So Ronald Reagan is dead. Another piece of my childhood gone, although this one has been a long time coming. Raised as I was by passionate Democrats, I was never the biggest Reagan fan. My first clear memory of a world event is of the Hinkley assassination attempt -- I must have been about eight -- and I remember asking my father, who took every opportunity to complain about the man, if he hoped that Reagan would die. He said no, and then talked to me separating one's feelings about another person's beliefs from recognizing their worth as a human being. It's a lesson I never forgot.
And, though I would never wish the long struggle with Alzheimer's on anyone, I do hope some greater good will come out of his illness: Nancy Reagan has come out strongly in favor of stem cell research. If she can use Reagan's influence on the party to help change their policy on the use of stem cells, it can only be a good thing.