Ronnie Reagan is a polarizing figure in American politics, even today. Back before Bush had sunk to the depths that he is today, he was the heir apparent to Reagan's legacy. True conservatives know to invoke St. Ron at every rhetorical juncture as a sort of trump card over whatever issue is at hand. (What would Reagan do?)
Reagan's legacy is a distortion, though. Conservatives laud him for shrinking government when in fact he increased it. He is credited for defeating communism, which gives him a veneer of liberty and freedom. In fact, he supported right-wing death squads in Latin America and Islamic militants in the Middle East, the same militants we fight today in Afghanistan and Iraq. Americans have the privilege of waving away these things as niggling details, footnotes, means to greater ends because Ronnie had it, man, he had the vision. He saw further and clearer than others. More than one American has invoked some form of Lenin's phrase, "To make an omelet, you have to break a few eggs," to describe Reagan's legacy. The absurdity of quoting the Soviet-style rationalization of mass murder is self-evident.
Excerpts from Reagan's diaries are now available at Vanity Fair, here. He apparently wrote in them everyday, and they read as a time-line of the 1980s.