Skip to comments.Ronald Reagan: A real leader with a real legacy
Posted on 05/21/2002 5:30:46 PM PDT by dvan
Last week former President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor Congress can bestow. I believe that, if history is fair, Ronald Reagan will be remembered for his extraordinary accomplishments.
That part about history being fair is pretty dicey. For the people who fashion history, the deep thinkers, the intelligentsia, the media, tend to be Leftist. And that perspective colors their opinion of the man and his administration. To many of those people, Ronald Reagan was a mean-spirited simpleton who somehow managed to bungle his way into becoming the most powerful person on earth.
A decade ago, the very popular Bartletts Quotations included only three quotes from the Great Communicator, but 28 from John Kennedy and almost three dozen from Franklin Roosevelt. Even Castro confidante Jimmy Carter qualified to have six of his pearls of wisdom listed. When asked why Mr. Reagans words were used so sparingly, Bartletts editor had a ready explanation: "Im not going to disguise the fact that I despise Ronald Reagan."
One of the former Presidents most appealing traits was his capacity to shrug off such detractors. He had a sense of what he wanted to accomplish and did his best to get there. He didnt need the approbation of the establishment press or to look at focus group findings for guidance. His vision, which critics often charged didnt permit gradations of gray, but was always white or black, right or wrong, was unwavering.
Mr. Reagan set the stage for what he wanted to achieve at his first Cabinet meeting. He told his appointees, "Gentlemen, I hate inflation, I hate taxes and I hate the Soviets. Do something about it." Then he left the room.
So how did Ronald Reagan do on these matters? When he was elected in 1980, inflation was a major concern. Jimmy Carter had beaten Gerald Ford like a rented mule over the issue while narrowly defeating Ford four years earlier. Yet under Carter, the inflation rate shot up to 12 percent. Ronald Reagans administration sliced that by more than half.
On taxes, President Reagan pushed through Congress the largest cut in history, 25 percent over a three-year period. The marginal tax rate was 70 percent when he was elected; that was reduced to 28 percent, courtesy of the Gipper. The resulting boom reduced unemployment and lowered interest rates while inflation diminished.
On Communism, shortly after moving into the White House, Mr. Reagan asserted at Notre Dame University that, "The West won't contain Communism. It will transcend Communism. We will dismiss it as some bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages are even now being written." Only four years earlier, speaking at the same school, then President Carter had talked glowingly of how Americans were finally free of our "inordinate fear of Communism." Carter had bought into the notion that, like rock and roll, Communism was here to stay and we needed to accommodate the murderous thugs who made Hitler look like a slouch when it came to genocide.
He was far from alone in that view. Many foreign policy "experts" shared that opinion. Some even saw a rough moral equivalence between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Ronald Reagan knew an evil empire when he saw one and didnt mind calling it exactly that. He announced the Strategic Defense Initiative, known to its opponents as "Star Wars." Whatever it was called, it played a major role in the collapse of the Soviet Union, at least according to observers as disparate as Englands former prime minister and the Soviet Unions former foreign minister.
President Reagan was a clear, consistent voice for freedom. He personalized the struggle between light and darkness at the Berlin wall an edifice erected when John Kennedy was president - in 1987: "Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
And the wall was torn down and millions of slaves freed from the subhuman misery of Communism. Ronald Reagan was a president of character and conviction, an individual with an infectious optimism, a leader with an unambiguous vision of the future. He restored to America a sense of patriotism, of hope, of renewed purpose.
God bless him.
On a bit of a tangent, an odd thought came to me a few minutes ago. With all the terror warnings that turn out to be red herrings, are the jihadis doing a Reagan on us? What I mean by that is could they be trying to force us to waste huge amounts of resources? We have much more than the Soviets ever did, but they are not infinite. At the least, they will inflict lots of damage (economic) even if they eventually lose? (They will lose.)
It's still a work in progress, parts fall apart while other parts are being built, but nobody articulated the vision of what we should be building like Ronald Reagan did.
I don't know that I would use that phrasing (simply out fo deference to the The President), but I'm sure there is some of that. I'ts what I would do if I were them. But we have more than ample resources to deal with real and red herring threats inside our borders. Its the psychological damage -making us all feel vulnerable - that they are after.
I also think that is what is behind Cheny's letting everyone know about the indications pointing towards New York a few days before Memorial Day Weekend. Kind of a "take that b***h - you wanted warnings, now you have them." All those New York businesses that were looking forward to a busy weekend are going to blame Hillary when the tourists stay away.
And what can she say about it? Nada! Game. Set. Match! The balls in your Court baby!
As for the warnings, I knew this was going to happen. I just wish they would pick on someplace else for a while. I live right on NY Harbor and the security restrictions have already shut down some of my best fishing spots. :(
But if that is the sacrafice I have to make toward the defeat of the wicked witch, so be it!
P.S. - I just heard on WABC radio that in addition to the Statue and Bridge, they added the UN.
Now that's a target they can have!
Thanks for the PING!
We definitely had the largest peacetime expansion (12+ years or more) because of his policies. What a shame we've seen to have forgotten them (& him too). Well, at least not all of us!
I think history will record him as the reason we won the cold war... hands down. Now there's a legacy!
What a shame that he couldn't have picked a successor that would have run with his ideas. Instead Bush Sr. turned out to be too 'moderate'. Man, when will the pubbies learn that compromise is simply incrementalism viewed from the losing side!
Couldn't agree more. But only if there is full meeting of the General Assembly in progress.
P.S. Sorry to hear about your fishing spots, but we wouldn't want any foreign bass trying to enter the country and terrorising poor innocent fishermen.
I forget. Was it you who asked me about Reagan Quotes? If so, I am working on it. The ones here should hold you for awhile though. ;-]