Monday, June 07, 2004

Nothing Succeeds Like... Dying?

Have you ever noticed that nothing improves the popularity of painters and politicians like their own deaths. When a painter dies, his/her work suddenly skyrockets in price. When a politician dies, a person previously called a hack, a villain and even a traitor. Suddenly they become beloved elder statesmen.

Once recent case in point is Richard Nixon. Nixon, often ridiculed as Tricky Dick while in office, who resigned in disgrace amidst the Watergate scandal and the threat of impeachment. He even had his own, self-designated gadfly. Dick Tuck. But when he died in 1994, 20 years after leaving public office, he suddenly became a hero. People remembered that he ended the Vietnam war and the draft, that he opened relations with China, reduced nuclear tensions with the USSR, and brokered a peace agreement after the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

I see a similar transformation happening with the memory of Ronald Reagan. From the time he began his political career, he was decried as a B actor who was getting above himself. People either loved or hated him, and the faction that hated him was exceptionally vehement. Despite his fiscal policies having ended the worst recession in 40 years, some despised his economics. His international policies led to the end of the Cold War, and the collapse of the Soviet Union, yet some people hated his right wing stance. One of the things that always struck me about Reagan was his talent for picking skilled people, and then getting out of their way. Perhaps the most notable choice of his administration was Alan Greenspan as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, a man still affecting the global economy. Now, with Reagans death, all debates seem to be ended. I predict that there will even be a Reagan Memorial built in Washington in the next 20 years to rival the Lincoln or new FDR Memorials.

Now, if politicians could only find a way to get elected after death...


Post a Comment

<< Home