Holy Relic

It’s a running joke among progressives that conservatives have developed a cult-like movement to build shrines to the memory of Ronald Reagan, the secular saint of their Cause. Aside from the strange reverence they show him, the cult is also distinguished by a hagiographical tendency to exaggerate his accomplishments (you know, he personally won the Cold War in partnership with Pope John Paul II, and caused the economic boom of the late 1990s) and forget about his heresies against conservatism (e.g., the liberalized abortion law he signed as governor of California, the two tax increases he signed as president, his negotiations with congressional Democrats, his openness to radical arms limitation agreements).

But now comes news via Reuters that a British company is auctioning off a vial of Reagan’s blood, reportedly taken at the hospital where he was treated after the 1981 assassination attempt. The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation is objecting to the auction.

Perhaps conservatives should head off future profanations of this nature by setting up an official Reagan Reliquary to house any additional remains that come to light. Perhaps it could be sponsored by Grover Norquist, who spent a good part of the 1990s harrassing state and local governments around the country to name things after the 40th president. If it’s set up by next January and things go as conservatives hope this November, Mitt Romney could be forced to make a pilgrimage just before he takes the oath of office, as one of a series of ritual acts to remind him of his ideological vows.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.