A leader willing to call evil by its name.
“But to those who gave this Holocaust-denier a hearing, I say
on behalf of my people, the Jewish people, and decent people
everywhere: Have you no shame? Have you no decency?”
— Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
So, in your discussions of the nuclear freeze
proposals, I urge you to beware the temptation of pride — of
blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides
equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the
aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms
race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from
the struggle between right and wrong, good and evil.”
— President Ronald Reagan
He was blunt.
Hearing him, the press corps gasped, literally and audibly.
No, the reference isn’t to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent wake-up call at the United Nations. The man throwing cold water in the face of a somnolent world was Ronald Reagan.
A mere nine days after taking office, at the height of the Cold War, Ronald Reagan strode into his very first presidential press conference in 1981 and found himself asked by ABC reporter Sam Donaldson what he thought the Soviet Union’s long-range intentions were.
Said Donaldson, always eager to pose what he thought was the toughest, most impossible question that could not be answered without the subject sheepishly changing positions or sounding appropriately mealy-mouthed: “Do you think, for instance, the Kremlin is bent on world domination that might lead to a continuation of the Cold War, or do you think that under the circumstances détente is possible?”
And then it came. After decades of presidents talking the Washington gobbledygook of détente favored by the town’s diplomatic mandarins (Reagan’s predecessor Jimmy Carter won wide approval from this crowd when he went to Notre Dame and announced that Americans needed to get over their “inordinate fear” of Communism), Reagan’s blunt answer stunned.
Here’s what he said:
Well, so far détente has been a one-way-street that the Soviet Union has used to pursue its own aims… I know of no leader of the Soviet Union since the revolution, and including the present leadership, that has not more than once repeated in the various Communist congresses they hold their determination that their goal must be the promotion of world revolution and a one-world Socialist or Communist state… Now, as long as they do that and as long as they, at the same time, have openly and publicly declared that the only morality they recognize is what will further their cause, meaning they reserve unto themselves the right to commit any crime, to lie, to cheat, in order to attain that, that that is moral, not immoral, and we operate on a different set of standards, I think when you do business with them, even at a détente, you keep that in mind.
With this plainly delivered response as recounted in Steven F. Hayward’s magnificent new book, The Age of Reagan, Ronald Reagan delivered the proverbial electric shock to the Washington and global establishment’s way of doing business with the Soviets. The shock waves reverberated from Capitol Hill all the way to Moscow, rippling through every national capital beginning with the Europeans. Reagan didn’t stop talking like this either. Having had an adult lifetime to work out his view of Communism and Communists, having fought them close up in postwar Hollywood as the president of the Screen Actors Guild (and been on the receiving end of a threat to throw acid in his face), Reagan knew exactly the kind of people he was dealing with.
Addressing the National Convention of Evangelicals, Reagan kept the spotlight on the nature of the Communist foe, while directly speaking to an American audience that was being besieged to support the latest foreign policy fad of the moment, the nuclear freeze:
So, in your discussions of the nuclear freeze proposals, I urge you to beware the temptation of pride — of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong, good and evil.
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.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?