Saturday, June 05, 2004

Ronald Reagan, RIP

After a busy day of yard work and preparing for our trip, I tuned into Game 6 of the Stanley Cup playoffs (excellent game, BTW; Tampa won in double-overtime 3-2) and found out former President Reagan died today.

There is probably not a politician who has had a greater influence on my generation (the post-hippie Baby-Boomers). The 1980 election was the first election where I was eligible to vote, and I voted proudly for the Gipper. He didn't disappoint me.

There are many today who are too young to remember the 70's and just how screwed up everything was then. I do. I clearly remember the US retreat from Viet Nam, Watergate, Jimmy Carter, the Iran hostage crisis, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. I remember the weak and rudderless leadership of President Peanut that led many to believe that America's best days were over, and that the Soviet Union would soon be the world's only superpower.

Many have also forgotten how bad the economy was back then. While the Democrats and their willing allies in the media kvetch about a 5.6% unemployment rate and rising interest rates and gas prices, try thinking about unemployment and interest rates twice as high as today's, coupled with gas prices far, far higher than today's when adjusted for inflation.

This was what Ronald Reagan inherited when he took office. A demoralized, weakened America that had lost it's faith and it's way. Reagan cheered us up with his sense of humor and his sunny outlook on life. He inspired us with his unwavering faith in America and its people. And he never let us forget that communism, not America, was the real source of evil in the world.

Reagan cut taxes, and the economy exploded. He deregulated several government agencies, and thus helped create millions of jobs. He rebuilt the US military, laying the foundation for victory in the first and second Gulf Wars. And most of all, he defeated communism. He knew it was a corrupt and evil system, and he knew that if America stayed the course we would win.

I have already noticed some revisionism by the media in the broadcasts I have watched. One referred to the US "accepting" the START reductions in nuclear arms, as if the US was solely responsible for the arms race. Don't be fooled. Reagan's military buildup, and especially the "star wars" defense initiative, was the reason Gorbachev was forced to negotiate. He knew his country could not keep up in an arms race. SDI still has yet to be deployed, yet it is not an exaggeration to say it was responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Empire.

I could go on and on, but I will just say in conclusion that Reagan was the greatest president of modern times and one of the greatest leaders in American history. He said many things, but the one I remember the most was his statement at the Berlin Wall in 1987. When they replayed the clip tonight on the news, I couldn't help but shout it out with him.

"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"


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