They didn’t call Ronald Reagan “The Great Communicator” just because he knew how to deliver a speech. The fact is, he—more than any president in recent memory—knew how to bring a complex idea to life in ways the public wouldn’t just understand but would embrace.
Sometimes this required some simplifications the media—which continually tried to prove Reagan a dunce—used to distort what he was saying. That’s not to say he didn’t get a few things wrong; every president does. On the big things, however, like the importance of economic growth and how to get it, he was very, very right.
Growth matters. The Republicans who followed Reagan into the White House either didn’t get it or couldn’t explain it. That left the door open for the media and progressives to slander and then dismiss pro-growth measures as deficit-enhancing tax cuts for the wealthy that produced greater income inequality.
The Republicans who tried but failed to follow Reagan into the White House—Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney—didn’t make it in part because they didn’t understand the need to explain how growth happens. They never communicated how the right kinds of tax cuts and deregulatory measures would cause economic expansion, leading to rising wages, more jobs and new businesses, making everyone better off while eventually bringing into the U.S. treasury as much revenue or more as the liberals claimed the tax cuts “cost.”
Reagan honed his ability to explain the politics and economics of growth to working Americans over years. As a spokesman for General Electric, he went around the country to the company’s various plants and facilities to talk to employees about the virtues of the free market system. More recent Republicans’ comparative inarticulateness may in part explain why the country appears to be embracing the soft socialism Joe Biden and his congressional colleagues are offering.
Pollster Scott Rasmussen just released a national survey of 1,200 registered voters that found 35 percent of them saying economic fairness was more important than economic growth. The fact that just over a third of the country thinks equality of outcomes deserves more focus than equality of opportunity—a key component of any pro-growth policy—should alarm Republican leaders and growth hawks.
Even when the numbers are broken down by party, the results are disheartening. According to Rasmussen, a third of Republicans now believe fairness is more important than growth. In the Reagan years and throughout the Gingrich era, which saw the first balanced budget in decades alongside a period of continued growth, a number that high would have been inconceivable.
It’s not that the GOP doesn’t believe in fairness. The free market is the fairest system ever conceived for the exchange of goods and services between willing sellers and willing buyers. It’s that they reject—or ought to, anyway—the idea that no matter where anyone starts, we all need to end up in the same place.
It’s really that kind of outcome that’s the most unfair. It presumes that no matter how creative a person is, how hard they work, how good their innovation might be or even how lucky they are, no one should do any better than their neighbor. Identical per capita income for every family—that’s the ticket.
Except it’s not. The progressive politicians’ response to the COVID crisis—shutting down the marketplace state by state while the federal government borrows trillions, inflating the debt while doing nothing to stimulate the economy—leads to disaster. It won’t take too much more of this before the United States starts to resemble Greece, and not in a good way. We’ll be comparatively lucky if it stops there, without the U.S. sliding all the way down into the same space as Venezuela.
There is a bright spot in Rasmussen’s data. “Those respondents who believe focusing on economic growth is the most important rated cutting spending and taxes as the best prescriptions” for doing so, as did those “who would rather focus on economic fairness.” Both sides agree on what needs to be done and, at least by implication, reject the Biden White House’s tax-and-spend plans. This means the growth wing of the GOP has a chance to carry the day—if it’s smart and can find leaders who can explain what is going on in ways the public can understand, even through the filter of the elite media and the opposition’s critique.
By Rich Lowry • National Review
The Left distorts what happened in El Salvador in the 1980s.
In a viral exchange at a congressional hearing last week, the new congresswoman from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, who is quickly establishing herself as the most reprehensible member of the House Democratic freshman class despite stiff competition, launched into Elliott Abrams. She accused the former Reagan official and Trump’s special envoy to Venezuela of being complicit in war crimes.
“Yes or no,” she demanded, “would you support an armed faction within Venezuela that engages in war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide, if you believe they were serving U.S. interest, as you did in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua?”
Omar was cribbing from the Left’s notes on U.S. Latin American policy, and doing it badly. She made much of the 1981 El Mozote massacre in El Salvador. The idea that Abrams is somehow directly implicated in this bloodcurdlingly awful event is completely absurd. Continue reading
A week and half after President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met to smooth over trade disputes, China announced it will buy more foreign goods , including U.S. soybeans. At the same time, it vowed to completely retool its “Made In China 2025” program, intended to make China the world’s most powerful economy. Nice gestures, but whether China follows through is a big question.
Reuters reports that Chinese state-owned firms snapped up more than half a million tons of U.S. soybeans on Wednesday to show they mean business. But the Made In China 2025 reversal, if sincere, is even more significant. It would mark a major shift in China’s guiding economic philosophy, a strange melding of top-down communist political control with free-market tenets.
“The revised plan would play down China’s bid to dominate manufacturing and be more open to participation by foreign companies,” The Wall Street Journal reported, citing “people briefed on the matter” as the source. Continue reading
By Peggy Grande • Fox News
Now that his summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is back on for June 12 in Singapore, President Trump will benefit from some important lessons he appears to have learned by studying the success of President Reagan in dealing with the Soviet Union’s final leader, Mikhail Gorbachev.
This should give all Americans comfort.
Few predicted Ronald Reagan would win the Cold War without firing a shot. In the same way, few imagined that Donald Trump – who, like Reagan, entered the White House with little foreign affairs experience – would bring North Korea to the negotiating table to discuss the elimination of its nuclear arsenal and future nuclear capabilities.
We know President Reagan succeeded. We hope President Trump will as well.
As he prepares for his summit with Kim Jong Un, President Trump should heed the Russian proverb that President Reagan embraced in his nuclear disarmament negotiations with Gorbachev: “Doveryai, no proveryai,” which means “trust, but verify.”
Just as promises made by the Soviet leader were meaningless without verification, the same is true with North Korea. Kim Jong Un, along with his father and grandfather who ruled North Korea before him, has a long record of broken promises.
President Trump knows from his extensive career in business that without binding agreements, clear penalties for violations and established methods for verification, the words of the North Korean leader are worthless.
President Trump is also wisely continuing President Reagan’s belief in “peace through strength” – both in military capability and in economic capacity. President Trump knows the sanctions have been working to apply pressure to a fragile and failing North Korean economy, which puts him in a position of strength at the negotiating table.
In fact, the seal of the president of the United States has an eagle in the center clutching the olive branch of peace in one talon – and the arrows of war in the other. President Reagan in the 1980s and President Trump now extends an olive branch of peace first, with the hope that the arrows of war will not be needed. Yet both presidents have been unafraid to make their counterparts aware that America has the capacity, and the will, to defend itself if provoked.
At the Reykjavick, Iceland summit on nuclear disarmament, President Reagan eventually walked away from the negotiating table because Gorbachev wanted America to put an end to its Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) – the missile defense program some dubbed as “Star Wars.”
Stating that SDI was non-negotiable for the U.S., President Reagan refused further discussion and got up and walked out. While the summit was deemed a failure by many in the media because no agreement was reached on that day, President Reagan’s strong stance moved talks forward to a point where they could be resumed a short time later.
The groundwork was laid at the summit for much of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty signed in 1987 by Reagan and Gorbachev, eliminating an entire class of nuclear weapons.
President Reagan was committed to putting America’s interests first and would rather have no deal than a bad deal that weakened the United States. With his America First foreign policy, President Trump clearly is taking a similar position.
President Reagan knew the importance and effectiveness of face-to-face diplomacy and believed there was nothing that couldn’t be resolved if two leaders sat down across the table from each other to discuss their differences, as well as their shared goals. President Trump is committed to having a face-to-face conversation with Kim Jong Un, which will be a diplomatic milestone with global importance.
History is judging Ronald Reagan as one of our greatest presidents, while Donald Trump is still writing the record of his presidency by which history will ultimately judge him. But by looking to the diplomatic and negotiating success of President Reagan and following in his footsteps, President Trump has wisely chosen an outstanding leader to emulate.
About 40 years ago, Ronald Reagan and U.S. Senator Malcolm Wallop shared breakfast at U.S. Senator Paul Laxalt’s ranch. Virtually no one knew that this meeting took place or understood how important it would be to America’s security. As friends shared breakfast, Wallop explained the need for a robust missile defense — including developing a space-based defensive system. Once elected to office, President Reagan made it a national goal to develop effective high-tech defenses against missile attacks. That policy objective was an important factor in the U.S. winning the Cold War. Simply stated, even before missile defense was able to shoot down a missile, it was helping America defeat the Soviets.
During most of the last decade, missile defense was de-emphasized. It was a self-evidently foolish policy decision even though some offered misguided defenses of it. But now, given recent news from North Korea, few could argue that the Obama Administration’s disdain for missile defense has served America’s interests. Kim Jong Un has pushed North Korea’s nuclear program to develop nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles that can reach our West Coast. Pyongyang intends to threaten not just the West Coast, but all of America. Iran is headed in the same dangerous direction as North Korea. Continue reading
by Peter Huessy
Does the United States need nuclear weapons? What role do they play? And if they are valuable, how much should we spend supporting such a nuclear deterrent? In addition, what level of nuclear weapons should we aim to achieve to maintain stability and deterrence? And finally, does the type of nuclear deterrent maintained by the United States bear a relationship to whether nuclear weapons proliferate in the world, especially in Iran and North Korea?
The Center for Strategic and International Studies held a day long conversation on these questions on May 5th. Joe Cirincione, the President of the Ploughshares Fund laid out a four part narrative that the US was (1) maintaining a vastly bloated nuclear deterrent, (2) unnecessary for our security, (3) unaffordable, and (4) in need of at least an immediate unilateral one-third reduction in American nuclear forces to jump start efforts to get to zero nuclear weapons world-wide. Continue reading
by George F. Will • Washington Post
Donald Trump is just one symptom of today’s cultural pathology of self-validating vehemence with blustery certitudes substituting for evidence. Another is the fact that the book atop the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list is a tissue of unsubstantiated assertions. Because of its vast readership, “Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency” by Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly and his collaborator, Martin Dugard, will distort public understanding of Ronald Reagan’s presidency more than hostile but conscientious scholars could.
Styling himself an “investigative historian,” O’Reilly purports to have discovered amazing facts that have escaped the notice of real historians. The book’s intimated hypothesis is that the trauma of the March 1981 assassination attempt somehow triggered in Reagan a mental decline, perhaps accelerating the Alzheimer’s disease that would not be diagnosed until 13 years later. The book says Reagan was often addled to the point of incompetence, causing senior advisers to contemplate using the Constitution’s 25th Amendment to remove him from office. Well. Continue reading
“We have seen the splendor of our natural resource spread across the tables of the world, and we have seen the splendor of freedom coursing with new vigor through the channels of history.”
by Scott L. Vanatter
Ronald Reagan believed in America. He believed in America’s promise. He saw the best in his fellow Americans. We, too, believe in America, its promise, and see the best in our fellows.
At the beginning of our republic, President George Washington declared a Day of Thanksgiving his first year in office. In the midst of the sore trials of a massive Civil War, President Lincoln established a regular Day of Thanksgiving.
In the spirit of his predecessors, and while he tackled serious economic and foreign policy challenges, President Reagan delivered a series of eight Thanksgiving Day messages from 1981 through 1988. He repeated previous presidential calls to “set aside” this special day as one of thanksgiving and prayer to God. Further, he challenged the nation to recall and fulfill their responsibility to “give” to those who are less fortunate. There are those who lacked of the “abundance” which America enjoyed — they do not enjoy the abundance which comes as a result of our industry. Many around the world do not enjoy an “abundance of freedom.” America’s example of freedom is one of the lasting legacies we leave for a world — we are the last best hope of mankind. Reagan reminded us to live up to that legacy. Continue reading
by Ed Meese & John Heubusch • RealClearPolitics
There are over a thousand books on the subject of Ronald Reagan and his presidency. This is not surprising given that our 40th president is routinely cited in Gallup polls alongside George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt as one of America’s most admired presidents.
Some books such as Lou Cannon’s “President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime,” or Martin and Annelise Anderson and Kiron Skinner’s “Reagan in His Own Hand,” and most recently, “Last Act” by Craig Shirley offer keen insight into the man and benefit those seeking an accurate picture of the Reagan years. Unfortunately, Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard’s latest offering, “Killing Reagan,” is not among them.
We have watched numerous television interviews of Mr. O’Reilly since the release of “Killing Reagan” to assess the reasons he wrote the book. O’Reilly calls himself an “investigative historian” and claims such an approach “offers something new.” But there is “new” and there is “accurate”—and it’s unwise to confuse the two. O’Reilly says what he’s discovered is that for some of the time Reagan was in office, he was incapacitated to the point that it was questionable whether he could capably serve in the role of president of the United States. Continue reading
Freedom and opportunity are on the horizon with a new crop of principled, capable and positive conservatives.
by George Landrith
In the past few weeks and the next couple weeks, we will see most of the expected entrants into the GOP presidential sweepstakes make their plans official. The GOP bench is deep with a number of highly credible and well qualified potential nominees. Part of this deep bench is the result of the conservatives doing well in a majority of the non-presidential and state elections during President Barack Obama’s time in office. The GOP has gained 70 seats in Congress and 910 state legislators around the nation since Barack Obama took office.
If you’re a conservative, there is a lot more good news on the horizon. That deep bench of well-qualified and highly credible candidates is revealing itself in congressional elections around the nation. Speaking with campaign experts around the nation, one thing is clear — the GOP has a bumper crop of great conservative candidates.
I can’t write about each of them, but perhaps I can pick one that caught my eye and shows real promise. In Florida’s 18th Congressional District, an established name is retiring from the House of Representatives to pursue the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Marco Rubio. Rick Kozell has announced his candidacy for the open congressional seat in the Treasure Coast and Palm Beach area.
Here’s what I like about Rick Kozell — he’s an optimistic, principled conservative with a winning vision for the future. He reminds me of a young Ronald Reagan. The press will have a hard time casting him as the stereotypical angry conservative. Kozell is affable, young, smart, and articulate. His smile is natural and his energy and enthusiasm are obvious. Continue reading
Martin Anderson, a key adviser to Ronald Reagan, leaves behind a lasting legacy.
By Peter Roff • U.S. News
As an economist and political scientist, Martin Anderson was a man without peer. A senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution since 1971, he did much to advance the cause of freedom as expressed in his love of big ideas.
Many credit the case he made against mandatory conscription inside the White House as a special assistant to former President Richard Nixon as an invaluable, perhaps even decisive contribution to the campaign to end the draft, which Nixon did in 1973 as the war in Vietnam was winding down.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Anderson was a key adviser to Ronald Reagan, helping him formulate a successful economic policy that permitted the liberation of American capital through tax cuts that, when combined with declining interest rates and a stable monetary policy, triggered an economic boom that led the world out of a long recession and laid the groundwork for the West’s ultimate victory in the Cold War. Continue reading
“In this day, when our freedom to worship is most precious, let us redouble our efforts to bring this and other greatest freedoms to all the peoples of the Earth.” (1988)
by Scott L. Vanatter
Ronald Reagan believed in Americans. He believed in the promise of America, that Americans possessed the inherent and acquired power to rise to the occasion. This, because of the overt and unique design of the Founders to foster freedom and responsibility. Reagan was optimistic about America’s future. He believed that when freedom flourishes, responsibility and accomplishment would naturally follow. (Sometimes to the astonishment and even delight of our greatest skeptics.) Others assume the opposite; they believe that force or coercion is necessary to accomplish their ends.
Reagan also believed in the spirit of Christmas. This unique season — filled with wonder, lights, music and children’s faces and hearts — lifts our hearts and fosters the better angels of our nature. He believed in its symbolic power to help us see and reach into the core of what it means to be an American. Both for believers and non-believers in the Babe born in Bethlehem. Continue reading
by Brent Budowsky • The Hill
When President Obama and European leaders meet at the NATO summit meeting in Wales on Thursday, they will have one last chance to address the grave dangers to Western security from the mass murder committed by ISIS terrorists and the aggression against Europe and Ukraine by Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.
The president and European leaders must understand why their lack of clarity and resolve on vital matters of national security endangers American and Western security. Halfway sanctions against Russia, a halfway NATO rapid response force in Europe and a halfway war to destroy the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will not suffice when European security is threatened by an imperial dictator who seeks to destroy borders and genocidal terrorists who target our shores.
The demented beheading by ISIS of a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff, following the killing last month of James Foley, dramatizes again the urgency for America, Europe and decent people of all faiths to unite to destroy ISIS. Let’s pray for Mr. Sotloff and his family, and resolve to eliminate this murderous scourge from the face of the earth.
Obama would be well advised to read the diaries of former President Reagan, probably the best book by a president about how to be president. Continue reading
To understand Vladimir Putin’s wars, the key is to understand the final two decades of the Soviet Union, not the first two decades of the new Russia.
by Tom Nichols • The Federalist
Americans have been grasping to find explanations for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s serial aggressions in Europe. We keep searching for bumper stickers we can understand, so we gravitate to simple explanations like “geopolitics” or “nationalism,” not least because such notions promise solutions. (If it’s about geopolitics, cutting a deal with Putin will stop this; if it’s about nationalism, it’ll burn itself out when Putin has recaptured enough ethnic Russians around his borders.)
And, of course, there’s always “realism.” In this month’s Foreign Affairs, John Mearsheimer argues the Russo-Ukraine war is basically the West’s fault. (We expanded NATO, we supported the Maidan protesters, we were generally just mean to Russia, etc.) Continue reading