Richard Cohen held forth during the Ronald Reagan era. “When we were asked to ‘let Reagan be Reagan,’ we could be certain it was a call for a hard-right turn. Ronald Reagan had devoted many years to the conservative cause.” We all knew him. Obama, by contrast, appeared on the scene like a Midwest twister. He was just six years ago in the Illinois state legislature and afterwards a sometime U.S. Senator.
No wonder Cohen wonders. Americans are wondering more these days about Barack Obama.
I have to dispute Cohen on one point about Reagan. Whenever the call went up to “let Reagan be Reagan,” it did not necessarily mean a hard right turn. Integral to the Reagan political identity was his firm pro-life stance.
The close identification of this oldest of our Presidents with the youngest of Americans gave this strong man a kinder and gentler aspect. The man who could say to dictators and terrorists: “You can run, but you can’t hide,” could weep unashamedly upon being told that, because of his administration’s appeals, a Baby Doe on Long Island did not die.
Her parents had been advised not to let their Downs Syndrome newborn have a simple operation to clear her blocked esophagus. Because Ronald Reagan spoke, hearts were touched and lives were saved. At least on this, let Obama be Reagan. Then, none of us will have to shudder.