If he had lived, Ronald Reagan would’ve turned 100 years old today. I’ve been looking at the various Facebook statuses, Tweets, blog posts and articles dedicated to the late president, and I gotta tell you: we should’ve cloned Ronald Reagan when we had the chance.
I mean, the stuff I’ve been reading – no disrespect to FDR or Washington – tells me that Reagan was our greatest president. He promised to cut taxes in ’81, and he did – the single largest tax cut in U.S. history (of course, he also raised taxes seven times after that initial cut so that in the end, the tax rate was exactly the same as it had been prior to the ’81 slash). He promised to spend the Soviet Union into bankruptcy and collapse, and he did. He promised to give the American people someone they could believe in, and he did. With Reagan, we knew exactly where we stood: with a man capable of getting things done, of reading the political climate and adjusting accordingly so that the American people bought in to his ideas. And he did all of this with the same calm and good looks that made him such a Hollywood figure.
In short, Reagan was a heckuva president. One of the best.
So we should’ve cloned him. I mean, could you imagine how he’d have handled Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden? How about the economic crisis of the last few years? I would have been mesmerized by his response to 9/11 – guarantee you he wouldn’t have been reading “Goodnight Moon” to a bunch of first graders.
I mean, it’s not like we didn’t develop the technology before his passing. We could’ve collected a grade-DNA genetic sample from Ronnie and been able to cook something up in the lab tout de suite. Imagine a world where Clinton, Bush 2, and Obama were never president. I can hear the combination sobs of joy and regret from the G.O.P. even now.
This is firmly tongue-in-cheek, folks – lest any of you think that I’m either serious or being disrespectful of Mr. Reagan’s legacy, let me say that I do have an admiration for what he was able to accomplish and the singular strength of his presidency. He’s the last president I really remember making me feel truly safeguarded by his administration. But he wasn’t a saint, and the people on the conservative right who want to make him out to be Jesus 2.0 need a heavy dose of oxygen. He had his faults (astrology, anyone?) and the 80s were the Me Decade, the Trickle Down/Reaganomics era, a fact best summed up in the character of Gordon Gekko, whose infamous motto was, after all, “Greed is good.”
That rings a little hollow now, don’t it?
I celebrate the centenary of Ronald Reagan and fondly remember his accomplishments and his legacy. But forgive me if I stop short of immortalizing him as our greatest president. For all he did, he can’t claim that title.
That Lincoln fella kind of stands in his way…