"What we did to others ?" Scrooge was shocked. "Whatever do you mean, Mr. President?"
Reagan reached his hand out and guided Scrooge from the bed. "Come with me and you will learn exactly what I mean," he said. "I only hope we are not too late." And with that ominous pronouncement, they were gone.
"Where are we?" Scrooge asked. For it appeared that they had entered an American small town, somewhere in the Midwest, sometime long ago.
"Tampico, Illinois," Reagan replied. "This is where I was from. I grew up in a small apartment above that store." He pointed to a sign that read H.C. Pitney Variety Store. Reagan smiled. "My father and mother were strict Catholics and Democrats," he said. Later, I was a big supporter of FDR and The New Deal. I bet you your bottom dollar that you couldn't have found a better Democrat than me right up until 1962," he continued. "But things changed, and, as I used to say, "I didn't leave the Democratic Party, they left me.' I was such a fool."
"But surely that change of party affiliation was a good move?" Scrooge was certain he was on firm ground with that question that was not really a question.
"Oh, sure, it turned out well enough for me, back when I was a fleshy," Reagan said, somewhat wistfully. "But I miss that small town back in Illinois, those fireside chats that Franklin held and that we heard on the radio. And I miss the boy I was, so full of hope for America, so full of love for my fellow man. For the beautiful idea of America."
"But you showed us what America could be!" Scrooge protested. "We were destined for far more than small town America and its quaint values and small stores and," Scrooge could barely say it, "community banks. We became, under your leadership, the world's greatest superpower and even our blue jeans were the envy of everyone! I remember when you announced, in 1984, that it was "Morning in America' again! It was brilliant! You were saying that we were free to rule the world, economically and politically. We had emerged from Vietnam and Watergate and out from under that weak-kneed peanut farmer and apologist of a president, Jimmy Carter. With lower taxes and less regulation and less government we were going to be greater than we ever imagined! Richer than ever " richer even than the Church!"
"Yes, I know. I hear that all the time where I live now. It's one of the bad things I can't get away from, like this bullet hole in my chest."
Reagan waved his hand and the scene changed. It became a quick series of images that moved along his career, from Chicago Cubs broadcaster to minor film star to president of the Screen Actors Guild to Governor of California. His role as "the Gipper" and his hosting of Death Valley Days . His testimony against fellow actors he accused of being Communists. His support for Republicans despite claiming to be a Democrat.
"The change in my heart began with misunderstanding freedom," he said. "At first I was ticked off by the Democrats supporting social legislation that took away what I thought was our freedom of choice. I opposed fair housing bills and supported states rights against federal legislation because I thought if anyone didn't want to rent to a Negro, that choice should be his right. I recorded an ad for the American Medical Association opposing Medicare, because I believed that if the government ran it, it would lead to socialism. Socialism was just one small step away from Communism, and you know how I felt about Commies."
"Yes, I know," Scrooge replied. "I used your arguments--your very words--again this past year to get my politicians to question health care reform. It still works! And I got a lot of Americans to believe that Obama is a socialist! I tell you, Mr. President, it still works!"
"There you go again," Reagan replied, shaking his head. "Reminding me of my errors. See what I was talking about? I cannot get away from what I said or what I did. Back when I was a fleshy."
"You keep using that word "fleshy.' What does it mean?" Scrooge was perplexed.
"Oh, I got that word from a cartoon film called Casper, The Friendly Ghost . These days, He Who Must Not Be Named makes me watch only cartoons. That's one of my favorites. I wish I could be a friendly ghost, but, I'm not."
"You were the greatest president in American history!" Scrooge said, proudly. I voted for you, gave you money, and acted on your message of freedom from government intrusions in our lives. Those were good things. Great things." Scrooge was on the verge of tears. "And who is He Who Must Not Be Named? Isn't that from one of those Harry Potter movies. I'm confused ""