Monday, August 6, 2007

The Reagan Library

Spent my final day in LA visiting the Reagan library in Simi Valley. These libraries are the modern day equivalent of the pyramids and the architecture, setting, contents reflect how a former president wants to be remembered. This place was redolent with Reagan-era memorabilia and properly reflected what defined the Reagan magic: heavy on show biz and light on substance. There was the entire Boeing 707 Air Force 1 on display in a specially-built hangar as well as the Marine 1 helicopter that he frequently used throughout his term. His years with the movie industry were well documented and the Iran-Contra scandal was justifiably downplayed.

Reagan represented what a good ordinary man can become with extraordinary luck. Talk about a charmed life. His worldview was simple and his faith in his country was absolute. He strove to leave the world a better place. Unlike his predecessor Jimmy Carter who was considerably more nuanced and thoughtful, Reagan sought to define his leadership with uncomplicated choices. If his style sometimes worked against the less-fortunate it was because Reagan did not fully comprehend the almost limitless amount of good that his position endowed.


r. g. lacsamana said...

With all due respect, I beg to disagree with the assessment that Reagan was a lightweight. He was not, and the book recently published about the letters he wrote as a president (a number of them used in his speeches}, reveals a man who had great insights on issues. Many believed some of his great speeches were ghost-written by others until those letters were publicly released.

He may not have been a great actor in the mold, say, of Marlon Brando or Sir Ralph Richardson, but he is considered as one of our great presidents. He ended the Cold War, he strengthened the military and the economy, and he left a legacy many current-day Republicans are trying to emulate. He also did a yeoman job in turning the conservative tide in America, a
movement begun by Barry Goldwater.

Jimmy Carter, on the other hand, is never spoken in the same breath as Reagan. He was ill-prepared for the presidency, did not defend America against its enemies, and had a miserable term as the president. He may have won the Nobel Peace prize, mainly on the strength of hs Habitat for Humanity, but his penchant for criticizing a sitting president goes against established protocol, earning him the monicker of a BOOR.

Politicians with great intellectual prowess seldom get elected presidents, exemplified by
Adlai Stevenson in the U.S. and Raul Manglapus back home. Reagan typified a common man with a lot of common sense and rare leadership skills, but he was not a simpleton by any means. His legacy will live on, longer than some expect.

Anonymous said...

....just cannot follow the argument that: publicly released letters were not ghost written... my mind ( and everybody,s judgement should be allowed ) Reagan is to the Republicans as Bill Clinton is to the Democrats...presidents whose terms of office were statistically" good " for the country without too much personal merit. Do I hear luck , providence ?

Martin D. Bautista, M.D. said...

Reagan was not a simpleton. He was a most successful politician who proved that you don't have to go through the traditional academic/military/political route in order to become president. He was able to push his agenda. I respect him for loving his country and doing his best to contribute as much as he could.

As a Filipino I clearly remember his blind support for Marcos. To this day, Nancy Reagan allowed only 2 gifts from the Philippines to be displayed at the library: a mother-of-pearl chair and an evening gown courtesy of Imelda. Reagan protected everybody he considered America's friend, regardless of whether human rights were being abused. Marcos would not have lasted long after Aquino was assassinated if it were not for Reagan.

Anonymous said...

....begging your pardon, Dr.Bautista, clearly then Reagan's blind support for Marcos was poor judgment as far as Filipinos were concerned.It is said that the better policy for world leaders is "to love the people of a country more than its head."