When Ron Reagan eulogized his father in a more or less respectful manner, I briefly hoped things might be different. Perhaps Ron Reagan would bury in the earth his history of working to humiliate the man many of us would have gladly called father or grandfather. Maybe the no longer young Ron Reagan would find meaning in his life without perversely cannibalizing his father’s legacy further.
When Nancy Reagan expressed her support for stem cell research, many of us could understand her position. She was never a movement conservative. She was simply a woman who loved her husband truly and supported him in all his endeavors. Thus, she wanted to restrict guns because one had nearly killed her man. She wanted to increase stem cell research for hopes her husband’s suffering might have been alleviated or even reversed. There is something in us that is able to give her the benefit of the doubt for the sake of the consistency of her love for the man we appreciated so much.
Ron Reagan is a different piece of work, altogether. When his father became President, all that meant for Ron was that he got offers to work in interesting places doing interesting things. The price of the nifty career prospects was that he had to be himself, a person who never “got” his father’s politics. I’ll never forget watching one of the interminable VH-1 or MTV decade in review programs on the ’80s where Ron blathered on about the uselessness of “trickle down economics.” As if he had a damn clue. His father was the economist. Ron was a ballet dancer.
With the announcement that Ron Reagan would be a featured speaker at the Democratic National Convention, many conservative hearts sank. Even after the bumbling heir announced he would only be using his platform to persuade citizens to support stem cell research, the pain of the disrespect and dishonor did not subside. President Reagan, the man who prided himself most on all those lives he saved as a lifeguard during his youth, once again had to suffer at the hands of his callow child.
Liberals like to claim Reagan talked a good game about abortion, but did nothing about it. Maybe Ron bought into the idea. But, that notion is absolute bunk. Not only did Reagan write a book denouncing abortion and appoint a prominent pro-lifer to be Surgeon General, he also did his best to appoint pro-life justices to the bench. He was the first U.S. President to wear his pro-life convictions as a badge of honor. Had two of his appointees not proven inadequate to the task, today we’d be living in a land where states could forbid the taking of unborn life if their citizens saw fit to do so.
To have Ron Reagan mount an undeserved podium before those who demonized his father and hack away at a beautiful legacy of protecting innocent human life, seems now to be an almost perfect injustice. We know that Ronald Reagan bore his maladies with dignity. One only wishes his son had been bequeathed a tithe of what the father had. It is only the conviction that Ronald Reagan is past such suffering now, that makes the continuing betrayal of the son endurable.