Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Second guessing...Ronald Reagan was never my hero. He still isn’t. But today I read that one of his sons is saying (in a book, of course, that I’ll just bet the junior Reagan got a hefty advance on) that he was showing signs of Alzheimer’s as early as the third year of his first term as president. I have not read the book, nor do I intend to, but I did read an excerpt from it.
Now, I have absolutely no medical training, nor do I even have caregiver expertise in Alzheimer’s, but in the excerpt I read, the president didn’t sound as though the disease was there and making quick progress; he merely sounded…well, old. Which he was. And he did more to make us realize that being old wasn’t a bad thing than nearly anyone I can think of, for which I thank him, but now there is the question. Was he just old, or was he running the country while he had Alzheimer’s?
Abraham Lincoln, who was always my hero and still is, has been much more closely examined all these many years after his death than he was in life, and it has been decided he suffered from depression. Well. He lost the first woman he loved and went on to outlive two of his four children. He was president during the war in which the country under his charge tore itself completely asunder. What did he possibly have to be depressed about? Plenty, it seems to me, but was it just depression from life’s slings and arrows or was it deeper and darker than that?
Second-guessing seems to be a pastime we’ve become particularly fond of. Ever since the shooting in Arizona, I’ve been reading about how no one tried to step in with Jared Loughner. Neighbors are coming out of the woodwork to tell what a strange home life he had, though they didn’t seem to have said anything about it before the shooting. Did his parents actually raise him with the goal and realization that he was a madman? I just don’t quite believe that.
Remembering that we do still have a First Amendment and that we are intent on stretching its parameters just as far as they will go, exactly what should someone have done that would have prevented what happened? Who really, truly knew he was going to wake up on a January day in 2011 and wreak havoc and indescribable pain at a grocery store in Arizona? When someone writes a book about the shooting in 100 years, how will it play out? Who will be the bad guys? Sarah Palin with her crosshairs? President Obama? The talk radio voices with their one-wing-or-the-other rhetoric?
Looking back over this, I see a lot of question marks. I’m sorry for that. It’s not good writing, especially since I have only questions and no answers—I count on people much smarter than I am to supply those. But I’m also sorry that those questions will be answered in the future by people who weren’t around at the time, who didn’t see the blood or bury their child or even feel sick as they watched the news. The questions will be answered by second-guessers, and I can’t help but wonder how accurate they will be.
Till next time.
posted by Liz Flaherty # 10:56 AM
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