I posted this piece shortly after the Reagan funeral. With word out that Ron Reagan, Jr. will speak at the Democratic Convention, I think it is important to repost it:
Ron Reagan never really cared for his father’s politics. When in office and after out of office, Ron made it very clear that he was a liberal, he thought his father’s policies were bad for Americans, and didn’t really think his dad had as much to do with the fall of the USSR as people gave him credit.
So, it was no surprise when he took a subtle potshot at George Bush last night. Ron said his father was a deeply religious man who believed he was here to serve God’s purpose. Then he said his father didn’t wear his religion on his shirt sleeve and did not believe there was a God given mandate.
The obvious contrast was with Bush.
I think that those lines will only be given appreciation and credence by liberals. And that’s just it. Ron Reagan never understood his father. He did what he could to embarass his dad and did what he could to distinguish himself. Ron is not comfortable with religion. During the prayers at every service his head was never bowed and his eyes were never closed.
Liberals do not get the open display of religion. So, Ron’s words will comfort liberals and might boost his career as a Ronald Reagan for the left (which he previously failed at). Conservatives will ignore it. Independents, who trend toward the conservative view of “shirt sleeve religion” probably will have no problem either.
In a week when politics was put on hold, Ron Reagan tried his best to break out of the pack by making himself standout. All of his life he has tried to escape the inescapable shadow of his father. A telling sign that, unlike his father and the current President, he has never been comfortable in his own skin.
Oh, and one more thing, Ron was wrong. His father did view it as a mandate as Margaret Thatcher herself alluded to.
Ronnie himself certainly believed that he had been given back his life for a purpose. As he told a priest after his recovery `Whatever time I’ve got left now belongs to the Big Fella Upstairs’.
And surely it is hard to deny that Ronald Reagan’s life was providential, when we look at what he achieved in the eight years that followed.
Others prophesied the decline of the West; he inspired America and its allies with renewed faith in their mission of freedom.
Others saw only limits to growth; he transformed a stagnant economy into an engine of opportunity.
Others hoped, at best, for an uneasy cohabitation with the Soviet Union; he won the Cold War – not only without firing a shot, but also by inviting enemies out of their fortress and turning them into friends.
Reagan saw his mandate from God to fight an evil that denied God’s own existence. He dedicated his Presidency to it.
The fact is, Ron Reagan does not get either his father’s or the President’s conviction of spirit. And he cannot see evil in what he sees as just another silly religion.
Maybe one day he will see the light his father so very much wanted him to see. Contrast Ron’s discomfort with the joyous sadness of his older brother who understood and believed.