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Posts Tagged ‘Ronald Reagan’

J.E. Dyer: Ronald Reagan, 1982 – “A Test of Wills and Ideas, a Trial of Spiritual Resolve”

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Thirty years ago, on 8 June 1982, President Ronald Reagan addressed the British House of Commons, giving a speech that has since become one of his most famous.  In it, he proclaimed that “the march of freedom and democracy … will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history, as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people.”

On this anniversary of that seminal speech, it’s worth taking a few minutes to review its quintessential Reaganisms.  Chief among them is his optimism – not a ditsy, foolish optimism, but a considered optimism about the biggest of things: the course of history and man’s future.

Equally important is his vision, which is part and parcel of the optimism.  Out of all of the Cold War’s premier analysts, Reagan was virtually the only one who foresaw the imminent end of Soviet communism, and who could utter this line in 1982:  “It may not be easy to see; but I believe we live now at a turning point.”  We were living at a turning point, and it was the one Reagan described in his next lines:

We are witnessing today a great revolutionary crisis, a crisis where the demands of the economic order are conflicting directly with those of the political order. But the crisis is happening not in the free, non-Marxist West but in the home of Marxism- Leninism, the Soviet Union.

“Democracy,” he said, “is proving itself to be a not at all fragile flower.”

A third and very important Reaganism is his willingness to identify evil and speak about it without demur.  The House of Commons speech mirrors in tone Reagan’s 4 March 1983 speech to the National Association of Evangelicals, in which he spoke this remarkable sentence:

[L]et us be aware that while [the Soviets] preach the supremacy of the state, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination of all peoples on the Earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world.

Ideological statism is not a mere cultural alternative; it is absolutely evil.  Reagan had no doubt of what was right and wrong in this regard:  “It would be cultural condescension, or worse,” he said, “to say that any people prefer dictatorship to democracy.”

But Reagan’s refusal to gloss over evil never produced discouraging rhetoric.  It was always accompanied by a hard-nosed optimism about what was good in the Western culture of freedom and restraints on the state.  The contrast he invariably made, as in this speech, was between the power and effectiveness of human freedom, on the one hand, and the sclerotic, overstretched unsustainability of despotism on the other.  He knew, long before we began speaking of it today, that all attempts to put the people under harness and dictate to them the features of their lives end in oppression, poverty, and despair.

The political particulars of this next passage may have changed over time, but the underlying sense of it resonates today:

If history teaches anything, it teaches self-delusion in the face of unpleasant facts is folly. We see around us today the marks of our terrible dilemma–predictions of doomsday, antinuclear demonstrations, an arms race in which the West must, for its own protection, be an unwilling participant. At the same time we see totalitarian forces in the world who seek subversion and conflict around the globe to further their barbarous assault on the human spirit. What, then, is our course? Must civilization perish in a hail of fiery atoms? Must freedom wither in a quiet, deadening accommodation with totalitarian evil?

To both of those questions, Reagan’s answer was no.

Reagan’s address to the House of Commons

8 June 1982

We’re approaching the end of a bloody century plagued by a terrible political invention — totalitarianism. Optimism comes less easily today, not because democracy is less vigorous, but because democracy’s enemies have refined their instruments of repression. Yet optimism is in order because day by day democracy is proving itself to be a not at all fragile flower. From Stettin on the Baltic to Varna on the Black Sea, the regimes planted by totalitarianism have had more than thirty years to establish their legitimacy. But none — not one regime — has yet been able to risk free elections. Regimes planted by bayonets do not take root.

J. E. Dyer

J.E.Dyer: The Last Thing You Will Need to Read About Obama and the SEAL Operation Against Bin Laden

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Every American Officer and Soldier must now console himself for any unpleasant circumstances which may have occurred, by a recollection of the uncommon scenes in which he has been called to act, no inglorious part; and the astonishing Events of which he has been a witness–Events which have seldom, if ever before, taken place on the stage of human action, nor can they probably ever happen again. For who has before seen a disciplined Army formed at once from such raw Materials? Who that was not a witness could imagine, that the most violent local prejudices would cease so soon, and that Men who came from the different parts of the Continent, strongly disposed by the habits of education, to dispise and quarrel with each other, would instantly become but one patriotic band of Brothers? Or who that was not on the spot can trace the steps by which such a wonderful Revolution has been effected, and such a glorious period put to all our Warlike toils? …

[The Commander-in-Chief] presents his thanks in the most serious and affectionate manner to the General Officers, as well for their Counsel on many interesting occasions, as for their ardor in promoting the success of the plans he had adopted–To the Commandants of Regiments and Corps, and to the other Officers for their great Zeal and attention in carrying his orders promptly into execution–To the Staff for their alacrity and exactness in performing the duties of their several Departments–And to the Non-commissioned officers and private Soldiers, for their extraordinary patience in suffering, as well as their invincible fortitude in Action–To the various branches of the Army, the General takes this last and solemn oppertunity of professing his inviolable attachment & friendship–He wishes more than bare professions were in his power, that he was really able to be useful to them all in future life; He flatters himself however, they will do him the justice to believe, that whatever could with propriety be attempted by him, has been done. And being now to conclude these his last public Orders, to take his ultimate leave, in a short time, of the Military Character, and to bid a final adieu to the Armies he has so long had the honor to Command–he can only again offer in their behalf his recommendations to their grateful Country, and his prayers to the God of Armies. May ample justice be done them here, and may the choicest of Heaven’s favors both here and hereafter attend those, who under the divine auspices have secured innumerable blessings for others: With these Wishes, and this benediction, the Commander in Chief is about to retire from service–The Curtain of seperation will soon be drawn–and the Military Scene to him will be closed for ever.

George Washington’s farewell address to the Continental Army, 2 November 1783

http://gwpapers.virginia.edu/documents/revolution/farewell/index.html

Our citizen soldiers are unlike those drawn from the population of any other country. They are composed indiscriminately of all professions and pursuits–of farmers, lawyers, physicians, merchants, manufacturers, mechanics, and laborers–and this not only among the officers, but the private soldiers in the ranks. Our citizen soldiers are unlike those of any other country in other respects. They are armed, and have been accustomed from their youth up to handle and use firearms, and a large proportion of them, especially in the Western and more newly settled States, are expert marksmen. They are men who have a reputation to maintain at home by their good conduct in the field. They are intelligent, and there is an individuality of character which is found in the ranks of no other army. …

When all these facts are considered, it may cease to be a matter of so much amazement abroad how it happened that our noble Army in Mexico, regulars and volunteers, were victorious upon every battlefield, however fearful the odds against them. …

But our military strength does not consist alone in our capacity for extended and successful operations on land. The Navy is an important arm of the national defense. For the able and gallant services of the officers and men of the Navy, acting independently as well as in cooperation with our troops, in the conquest of the Californias, the capture of Vera Cruz, and the seizure and occupation of other important positions on the Gulf and Pacific coasts, the highest praise is due.

James K. Polk, message to Congress after the Mexican-American War, 5 December 1848

http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29489&st=valor&st1=#ixzz1teRtvws6

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

J. E. Dyer

Bias Exemplified

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

The Monitor often is asked for an example of a news story that exhibits such blatant bias it astounds even a jaded observer of the mainstream media. Such a story appeared in the March 29, 2006 edition of The New York Times, on the occasion of the passing of Lyn Nofziger, longtime aide to Ronald Reagan.

It’s not exactly news that The New York Times editorial page detested Reagan. But who would have thought that 17 years after the end of his presidency and nearly two years after his death the Times would still seek to denigrate Reagan’s legacy, on its news pages, in a manner that can only be described as petty and inappropriate?

No one ever expected the Times’s leftist editorial board to endorse Reagan for president in 1980 and 1984. Nor was anyone surprised at the relentless invective aimed at Reagan by Times editorialists throughout his two terms in Washington. In January 1983, barely two years into his presidency, a Times editorial declared that “The stench of failure hangs over Ronald Reagan’s White House” and warned that unless he came up with “better ideas” the country was doomed “to two more years of destructive confusion.”

(Reagan sagely ignored the advice and was reelected 22 months later, winning 49 of 50 states in a historic landslide.)

Even as Reagan’s stature steadily rose among historians in the years after he returned to private life, the Times continued to view him as a mediocrity whose successes, the paper insisted in a churlish editorial following his death, were due largely to “good timing and good luck.”

A newspaper has every right in its editorial commentary to assess a public figure as harshly as it cares to. But what about when a paper like the Times takes a potshot at a deceased president not in an editorial but in a news story?

In his article on Nofziger’s death back in 2006 (the Monitor keeps a clipping taped to an office wall as a reminder of why the Times has become such an untrustworthy news source), veteran Times reporter John M. Broder, who at the time was the paper’s Los Angeles bureau chief, included the following paragraph:

Mr. Nofziger was at the hospital with Reagan after he was shot in March 1981 and relayed to the press the president’s memorable, if perhaps apocryphal, line to Mrs. Reagan at the hospital: “Honey, I forgot to duck.” [Emphasis added]

“Perhaps apocryphal”? Reagan’s display of calmness and grace on the day he was nearly killed cemented the bond between him and the American people. His quips to his wife and his doctors have been told and retold in hundreds of books and articles on the Reagan presidency, with nary a hint that they were, in Broder’s words, “perhaps apocryphal.”

But leave aside all those books and articles. Look at how the Times itself reported Reagan’s remarks in the days following the assassination attempt. In the Times’s lead article of March 31, 1981, the day after John Hinckley Jr. pulled the trigger, then-reporter Howell Raines wrote: “ ‘Honey, I forgot to duck,’ Mr. Reagan was quoted as telling his wife.”

In the same edition, the Times’s Lynn Rosellini began her article, “Shortly before he was wheeled into the operating room, President Reagan looked up at his wife, Nancy, and told her: ‘Honey, I forgot to duck.’ ” The article was headlined “ ‘Honey, I Forgot to Duck,’ Injured Reagan Tells Wife.”

For good measure, reporter B. Drummond Ayres Jr. repeated the “I forgot to duck” quip in a sidebar piece that ran in the Times two days after the shooting. Titled “Amid the Darkest Moments, a Leaven of Presidential Wit,” the article described Reagan’s jocular statements as “good medicine, leavening the crisis, buoying an anxious nation and showing the wounded leader to be a man of genuine good humor and sunny disposition, even in deep adversity.”

Where, then, did John M. Broder get the idea, nearly two decades after the fact, that the “Honey, I forgot to duck” quip was “perhaps apocryphal”? Not, apparently, from his own newspaper. But doesn’t he, as every good Timesman should, consider the Times the nation’s “paper of record”?

Jason Maoz

The Media Never Loved Reagan

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Is it not amazing that it’s taken the news media this long to discover that Ronald Reagan was a role model? While he lived and even after he died, they shot every arrow and dropped every bomb they could on this man and his reputation.

Now that we’ve been marking his 100th birthday and America is celebrating, they find him useful. They’re trying to rub Reagan’s magic all over a floundering Obama.

After Obama’s latest State of the Union speech – a dreary, boring spectacle for a normally riveting speaker – all three networks praised Obama as “Reaganesque,” as if he were one of the sunniest American exceptionalists. The cover of Time promised to explain “Why Obama [Hearts] Reagan,” and the story inside the magazine was titled “The Role Model,” oozing that Obama “realized long ago that Ronald Reagan was a transformational president.”

This is all a grand deception.

The multitude of Americans who were very young or yet unborn in the Reagan years might be misled from one enormous reality: in his prime, Reagan was deeply dispised by the the same media that now honor him. He was stupid, he was uncaring, he was evil, he was senile, and he was going to ruin America, if not destroy the world in a nuclear war.

The Media Research Center has assembled a Special Report to recount some of the most pernicious and false attacks on Reagan. Let’s consider just a few examples, among hundreds.

Take the class war. The “news” people were always waging it. ABC’s Richard Threlkeld went to a Miami riot scene in 1989 and announced: “There is an Overtown in every big city in America. Pockets of misery made even meaner and more desperate the past eight years.” NBC’s Bryant Gumbel proclaimed in 1989: “Largely as a result of the policies and priorities of the Reagan administration, more people are becoming poor and staying poor in this country than at any time since World War II.”

NBC reporter Keith Morrison took the cake in 1992: “Did we wear blinders? Did we think the ’80s just left behind the homeless? The fact is that almost nine in ten Americans actually saw their lifestyle decline.” Morrison completely ignored reality: Census Bureau data shows median family income increased in all income classes from 1981 to 1989.

The meanest attack was that Reagan’s lack of caring led to a pile of AIDS deaths. NBC’s Maria Shriver asked activist Elizabeth Glaser at the 1992 Democratic convention: “You place the responsibility for the death of your daughter squarely on the feet of the Reagan administration. Do you believe they’re responsible for that?”

A 1998 PBS program on Reagan claimed: “AIDS became an epidemic in the 1980s, nearly 50,000 died. Reagan largely ignored it.” CBS “Sunday Morning” TV critic John Leonard sneered that Reagan “took this plague less seriously than Gerald Ford had taken swine flu. After all, he didn’t need the ghettos and he didn’t want the gays.” He added, as Reagan’s legacy: “by 1992, 194,364 American men, women, and children were dead.”

(In reality, AIDS funding skyrocketed in the 1980s, almost doubling each year from 1983 – when the media started blaring headlines – from $44 million to $103 million, $205 million, $508 million, $922 million, and then $1.6 billion in 1988. This is what CBS calls “largely ignoring it.”)

But defense spending was, by contrast, an enormous waste. Take it from ABC’s Jim Wooten in 1990: “The dreaded federal deficit, created, for the most part, by the most massive peacetime military buildup in America’s history.” (But in 1990, defense spending was a fourth of the budget and had decreased 16 percent in the previous five years, while entitlements were half the budget and grew sharply.)

The reality of the Reagan years was a historic economic recovery, a strong defense posture that led to the demise of the Soviet empire, and an America that once more burst with pride. But media liberals were so obstinate in denying reality that CBS’s Morley Safer huffed just days after Reagan passed away: “When it gets down to the real substance, I don’t think history has any reason to be kind to him.”

All Reagan received was mudballs like this one from NBC’s Tom Brokaw at the end of 1989: “Reagan, as commander-in-chief, was the military’s best friend. He gave the Pentagon almost everything it wanted. That spending, combined with a broad tax cut, contributed to a trillion-dollar deficit…. Social programs? They suffered under Reagan. But he refused to see the cause and effect.”

Brent Bozell

President Carter’s ‘Superiority’ Complex

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Former president Jimmy Carter told NBC News last week that his work at home and abroad has been “superior” to other presidents.

“I feel that my role as a former president is probably superior to that of other presidents,” Carter assessed. “Primarily because of [my] activism and the injection of working at the Carter Center and in international affairs, and, to some degree, domestic affairs.”

In response to this boastful claim, we’ll hear the usual defenses: Carter misspoke. Carter is a good man. Carter has good intentions. I catch myself saying these things.

But even if well-intentioned, we shouldn’t avoid frank appraisals of Carter’s role.

In truth, and especially when it relates to foreign policy, Carter has done far worse than good. More, his failures have resulted from a remarkably strange trust in some awful dictators. Carter’s infamous naïveté has been destructive, long producing inferior results, not superior ones.

Carter has been so unique in this regard, and worse than other presidents, Democrat and Republican, that, in my latest book, Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century, we placed him on the cover as a symbol of duped Americans during the Cold War; specifically, the June 1979 photo of a smiling Carter kissing Soviet dictator Leonid Brezhnev. Carter did this as the Soviets were rapidly picking up more satellites worldwide than any time since the 1940s, and mere months before they invaded Afghanistan.

Sure, but Carter, in his NBC interview, was talking about his work as a former president, right? Yes, but that record isn’t much better.

If you think Carter was misled by Brezhnev, consider his statements in recent decades regarding Kim Jong Il, Kim Il Sung, Fidel Castro, Yasir Arafat, Hamas, Iraq, Iran, and on and on. They take your breath away. I can’t list them all, but one case stands out – namely, Carter’s visit to the world’s most repressive state: Kim’s North Korea.

Carter made a June 1994 trip to this prison state, where he was manipulated on a grand scale. Other Westerners have made that trip and were subject to manipulation. The difference, however, is few took the bait, and none like Carter. Worse, Carter magnified the manipulation in reports at press conferences, in interviews, and in a piece for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

For starters, Carter dispelled speculation that Kim was dying. He found the aging despot “vigorous, alert, intelligent.” Kim died mere days after Carter’s visit.

Carter questioned the consensus that Kim was even a despot, telling Americans he observed a Kim engaged in “very free discussions with his ministers.” I’m sure that’s precisely what he saw.

Kim spearheaded a militantly atheistic regime. Yet, Carter, the born-again Baptist, found Kim “very friendly toward Christianity.”

Kim’s handlers marched Carter through their Potemkin village. Carter was totally hoodwinked, filing this incredible account of life in North Korea:

People are busy. They work 48 hours a week . We found Pyongyang to be a bustling city. The only difference is that during working hours there are very few people on the street. They all have jobs or go to school. And after working hours, they pack the department stores, which Rosalynn visited. I went in one of them. It’s like Wal-Mart in American stores on a Saturday afternoon. They all walk around in there, and they seem in fairly good spirits. Pyongyang at night looks like Times Square. They are really heavily into bright neon lights and pictures and things like that.

In truth, North Korea is a sea of darkness. The country at night is draped in black – that is, when the lights are not ablaze to fool high-profile visitors like President Carter – in empty contrast to South Korea, which is awash in the glow of freedom.

Within one year of Carter’s gushing appraisal, two to three million North Koreans (out of a population of 20 million) starved to death. They weren’t packing Wal-Mart; they were eating grass, bark from trees, and, in some cases, human corpses.

Recall, too, the nuclear agreement Carter brokered while there, and not exactly with the enthusiastic go-ahead of the Clinton administration. Carter stood outside the Clinton White House and triumphantly assured us that “the [nuclear] crisis is over” – words headlined by The New York Times and Washington Post. A few years later, North Korea announced it was a nuclear state, in direct violation of the “Agreed Framework.”

Dr. Paul Kengor

Where There’s A Will…

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

If George F. Will comes across to some as a starchy combination of ministerial and professorial, he can blame it on his genes: The longtime columnist is, after all, the grandson of a Lutheran minister and the son of a philosophy professor.

He is also as unflinching a defender of Israel as they come in the American media.

Will first came to public attention in the 1970s as an articulate, polished representative of the emerging backlash against political and cultural liberalism. He always evinced a strong sympathy for Israel.

Writing in 1977 when the Carter administration was blaming Israel for its alleged intransigence, Will framed the issue in terms that resonate 32 years later:

“[T]he contagious crossness between Washington and Jerusalem that originated in Washington is a compound of Washington impatience and Israeli anxiety. The anxiety is more reasonable than the impatience…. The secure are always exhorting Israel to be daring.”

In a 1987 Newsweek column titled “A Just War Remembered,” Will cut through the muck of leftists who were using the 20th anniversary of the Six-Day War to lament Israel’s lopsided victory:

“It has been 20 years since those six days that shook the world,” he wrote. “Because of what happened then, a united Jerusalem is capital of Israel, and Israel never again will be 12 miles wide at the waist…. And, because of the echoing thunderclap from Israel 20 Junes ago, the security of Israel and hence the spiritual well-being of world Jewry have been enhanced. The Holocaust ended in 1945, but the Holocaust as aspiration was not destroyed until June 1967, when Israel smashed encircling armies that had the inescapably genocidal mission of obliterating the national gathering of Jews.”

Last month Will was the featured speaker at a dinner celebrating the Claremont Review of Books. According to Jewish Current Issues blogger and occasional Jewish Press op-ed contributor Rick Richman, Will “gave a masterful speech that included a mixture of political insight, conservative philosophy, humor and baseball stories.”

Responding to a post-speech question from the floor, Will delivered a rousing discourse on Israel, President Obama and recent Middle East history, which included the following highlights as recorded by Richman:

[I]n the 61 years since Israel was founded on one-sixth of one percent of land in that area described as land of the Arab world, there has not been a moment of peace for Israel, not as peace is properly understood.How many Americans understand that when Israel was founded in 1948, no Palestinian state was invaded, no Palestinian state was destroyed? There had not been a Palestinian geographic entity since between the departure of the Romans and the arrival of British rule.

How many know that the West Bank, referred to by the president as “occupied territory,” inferentially as occupied Palestinian territory, is under international law [an] unallocated portion of the Palestine Mandate rightfully occupied by Israel, because it occupied it in repelling aggression that came from that territory in 1967? [Applause]

How the president believes that if we return to the 1967 borders, the antipathy to Israel, which predated the 1967 borders, will disappear, I do not know….

I remember – if I could go back to an autobiographical moment – in 1979 I was invited to talk to the B’nai B’rith of Beverly Hills – not a nest of conservatives – and they said, “Who should be the Republican nominee?” And I said, pick Howard Baker, George Bush, Ronald Reagan. And they said “Well, who would be best for Israel?” And I responded, “Of course it would be Ronald Reagan.” They said, “Why?”

I said – “Two reasons: he believes in aircraft carriers. He believes in the projection of American power. Second, he is a romantic. He’s got the story of Israel, plucky little Israel.”

You need both. You need aircraft carriers and you need to appreciate the fact that Israel is an embattled salient of our values in a bad neighborhood. [Applause] It is unworthy of the United States to aspire to be even-handed between those who would destroy and those who would preserve the only democracy in that region. [Applause]

“Will,” Richman notes, “was speaking extemporaneously, without notes, to an unanticipated question.”

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

Jason Maoz

‘The Highest Office’

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

     The recent presidential election has caused terrible angst for some voters and incredible joy for others. However, American history has shown that no matter who is elected to the oval office, the fundamental principles of the country are sound, and life carries on. 

     Power in the United States regularly bounces from Republican to Democrat like a lively ping-pong game. Many new presidents are, in fact, elected as a protest vote against the previous regime. In a country that is governed by checks and balances, the volley of parties does not do permanent harm. 

    The United States staggered under the shock of Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal and consequently elected Jimmy Carter. It was humiliated by Carter’s inept handling of the hostages in Iran and elected Ronald Reagan. It was scandalized by the shenanigans of Bill Clinton’s high-risk, inappropriate romances and elected George W. Bush. Yet, through it all, the nation remained strong.

    The people of America reeled under the attack of 9/11 and its aftermath. Perhaps everything that followed was not handled to perfection. It is very easy to be a Monday- morning quarterback. However, despite the mistakes of the president or officials in charge, our country has pulled through a terrible trauma. We are intact.   

   There seems to be a pattern to life, which belies the idea that we, alone, decide our destiny. Perhaps the answer is that we are not the sole arbitrator of what happens, despite our greatest efforts. Of course, we are mandated to do our best to put things in place.  However, it seems that man can never really hold the “highest office.”

    So hang in there. There are lessons to be learned. There are experiences to be had.  There is a lot to process.  Gam zu l’tovah, everything is for the best! 

Shelley Benveniste

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community//2008/11/12/

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