Saturday, 5 February 2011

Ronald Reagan - a great American

Man is not free unless government is limited.
Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan - once so despised and ridiculed by "progressive" European leaders, journalists and "intellectuals" - would have been 100 on February 6. This weekend there will be a great number of articles about the centenary in newspapers all over the world. I will only refer to one of them, written by the veteran Washington Post journalist Lou Cannon, author of several books on Reagan:

On the eve of Ronald Reagan's election as president of the United States in 1980, a radio reporter asked him what it was that Americans saw in him. Reagan hesitated and then replied: "Would you laugh if I told you that I think maybe they see themselves and that I'm one of them?"

Thirty years and four presidents later, Americans still see themselves in Reagan. In a Gallup poll in 2009 they ranked Reagan as the best president, just ahead of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.

This highly generous assessment is based on more than likeability. Reagan left the world safer and the United States more prosperous than he found it. Even some liberal scholars who disdained Reagan when he was in the White House now acknowledge his effectiveness as a leader, especially his role in ending the Cold War. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, his partner in that enterprise, said at Reagan's funeral that the U.S. president was "an extraordinary political leader" who had "decided to be a peacemaker."
Reagan was at once a man of conviction who thought seriously about the great issues of his time and an ordinary American, never braggy, who treated his audiences -- all of us, really -- with consideration and respect. His greatest single quality was his self-deprecating humor, which came naturally to him and was honed into an effective political weapon. He made fun of his age, his work habits, his vanities, his ideology, his alleged lack of intelligence, and his supposed domination by his wife. When he was speaking to a political rally in Florida and a wind blew his speaking cards off a podium, Reagan picked them up, shuffled them together, and quipped that it really didn't matter what order they were in. When a reporter during the first gubernatorial campaign brought Reagan a studio picture showing him with the title chimpanzee in the movie "Bedtime for Bonzo," Reagan signed it and wrote, "I'm the one with the watch." On Air Force One he signed a picture of a sleeping Marlin Fitzwater, his press secretary, with the inscription, "Marlin, we're only supposed to do this at cabinet meetings."

Read the entire article here.

Of all the speeches Reagan gave, I think this one, deservedly, is the one that most people, at least in Europe, will remember and cherish:

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