- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 6, 2004

From combined dispatches

From all corners of the planet, the eulogies streamed in — a barrage of quotations and orations for the president known as the Great Communicator, the man whose enemies and friends agreed he changed the world.

The death of Ronald Reagan, America’s 40th president, evoked a world of remembrances yesterday — from friends, Republican political soulmates and Democrats and opponents who squared off against him.

“This is a sad hour in the life of America. A great American life has come to an end,” President Bush said in Paris. “Ronald Reagan won America’s respect with his greatness, and won its love with his goodness. He had the confidence that comes with conviction, the strength that comes with character, the grace that comes with humility, and the humor that comes with wisdom.

“He leaves behind a nation he restored and a world he helped save.”

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said Mr. Reagan’s political partisanship was never personal or vindictive.

“Even when he was breaking Democrats’ hearts, he did so with a smile and in the spirit of honest and open debate,” Mr. Kerry said. “The differences were real, but because of the way President Reagan led, he taught us that there is a big difference between strong beliefs and bitter partisanship.”

Mr. Kerry also praised Nancy Reagan, saying, “She loved him with courage and complete devotion. She helped all of us better understand the cruel disease that took him away before it took his life, and what we must do to prevent and cure it.”

The president’s father, former President George Bush, who served eight years as Mr. Reagan’s vice president, told reporters at his summer home in Maine that he and wife Barbara mourn “the loss of a great president and, for us, a great friend.”

The senior Bush said that what made Mr. Reagan special was “his kindness, his decency, his sense of humor — unbelievable — and he had a wonderful way where you could disagree with him … and yet he was never disagreeable about it himself. He was never mean-spirited.”

Former President Bill Clinton said Mr. Reagan “personified the indomitable optimism of the American people” and praised him “for keeping America in the forefront of the fight for freedom for people everywhere.” He noted how “fitting” it is that a piece of the Berlin Wall adorns the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, symbolic of Mr. Reagan’s drive to win the Cold War against the old Soviet Union.

For Mr. Reagan, the praise capped a political career built on imagemaking and public relations. Known as the Great Communicator, the former actor shaped with precision the populist message he offered to the world — more adeptly, perhaps, than any American president before him.

“The warmth of his personality always showed through,” said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat.

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Reagan’s conservative counterpart across the Atlantic in the 1980s, invoked the “millions of men and women who live in freedom today because of the policies he pursued.”

The world, too — particularly the nations of the former Soviet bloc — offered farewells.

“He is the one who allowed the breakup of the Soviet Union,” said Bogdan Chireac, a foreign-affairs analyst for the Romanian newspaper Adevarul. “May God rest his soul.”

Yelena Bonner, the widow of Soviet dissident Nobel Prize winner Andrei Sakharov, praised Mr. Reagan for his tough course toward the Soviet Union.

“I consider Ronald Reagan one of the greatest U.S. presidents since the World War II because of his staunch resistance to communism and his efforts to defend human rights,” Mrs. Bonner said.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who followed Mr. Reagan’s career path from movies to politics and keeps a bust of his “hero” in his Statehouse office, noted “the tremendous force” Mr. Reagan was as a two-term governor of the Golden State before pursuing the White House.

“He served with dignity and determination, and left us with a blueprint for executive leadership that is still a model today,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said. “Governor Reagan promoted bipartisan cooperation, furthered economic growth and embraced government’s duty to protect our natural resources.”

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, said Mr. Reagan’s greatness was “an extension of his goodness,” and he credited him with having “led America out of weakness and malaise to heights of strength and prosperity never before witnessed by any nation in history.”

The Rev. Billy Graham, who is hospitalized after a recent procedure to stabilize a pelvic fracture, also sent along his thoughts and prayers to the Reagan family.

“Ronald Reagan was one of my closest personal friends for many years. Ruth and I spent a number of nights at the White House and had hundreds of hours of conversation with the president and first lady,” he said.

“Mr. Reagan had a religious faith deeper than most people knew,” Mr. Graham said.

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