Debra J. Saunders

 It's odd, but even as he rose to be a movie star, a governor and a president, Reagan never seemed ambitious. Goodman says she noticed that when she first met Californians, people seemed "several degrees below in intensity, but don't be fooled."

 I can imagine how Beltway blowhards must scoff at the crowd of those attending the interment services in Simi Valley. The Washington service could boast world leaders and congressional heavyweights. Simi Valley provided an odd mix of California statesmen and Mickey Rooney, Pat Sajak, Johnny Mathis, Tom Selleck, Bo Derek. Worse, to those who don't see how effective he has become -- California's second actor-turned-governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

 Those who care to also can mock Reagan's very California family. Two marriages produced very different children, with Michael, Patti and Ron surviving Maureen.

 Reagan was divorced. Lefties scoffed: How's that for family values? And yet who today doubts that the marriage between Ron and Nancy Reagan was true?

 As Patti noted, in Reagan's last moments, when he looked at Nancy, "He showed us that neither disease nor death can conquer love." Son Ron simply said his father was "the most plainly decent man you could ever meet."

 People wonder why the national media have been so kind to Reagan this week. A cynic could argue that they don't particularly mind a dead conservative. Or that they've beat up on George W. Bush so much that there's no ammo left for Reagan. But I don't think that's the dynamic. I think there's a newfound respect for Reagan as one-time naysayers in the press corps are aging.

 Some realize they were wrong and Reagan was right on disarmament, the Cold War and even taxes. They see even how clever he was to let the media underestimate -- and even belittle -- him. They now understand that he played them in his own stagy Hollywood way.

 It just took them this long to figure out how smart Ronald Reagan really was.

Debra J. Saunders

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