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Solid Silver

The election that changed the world. And turned Jimmy Carter into an author. Plus much more.

11.6.05

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OUR RON
Re: Paul Beston's Reagan's Silver Glow:

Great article. I was struck by how similar Mr. Beston's story is to my own. I, also as a 14 year old, was captivated by the Great Man, only my journey took place four years earlier, during Mr. Reagan's run for the Republican nomination in 1976. The race was almost over, as President Ford had managed to fend off the Reagan challenge after the near-upset in New Hampshire, and Ford had won all the primaries that came after. That spring, the candidates were coming to my home state of North Carolina, with Reagan hanging on by a thread and Ford ready to kill off the Reagan Revolution once and for all. I remember being enthralled by Ronald Reagan's oratory, totally enamored of his ideas. There was no "evil empire" moment, not yet, but you knew what he meant. And Jesse Helms was tireless, working for Reagan as if his own life depended on it. The news coverage was impressive to a young 14 year old, believe me. All through the last weekend, right up to and including election day. And that Tuesday night, we got the results: Reagan had won! My home state had rescued my hero from oblivion, and I was very proud. Still am. My parents thought I'd gone insane, and they had a point. How many 14 year olds really give a hoot about politics? Not many, to be sure. But I was hooked, forever. Started worshipping that man, and have never stopped. Again, great job, Mr. Beston. You've brought back a lot of fond memories for me.
-- Warren Scott

I found this article intensely compelling. Somehow the U.S. went from the exuberance of JFK to lethargic gloom and doom of Jimmy Carter in a scant two decades. Then came RR. He spoke not to history, but to us, the citizens. He recognized that we are the engine that drives America. He knew that we were just waiting for someone to start us up, even though we may not have realized that.

This was a timely read for me because Mr. Carter was interviewed on the KGB-in-America PBS network this morning as I drove to work. He opined that the difference between Republicans and Democrats is that the former seek to expand America's influence by force of arms while that latter seek to change America to be more compatible with other countries. Why Democrats seek to make America more like the places our ancestors fled is beyond me. Europe is moving away from socialism because it is not affordable. Democrats want us to be collectivized and march to socialism's beat. Europeans are just beginning to understand this cruel, implacable foe that is the Muslim world. Democrats want us to "negotiate" with them.

I like things here pretty much the way they are. Everybody has an equal opportunity to try and fail and then again.
-- Jay W. Molyneaux
Wellington, Florida

A great article, made better by intertwining your personal experience with the election of 1980. I believe your father's sense of relief on hearing Carter's concession was matched by many this past year on (finally) hearing Kerry concede.

I thought there were several similarities between the two, the most striking being Carter's belief that, (in Reagan's words): "...we can only make a better world for others by moving backwards ourselves."

This, to me, seems to have been the essence of Kerry, and indeed the entire Democratic Party, in that they would defer decisions to internationalists, who typically act in their own interest at the expense of U.S. interests.

President Reagan clearly put U.S. interests first. Today's Dems do not give the same impression. I am worried about what 2008 might bring.
-- Rich Renken
Ballwin, Missouri

Thanks to Paul Beston for that walk down memory lane. He was 14 when Reagan defeated Carter; I was 13 and my impressions of the event were very similar to his. For those of us who came of age during that momentous change in our nation's history it will always be marked indelibly on our psyche.

If I may presume to speak for others of our, er, generation, let me say that as adolescents the Carter years were very troubling to us. To have everything about our nation go so wrong, just as we were beginning to learn about those issues, was a very unsettling experience. Then Ronald Reagan rode onto the scene and with spectacular leadership repaired our nation in dramatic fashion. Hopefully it will never be forgotten by those our age who watched it transpire, now that we're adults.

Oh yeah, Paul, remember when Reagan fired the air traffic controllers? That was cool! Huh-huh, huh-huh…
-- R. Trotter
Arlington, Virginia

I needed that...

I was just listening to Jimmy is out pushing his new book, bad-mouthing our great nation and comparing our religious leaders to Islamo-fascists. Then I encountered your column, reminding me what true greatness was, of why we loved Reagan, a reminder of how Reagan rescued our country from Jimmy's defeatism, from Jimmy's vision of America's mediocrity, (it seems that vision hasn't changed much, judging from the current crop of Democrats), Reagan reminded us that we are a great country, capable of great things. He made us feel proud to be an American.

We need that message today -- more then ever. Thank you for the cry. THANK you Paul, thank you.
-- David Busby
Lawndale, California

Excellent article by Mr. Beston. Ronald Reagan was the real deal. Reagan's optimism and conviction is what a real leader is all about. Ronald Reagan and Herb Brooks: "Do you believe in miracles?"

"Yes!"
-- Peter
Stamford, Connecticut

The Reagan Revolution didn't begin on November 4, 1980. It began about one and a half years before then on, of all places, the Johnny Carson show. One Friday night in May 1979, Carson was doing his yearly routine of failed television pilots. First he would read a listing of TV pilots that didn't make to the new season, then he would do a group of humorous make-believe ones.

Halfway during the routine he announced one of the real failed TV pilots was I.F.R.--Institute For Revenge, the story of a top secret government agency that gets even with criminal big shots and masterminds who use technicalities and loopholes to escape justice!" ....and then there was a huge round of applause from the audience! Even Carson looked shocked! I knew then and there Carter would not be re-elected because the audience was saying it had enough of him.
-- Michael Skaggs
Murray, Kentucky

Ronald Reagan, despite the hype about FDR, was the greatest President of the 20th century. His victory over the Soviet Union, without firing a shot, and halting the spread of communism in Latin America were triumphs not fully appreciated by America. That is why I enjoyed reading Paul Beston's article. Reagan's patriotism, eloquence, dignity, and humor brought greatness to the White House after the debacles of Johnson, Nixon, and Carter. Still the conservative movement needs to come to grips with the real Reagan and shun the retroactive falsification that seems to be going on about his Presidency.

In his second term to boost his flagging poll numbers President Reagan clearly moved to the middle and left. We called it pragmatism in the 1980's. Working in concert with Democrats he raised taxes and adopted a Democrat Band-Aid scheme to "fix" Social Security. On the issue of border control his policy was wide-open borders and blanket amnesty for millions of illegal aliens. Entering the White House promising to abolish the Department of Education he in fact grew the Carter monstrosity along with other elements of the Federal bureaucracy. On social issues Reagan said the right things, but his actions fell far short of the rhetoric. He ran up huge deficits, increased government spending, signed anti-second amendment legislation and appointed moderates to the Supreme Court. Foolishly, he worked to end the Iran-Iraq war where two rogue Muslim regimes were slaughtering each other. Sometimes, when thugs are fighting each other, the best policy is to do nothing. While personally popular he did surprisingly little to increase GOP electoral gains. In fact, it wasn't until the Clinton administration that Republicans gained control of Congress.

The greatest stain on the Reagan Presidency was his failure to avenge the murder of 220 Marines and more than 20 other military personnel in Beirut. President Reagan knew Iran and its surrogates carried out the attack, but instead of leveling the Bekaa Valley and punishing Iran the United States, like Clinton in Somalia, slunk away in disgrace. One wonders if Reagan had actually dealt with Islamic terrorists and Iran then, would we be having the problems we're having today?

Contrast this with President Bush (who lacks the eloquence of Reagan). Despite cooked, but slumping poll numbers, Bush has remained true to his conservative instincts. President Bush has stayed the conservative course on taxes, called for real Social Security reform (a major factor in his declining poll numbers), has stayed firmly to the right on social issues, is lethargically moving to regain control of borders and immigration policy after decades of neglect and apathy, unequivocally supported free trade, has consistently led his party to triumph in every level of government, always appointed conservatives to the Federal bench and Supreme Court, without apologies waged a successful and relentless war against Islamic terrorism, and for the first time in U.S. history promoted democracy in the Arab and Muslim world. On the issue of the education bill and prescription drug coverage the President promised he would do these things and he has only lived up to his word. Conservatives need to remember this President Bush does exactly what he promises unlike his predecessors.

Unfortunately, like President Reagan W. has been soft on deficits and government spending. Like Reagan I believe this has to do with understanding the first duty of the President is to defend the United States. President Bush in hopes of maintaining American resolve in the fight against Islamic jihadists (history proves despite posturing America is unwilling to make the sacrifice for long wars) has been too willing to compromise on government spending without real returns on the war.

Conservatives who want to belittle the conservative credentials of President Bush and praise the conservatism of the Reagan Presidency need to practice a little more intellectual honesty and a lot less hyperbole. When push comes to shove the compassionate conservative Bush, without eloquence, will govern more conservatively than the eloquent, but pragmatic Reagan.
-- Michael Tomlinson
Crownsville, Maryland

Mr. Beston (and EVERYBODY else) omits an instructive point about the Carter-Reagan election:

The weekend prior to the Nov '80 election Tuesday, Carter was the betting favorite with the bookies in London! The Europeans believed our mainstream media 25 years ago, too. Some things never change.
-- Brooks Hughes
Ann Arbor, Michigan

CHOICE MINORITIES
Re: Paul Chesser's Screaming Diversity, Meaning Ideology:

It was really rich to read in Mr. Chesser's column about the Democrats whining that Mr. Bush did not nominate a Hispanic for the Supreme Court. Hmm -- didn't the tolerant, sensitive Democrats filibuster Judge Miguel Estrada for two years for a federal court job, until he gave up and left Washington?

Oh, wait. That was okay because Estrada is a conservative Hispanic, a minority who doesn't follow the liberal script.

I note that some liberal Democrat types have been throwing Oreos at Lt. Gov. Steele of Maryland, a black Republican, and comparing him to Sambo. Are these the same liberals who recently complained about the Sambo imagery in Mexican postage stamps?

Perhaps when another Hispanic conservative comes along, the liberals can throw tacos at him.
-- John Lockwood
Washington, D.C.

I enjoyed reading your article. I would point out that Schumer, Durbin, Kennedy, and Reid are all white males. They worship at the alter of "white males" even more so than Republicans because as long as they are in "control" they can continue to bamboozle the ignorant, weak, and powerless and through their votes, remain in office. At the same time, they throw Maxine, Hillary, Barney, Sheila and others a bone now and then. It's a game that Democrats have been playing for well over 150 years. I believe they've played this game since the Country was founded. Your article should have read "Screaming Diversity, Meaning Votes."
-- unsigned
P.S. I'm a white female, over 50, who has always been a Republican and gave birth to two white males. What am I? (Rare and per the Democratic Party, would never qualify for anything -- so much for diversity, huh?)

KILGORE KILLJOY
Re: David Holman's Better Late Than Never:

Couldn't agree more with Mr. Holman's article. Bush has about used up all his capital among true conservatives. He has turned off but all the hardcore Bushies. The only thing W. has going for him is the lesser of the two evils and that line is becoming blurred. From his over-spending, giving-the-store away mentality, especially in the wake of the disasters we've had, to his Miers misstep, and his failure to convince people about Social Security reform, he is no better than the liberals. His actions in Iraq, while apropos, have suffered because of his laissez-faire attitude of communicating with his core base and the American people in general. His "bi-partisan" nonsense has resulted in a weakening of his political capitol at a time when he needs every bit of support he can muster. Yes, Mr. Holman, you sure got it right. Conservatives are looking for a real leader. It's too bad Bush no longer fills the bill.
-- Pete Chagnon

LIBYA ON THE LABEL
Re: Lawrence Henry's The Stories We Get Told:

So the Democrats are setting their story against a Bush story that never was told in the first place. And not only in this case, but in the third leg of the "lied" story, too: "Iraq had no WMD/Iraq had no nuclear weapons program."

Sure, it did. Saddam had outsourced his nuclear program to Libya. Iraqi scientists worked there, with materials obtained from North Korea. That was the program Muammar Qaddafi gave up to the U.S. after the Iraqi war. He physically gave the program to us. We keep it at Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

I have never heard this, though it would go a long way in explaining why Libya gave up its program as a result of us going to war with Iraq, as presumably we would have found some documents in Iraq that pointed us to Libya. I just wanted to know if this is Mr. Henry's reasoning or if he has any facts to support his statement that Saddam had outsourced his nuclear program to Libya.
-- Matt Geary
Gahanna, Ohio

UNFORESEEN CONSEQUENCES
Re: Pia de Solenni's Silent Scream:

Someday, I feel, there will emerge a mega-serial killer and I think he will be a survivor of an abortion attempt and that will be his only motivation... he will kill because we tried to take his life in the protective custody of his mother's womb.

In paragraph three of this article you mention that the survivor "might recall the experience of extreme pain and be seriously affected by it." I have no doubt that this will happen some day -- it surprises me that it hasn't happened yet -- and I just hope he goes for his mother first and then on to the Supreme Court and then works his way up the legislatures of this country seeking out the defenders of "women's right to choose".
Gene Hauber
Meshoppen, Pennsylvania

JEST YOU WAIT
Re: Philip Jenkins' letter (under "Hiss Bliss") in Reader Mail's State of Jeer:

Re Philip Jenkins', Professor of History & Religious Studies at Penn State (just thought I would mention his credentials again for him) letter re Hissing Democrats. It appears Prof. Jenkins is not amused. In fact he is affronted that Valerie Plame had her life endangered in the infamous outing incident. I would have thought she was previously and constantly outed by her own husband, the oily-looking guy who looks like a paid escort, as he paraded her about D.C., introducing her as "my CIA wife."

She's still employed by the CIA. How is it she has not been hit by a sniper as she and Joe sport about in their top-down convertible? Why has the convertible not been rigged with an explosive? Should be easy to spot. Just get an old copy of Vanity Fair and watch for a blonde wearing Jackie Onassis sunglasses and Hermes headscarf, being sported about by her puffy faced, tonsorially deficient husband. Rest easy, Prof. Jenkins. Valerie's OK.

But "jestworthy"? Sounds like Seinfeld's Elaine rating her date's "spon geworthiness."
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

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