I haven't written for a while but I felt compelled to do so just to express my depression regarding the public's reaction to Ronald Reagan's death. After I had been in this country a year or so I discovered the rather surprising fact that people here actually still think that Vietnam was something other than a totally botched and immoral war; that they think that it was just lost due to liberals or the liberal media or some such. That people can hate Kerry because he went there, fought, was decorated, came back and protested against what he had come to realize (as I thought everyone had) was a stupid war astonishes me. And now, to discover that people look back fondly on Reagan? Well, will it be the same when Bush dies? Will people look back and say, ahh, he wasn't so bad ?
I'd be cautious about the public's reaction. What we know is the reaction of elite intellectuals, mostly liberal, who write in the press. As for the public, by 1992 Reagan was the most unpopular living ex-president, ranking right alongside of Nixon, far below Carter or even Ford. Since then there has been a huge propaganda campaign, from the entire political spectrum, to build up a completely fraudulent image of Reagan, and I suppose many people are taken in by it.
Same with the Vietnam war. It's not easy for an individual to stand up against unremitting fanatic propaganda, which is kept almost entirely uniform by the deeply totalitarian intellectual classes, who will simply not permit a critical word to appear.
As for Kerry, if he had stood up honestly and repeated what he said 30 years ago, I think the public would have respected him, and listened to him. But his handlers had him backtrack, say he didn't mean it, and join the chauvinist chorus. The general reaction was that he has no character.