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Posts Tagged ‘Ronald Reagan’
August 30th, 2013 at 6:00 pm
The Hollywood Slander of Ronald Reagan
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Ronald Reagan may have been the only American president to emerge from Tinseltown (excepting the fact that Barack Obama is clearly a character created by Aaron Sorkin), but that hasn’t inspired any loyalty. The new movie, The Butler, is rife with mischaracterizations of racial progress in America (as ably pointed out by Richard Epstein for the Hoover Institution) — and it’s especially unkind to the Gipper. As Steve Hayward, Paul Kengor, Craig Shirley, and Kiron Skinner — Reagan biographers all — note in today’s Washington Post, Reagan demonstrated a lifetime’s worth of tolerance and enlightenment on racial issues.

One of the film’s larger errors is an implicit assertion that Reagan opposed economic sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa out of simple indifference to black suffering. But as his chroniclers note, the reality is much more complicated:

The unfairness of this scene can be demonstrated by any number of historical facts. In June 1981, still recovering from an assassination attempt, Reagan sent his closest foreign policy aide, William Clark, on his first official trip; it was to South Africa to express America’s disapproval. An unsmiling Clark told Prime Minister Pieter W. Botha to his face that the new president and administration “abhorred apartheid.” Clark walked out on Botha.

While accurate in depicting Reagan’s opposition to sanctions against South Africa, “The Butler” does not explain why he opposed them. Reagan saw sanctions as harmful to the poorest South Africans: millions of blacks living in dire poverty. He also feared that the apartheid regime could be replaced by a Marxist/totalitarian one allied with the Soviet Union and Cuba and that communism would spread throughout the continent. South Africa’s blacks were denied rights under apartheid, but communism would mean no freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion, conscience, emigration, travel or even property for anyone. Moreover, in communist nations such as Cambodia and Ethi­o­pia, people had been slaughtered and starved on mass scales. Nearly a dozen nations had become part of the Soviet orbit in the immediate years before Reagan became president. He didn’t want South Africa to undergo the same catastrophe.

Reagan adopted a policy of “constructive engagement,” seeking to keep South Africa in the anti-Soviet faction while encouraging the country toward black-majority rule — no easy feat. In one of his finest speeches, he told the United Nations on Sept. 24, 1984, that it was “a moral imperative that South Africa’s racial policies evolve peacefully but decisively toward . . . justice, liberty and human dignity.” Among his administration’s successes was the Angola-Namibia agreement, which led to the withdrawal of the white South African regime from Namibia and paved the way for that nation’s independence.

Moral preening is always easiest when one bears no responsibility for the consequences. Statesmen weigh trade-offs. Ronald Reagan knew that. Thanks to the current situation in Syria, Barack Obama is about to get a master’s class on the topic.

April 8th, 2013 at 12:01 pm
Iron in the Dame

It was October of 2001 at the Grand Hotel in Point Clear, Alabama. The distinctively clipped, English accent of the speaker was unmistakeable. “The protection of freedom in the world today depends on the global alliance of the English-speaking peoples,” she said.

And, as always, Margaret Thatcher was right.

This was one of the final three or four public speeches that Lady Thatcher ever gave. About six weeks later, it was announced that she had suffered a series of small strokes over the preceding three or so months — indeed, there were signs in Point Clear, as the evening wore on, of a little bit of confusion and repetitiveness from the great lady — and that she therefore would stop giving speeches. But for the first hour or so of the evening, the former British Prime Minister was very much at the top of her game, clear and eloquent and insightful.

Her point was not that English-speaking peoples are inherently superior — far from it. Her point was that the political institutions and cultures of the English-speaking peoples were the ones most respectful of liberty (the only exception, perhaps, is Switzerland), and the ones also most protective of it. The United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and increasingly India, she said, along with a few other scattered former colonies of Great Britain — all with the common heritage stemming from the British republican/constitutional system that began developing with Magna Carta — were devoted to free markets and individual liberty. If these English-speaking peoples do not stand strong for the values of liberty, and are not willing to defend them, then nobody else will do so, or at least not with effectiveness.

It was a very good point. True, and inspirational.

Margaret Thatcher, who served in Parliament with an elderly Winston Churchill, was very much a proponent of this quintessentially Churchillian worldview. Also, of course, she shared Churchill’s revulsion for Communism, especially as exemplified in the Soviet empire. And by the fall of 2001, in a new millennium, she clearly recognized international jihadism as a threat approximately as great as the one the Soviets had posed.

Domestically, meanwhile, she was far firmer than Churchill in favor of free markets, against the excesses of the welfare state and the unionized power grabs, and for limited government.

Many words will be written about what an important and effective ally she was for Ronald Reagan as Reagan led the international alliance that destroyed that Soviet empire. Many words will be written about her stalwart personal character, her courage, her intelligence, and her grace. The laudatory words will certainly be on target. She was one of the great leaders of the 20th Century — or, indeed, of any century since the Enlightenment.

On the very night that Ronald Reagan died in 2004, I happened to be in London. In fact, at approximately the moment Reagan died, I was finishing up a meal at Rules of London, sitting at a corner table, staring at a wonderful wall mural of a very well done imaginary image, somewhat whimsical, of Margaret Thatcher dressed in a suit of armor with an iron lance in her hand. The expression on her face was resolute — and serene in its resolution.

I rather imagine that Thatcher herself probably loved that mural inside London’s famous restaurant. My wife and I certainly did.

Margaret Thatcher was very much of the character of the spirit of the best of medieval chivalry — a female Lord Percival whose heart on all essential matters was pure and whose public virtue was married to unflinching courage.

Today she joined Reagan, and her beloved husband Denis, and Churchill, in the Lord’s joy. May she rest in the Lord’s peace forever.

March 30th, 2013 at 11:50 am
Reagan Survived

In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, Liz Cheney had an absolutely superb column noting that today (the 30th) is the 52nd anniversary of one of Ronald Reagan’s great speeches — three-plus years before “The Speech” on behalf of Barry Goldwater that launched Reagan’s political career. She didn’t write about the Reagan speech; she used a quote from the speech as a launch to remind conservatives what we need to fight for and, as importantly, of the fact that we do need to fight for what we believe — lest, as Reagan warned back then, we let freedom become extinct.

Please do read the column.

It struck me, when looking at the date of the speech, that it came 20 years to the day before Reagan himself almost became prematurely extinct, a the hands of would-be assassin John Hinckley. By luck, pluck, robust health, and amazingly good medical practices, Reagan somehow survived the bullet which lodged less than an inch of his heart. Had he not survived, this nation might not have survived in the way that it did. I’m not saying the United States would have disappeared, but the USA that defeated Communism might not have defeated Communism, and it might have become a shell of its former self and of what it could and should be.

We’ll never know. But we do know this: At least in large part because Reagan survived the bullet 32 years ago today, we thrived for several more decades, fulfilling the goal of his speech 52 years ago today rather than falling prey to the alternative fate about which he warned us. As Liz Cheney wrote yesterday, “We are the inheritors of these blessings of liberty, and it is our solemn duty to fight for, protect and defend our freedom. Now is the time to pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and man the barricades for freedom.”

January 30th, 2013 at 7:37 pm
What Kind of Legal Immigration System Should We Have?

So far, a busy half week on Capitol Hill saw Senator John Kerry (D-MA) become Secretary of State after the U.S. Senate confirmed him 94-3; gun-control politicians getting righteous blowback from the NRA and an advocate for young mothers; and another round of immigration reform heating up.

On this last point, it’s helpful to remember that a big part of what’s missing from the illegal immigration debate is how to fix the problems with the legal immigration system.  For an idea of how byzantine is the process of getting into America the right way, check out these charts prepared the libertarian Reason Foundation and the liberal Immigration Road.  (Each is a pdf.)

The worst lowlight: Waiting up to 28 years to become a citizen.

But before policy wonks and political advocates jump to conclusions and start proposing ways to fix immigration by reducing wait times and streamlining the process, it’s worth having a serious national discussion about what principle should drive our immigration policy.

If it’s about the national interest, in this case defined as what’s best for Americans already here, then it’s far from clear how importing any foreign workers, skilled or unskilled, improves the economic lot of domestic skilled and unskilled workers.  If anything, basic economics suggests that importing more labor reduces the value of the labor already here, which, while a boon for employers, translates into a pay cut for workers.  (For more on this, see Mark Krikorian’s thought-provoking book, “The New Case Against Immigration.”)

On the other hand, if immigration policy is about ensuring that America is the preeminent land of opportunity within the world community, then a small but clear set of filters (e.g. screening out convicted criminals, terrorists, and those fleeing tax problems) need to be put in place to allow the greatest number of opportunity-seeking immigrants to come, live, and hopefully contribute to the nation’s growth.

Personally, I’m conflicted about which route to take.  With Americas suffering from 7.8 percent unemployment – which is really 14.4 percent when underemployed and those too discouraged  to look for work are counted – it’s hard to justify adding to the labor market.  And yet an immigration policy focused on opportunity for those seeking it is an attractive extension of Ronald Reagan’s city on a hill, of which he said “And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.”

This much I do know: Finding a solution to the illegal immigration problem can’t be done until Americans decide on legal immigration’s foundational principle.

July 17th, 2012 at 1:22 pm
Conservative Senators Kill Law of the Sea Treaty
Posted by Troy Senik Print

This is a big win for those who don’t want to see the United Nations’ grow in both power and resources. From the Daily Caller:

With 34 Republican senators now opposing a United Nations effort to regulate international waters, the Law of the Sea treaty effectively has no way forward in the U.S. Senate.

Republican Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mike Johanns of Nebraska and Johnny Isakson of Georgia joined 30 other GOP members in agreeing to vote against the U.N. treaty.

For guidance as to why this was the right decision, one need look no further than an op-ed penned by former Attorney General Edwin Meese earlier this year in the Los Angeles Times:

President Reagan so strongly opposed the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea that he didn’t just not sign the treaty. He very publicly refused to sign it. He also dismissed the State Department staff that helped negotiate it. And in case anyone didn’t get the message, he sent special envoy Donald Rumsfeld on a globe-trotting mission to explain his opposition and urge other nations to follow suit.

In a 1978 radio address titled “Ocean Mining,” he asserted that “no nat[ional] interest of ours could justify handing sovereign control of two-thirds of the Earth’s surface over to the Third World.” He added: “No one has ruled out the idea of a [Law of the Sea] treaty — one which makes sense — but after long years of fruitless negotiating, it became apparent that the underdeveloped nations who now control the General Assembly were looking for a free ride at our expense, again.”

This was exactly what was at stake here. Passage of the Law of the Sea Treaty would have given United Nations bureaucrats a veto over American deep-sea mining efforts, redistributed royalties from American energy development to other nations, and even created the potential for back-door international carbon regulation through the treaty’s requirements for mandatory dispute resolution.

Senate Republicans did the responsible thing — they won one for the Gipper.

April 24th, 2012 at 12:47 pm
Ponnuru on Reagan

Ramesh Ponnuru is right on target about Reagan’s legacy.

Republicans and conservatives, too, misrepresent his lessons:

Reagan believed that one reason his immediate predecessors were perceived as failures was that they conveyed a sense of being overwhelmed by the presidency. Only with time has it become clear how much “real discipline, hard work and focus” Reagan kept hidden.

This misimpression about Reagan, says Hayward, leads conservatives to underemphasize the importance of all this hard work — both in drafting policies and honing rhetoric — and to think that good gut instincts are a substitute for it.

When conservatives these days look for presidential and especially VP candidates, they are far too prone to go for the “gut instinct” test rather than the tests of experience, wisdom, proven record, etcetera. Food for thought.

April 17th, 2012 at 10:39 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Reagan And Obama
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

April 2nd, 2012 at 2:05 pm
Good Riddance, Arlen Specter

It’s been a rough re-launch into the public consciousness for former Senator Arlen Specter (R/D-PA) since switching parties and losing the Democratic primary in 2010.

While hocking his memoirs during media appearances Specter has made off-color comments about Ronald Reagan, Sarah Palin, and Rick Santorum, insulted at least one radio host, and drawn attention to his book’s portrayals of former fellow senators Ted Kennedy (D-MA) as a “walrus” and John Thune (R-SD) as looking like a movie star “in or out of clothes.”

The Blaze website has a helpful compilation of Specter’s lowlights during his media blitz, including Glenn Beck’s radio show co-host reading excerpts from Specter’s book; such as the nugget about the time another senator cut in front of Specter to get a ‘free’ (i.e. taxpayer-funded) massage in the Senate gym.  Arlen’s take-away from the experience: collegiality is dying in the upper chamber.

Ronald Reagan once said, “Politics is not a bad profession.  If you succeed there are many rewards, if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book.”  In Specter’s case, Reagan’s observation still holds true.

January 25th, 2012 at 8:58 pm
Why Obama Can’t Run as Reagan Redux
Posted by Troy Senik Print

It’s not morning in America. And if the dawn does break on President Obama’s watch, the forecast is for heavy clouds. This graph from today’s Wall Street Journal, comparing economic growth during Reagan and Obama’s first terms, shows why:

ObamaReaganGrowth

January 24th, 2012 at 2:52 pm
The Nub of Romney’s Problem
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Writing today in Politico, Reagan biographer (and now Newt Gingrich chronicler) Craig Shirley gets to the very heart of the difficulty Mitt Romney faces in trying to persuade a Republican electorate desperate for an epochal shift in a party that they (rightly) perceive to have been insufficiently inattentive to limited government:

The former Bain Capital chief is the elitist heir to Rockefeller and the malapropistic heir to Ford and George H. W. Bush. Watching Ford speak extemporaneously was like watching a drunk cross an icy parking lot — and the same can be said for the exuberantly monosyllabic man from Massachusetts…

No one goes around calling themselves a Nixon Republican or a Ford Republican or a Bush Republican. But plenty now proudly call themselves Goldwater Republicans and Reagan Republicans.

One need not share Shirley’s enthusiasm for Gingrich to recognize the sagacity of his diagnosis of Romney. It’s not that conservatives don’t want a manager. It’s just that they want so much more. At this moment in our history — when all sense of principled restrictions on the power of the federal government seem to be eroding — they want someone to draw a line in the sand. Convincing conservative voters that he’s the man for that job is probably beyond Mitt Romney’s ability. To remain a serious candidate, however, he’ll at least have to convince them that he’s not a closet sympathist for their ideological adversaries within the party.

January 6th, 2012 at 4:08 pm
Jay Cost on Why Primaries Hurt Conservative Candidates

Jay Cost of the Weekly Standard explains why the current 1970’s era primary system almost always impedes the Party of Reagan from nominating a Reaganite for president.

So, here’s the question of the day: why can’t the party of Reagan ever seem to nominate a Reaganite?

My answer: because conservative Republicans are not actually in control of their own party. Though they are its animating force – they give it policy ideas to implement, they turn out regularly to support the party in good times and bad, they advocate the party and its ideology to their friends, neighbors, and relatives – they are not in charge, and have not been since the 1970s (arguably the 1920s, but that’s another story altogether).

Later on, Cost describes how GOP moderates maneuver around the conservative base to secure presidential nominations.

Self-identified conservatives tend to be a majority of most primary electorates, so one would think that, even with the limits of primaries, you’d still get a quality conservative nominee. But that isn’t necessarily the case in a three-way race. That’s the final, huge problem with the primaries. They do not build consensus, which ultimately would require the assent of the conservative side of the GOP. Instead, they create a game similar to the show Survivor – “outwit, outplay, outlast.”

If you are a moderate Republican – e.g. Bob Dole or John McCain – you don’t need to win a majority of the conservative vote. You just need to do well enough among moderate Republicans so that you win more votes than your conservative opponents. Then, you simply wait for the media and the party establishment to pressure your conservative challengers into dropping out.

See if this sounds familiar:

The rules of the nomination game favor candidates who have the insider connections, can garner positive coverage from the media, can appeal to non-ideological and poorly informed voters, and who can win perhaps just a third of the vote in the early rounds. Such candidates are rarely the conservatives. Put another way: conservatives consistently lose because they are not actually in charge of their own party.

This is why, moving forward, conservatives need to spend serious time and effort thinking about how to fix this screwed up process. Yes, it is important to consider the big policy issues – tax reform, health care, industrial policy – but without good rules to produce good nominees who can implement those policies, then it is all for naught.

Food for thought.  You can read the entire article here.

October 28th, 2011 at 6:26 pm
Happy Birthday, Lady Liberty

Ed O’Keefe reports on the 125th birthday of the Statue of Liberty.  Here’s his summary of today’s festivities:

The National Park Service is hosting a series of events Friday to mark the Oct. 28, 1886 dedication of one of the nation’s most iconic landmarks. In an effort to recreate some of the original festivities (which included an appearance by President Grover Cleveland), the U.S. Coast Guard plans to sponsor a flotilla of vessels, the New York Fire Department fireboats plan to provide a water spout display and the Park Service is hosting a morning concert.

Later, in a nod to the 21st century, officials plan to unveil a new “torch webcam” providing viewers with views of New York Harbor and the statue from within Lady Liberty’s torch.

Of course, Lady Liberty has also hosted some famous speeches, including this memorable 4th of July jewel from Ronald Reagan 25 years ago.

As the Occupy fill-in-the-blank mob-ocracy exposes our great cities to squalor, let Reagan’s speech and today’s festivities remind you there is an alternative.

October 18th, 2011 at 1:15 am
Is Ron Paul Framing the Election?

One way to think of a presidential campaign is as a nationally followed negotiation.  Each political party provides players who in turn generate ideas for public consumption.  Some proposals change the national consensus (e.g. Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts), while others fall flat (Walter Mondale’s “I will raise your taxes” pledge). 

If we look at what leading Republicans have proposed this cycle, it’s an impressive range of serious fiscal ideas.  Paul Ryan has his “Path to Prosperity” budget, Rick Santorum his tax cuts. Mitt Romney has 59 points to get America working, and Herman Cain has “9-9-9″.  Now, Ron Paul says we should cut $1 trillion dollars by eliminating entire federal cabinet departments and going back to 2006 funding levels for those that survive. 

My suspicion is that Paul’s plan will get the most criticism because it is the most radical.  But might it also be the most helpful in a sense, since it probably represents the least government that any major Republican will put his or her name to this year?  And if that’s the case, then isn’t Paul doing the electorate a favor by clearly articulating what the most radical version of reform would look like so voters can weigh the differences fully? 

If Quin, Tim, or Troy has anything to add, I’d like to read it.  Is Ron Paul’s plan bold, crazy, or something in between?

June 1st, 2011 at 11:38 am
Huntsman Sounds Like the Gipper, Governs Like a Maverick

If you like Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater you’ll love Jon Huntsman’s opinion piece in today’s Wall Street Journal.  Sounding themes of economic growth, fiscal responsibility, and balanced budgets as the key to a prosperous future Huntsman even borrows the Gipper’s famous “time for choosing” phrase to headline his column.  Heck, the former Republican governor of Utah and ambassador to China even praises Rep. Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” budget resolution.

One problem: Jon Huntsman isn’t the reincarnation of Ronald Reagan.  Rather, he’s a slicker, more polished version of John McCain.  In a word, he’s a maverick whose method of policymaking is open to whatever the political consensus of the moment requires.  As I wrote for CFIF this week, Huntsman is attracting the same kind of “progressive” Republicans that flocked to McCain’s failed presidential bids.

For all his red meat economic rhetoric in today’s column, Huntsman can’t hide from his past support for President Barack Obama’s stimulus spending, growth in (state) government, cap-and-trade, and state-run health care.

Back in 2005 as governor, Huntsman gave a summary of his approach to illegal immigration that can be used as a window into how he governs in general: “I want to be a catalyst and report good ideas that will lead to a philosophy. That’s what we need first and foremost.”

Wrong.  In the Age of Obama, conservatives aren’t looking for a presidential candidate that formulates his governing philosophy on the fly.  Think about this: If this is the way Huntsman thinks of his job as an executive, is it too much of a leap to assume that this is the kind of ad hoc philosophizing he’ll look for in judicial nominations?  Haven’t we had enough of judicial activists making up the law as they go along, rewriting the Constitution so that it fits whatever facts are in play?

Yet that is exactly what Huntsman’s “report good ideas that will lead to a philosophy” statement suggests.  We’ve seen the kind of cognitive dissonance that Republicans like John McCain truck in when their policy positions are not tethered to conservative principles.  Huntsman is right in his economic prescriptions, but what conservative isn’t these days?  The real question is whether he’ll be right dealing with future problems that require him to use his first principles, whatever those are.

May 16th, 2011 at 1:38 pm
Gingrich’s “Voodoo Economics” Moment?

During the 1980 presidential campaign, Republican candidate George H. W. Bush decried Ronald Reagan’s supply-side tax cuts as “voodoo economics” because the policy promised to lower tax rates and generate more production, and thus more tax revenues.  Bush’s denunciation of Reagan’s economic vision was a proxy for Keynesian thinkers in both parties, who thought (and think) that tax reductions spur consumption (demand), not production (supply).

Of course, Bush lost to Reagan in the Republican primary that year, in part because Reagan had a more compelling message: let’s cut taxes to get the economy growing instead of cutting them simply to reduce spending.  Moreover, Bush was wrong because Reagan’s policies worked.

This weekend, 2012 presidential candidate Newt Gingrich slammed Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and the latter’s “Path to Prosperity” budget proposal as “right-wing social engineering.”  Why?  Because Gingrich thinks changing the way Medicare operates – from straight government subsidy to vouchers – is too “radical.”

But that isn’t stopping Gingrich from continuing to support an individual mandate to buy health insurance.  (Like fellow contender Mitt Romney (R-MA), but unlike President Barack Obama, Gingrich wants the individual mandate at the state, not federal, level.)  So, in Gingrich’s mind, transforming Medicare from a defined benefit into a defined voucher is “radical,” but mandating individuals to buy health insurance is not?

When Reagan adopted the mantra of economic growth through across-the-board tax cuts in 1980, he gave voters a clear alternative to the shared scarcity narrative being peddled by politicians in both parties.  Ryan’s budget proposal is based on Reagan’s insight that less taxes and more growth sells; less choice and more government mandates do not.

Like Reagan, whoever wins the Republican presidential nomination next year will have to make some accommodation with Ryan’s economic vision.  Downsizing – whether it’s freedom, opportunity, taxes, or spending – isn’t enough of a message to create the kind of majority needed to enact the kind of policy changes that spur real private sector growth.  With positions supporting ethanol subsidies and state level individual mandates, it sounds like Newt Gingrich is more comfortable playing the elder Bush’s role in this campaign.

March 15th, 2011 at 1:24 pm
Fed Board Member Gets Lesson in Real World Economics

In just a few hundred words a Wall Street Journal editorial writer summarizes how out-of-touch supposed ‘experts’ can be when it comes to how policies affect everyday Americans.  The object lesson comes courtesy of New York Fed President William Dudley’s failed attempt to convince citizens in Queens that the economy is doing much better than they think.

The former Goldman Sachs chief economist gave a speech explaining the economy’s progress and the Fed’s successes, but come question time the main thing the crowd wanted to know was why they’re paying so much more for food and gas. Keep in mind the Fed doesn’t think food and gas prices matter to its policy calculations because they aren’t part of “core” inflation.

So Mr. Dudley tried to explain that other prices are falling. “Today you can buy an iPad 2 that costs the same as an iPad 1 that is twice as powerful,” he said. “You have to look at the prices of all things.”

Reuters reports that this “prompted guffaws and widespread murmuring from the audience,” with someone quipping, “I can’t eat an iPad.” Another attendee asked, “When was the last time, sir, that you went grocery shopping?”

Mr. Dudley has been one of the leading proponents of negative real interest rates and quantitative easing, so this common-man razzing is a case of rough justice. If Mr. Dudley were wise, he’d take it to heart and understand that Americans aren’t buying the Fed’s line that rising commodity prices are no big deal. Unlike banks and hedge funds, they can’t borrow at near-zero interest rates, and most of them don’t have big stock portfolios. Wall Street and Congress may love the Fed’s free-money policy, but Mr. Dudley and Chairman Ben Bernanke ought to worry about losing the confidence of the middle class.

Ronald Reagan destroyed confidence in Jimmy Carter with one simple question: “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”  Any Republican presidential hopeful that can channel the frustration in Queens into a similarly concise indictment of President Barack Obama will be well positioned to oust yet another bumbling Democratic incumbent.

February 25th, 2011 at 1:34 pm
The Secrets of Chris Christie’s Success

In a characteristically well written piece Matt Bai identifies several political skills wielded by New Jersey’s dynamic governor.  Among them, Chris Christie’s ability to humanize mundane issues like pension policy stand out.

The theme of the week was pension-and-benefits reform, and in his introductory remarks, Christie explained the inefficiency in the state’s health care costs not by wielding a stack of damning statistics, as some politicians might, but by relating a story.

When he was a federal prosecutor, Christie told the audience, he got to choose from about 100 health-insurance plans, ranging from cheap to quite expensive. But as soon as he became governor, the “benefits lady” told him he had only three state plans from which to choose, Goldilocks-style; one was great, one was modestly generous and one was rather miserly. And any of the three would cost him exactly 1.5 percent of his salary.

“ ‘You’re telling me,’ ” Christie said he told the woman, feigning befuddlement, “ ‘that no matter which one I pick, the good one or the O.K. one or the bad one, I’m going to pay 1½ percent of my salary?’ And she said, ‘Yes.’

“And I said, ‘Then everyone picks the really good one, right?’ And she said, ‘Ninety-six percent of state employees pick the really good one.’

“Which led me to have two reactions,” Christie told the crowd. “First, bring those other 4 percent to me! Because when I have to start laying people off, they’re the first ones!” His audience burst into near hysterics. “And the second reaction was, of course I would choose the best plan,” Christie said, “and so would you.

Bai goes on to report seeing Christie’s mixed race audience nodding in agreement that public employees should be required to pay more for the better plan.  As Christie says, this isn’t rocket science, just common sense.  His ability to relate hard truths in understandable terms is a unique gift shared by the likes of Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, JFK, and FDR.  Not bad company for a guy from New Jersey.

February 18th, 2011 at 12:18 am
Noam Chomsky Helpfully Explains the Reagan Legacy
Posted by Troy Senik Print

As commemorations and retrospectives continue to accompany the centennial of Ronald Reagan’s birth, the far left is taking its chance to recycle the anti-Reagan propaganda it’s had to keep on ice for the last quarter century. And when it comes to radical revisionism, no one’s better that MIT linguist Noam Chomsky, the dean of wise old leftists insulated from reality by the tenure system.

In an appearance on the program “Democracy Now”, Chomsky offered this summation of the Reagan Legacy:

 “What happened after Reagan left office was the beginnings of an effort to carry out – this Reagan legacy to try to create from this really quite miserable creature as some kind of deity and amazingly it succeeded,” Chomsky said. “I mean, Kim Il-sung would have been impressed. The events that took place when Reagan died, the Reagan legacy, this Obama business – you don’t get that in free societies. It would be ridiculed. What you get it is in totalitarian states.”

Apart from the fact that this world-renowned linguist has all the syntactical finesse of a five year old, what’s most telling is Chomsky’s bogeyman invocation of totalitarianism. Remind us again, Noam, what was your role in bringing down the Soviet Union? And what is it exactly that Hugo Chavez finds so appealing about your books?

February 14th, 2011 at 9:52 pm
Fiscal Conservatism, in One Paragraph
Posted by Troy Senik Print

There were many fine speeches from last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that deserved the attention of thoughtful conservatives. First among equals, however, was the address that Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels gave for Friday night’s Ronald Reagan Centennial Dinner.

The speech — written by Daniels himself — shows that the potential 2012 presidential candidate is not only a brilliant manager and a canny politician, but also an extremely sophisticated (and subtle) writer. In its defense of a prudent conservatism, the speech demonstrated that Daniels, not Barack Obama, is the great literary talent of 21st century politics. For unlike The One, Daniels speech was drenched in substance.

As such, the speech deserves no less than to be read in its entirety. Failing that, however, no passage deserves isolated quotation as much as Daniels’ definition and defense of fiscal conservatism, a masterpiece of dictional economy:

We believe it wrong ever to take a dollar from a free citizen without a very necessary public purpose, because each such taking diminishes the freedom to spend that dollar as its owner would prefer. When we do find it necessary, we feel a profound duty to use that dollar as carefully and effectively as possible, else we should never have taken it at all.

That’ll do, Mitch. That’ll do.

February 11th, 2011 at 9:56 am
Video: The Gipper at 100
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

This month marks the 100th birthday of President Ronald Reagan.  In this week’s “Freedom Minute,” CFIF’s Renee Giachino looks back on his commitment to America’s founding principles and the cause of liberty.  “A good president would have reminded us that America has the potential to be a shining city on a hill,” says Giachino. “But because he was a great one, Ronald Reagan took action to ensure that we would become that city.”