Grant vs. Reagan

For me, Ronald Reagan's name on Smithsonian Institution restrooms would be more than honor enough. More than any other person, Reagan is responsible for the deficit mess we find ourselves in today. As it is, we appear to be stuck with him on the Capital's airport and other assorted junk. The nut jobs who worship him want to put him on the $50 bill, however.

Historian Sean Wilentz, Writing in the New York Times, explains why we should keep Grant right where he is.

RONALD REAGAN deserves posterity’s honor, and so it makes sense that the capital’s airport and a major building there are named for him. But the proposal to substitute his image for that of Ulysses S. Grant on the $50 bill is a travesty that would dishonor the nation’s bedrock principles of union, freedom and equality — and damage its historical identity. Although slandered since his death, Grant, as general and as president, stood second only to Abraham Lincoln as the vindicator of those principles in the Civil War era.

Born to humble circumstances, Grant endured personal setbacks and terrible poverty to become the indispensable general of the Union Army. Although not himself an abolitionist, he recognized from the very start that the Civil War would cause, as he wrote, “the doom of slavery.” Above all, he despised the Southern secessionists as traitors who would destroy democratic republican government, of which, Lincoln said in his first inaugural, there was no “better or equal hope in the world.”

I'm down with all that, except maybe the first sentence. I surely don't want to see Ronnie's smiling face replace him - not that I see a $50 very often anyway.


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