Monday, June 07, 2004

Twenty years ago I was living in my Mom’s double-wide mobile home in South Tetagouche, New Brunswick. I remember the place well because that’s where I became aware of the broader world that existed outside of my immediate bucolic surroundings. A lot was going on back then; the commie-free ‘84 Olympics were in LA, Canada was on the verge of ushering in a post-Trudeau era, and the US was smack-dab in the middle of a Presidential election campaign.

One day that summer I woke up and had one of those light bulb epiphany moments you see in cartoons. I found myself in the midst of a profound process of discovery, learning everything I could about sports, politics, economics, and a whole host of other topics that were once Greek to me. As I soaked up whatever I could find in the local newspapers and Bathurst’s miniscule public library, certain archetypes were etched in my head. To this day, when I think of the Olympics, Carl Lewis comes to mind. Say another Bond film is hitting the theatres, and I wonder how old Roger Moore is these days. When talk turns to Canadian politics, Brian Mulroney pops up in my head. And whenever I read about the President of the United States, the image indelibly burned in my memory is of Ronald Reagan.

I’ve been saying for years that I’d like to see the spectacle of a State Funeral in Washington, DC. This Friday, I’ll finally get my wish. Nixon, of course, had no such procession, so I had to wait until another POTUS kicked the bucket. True, it’s sad that a great conservative icon like Reagan had to go, but it would be such a waste if my first State Funeral was for a lightweight like Gerald Ford or a pinko like Jimmy Carter.

Having watched lots of cable news over the weekend, I can safely say the coverage of Reagan’s death has been very fair. The liberal CNN and the schizophrenic MSNBC have muted their normally rabid criticism of all things right-wing, and have instead opted for more traditional biographical tributes, free of the usual lefty aspersions that the old man was a heartless dolt. Thankfully, none of the coverage I witnessed delved into the weepy, overwrought Princess Diana territory of several years ago. I suspect they’re saving that for Carter.

Others, however, have deemed this the perfect time to resurrect old grudges, replete with venom. Christopher Hitchens penned a meandering screed in today’s edition of Slate, calling Reagan a “cruel and stupid lizard”. Not to be outdone, Cuban state radio opined that he “never should have been born”. I suspect these prime examples of bile are mild in comparison to what will be offered before the week is out. It is only Monday afternoon, after all.


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