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(That Heritage Foundation program listing, by the way, promotes a discussion of an entire book, The Education of Ronald Reagan, by Thomas W. Evans, Columbia University Press, 2006, which supports the idea of Ronald Reagan as an educator.)
Newsmax.com’s Left Coast Report, describing this time in Reagan’s career, says he often made as many as a dozen speeches in a day. For eight years. On “the mashed potato circuit,” at company gatherings. As host of one of the country’s most popular TV shows, GE Theater. In front of audiences large and small, guided by one of the great advertising agencies in the America, supported by good, professional writers, yet having to work out his own rhythms and themes, developing applause lines and rejoinders, finding out what worked and what didn’t.
And patiently, ultimately, saying the same thing over and over again, the mark of an educator.
AT THE TALL SHIPS REGATTA in New York in 1986, Ronald Reagan made the welcoming speech from the Statue of Liberty. “He has hit the American sweet spot,” said NBC’s Jane Pauley, reporting on the event. He was our national MC, and he reveled in it. Like most things that look easy, it had taken long, hard practice.
But Ronald Reagan was far more than a practiced technician. He had something to say. By the end of his stint with GE, in 1962, he had developed a number of themes, themes he continued to propound through the rest of his public life.
In 1964, Reagan made what has come to be known as The Speech, a special television presentation of about 4,000 words in support of the candidacy of Barry Goldwater. The major themes are all there:
Government takes too much: “No nation in history has ever survived a tax burden that reached a third of its national income. Today, 37 cents of every dollar earned in this country is the tax collector’s share, and yet our government continues to spend $17 million a day more than the government takes in.”
America owes it all to freedom: “If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth. And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except to sovereign people, is still the newest and most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man.”
A government that has the power to gives has the power to take away: “The Founding Fathers…knew that governments don’t control things. A government can’t control the economy without controlling people. And they know when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose.”
Welfare creates more welfare: “Well, now, if government planning and welfare had the answer and they’ve had almost 30 years of it, shouldn’t we expect government to almost read the score to us once in a while? Shouldn’t they be telling us about the decline each year in the number of people needing help? The reduction in the need for public housing? But the reverse is true. Each year the need grows greater, the program grows greater.”
Government is the problem: “No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this Earth.”
Confront tyranny in the world: “We cannot buy our security, our freedom from the threat of the bomb by committing an immorality so great as saying to a billion now in slavery behind the Iron Curtain, ‘Give up your dreams of freedom because to save our own skin, we are willing to make a deal with your slave masters.’”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?