Random thoughts and insights – always shaken, never stirred

A Great Man Has Been Lost

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President Reagan has died – the 40th President of the United States.  He was also the longest lived President in history. In truth, he left us a long time ago – the Alzheimer’s saw to that. And though one might be forgiven for not being surprised by the death of a 93 year old man, somehow it was still a shock.

I miss him. In truth, I’ve missed him since he flew off to California on January 20, 1989. For eight years, Ronald Reagan was in his White House and all was right with the world. That was an illusion, of course, but it was a good one. Reagan was the CEO of the 80s, the man who set the tone for the decade whether one liked it or not.

I liked it. I was first eligible to vote in 1984 and I cast it for Reagan. In college at the time, all of my friends (if they actually voted) were for Mondale. I endured a great deal of grief from them, but the landslide victory more than made up for it.  My roommate sourly said the next morning that the American people had voted for him and they would get what they deserve.  He’s done rather well, and I wonder if he realizes how much of it he owes to the policies of the man he so disdained.

Reagan was a visionary. He wasn’t the sort of leader who could possibly gain the respect or allegience of the self-appointed elites, for in their view he was a dimwitted, unsophisticated cowboy who was a figurehead in his own administration. Sound familiar?

Yet that same unsophisticated cowboy pushed the Soviet Union until it collapsed of its own inefficiency, venality, and lack of respect for human dignity.  On the stage with the likes of Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II, Reagan rejected the Nixon-Kissinger policy of detente in favor of ending what he famously – and correctly called “an evil empire.” The world is a far better place because of it.

Yet it did not end there.  It is said that any president can only focus on two or three things, and Reagan was no exception.  Winning the Cold War was one, but the economy was another.  Ending the stagflation of the 70s by lowering taxes, reducing regulation, and simplying the tax code, Reagan set in motion an economic boom that reverberates yet.  Two decades of economic growth and prosperity have been broken only twice – once when Bush the Elder raised taxes sending us into recession and second when the Internet Bubble burst.  Today, the economy is going gangbusters, and it’s the legacy of Reagan’s policies – derided then and now but no less responsible therefore.  Certainly, President Clinton is privately grateful.

But there was a third.  Reagan loved America.  His optimism was incurably infectious.  Even Garry Trudeau – no fan – couldn’t help but contrast Reagan’s “Morning in America” with Mondale’s bleak alternative.  Reagan saw America as a beacon, a “shining city on a hill.” He rejected the notion – so fashionable on the left – that America is the source of evil in the world.  And they hated him for it.  But the American people did not – and do not.  The rejection of the CBS drive-by TV movie last year is proof enough of that.  For at the end of the day, it’s Reagan’s America we want – optimistic, confident, and yes, a little brash.  We are a young country yet, and not ready for the tired decadence of the left.  If we ever waver in that conviction, we have but to remember Reagan.  It shall be morning again.

Goodbye, Mr. President.  Shakespeare said it best:  “He was a man take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again.”


Written by martinipundit

June 5, 2004 at 8:02 pm

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