To: editorial@nytimes.com, oped@nytimes.com 
From: andy@thekesslers.com (Andy Kessler)

Mon, 7 Jun 2004 
    
Editor, 

I had decided that I wasn't going to say anything about the death 
of our 40th president, but after seeing 60 Minutes, Meet the Press, 
Larry King and countless newspaper articles in an unabashed love fest 
over Reagan this weekend I felt I had to add my own comments. 

I must have heard at least 25 times this weekend how Ronald Reagan was "the 
great communicator". I must admit that impression really never crossed my 
mind. I'm sure it was the fact that I was so vehemently opposed to
the policies in his message that I was never taken in by his charm. 

On Jan 20th 1981 at noon I was in high school when they broadcast Reagan
taking the oath of office over the loudspeaker system. That same day 
Iran released the 52 hostages. It wasn't until years later that we would 
learn how the Reagan/Bush campaign had negotiated with the Iranian government 
not to release the hostages until Reagan was president in exchange for money 
and arms. This was the pre-cursor to the Iran/Contra scandal. 

Growing up in a post Watergate America it was generally accepted that 
the US government was corrupt but this was my first time seeing the 
events unfold before my eyes. It made a strong impression on me and
helped to form my political ideology. 

Many years later, I learned of Reagan's role as Governor of California
during the summer of love in the late 60s. Reagan ordered in the national
guard to suppress the student strikes at UC Berkeley. The guards were armed
with bayonets and tear gas and occupied the campus for 17 days. This
did not ingratiate Reagan in the eyes of many in the Bay Area. 

As president he was very successful at projecting his cowboy image. 
The look of boyish excitement on his face when he announced the invasion of
Grenada told the whole story. Unfortunately, George W. Bush who readily
admits that he is emulating his presidency after Reagan's is elevating
that "shoot first, aim later" policy to new heights. 

There was also the way he handled the Air Traffic controller strike by 
firing 11,000 workers. He insisted on a lifetime ban for the FAA rehiring 
any of the striking workers. It was ironic to see such intense union busting 
action from a former president of the screen actors guild. The loss of
three generations of Air Traffic controllers caused a shortage in 
the industry that took many years to fill. The oldest workers lost their
pensions and their high paying jobs and the FAA was able to hire new, 
younger controllers at lower salaries. 

The rest of the policies from the Reagan era were republican politics as usual
- tax cuts for the wealthy, cutting benefits for the military but appearing
strong on defense, etc. 

Ronald Reagan will become the 2nd president to be buried in California. 
The first, of course, is Richard Nixon in Yorba Linda. 

Where would the American people's faith in the government be today without 
these men? 

Thanks for listening, 

Andy Kessler
San Ramon, CA