Thursday, January 26, 2006

Why I Love Ronald Reagan--Part 3

This is my 3rd and final post on Ronald Reagan. I hope you have been as inspired by his life as I have been to learn and be a better person as a result. I feel a kinship with him when it comes to faith, convictions, belief in freedom and his heart. When it comes to his humor and optimism I aspire to be more like him. I was encouraged during the Alito hearings that for the most part I was able to laugh at the democrats instead of getting mad. In the future I hope to be able to beat my critics at their own game with humor like Reagan did.

Reagan was by no means perfect since none of us are. It was actually encouraging to see that he was human. In my opinion his biggest failure was in his role as Dad. I think most of it was a generational thing and that he just didn't know how to be a great dad. His own father had been an alcoholic. But one only needs to look at Ron Jr. and the way he carries himself (like he has a chip on his shoulder) to see that Reagan was not able to translate some of his powerful lessons to his own kids. And thus we see he was only human. Now back to the positive stuff :-).

His Convictions: One of the most inspiring things to me is a person with convictions who doesn't compromise on their core principles. This is the essence of Ronald Reagan. He didn't care if he was criticized for something he believed in. If he believed in it he did it no matter what the polls said. Gary Bauer recounted a story of giving one of his first presentations to Reagan and started it off by quoting a poll. Reagan immediately cut him off and said don't ever quote polls as your reason for wanting me to do something.

Reagan refused to give into Gorbachev's early deals even though he was pressured by many to do so. If he hadn't stuck to his convictions the cold war may still be going on today and the Berlin Wall might never have come down.

One of my very favorite stories is one that Bill Bennett likes to tell because it involves him. Bennett was the Secretary of Education in Reagan's administration and right from the start he became controversial because he was blunt in how he presented his views. He had been getting a lot of bad press and was under a tremendous amount of heat for things he had said. There were even papers calling for his resignation. When the next cabinet meeting came Bennett was very nervous and even felt that the others in the meeting were distancing themselves from him. Here is Peggy Noonan quoting Bennett's account of what happened:
"And we finally got to the last item: Bennett. And the president--I was pretty isolated at this point, and the president started to read aloud just the headlines. 'BENNETT, A DUNCE IN THE CLASSROOM,' 'BENNETT, THE JAMES WATT OF THE SECOND TERM,' 'BENNETT MUST BE FIRED.'

"And I was sinking farther and farther in my seat as the president read aloud. And my colleagues were drawing farther away. Reagan put the last clipping in and folded it up, and he said, 'Now, that's Bill Bennett's first three weeks in office. What's wrong with the rest of you?'

"It was a great moment--it was an exhale moment, too .... But it was also one of the kindest and most considerate things anybody ever did for me .... It was a moment I'll never forget, and it taught me what a leader can do, and what it can mean to the morale of people to have done that."

When the meeting was over, Bennett went to the president and said, "Boss, thank you. Thank you very, very much."

And Reagan told him, "You know, they like to criticize me for being in show business. But one thing you learn in show business, there's a difference between the critics and the box office. Don't worry about the critics; just keep doing your job."

Bennett later summed up Reagan this way: "He was a man in possession of his own soul."

Reagan didn't care that Bennett was getting attacked and how that would reflect on his administration. He didn't ask him to tone things down because he agreed with Bennett and knew he was doing the right thing. So Bennett was unpopular with the papers, Reagan didn't care because they were doing what was right.

His faith: Reagan was a great man of faith. He admitted that he wouldn't have gotten through his presidency without the help of prayer. "I've prayed a lot throughout my life. Abraham Lincoln once said that he could never have fulfilled his duties as president for even fifteen minutes without God's help. I felt the same way."

Mike called Margaret Thatcher Reagan's "conservative soulmate" and I couldn't think of a better way to describe their relationship. I am posting this picture and a quote of hers from his funeral to set up my last topic. "We have lost a great president, a great American, and a great man. And I have lost a dear friend." Margaret Thatcher was Reagan's soulmate when it came to their belief in freedom.

His belief in freedom: Peggy Noonan said that Reagan's foreign policy could be boiled down to 3 words: "Peace through strength." That sounds a lot like Teddy Roosevelt's famous saying of "Speak softly and carry a big stick." If you show strength and resolve and that you mean what you say you sometimes avoid war. My husband and I were talking about how the Iranian hostages were released the day Reagan took office. I never knew what to make of that and then my husband made an awesome point. Iran knew that Reagan wouldn't be a weak appeaser like Jimmy Carter and that he would take action. So to avoid the inevitable confrontation they released the hostages. Reagan had already demonstrated his strength and it enabled him to avoid a conflict.

The Reagan doctrine was described like this: "Commitment to support 'those fighting for freedom and against communism wherever we found them.'"
Here are some quotes from his "Westminster Speech" that he made on June 8, 1982:
"It would be cultural condescension, or worse, to say that any people prefer dictatorship to democracy. Who would voluntarily choose not to have the right to vote, decide to purchase government propaganda handouts instead of independent newspapers, prefer government to worker-controlled unions, opt for land to be owned by the state instead of those who till it, want government repression of religious liberty, a single political party instead of a free choice, a rigid cultural orthodoxy instead of democratic tolerance and diversity?

...given strong leadership, time and a little bit of hope, the forces of good ultimately rally and triumph over evil.

I've often wondered about the shyness of some of us in the West about standing for these ideals that have done so much to ease the plight of man and the hardships of our imperfect world.

So, let us ask ourselves, ``What kind of people do we think we are?'' And let us answer, ``Free people, worthy of freedom and determined not only to remain so but to help others gain their freedom as well.''

For the sake of peace and justice, let us move toward a world in which all people are at last free to determine their own destiny."

Here are some from his "Evil Empire Speech" that he made on March 8, 1983:
"At the same time, however, they must be made to understand we will never compromise our principles and standards. We will never give away our freedom. We will never abandon our belief in God. And we will never stop searching for a genuine peace.

But if history teaches anything, it teaches that simpleminded appeasement or wishful thinking about our adversaries is folly. It means the betrayal of our past, the squandering of our freedom."

And ofcourse Reagan's famous words: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

If only the democrats of today could see the great wisdom and truth of these words. As you can see by these quotes George W. Bush is truly Reagan's "Conservative Son". W carries Reagan's torch for freedom and he does it well. W isn't the "great communicator" like Reagan but he has the same heart and ideas which are making this world safer and freer.

And speaking of W it is fitting to conclude my series on Reagan with a quote from him. This is a little of what W had to say about Reagan: "Some achievements fade with the years. Ronald Reagan's achievements grow larger with the passing of time." Amen and Amen!!

"When Character Was King" by Peggy Noonan
"Westminster Speech"

"Evil Empire Speech"


Joubert said...

I think Reagan tried to be a good dad. There's no guarantee that your kids will turn out okay no matter how hard you try. Also his kids were raised in Hollywood and that's a powerful force for bad that is hard to protect your kids from.

Yesterday, Glen Dean (Christian Libertarian at and I were talking about Reagan and I said, "We need another Reagan."

Glen reminded me of how much Reagan broke from traditional Republicans and redefined conservatism. Glen said:

"The GOP did all they could do to muzzle Reagan. Nixon even called him dangerous. He really sparked a revolution in 1976. The old GOP couldn't stand him."

I replied:

"Fortunately young Republicans, like Little Miss Chatterbox do like Reagan. LMC is doing a three part tribute to Ron on her blog at:"

Dionne said...

Patrick: Thanks!! I totally agree with you. In doing my research for all of this one of the quotes that didn't make it into a post was that the "establishment" didn't like him but the American people loved him. It floors me that Ford & Nixon were more appealing to the Republican party than Reagan---yuck!!!!

And I agree that we need another Reagan who bucks the system, goes over the heads of the media and just does what is right.

Anonymous said...

lmc: I haven't had a chance to read through this or many of your blogs; but I am going to do something long overdue; which is link you on my blog because I enjoy your injections and I deeply appreciate your respect for Our 40th president. I remember at 15 drawing a picture of him with a BIC pen (I didn't believe in erasing) and it was my one and only 'perfect' human drawing. As you leave Ronald Reagan; I look forward to the other contributions.

Rivka said...

Great post! We do need another Reagan. What is the deal with Ron?? I am not sure about about the dad thing, but you have more stuff via your books and research than I do!
I can tell you really worked hard on this.. Great job!!!

Dionne said...

Neo,Soc: Thanks. As I said I've really appreciated your comments too. I've linked you as well :-).

Rebecca: Thanks so much. I did work hard on this but it was a labor of love that was worth doing.

Ron Jr. is very scary and comes across to me as very bitter. I don't know what his deal is. I wonder how him and Michael get along. Since Michael is the exact opposite and a wonderful guy.

Pirate said...

thank you for the stroll down memory lane with a good friend. He was truely the best we ever had and probably never see again.

juanitagf said...

Thank you for your series. It has reminded me of what a great man he was. We do need another Reagan--a man who will do what is right without thought of the consequences.

Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

01 26 06

Thanks for sharing all of this information on Reagan over the past few days. My parents raised me to think poorly of him. Yet when I learn more and review some of the policies he came up with, I am impressed. Of course, you probably might know that his healthy fear of big government was one of my favorites. Yeah, all the men of that generation are much better grandparents than they were parents. My grandfathers mostly worked and provided and the grandmothers raised the children (among other things). As a result, the father was seen as this solid and hard as a rock person, and the mother was there for more emotional stuff. Nowadays I think there is more of a balance in terms of men expressing their feelings more openly, and also the workforce opening up more jobs for women. But the generational issue is important. All in all, I have been really impressed and have learned a lot from reading your posts. Take Care:)

Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Reagan's strengths will always outweigh his weaknesses. I'll bet money that, 50 years from now, Reagan will STILL be portrayed as one of the greatest presidents in our history. Perhaps he wasn't the most attentive of fathers. Understand this current statistic: half of the 2005 children in school do NOT have fathers in their lives.

Finally: four DVDs I would recommend, in no particular order:

1. Ronald Reagan, A Legacy Remembered, produced by the History Channel;
2. Tribute to Ronald Reagan, produced by Acorn Media;
3. Ronald Reagan, An American President, the official RR Library tribute;
4. C-SPAN Ronald Reagan Funeral Services, Commemoration Video, June 2004, 2 disks.

All are excellent memorials to a man I shall never forget. The C-SPAN video I found particularly moving as it primarily consists of the raw feeds and, despite this, carries the maturity, grandeur and honor inherent in the entire ceremony.

LMC: this was a wondrous, wondrous series. Thank you.

Gayle said...

I'm glad Neo Soc is going to link you!

LMC, you have done a wonderful job on this project! "Wonderful" doesn't quite cut it. It's obvious that you've taken the time to do your research, and it's also obvious that you loved President Reagan, as do I. Thank you so much for all your hard work.

Patrick said he thought Reagan tried to be a good dad. So do I. Sometimes, no matter how hard you work at it, kids can have problems. Each of us in the end have to make our own decisions, and sometimes, regardless of great parental upbringing, they are the wrong ones.

Anyway, this has been a wonderful project. Many kudos to you for a job well done! :)

Dionne said...

Pirate & Jgf: You're welcome.

Mahndisa: Thanks so much for your comments. I'm glad you were able to find some good in him. I know its hard when we have a bad perception of someone to take a second look. I too loved that he was really for limited government. A quote of his that didn't make it into my posts was: "The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help." :-)

And I totally agree with your comments about the generational differences in parenting.

BZ: Thanks so much for your kind words. And I agree with all you said. Thanks for the DVD recommendations, I will definitely check them out. I've watched several on him but I don't think any were the ones you mentioned.

Gayle: Thanks so much also. And I do agree with you & Patrick that he tried to be a good dad. And I think in some ways he was. I just wanted to be realistic and point out that he wasn't perfect.

Gayle said...

I understand, LMC. If he had been perfect he would have had to be God. :)

Assorted Babble by Suzie said...

Your series on Pres. Reagan has been touching and so interesting. Things that I did not know and other things I needed reminded of, I very much appreciate you posting all this researched time consuming information. Thank you. (smiling)

I admire his faith in God as I do our President now. Leaders are what they are and that is what we need to continue to have leading our country.

I know Michael is adopted, but I sure wonder why Ron Jr. and Patty act as they do. As Patrick said it is not always the fault of a parent, but you would think they would respect what their father stood for. I enjoy listening to Michael and happy he continues to speak up for what his father believed in.

Another EXCELLENT POST...thanks for taking the time that you did to put these posts together. I truly have enjoyed them. (smiling)

Dionne said...

Gayle: You're exactly right!

Suzie: Thanks so much :-)!!

TexasFred said...

I have been following this as you posted and was waiting until you were done to post a comment, and there is only one thing to say, OUTSTANDING...

LMC, you did a great job on a tribute to a great man...

Mr. Grey Ghost said...

Miss Chatterbox

Just wanted to say that I enjoyed reading this 3-parter on Reagan, very in-depth and insightful. The History Channel needs to hire you! Excellent work!

shoprat said...

If you want to think of great leaders who were less than perfect fathers, you can you always think of King David.

Dionne said...

Texas Fred & GG: You guys are way too nice :-). Thanks.

Shoprat: Excellent point.

Crazy Politico said...

The entire series was a wonderful reminder of what a great American RR was.

I really believe most of the hateful and sometimes slanderous things said by certain groups about Reagan are due to jealousy. The left hasn't had a leader with charisma like Reagan since JFK.

Dionne said...

CP: Thanks and great point!

Mike's America said...

I had not heard that Bill Bennet story before. I have Peggy's book on my nightstand, but she's gotten a bit too touchy feely for me lately. I remember her "What I saw at the Revolution" was a perfect description of what I also saw in my short time behind the gates at 1600 Penn Ave.

I like the Gorbachev photo too. Those of us old enough to remember this important first summit between the two will recall the press openly asking if the old man (Reagan) was up to this new communist messiah. From the get go Reagan mastered the situation.

He might also have read that during President Reagan's stay in Geneva at a chateau belonging to Prince Karim Aga Khan. The prince's young son left the president a note asking him to take care of his goldfish.

Unfortunately, one of the goldfish died. The president was horrified. While others may have chose to ignore this inconsequential incident, Mr. Reagan replaced the goldfish and left this note:

"Dear Friends, On Tuesday I found one of your fish dead in the bottom of the tank. I don't know what could have happened but I added two new ones, same kind, I hope this was alright. Thanks for letting us live in your lovely home. Ronald Reagan."

He truly was a great and kind man in both simple and sublime ways.

There may never be another.

Thanks for joining this look back Chatterbox. It's also a look ahead.

Reagan taught us so much to help us in the future. If only we are wise enough to recongize those lessons.