Speaking Ill of a Departed Reagan
It’s ironic. While The Washington Post sterilizes the exploits of current Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton — a former first lady — they simultaneously besmirch the stellar reputation of recently deceased Nancy Reagan, 94. Indeed, who is criticized by them, the woman with the well known reputation as a “liar” (under potentially 3 federal indictments for influence-peddling and corruption) or the person instrumental both to the personal happiness of beloved conservative icon Ronald Reagan, and a pivotal, but indirect reason for the success of his presidency?
In a typical classless move of smearing the voiceless dead for the political expediency of criticizing Republicans, the Post disregards the ancient wisdom in the Latin phrase De mortuis nihil nisi bonum: “of the dead [say] nothing but good.” Given perfect 20/20 hindsight, hatchet man “reporter” Dan Zak infers a fictitious deficiency of character in Mrs. Reagan while his employing newspaper summarily ignores the shrieking 300 pound gorilla throwing Samsonite luggage: the mountainous political baggage of Hillary Clinton’s real life scandals.
What was Mrs. Reagan’s “wrongdoing?” Per scribbler Zak, she was not an “outspoken advocate” for AIDS and HIV prevention in the 1980s. (This also-ran criticism was similarly used against her highly popular husband for divisive political reasons.) Despite the fact that this was a tumultuous time (when little was medically understood regarding this disease or its transmission), AIDS research funding exploded in the ‘80s. In 1983, Margaret Heckler, Mr. Reagan’s secretary of Health and Human Services, had the foresight to declare AIDS her department’s “number one priority.” Meanwhile, as the MSM hit the panic button (and not incidentally blamed the president for his and Nancy’s “silence”) committed resources virtually doubled each year from $44 million in 1983 to $1.6 billion in 1988. Unfortunately, an effective preventative treatment was decades in the future, but all of these substantial, seedling efforts are irrelevant to Mr. Zak’s unfair and misleading characterization of Mrs. Reagan, who is like her husband — by all legitimate accounts — a great American.
As first ladies are traditionally wont to do, her use of the visibility of the Reagan name was a straight forward “Just Say No” prevention campaign against illicit drug usage. Perfectly sensible advice, easy for the young and impetuous to understand: if one doesn’t use drugs one avoids the inherent risks of addiction, unstable mood swings, serious health problems and financial hardship. A legitimate issue, once again, paradoxically more relevant today than the medical scourge that is now treatable HIV. (Compare that good fortune to today’s travesty, America’s penal system. It is chock-full of Joe Biden’s legislative 3rd strike drug offenders. Per the Federal Bureau of Prisons, almost half or 48.7 percent are in prison for life for drug offenses versus 2.9 percent for homicide, aggravated assault and kidnapping; and 7 percent for sex offenses.)
This actuality makes Mrs. Reagan a bit of a visionary rather than Mr. Zak’s manicured, elitist caricature of “glistening hazel eyes, hair a perfectly feathery helmet, ears pinned with gold.” Couple that with his clinical description of her so-called “frosty” personality: “And Nancy — what of Nancy? She was steel. She was cashmere. She was cold. She was class. And after a couple years of bad press, she was in need of a cause.” All of this rubbish implies a ruthless perfectionism, a person removed from the woes of average citizens, someone his spurious piece further claims “did not do enough.” As usual, the Post’s “coverage” has everything simultaneously upside down, backwards and inside out.
For objective context, let us revisit 1982, something that is apparently beyond self-depreciating Dan Zak’s journalistic powers. Historically, HIV had been misidentified as a “gay cancer” — thought to be a plague — and labeled with a different acronym GRID (“Gay Related Immune Deficiency”). Specifically, when infected actor Rock Hudson kissed “Dynasty’s” Linda Evans, it caused a public uproar — and a wrongheaded fear that the actress might have been exposed. (Thankfully, HIV is not transmitted via saliva exchange, but that fact, like many others, was far from a medical certainty then.) To make matters worse, this issue was further veiled by private sexual behavior. Therefore, realistically, given these fact-based dynamics — and the innate lack of clarity — what precisely does this leftist sycophant think the Reagans should have said or done differently? My point: his heavily biased retrospective is a completely subjective “what if” judgment. Therefore, any rear view 21st century condemnation is unworthy fodder when equating Mrs. Reagan’s legacy. A pox on Dan Zak’s reputation for defaming a defenseless great lady.
David L. Hunter is on Twitter and blogs at davidlhunter.blogspot.com. He has previously been published in multiple in The Washington Post, The Washington Times, FrontPage Mag, and extensively in Canada Free Press and American Thinker.