In June 2004 the US mourned the passing of former president Ronald Reagan. Many were the accolades given by commentators on TV in Reagan's honor. I believe he was one of our great philosopher presidents (as was Woodrow Wilson).
But during his presidency all was not quiet on the home front. His policies and actions were vigorously debated. Many opposed what he said and did. Some opposition was honest and heartfelt, some was knee-jerk partisanship.
I think that, on balance, history will treat him kindly.
One of the defining moments in his presidency was when he called on Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall. This electrifying quote is part of my illustration. Click here for the full text of Reagan's speech.
Many were Reagan's disparagers and hecklers; and even on that day they were there to make themselves heard. In Reagan's typical philosophical manner he ended that famous speech by addressing those demonstrating against his visit.
"And I would like, before I close, to say one word. I have read, and I have been questioned since I've been here about certain demonstrations against my coming. And I would like to say just one thing, and to those who demonstrate so. I wonder if they have ever asked themselves that if they should have the kind of government they apparently seek, no one would ever be able to do what they're doing again.
"Thank you and God bless you all."
George P. Shultz writes about Reagan's impact on Gorbachev, "Ronald Reagan had made an immense impression on Mikhail Gorbachev, who must have realized that he could not talk, con, bully, or in any other way manipulate Ronald Reagan..."
To Gorbachev's credit, the reforms he instituted in the Soviet Union eventually lead to the razing of the Berlin Wall.
I think Gorbachev didn't completely comprehend the ramifications of Glasnost and Perestroika. These policies shook the communist world and engendered a tsunami of irresistible events that he could not control. For Gorbachev's views click here.
I did this drawing in 1985, using a press photo for reference.