Sometimes it seems like weeks ago, really that Ronald Reagan was President of the United States. In sixth grade we had an "ballot" as a form of social studies lesson to see who the class would choose as President. Reagan won 19-5, with one vote for Independent John Anderson: my vote, for which I was stripped of morning milk privilege for a week and chased around the playground like a fox hunt.
'Course, Carter was overwhelmed by the multiple crises that awaited him once he took office, so a dead man could've defeated him. Some in my family still contend that a dead man did.
The perspective of history casts a rosy, nostalgic glow over the Reagan years. If you believe Fox News Channel (and if you do please just pass this by) Ronald Reagan returned to America it's intestinal fortitude. "The Great Communicator" was the man who took the Cold War fight directly to the godless Russians, brought the Berlin Wall down, made Grenada safe for democracy, and laid the foundation for Bill Clinton to claim credit for the greatest peacetime economic boom in this country's history. Even I found myself telling people when the news of Reagan's death hit that even though he was a fucking lunatic Reagan had the best interests of the nation in mind, unlike the Shrub currently in office.
These people didn't physically smack me. Their body language (namely their dropped jaws) served as enough of a wake-up call. It reminded me that, as an eight grader in Tennessee twenty years ago, we still held duck-and-cover nuclear attack drills at Pickwick Southside Middle School. This was primarily because the "Great Communicator" saved his most eloquent moments for conveying his belief in a fiery apocalypse.
Reagan talked seriously about the use of neutron bombs if the Cold War ever heated to nuclear proportions as a way to preserve the infrastructure when we rebuilt civilization from cockroach colonies. His ideals were forged in outdated turn-of-the-century ideals of baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet, but also in the God-fearing, brimstone and hellfire letures of Midwestern Christianity. We gave him a pass because he was either senile or cheerful or well-meaning, depending on the situation. Christopher Hitchens still underestimates Reagan in eulogy, much like he was underestimated then and Bush now. Reagan knew what he was doing.
So we sit and flip the channels looking to avoid the snuff porn of his death (he's still dead) while reports filter in of conservative groups lobbying for Reagan's face to replace Franklin Roosevelt's on the dime, as if having an airport named after you while you were still of sound enough mind to remember it wasn't enough. The tributes will flow well into the summer and possibly even dominate the Republican convention later this summer in New York City.
Frankly, I was hoping for a cremation to ensure he doesn't rise from the dead.