A Move For A Reagan Monument

The U.S. House of Representatives is considering honoring former president Ronald Reagan with a monument. But as CBS News Correspondent Eric Engberg reports, it may not be an easy task.

If the country wants to honor a president, National Mall in Washington D.C. is the perfect place.

Already there are monuments to the greats — George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and the newest, to Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

But there is controversy now over a Republican drive to find a spot on the mall for another stone tribute to another president.

"Ronald Reagan was one of the greatest diplomats that we have seen in this country in a long time — a very liked individual both nationally and abroad," says Congressman Jim Gibbons, R-Nev.

But, concerned about "Monument Sprawl," Congress long ago imposed a cooling off period before any new marble is laid in tribute to past heroes.

"It said that 25 years should pass before we determined who or what event should be commemorated," says John Parsons of the National Capitol Memorial Commission.

So the three commissions that approve monuments all said "no" to a Reagan monument on the mall.

But there is no shortage of existing tributes to Mr. Reagan. Just in Washington, the largest federal office building bears his name and Washington's National Airport was re-named Ronald Reagan National Airport last year.

In Los Angeles, there's a freeway and a fancy hotel suite with his name on the door. And in Virginia, an aircraft carrier to be named in his honor is under construction.

Beyond that, a private group called the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project is trying to convince every one of the nation's 3,054 counties to erect some sort of memorial.

Marc Fisher of the Washington Post thinks that's excessive.

"There is a ridiculous Ronald Reagan mania sweeping across the country. It's reminiscent of the desire to name everything after George Washington," he said.

Noting that most of the tourists who stroll around the mall's great monuments could not even say which party the honored presidents represented, some commentators worry that backers of the Reagan project are bringing party politics into a process where non-partisan, historical judgments should be the rule.