Saturday, June 12, 2004


It has been a sad week for me. I loved everything I ever saw or heard of Ronald Reagan and the thought that he is now gone forever is deeply upsetting to me. It must be the sentimental Celtic component in my ancestry but the tears have never been far away in the last few days. When he was in the White House I felt that he was MY President too -- even though I am a 5th generation Australian and live half a world and nearly a whole time zone away from America. So I offer below some brief thoughts about him and what he was -- to coincide roughly with his being laid to rest in his final place in his beloved America

Reagan had the strong, independent psychological makeup that Leftists lack: "I think they broke the mold when they made Ronnie. He had absolutely no ego, and he was very comfortable in his own skin; therefore, he didn't feel he ever had to prove anything to anyone." --Nancy Reagan. And: "He was hated for precisely the same reasons he was loved. He had convictions and made those without them look weak. ... He knew who he was before he came to office; he did not need the office to complete him." --Cal Thomas

And Eamonn Butler (post of 7th) noted Reagan's lack of egotism too: "The pompous conceit of the media Establishment is parried by Reagan's own epitaph on his administration, which reveals his own complete lack of both pomposity and conceit, tempering his pride in having changed minds and changed events: "Men and women across America for eight years did the work that brought America back. My friends, we did it. We weren't just marking time. We made a difference. We made the city stronger, we made the city freer, and we left her in good hands. All in all, not bad, not bad at all.""

But Jeff Jacoby sums up Ronald Reagan's humility best. A small excerpt: "But one trait has gone largely unmentioned: His remarkable humility.... But if no man was his better, neither was he the better of any man. That instinctive sense of the equality of all Americans never left him -- not even when he was the one with fame and power. I don't think I have ever heard a story about Reagan in which he came across as arrogant or supercilious. In a number of reminiscences this week, former staffers have described what it was like to work for the president. Several have recalled how, even when they were at the bottom of the pecking order, he never made them feel small or unworthy of notice. To the contrary: He noticed them, talked to them, made them feel special. Reagan climbed as high as anyone in our age can climb. But it wasn't ego or a craving for honor and status that drove him, and he never lost his empathy for ordinary Americans -- or his connection with them"

A Leftist who grew up speaks (excerpts) : "When I was a young professor at the University of California in the late sixties I despised Governor Reagan, the more fool I... Later I read the Austrian free market economists, and realized two things: one, that they had essentially won the argument with the socialists, both on the theoretical level and on the level of practical results; and two, that Reagan had realized this twenty or thirty years earlier, and it was I, the socialist, who had been the pseudo-intellectual, and not he.... Those who never grow up in our society always blame our own responsible officials when something goes wrong. Reagan taught us to place the blame where it belonged, on the enemy, and to make peace with them as our enemies -- without firing a shot, as Margaret Thatcher put it.... The Europeans and intellectuals thought Reagan was brain dead; but he was Old Possum: he was only playing brain dead... Reaganomics were likewise just a matter of being adult. The child lives in a world of gift.. ..But the eternal children in our society refused, and still refuse, to accept that they will die. Their anguish at the cost of the Iraq war is the great symptom of that refusal, of the inability to grow up. There should be no costs, they feel; when we were children there were no costs, in a socialist society there would be no costs...."

Further to my comment yesterday that ideals are not ideology and that Reagan showed true conservative pragmatism rather than an ideologist's dogmatism, I note that Gorbachev saw that too. He commented in the New York Times: "Reagan was a man of the right. But, while adhering to his convictions, with which one could agree or disagree, he was not dogmatic; he was looking for negotiations and cooperation"

A good Reagan saying: "I have wondered at times what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the U.S. Congress." The 1982 speech in which Reagan foresaw the Soviet system ending on the "ash heap of history" is here. And how can I, as a libertarian conservative, go past this Reagan quote: "If you analyze it, I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism."



With reference to the politicians and media types who despised Reagan once but who now are speaking well of him, Armavirumque is pretty acerbic. It says that they were either "fools then or dishonest now".

The current mainstream Leftist line about Reagan seems to be that his triumphs were all due either to accident or just his irresistable personal charm. Ann Coulter rebuts that by pointing out how wide, deep and resolute his conservatism was -- both in word and deed -- and noting how much the Left hated him when he was in office.

Another lame put-down that is coming from the Left at the moment (e.g. Yglesias) says that Reagan in fact showed the impossibility of the conservative agenda by failing to cut the overall size of government. What that failure in fact shows, of course is that Reagan couldn't do everything by himself. He had to get what he could from Congress. He got an amazing amount in some ways and very little in others. No matter which party is nominally in control of Congress, it is an essentially corrupt body that thrives on the art of the deal -- and the loser in every deal is the taxpayer. It is only Congress that can cut back the size of government and there is no sign that it will. And, like Reagan, GWB has bigger (foreign) fish to fry rather than wasting time on trying to make Congress do something that is against its fundamental nature. U.S. Congressmen are very good at keeping their jobs and they largely do it by robbing Peter (the taxpayer) to pay Paul (their supporter groups) and that is not going to change any time soon.

I mentioned a couple of Leftist Reagan-hate sites recently. Wallace of "Big Gold Dog" has drawn my attention to the autobiographical details of the people behind one of the sites. Beth Henry - a "contributing editor" to Axis of Logic describes her beliefs thus: "Democracy is a word politicians use as camouflage for any number of nasty power grabs, murderous campaigns abroad, and capitalist swinery and larceny. Patriotism is a ridiculous concept, designed to separate people of different nations and races, and cause them to objectify one another so that they will be more willing to kill and be killed for the ruling class". Sounds like straight Karl Marx to me. Leftists will never learn.

For more postings, see GREENIE WATCH and POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH. Mirror sites here and here


Leftism is more popular with young people than with older people largely because Leftism is itself juvenile: They criticize what they don't understand. Which makes it ironic that "We know best" and "It's for your own good" are the basic Leftist messages. Leftists have never outgrown the simplistic thinking or the arrogance that are the characteristic limitations of youth

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