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.
Cheers, a pint in your honor.
That's a tough act to follow. Bush has the potential to come close, but he needs more Republicans in Washington to help carry the water.
No two presidents will ever be great in the same way, or for the same reasons. Events shape them as much as they shape events. If they are men of good character, they will achieve greatness; if not, they will achieve either infamy or obscurity.
You may quote me on that.
Bush is a wanna be, he will never come close to Reagan. My father was one of Reagan's greatest fans. Part of that World War Two generation of unique human beings who survived the world depression and survived the misery of a world war and the Cold War that followed it.
The following generations, including mine, have no clue what they went through and the trial by fire that made them men of steel.
Ironic in a way, my father started to have the serious effects of Alzheimer's as Bush 1 came into office.
He passed away shortly after Reagan announced he had Alzheimer's.
My father thought Reagan was the greatest US president of his lifetime, which included Rosevelt.
I think that I will agree with him on that.
Perhaps. I'll reserve judgement till he's out of office.
As for Reagan, He is one of the truly great ones.
IMHO, Reagan, Lincoln, and Washington are the three greatest presidents this country ever had. I am loath to say that any of the three is the greatest - they are peers.
Just because theBOOKMARKbutton is right below the article which initiates a thread
does not mean that it's easy to find when you decide the thread is a keeper . . .
The only other serious candidates put forward are Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt.
The steadfast refusal to grasp or even accept permananent office is perhaps the greatest of the civic virtues modelled by George Washington. Indeed that virtue explains the fact that Cincinnati, Ohio is named after the Roman most to be compared with Washington in that respect.
History as expressed in Washington's example and ultimately codified in the 22nd Amendment judges presidential virtue in part by restricting oneself to two terms. In the two terms to which Ronald Reagan was elected he whipped inflation, got the country going again, ended the energy crisis, and transcended communism. He accomplished these ends, Iran-Contra notwithstanding, by constitutional means and with dignity befitting his office.
By contrast FDR spent his first two terms failing to get the country going again, failing to prevent the development of World War II (or as Winston Churchill styled it, "The Unnecessary War), and experimenting with various schemes of dubious constitutionality.
Lincoln's stature is associated with by far the worst event in U.S. history; like Roosevelt's military success its glory depends on the assumption that no one else could have peacfully achieved the historical ends (termination of Nazi tyranny or of southern tyrannical treatment of blacks). In Lincoln's case that arguably is true--but the gravity of the situation led him to a certain arbitrariness which was extremely controversial at the time and in more settled times would have been utterly unacceptable. And it took Lincoln years to settle on effective top military commanders.
Essentially I would argue that the difference between Reagan and Lincoln was that Reagan did not have to resort to Lincoln's methods because the situation was less grave--but the situation was less grave in part precisely because Reagan knew what he was doing.
In a very serious situation Reagan knew and did what his times demanded, over the opposition of influential people who disagreed with Reagan's methods and even his objectives--and who still think his success was luck. At present the Russian government seems to have instituted a flat tax with smashing fiscal/economic success. If they hold to that course and continue to see signal benefits such as Reaganomics gave us, Reagan's critics should finally be silenced. I did say should . . .
It's mine, .....
Hmmmmmm....I think it's copied from many of my Reagan complilations. Do a FR search. Unless you compiled these quotes/dates in this particular format prior to Spring of 1998. When you do copy, please utilized the source code for the links. I enjoy all President Ronald Reagan threads.
"Some seek the presidency because they want to be something. I seek the presidency because I want to accomplish something."
Since that day I have always asked which one an office seeker is before I cast my vote.
There are those in America today who have come to depend absolutely on government for their security. And when government fails they seek to rectify that failure in the form of granting government more power. So, as government has failed to control crime and violence with the means given it by the Constitution, they seek to give it more power at the expense of the Constitution. But in doing so, in their willingness to give up their arms in the name of safety, they are really giving up their protection from what has always been the chief source of despotismgovernment. Lord Acton said power corrupts. Surely then, if this is true, the more power we give the government the more corrupt it will become. And if we give it the power to confiscate our arms we also give up the ultimate means to combat that corrupt power. In doing so we can only assure that we will eventually be totally subject to it. Ronald Reagan.