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Tag Archives: Ronald Reagan

Labor Secretary Perez Goes After Ronald Reagan

Labor Secretary Tom Perez, one of the more ideological and also annoying members of the Obama administration, attacked Ronald Reagan for his prediction that Medicare would lead to socialized medicine and, indeed, socialism.

Here’s some of what Reagan said.

Now, I know everyone likes their Medicare. But Reagan had it absolutely right.

With health insurers now effectively government utilities whose business practices are dictated by Uncle Sam, and with everyone required to have insurance, we are well down the road to socialized medicine. As Obamacare becomes increasingly unworkable and Medicaid expands, the Left will begin increasing the pressure to simply move toward a single-payer, government-run system.

Also, BTW, Medicare is broke and will require sweeping changes or massive tax increases to save it.

And with half of all Americans receiving government benefits today, we already are living under a form of socialism. Perez, of course, wouldn’t recognize it, because for him government control of the means of production is market capitalism.

But Reagan understood, and events are proving him right, not wrong.

The Seriousness of Ronald Reagan

Fifty years ago today, Ronald Reagan staked his claim to leadership among conservatives with a speech meant to rescue Republican candidate Barry Goldwater. It didn’t rescue Goldwater. But it saved conservatism. And maybe the nation.

Writing in the Washington Post, Steven Hayward, the Ronald Reagan distinguished visiting professor at Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy, notes that the Reagan Americans saw on the night of Oct. 27, 1964 was was not the avuncular optimist remembered by conservatives today, nor the dunce portrayed by liberals then and now.

He was on fire with conservative principle, laying out a stark choice for Americans between statism and freedom and in a speech that is known as “A time for choosing.”

From Hayward’s piece:

Reagan . . . was not the avuncular, optimistic Reagan of his film roles, or of his subsequent political career that emphasized “morning in America” and the “shining city on a hill,” but a comparatively angry and serious Reagan, serving up partisan red meat against liberalism and the Democrats. “Our natural, unalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government,” he declared, “and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment.”

Reagan delivered a deeply ideological speech, with strong attacks on liberalism and its vessel, the Democratic Party of LBJ’s Great Society era. “In this vote-harvesting time,” Reagan said early in the speech, “they use terms like the ‘Great Society,’ or as we were told a few days ago by the president, we must accept a greater government activity in the affairs of the people.”

Reagan made his appeal not by moderating his message, the tactic so often advocated by professional Republican  strategists, but by letting all Americans know how conservatism applied to them:

At the same time, Reagan made great efforts to transcend partisanship by portraying his views as common sense: “You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well, I’d like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There’s only an up or down: man’s old, old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism.”

Would-be heirs of Reagan should take note: He wasn’t just trying to speak to the base. He was trying to expand the base through persuasion of independents and, later, disaffected Democrats.

Another notable aspect of Reagan’s rhetorical strategy was claiming populism for the right. He asserted that it was now progressive liberalism, with its embrace of ever-expanding “administrative government,” that represented the elitist force in American politics: “This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government, or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”

Reagan didn’t divide Americans along the typical interest group or class lines. Unlike Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” remark or the “makers and takers” theme popular with many conservatives today, Reagan portrayed big government as opposing the interests of all Americans, not just the entrepreneurial or property-owning class that forms the GOP’s core constituency.

Reagan drew one of the sharpest distinctions between conservatives and liberals: The left’s faith in revoking freedom to create comfort versus the right’s belief that freedom and justice must prevail for mankind to be happy and successful:

“You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for, when did this begin — just in the face of this enemy? Or should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard ’round the world?”

This ending, though not as sunny as Reagan’s later evocation of “a shining city on a hill,” and despite its historical references, is essentially forward-looking. That set it apart from Goldwater’s campaign, which emphasized looking back without explaining how it would make for a better future. Bob Dole made the same mistake in 1996, when he offered himself as a “bridge” to an earlier, better America.

“A Time for Choosing” shows that effective political rhetoric is sharp and subtle at the same time. It is not easy to emulate, though few Republicans who claim to be Reaganites today seem to take much trouble even to try. They settle for conveying mere information and rely on cliches and slogans instead of serious argument and persuasion.

A look at the speech makes clear that Reagan, in contrast to a frequently repeated slogan by Democrats and their friends in the press, would in fact be very comfortable within the Tea Party:

In fact, the charge of Republican extremism today is a revival of the charge liberals made against Goldwater and Reagan in the 1960s when they didn’t want to argue the issues directly — a point Reagan made in “A Time for Choosing”: “Our Democratic opponents seem unwilling to debate these issues.”

This continuity explodes the claim that Reagan was “too moderate” for today’s GOP. This charge has become comfortable for liberals who fear a renewal of Reaganism through the auspices of the tea party, as well as for Republicans frustrated that they can’t measure up to the Gipper’s standard as a “great communicator.” The central conservative proposition might be summarized as the view that some things do not change. In practical politics, this includes the need for leaders to lay out serious and compelling cases for choosing.

Ronald Reagan was a man of ideas. A man persuaded by certain ideas. Americans can also be persuaded by these ideas today. But first, Republicans will have to find someone who is persuasive. And since Americans know fakery when they see it, that means Republicans, if they want to win an election with any meaning to it, will need someone who not only believes what they are saying, but understands it.

They will need someone with the seriousness of Ronald Reagan.

The Wit of Ronald Reagan

This ran on the CBS program Sunday Morning day before yesterday.

The piece is ostensibly about how Reagan was methodical about his humor, but it’s really an excuse to air some of Reagan’s famous jokes and take a trip down memory lane.

Funny how kind CBS is to Reagan. You’d have never seen something like this when he was president.

Maybe one day they’ll portray George W. Bush as an aw shucks kind of guy who led America through one of the most difficult periods in its history.


Reagan? Who’s That Dude?

Yes, let’s throw some more money at education. It’s really working out great.

And let’s make sure everyone goes to college, even these kids, who should instead be moving immediately into the cashier profession. Instead, Obama wants to make sure they’re in debt for advanced schooling, and that taxpayers are covering a bunch of their college costs too.

I’m sure these sweet young things are well versed in the various groups, countries, animals, and ecosystems that have been oppressed by the United States. Please, someone give them a couple of serious history and civics lessons before the country goes slurping and swirling down the drain!

I’m willing to be that the young men who landed on Normandy 70 years ago today knew in which decade Woodrow Wilson was president. Imagine, even before we had a Department of Education.

A Key Figure in American History Died Saturday

Were you aware of that? Many of you probably know who I mean.

Perhaps the best comment I’ve seen on the life of William Clark, former judge and advisor to Ronald Reagan, was made by another ex-Reagan aide, Faith Whittlesey, via The Washington Times:

Bill Clark was Ronald Reagan’s best friend and was the great unsung hero of the Cold War. He faithfully and effectively carried out Ronald Reagan’s policies within the government in the face of constant opposition inside the White House, in the agencies, and in the Washington establishment.

Bill Clark championed two issues above all others: the defeat of Marxism-Leninism and the sanctity of human life. He was a man of great faith, unfailing courtesy, and high intellect. Ronald Reagan loved and deeply respected Bill Clark with good reason.

One of the policies on which Clark prevailed over the opposition of many within the administration – let alone outside it – was the Strategic Defense Initiative, the anti-missile program that helped bring the Soviet Union down. Without Clark, it’s possible Reagan would never have given his March 1983 speech announcing the policy.

William ClarkThe Soviets did everything they could to demonize the program and get Reagan to drop it, and for good reason. They knew they couldn’t compete with it, both because they were behind on the technology and lacked the financial resources to keep pace.

SDI and Reagan’s massive defense buildup forced the Soviets to spend more of their increasingly scarce resources on the military, helping lead to collapse of the USSR. Clark, as deputy Secretary of State and then as National Security advisor during Reagan’s first term, was the leading shaper of Reagan’s Cold War policy.

So if you think Reagan was a major figure in American history, then you think Clark was too.

Clark’s unique relationship with Reagan was the greatest source of his influence.

Former Reagan White House officials I’ve spoken with over the years all give the same familiar assessment of Reagan: He was personable, but he remained ultimately aloof and enigmatic. But they also said what you can read in some of the obituaries appearing over the past few days: that Bill Clark was the one man Reagan was personally close to, someone he trusted over everyone else.

Clark’s style – quiet, thoughtful, and willing to let others take credit – was the other source of his effectiveness.

Clark did things that are unimaginable for President Obama and his coterie: He consulted with former presidents and with experts who had served in previous administrations, putting aside pettiness in the interest of U.S. national security. One person he was particularly close to was Henry Kissinger.

In the end, Clark’s unwillingness to engage in the usual Washington intrigue helped undo him. He resigned as National Security Advisor in 1983 because he was tired of all the anger being generated among others by his hardline polices and his closeness to Reagan.

Judge William P. Clark, RIP. And thank you.

Obama: Thatcher “One of the Great Champions of Freedom”

President Obama today hailed Margaret Thatcher, his ideological opposite, as “one of the great champions of freedom and liberty” who was a “true friend” of the United States.

Obama sounded almost like a neoconservative in his gracious written tribute to Thatcher, who died today, writing that she “knew that with strength and resolve we could win the Cold War and extend freedom’s promise.”

Incredibly, the president made sure to incude in his statement a reference to Thatcher’s partner in winning the Cold War, the man who’s legacy he is trying to dismantle:

Here in America, many of us will never forget her standing shoulder to shoulder with President Reagan, reminding the world that we are not simply carried along by the currents of history—we can shape them with moral conviction, unyielding courage and iron will.   Michelle and I send our thoughts to the Thatcher family and all the British people as we carry on the work to which she dedicated her life—free peoples standing together, determined to write our own destiny.

No doubt, Obama believes in the power of leaders to “shape” events, and it is for this reason he respects Reagan. But Obama wants to shape events very differently than either Reagan or Thatcher did.

The president also gave Thatcher a bit of a feminist cast, saying she “stands as an example to our daughters that there is no glass ceiling that can’t be shattered.”

Obama Allies Refuse to Recognize Ronald Reagan Day

Two of President Obama’s closest allies, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie, are among eight Democratic governors refusing to recognize today, February 6, as “Ronald Reagan Day” in their states, according to the Washington Examiner. Two other Democratic governors can’t make up their mind whether to issue a proclamation making Reagan’s 102nd… Continue Reading