08 Jun 2004 The Little Bronze Gipper
This very sweet story is written by a journalist who once derided Ronald Reagan in print — but who realizes, thanks in part to a gift from his eleven-year-old son, that “the Gipper was a lot smarter than the folks who derided him. Folks, in other words, like me.”
The story begins:
It was Christmas six years ago when Ronald Reagan, who died on Saturday at the age of 93, became an unexpected addition to our family, thanks to my son, who was then 11. As every parent knows, kids that age can have strange ideas about what the well-equipped adult really needs, so when Squirt handed me a little box with a mysterious present clunking heavily inside, I expected a clock or cast-iron sock rack or some such equally useless thing. What emerged instead was a small bust of the 40th President of the United States, whose forever-frozen smile gazed up from the wreckage of ribbon and gift wrap with more than a dash of mockery.
A statue of Reagan! A joke, right? His mother must have put the boy up to it. But no, she was just as genuinely bemused. What could he have been thinking to mark Christmas with this grinning, empty-headed lump, seven inches of cast-bronze conservative kitsch?…
In his innocence, my son was right. I did like Ronald Reagan, even if I didn’t know it at the time. So here’s a toast to a simple man who had the wit to ignore his betters and leave the world, all things considered, a finer, safer place than he found it.