Ron Reagan Jr. on George W. Bush

Last week, during the never-ending funeral of our 40th president, only one moment jumped out at me as remarkable, and that was Ron Reagan Jr.’s eulogy in which he took an obvious swipe at our current president.

Dad was also a deeply, unabashedly religious man. But he never made the fatal mistake of so many politicians – wearing his faith on his sleeve to gain political advantage. True, after he was shot and nearly killed early in his presidency he came to believe that God had spared him in order that he might do good. But he accepted that as a responsibility, not a mandate. And there is a profound difference.

I thought it was a wonderful moment, providing some much needed balance. In case anyone hadn’t noticed, Bush and his handlers took enormous strides last week to wrap the president in Reagan’s mantle. His campaign site was overhauled to look like an online Reagan museum. Bush, who is so quick to accuse the other side of “politicizing” issues, had no shame when it came to politicizing Reagan’s death and making it not just a theme but the very cornerstone of his campaign, at least temporarily.

As the above article says, Ron Reagan’s jab at Bush last week was not the first, and it’s clear he has little respect for the shrub who would be president. Check out this Salon article for the history of this animosity.

[Ron] Reagan took a swipe at Bush during the 2000 GOP convention in Philadelphia, which featured a tribute to his father, telling the Washington Post’s Lloyd Grove, “The big elephant sitting in the corner is that George W. Bush is simply unqualified for the job… What’s his accomplishment? That he’s no longer an obnoxious drunk?” Since then he’s been quiet about the current occupant of the White House — until now….

“Sure, he wasn’t a technocrat like Clinton. But my father was a man — that’s the difference between him and Bush. To paraphrase Jack Palance, my father crapped bigger ones than George Bush.”

Reagan says he doesn’t have anything personal against Bush. He met him only once, at a White House event during the Reagan presidency. “At least my wife insists we did — he left absolutely no impression on me. But Doria remembers him very negatively — I can’t repeat what she said about him, I’d rather not use profanity. I do remember Jeb — a big fella, seemed to be the brightest of the bunch. And of course their parents were very charming.”

But Reagan has strong feelings about Bush’s policies, including the war in Iraq, which he ardently opposes. “Nine-11 gave the Bush people carte blanche to carry out their extreme agenda — and they didn’t hesitate for a moment to use it. I mean, by 9/12 Rumsfeld was saying, ‘Let’s hit Iraq.’ They’ve used the war on terror to justify everything from tax cuts to Alaska oil drilling.”

Not that his father was a saint when it came to military adventures, tax cuts and the environment. But I have to give Reagan Junior enormous credit for having the courage and intelligence to go on the record with his opinions and to do so when the eyes of the entire world were upon him last weekend. This, combined with his mother’s obvious rancor at Bush’s irrational policy on stem cell research, should help help add some additional cracks to Bush’s crumbling foundation. Enough cracks and the whole things crashes down. So bring ’em on.

The Discussion: 6 Comments

Except that RR jr. disagreed with his father’s policies when he was in office. Sort of takes the gloss off it a bit, no?

June 15, 2004 @ 11:57 am | Comment

Not quite sure why this takes away from what he says about Bush, or about his courage….

June 15, 2004 @ 1:26 pm | Comment

You’re right Richard. IT doesn’t detract at all from what he said.

Watching George Bush at Ronald Reagan’s lying in state was kind of like watching the WWF. It’s all this drama pumped up for dollars and ratings.

I can see the WWF version as I write this: Bush wrapped in an American flag, weeping, head in bandana. The Hulkster’s arm around Bush, both of them pointing up to the sky.

“I miss you, man! We’re gonna avenge your death!”

And then, from nowhere, PRime Time Roddy the Pied Piper runs in and gives a huge two footed kick to the solar plexus.

“Where did he come from???!!!!” shouts the announcer.

“This is insane! Roddy Pied Piper has just stormed into the ring and attacked Bushdog and the Hulkster. Oh…..the Hulkster is mad. Look at those eyes.”

And so on.

Well, damn, I think I got a little carried away, but you get the picture.

June 15, 2004 @ 2:13 pm | Comment

Thanks for the enthusiastic comment, Doug. There’s an absolutely side-splitting description of the funeral by Richard Goldstein in the latest Village Voice here. Don’t miss it.

June 16, 2004 @ 12:28 pm | Comment

Ron Reagan Jr. is a great. I am a Republican that loved President Reagan and I thought I was a loner when it came to W. Bush. Ron uplifted me so much on Larry King. It must be that we are right to have Republicans and children of Republican Presidents to think the way we do about W.Bush.

June 23, 2004 @ 11:25 pm | Comment

Thank you ron reagan for speaking the truth about Bush. You are very brave and not afraid as so may Politicians are. I wish you would run for Public Office. We desperately need more people like you. You are very articulate and refrshing to watch. I hope we see alot more of you. Lola

June 24, 2004 @ 8:22 pm | Comment

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