Thursday, June 10, 2004


My friends will often poke fun at me for carrying around a notebook, but this morning was one morning I was without one and wish I had one. With thousands of people heading toward the Capitol today for the public viewing of President Reagan's flag-draped coffin, I was bound to run into people who were Rotunda-bound on the subway.

With all the talk of Reagan's legacy, leadership, character, etc. this week, it has been rare to hear people question Reagan's legacy out in the open. This morning on the subway, a child who could not have been older than five years old, asked who I assumed to be his mother why people didn't like the late president. It was odd for such a young child to question the conventional wisdom so bluntly.

While I didn't have my notebook handy to take down direct quotes, I do remember some of the conversation.

"Well, some people didn't like him because he wasn't nice to some people, like those who don't have money." He also gave guns to "some bad people far away and some other people found out and were angry."

The mother tried her best to water-down and summarize the contrarian viewpoint of the Reagan administration.

But to no avail, she had crossed the line for one father riding the subway. As the train pulled into Judiciary Square, a middle-aged man with a salt and pepper beard and an "Ohio for Bush" t-shirt, with teenage son in tow, scolded the woman for feeding the child "misinformation." His son was silent. Though I don't exactly remember what the man said next, it was something like 'You're what's wrong with this country.'

The woman was shocked, caught off guard. She was instantly quieted. The man scowled some more and then calmed down by the time the train pulled into Union Station. C'est la vie, vox populi.

While I remember Reagan growing up, all my memories of his administration are simple television images, and not enough to make personal blanket analysis of his leadership in the 1980s. But it is heartwarming on certain levels to see the outpouring of love and admiration, even if there are many out there who are treading dangerously close to idol worship.

By tomorrow morning, the Rotunda viewing will be closed and thousands, upon thousands will have seen the closed casket. In television reports today, I've heard one phrase over and over: People "from all walks of life" have paid their respects.

But did you think that people would show up drunk to the Capitol to pay their respects? Yes indeed. Roll Call this afternoon in its Rotunda viewing overview quoted one girl in a tight-fitting dress who said she arrived at the Capitol drunk after a late night at Wet, the male gay strip club in Southeast.

More information:
"Goodbye to the Gipper" [Roll Call]
"Thousands Make Pilgrimage to Capitol" [The Washington Post]


At 6:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We will never stop making fun of you for always carrying around a notebook. Man, and I thought I was bad.

At 5:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I had more free time, I would have a shirt made that said "Shut the fuck up, tourist!" and hang out on the metro all day looking very intimidating. If I have to give directions to the zoo one more time I'm going to murder someone. Today, I was asked for directions to the Wardman Park Marriott by a woman as we stood directly in front of the hotel, a mere 20 feet from the sign. I pointed to the giant hotel, and said "It's right there." She pointed to the opposite side of the street, and said "On the right?." To which I responded, "No, it's right there [returning her attention to where I had originally pointed]. Do you see the large sign that says 'Marriott'?" Sorry, just venting. Carry on.


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