The canonization of Ronald Wilson Reagan is not yet complete, but it has reached its next logical stage: People are collecting his relics.
News that a British online auction house has opened the bidding on a vial containing Reagan's blood is certainly creepy -- and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation argues it's an invasion of Reagan's privacy, since the blood was apparently lifted from George Washington University Hospital in 1981 without Reagan's permission -- but it's also rather fitting. Conservative hagiographers have been reinventing Reagan as a sort of secular saint for years now; his name is invoked continually as a role model by GOP political candidates, and his public image is peaking. A 2010 Gallup poll placed Reagan's approval rating at 74%, second only to John F. Kennedy among the nation's nine most recent presidents, and in another Gallup poll in February, 69% of those surveyed said Reagan would go down in history as an "outstanding" or "above average" president, the highest rating of the eight recent presidents listed (only 38% thought President Obama would have such an impressive legacy).
As of Tuesday, bidding on the vial of Reagan's blood had reached nearly $15,000. That's an awful lot to pay for a flaky old medical sample. But don't be surprised if political miracles ensue: Blind people exposed to the blood will suddenly see communists in the shrubbery, the elderly will tear up their socialist Medicare cards, the poor and sick will cast off their crutches of government assistance and collapse to the floor, the way the Founders intended. Forget your Roosevelts and Kennedys and Clintons; they were just presidents, unlike St. Ronald of Santa Ynez.