengers coming up the front walk with tidings of death.
The invasion could mean that more Marine messengers will be coming up front walks, but Reagan did not pause.
Two mornings after bloody Sunday, he appeared in the White House briefing room with a woman in tow whom nobody had ever seen from a country nobody ever heard of. She was the prime minister of Dominica. And it was because she, and other members of the suddenly discovered Organization of Eastern Caribbean States had asked him to, that Reagan had unleashed the military might of the United States against a country half the size of Peoria.
Reagan was being more than a good neighbor. He was rescuing U.S. citizens from potentially becoming hostages--no President Carter, he.
The chancellor of St. George's University, where a thousand Americans are studying medicine in Grenada, was subsequently seen saying that the evacuation plans he had worked out for his charges had satisfied them and their parents. But Reagan does not care for details in high moments.
Several other island "democracies" had committed troops of the strength of a couple of steel bands, which made the "liberators" a "multi-national force."
For conservatives, the week of glory really began with Reagan's news conference Oct. 19, when Reagan put the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in his place. He joined Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) in throwing mud on King's grave. He said that he had "no way" of knowing, without seeing the scurrilous FBI files, whether the black Moses had been a communist sympathizer.
It was a message the right had almost despaired of hearing.
They had been sulking for months over the surrender by the extremist they had known and loved to creeping moderation.
They had raged at the selection of Robert C. McFarlane as national security adviser over their hard-line heroine, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick. McFarlane, a retired Marine officer, had shown a lamentable reluctance to spend the entire treasury on the defense budget. They brooded over the "victory" for Secretary of State George P. Shultz, who had so often appeared more willing to talk than fight.
But their cup of reassurance on both men ran over in the first hours while the nervous Nellies frantically tried to sort out the two crises.
The Grenada adventure was McFarlane's debut, and he came through with flying colors. As for Shultz, he appeared in photos that showed him conferring from a golf-cart in Augusta, Ga., with the commander-in-chief, going over the final plans for the assault on the resort island.
The White House staff, suspected of lingering mainstreamism, also came through. Grenada was too much for British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who had had her own "lovely little war" in the area, but not for any of the president's men.
On Tuesday as the casualty figures from Lebanon passed 200, and an anxious nation learned about its new war from ham radio operators--the U.S. press was barred from Grenada by administration officials who know how the sight of blood can cause a consensus to faint--the president scored a domestic coup, firing the three last members of the Civil Rights Commission.
The week of weeks brought a final, crowning touch that had never figured in the right's most lurid fantasy.
House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) interposed his considerable bulk between Reagan and his critics on both fronts.
"I will not criticize the country," O'Neill said. When the ultimate Democrat says that Reagan is the personification of the United States, there is nothing more to be asked for--although the right will surely think of something.