Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Ron Reagan, Esquire

Ron Reagan, son of the late president, gave a moving speech at the DNC in favor of stem cell research. But he was careful not to strike a partisan tone; he didn’t mention George W. Bush by name, nor did he endorse John Kerry for president. He was behaved politely, like a guest should.

In the September issue of Esquire, however, he takes the gloves off. In a genial tone that he must have inherited from his father, he meticulously and relentlessly takes apart both the current president and his presidency, examining the politics behind the lies, the deceptions, and the phony stagecraft of the Bush administration. And he sums it up without a hint of vitriol, and without endorsing anybody else. In fact, he almost seems sorry for the guy.

Understandably, some supporters of Mr. Bush’s will believe I harbor a personal vendetta against the man, some seething resentment. One conservative commentator, based on earlier remarks I’ve made, has already discerned “jealousy” on my part; after all, Bush, the son of a former president, now occupies that office himself, while I, most assuredly, will not. Truth be told, I have no personal feelings for Bush at all. I hardly know him, having met him only twice, briefly and uneventfully—once during my father’s presidency and once during my father’s funeral. I’ll acknowledge occasional annoyance at the pretense that he’s somehow a clone of my father, but far from threatening, I see this more as silly and pathetic. My father, acting roles excepted, never pretended to be anyone but himself. His Republican party, furthermore, seems a far cry from the current model, with its cringing obeisance to the religious Right and its kill-anything-that-moves attack instincts. Believe it or not, I don’t look in the mirror every morning and see my father looming over my shoulder. I write and speak as nothing more or less than an American citizen, one who is plenty angry about the direction our country is being dragged by the current administration. We have reached a critical juncture in our nation’s history, one ripe with both danger and possibility. We need leadership with the wisdom to prudently confront those dangers and the imagination to boldly grasp the possibilities. Beyond issues of fiscal irresponsibility and ill-advised militarism, there is a question of trust. George W. Bush and his allies don’t trust you and me. Why on earth, then, should we trust them?

Fortunately, we still live in a democratic republic. The Bush team cannot expect a cabal of right-wing justices to once again deliver the White House. Come November 2, we will have a choice: We can embrace a lie, or we can restore a measure of integrity to our government. We can choose, as a bumper sticker I spotted in Seattle put it, SOMEONE ELSE FOR PRESIDENT.

That’s a class act.