By Beichman, Arnold
Insight on the News , Vol. 9, No. 6
President Bush's awarding of the Medal of Freedom to Ronald Reagan a week before the inauguration was an act of hypocrisy, monumental even by normal political standards. I wonder if Bush even realizes how hypocritical the belated award was.
From Inauguration Day 1989 onward, the Bush administration distanced itself from the Reagan years. The latest evidence is a Jan. 1 New York Times story that quoted -- not by name -- a Bush associate as saying: "The chance of accomplishing some substantive things before [President Bush] goes out has energized him. He sees the possibility of leaving his successor a much better situation than he found when he came in in 1989."
The anti-Reagan implications of this remark by a Bush "associate" are on a par with those in Bush's expressed wish to create "a kinder, gentler America." the statement can be interpreted as an attack on the Reagan presidency, since it implies that the country was in a mess when Bush took over.
Bush and right-hand man James Baker did everything they could to minimize Reagan's achievements, which were rarely, if ever, mentioned in presidential addresses or in statements by Bush's subordinates. It was obvious that the word had gone out.
Leading the crusade against Reaganism was Baker, Reagan's chief of staff, who became secretary of state and, later, chief of staff under Bush. Baker directed his leakage ostensibly against his predecessor, Reagan's secretary of state, George Shultz, particularly over negotiations with the Soviet Union. Obviously, attacking Shultz reflected badly on Reagan's abilities.
Another crusader against Reaganism was Samuel Skinner, Bush's transportation secretary and later chief of staff, who at a Cabinet meeting boasted that he was the first Cabinet secretary to completely purge his department of Reaganauts. So reports conservative activist Grover G. …