Thursday, January 19, 2006

Memories Of A Great Man

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free." ~ Ronald Reagan

Mike, from Mike's America is celebrating the 25th anniversary of Ronald Reagan's first inauguration this week, on the 20th, and he has asked me, as well as many other bloggers, to write something of our memories of Reagan.

I do want to pay homage to Reagan, but I confess, I am woefully short of memories of that great man.

In 1981, when he was inaugurated for his first term, I was a proud Liberal. What I knew about politics, at that time, could have been inscribed on the head of a pin. This would explain why I was a Liberal. I didn't have a clue. I was much more concerned with making my fortune in the business world. How I wish I had paid more attention to the important things that were going on at that time!

Here are some of my impressions about Ronald Reagan that I had at the time:

As a Liberal, I didn't like him, and I fell into that Liberal way of mean spirited name calling and spreading lies and half truths about him, as is popular among the Liberal crowd even today. I believed the lies that the media told about him and even repeated them at every opportunity. However, I think it was during his presidency that my attitude changed. I can attribute one thing in particular that helped bring about that change of attitude:

I have always tried to be fair and intellectually honest with myself, if not outwardly. One thing I said almost from the beginning about Reagan was that he followed through with his campaign promises. That one singular thing impressed me favorably about him. I often told my colleagues, when he was discussed, "Well I don't agree with him, but you have to admit, he does what he said he would do".

I was also impressed with his sense of humor. You can't stay angry at a man with such great wit. Remember when he was shot in the assassination attempt? I remember how he looked up at Nancy, his life literally hanging by a thread, and said, "Honey, I forgot to duck."

It wasn't until much later that Americans found out how close to death he had actually come that day.

And then there was that crowning achievement, that I failed to grasp the importance of until much later. That glorious victory he celebrated when he stood in the face of the great Bear that was the Soviet Union, and said, "Mr. Gorbachev, Tear down this wall!"

He did what the naysayers predicted would never happen. He won the cold war!

Last year, a poll was taken by a television network, I forget which one, asking Americans who they considered the Greatest American. You probably already know this, but Ronald Reagan won.

I concur.

Well, you know me now. I am not now, nor will I ever again be a Liberal.
I think Ronald Reagan and his presidency was the main reason that I eventually switched teams. I wanted to be associated with a party of integrity and honesty, and it was in Ronald Reagan that those qualities were found.

I dearly wish I had more articulate insights to offer. My thoughts, I am sure, will be greatly eclipsed by the remembrances of so many other bloggers who were Reagan Republicans from the outset.


Mike's America said...

"My thoughts, I am sure, will be greatly eclipsed by the remembrances of so many other bloggers who were Reagan Republicans from the outset."

Au contraire mon ami!

It is precisely voices like yours who carry such weight as we look back. You learned the lessons that Reagan and later, history taught and you adapted your political philosophy to suit what was and is a better grasp of reality than the one you previously ascribed to.

I'll be posting an exerpt from your post later today. I'm a bit behind today as it took me a couple hours first to find the following photo, then to reconfigure the scanner:

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Mark...don't feel so lame. Back then, in the 80's, I was going through puberty and the extent of my politics was from reading Bruce Springsteen's pontificating in Rolling Stone Magazine. He took umbrage with Ronald Reagan's "misuse" of his song, "Born in the USA", and made it known to his fans. Yet through it all, like you said, it was difficult to dislike a man with such charm and wit. Like Clinton (calm down, my fellow conservatives!), Reagan had charm, likeability, and charisma. The line I somewhat remember, regarding his being shot, was him recounting how he told the doctors and nurses, "I hope you're all Republicans" when he was going to be operated on.

Erudite Redneck said...

Mark, I have never believed you were truly a liberal. I think you just went with the flow, not thinking about muich at all back then. This is based on your previous descriptions of yourself. But this nails it because of the internal contradictions:

"I was a Liberal. I didn't have a clue. I was much more concerned with making my fortune in the business world."

Real liberals think, despite what righty-rights think; y'all mistakenly assume the ones on TV, out of Hollywood, speak for all, when, really, those os us left of center, whether it's a little like me or a lot like others, mainly just put up with them because they have money. Because MOST of us, and this is the other contradiction in your statement above, do NOT make our most important decisions about life based on money and wealth.

I have three, preciseely three, pleasant memories of Reagan:

The "surly bonds" speech he read, but did not write, the night of the Challenger explosion; the Brandenburg gate "tear down this wall" speech, which he also read but did not write; and the one thing he DID say that no one else wrote, "Honey, I forgot to duck," which he said to Nancy after he'd been shot, as they rolled himn into the hospital.

Out of respect for the true intent of this post, I will spare y'all what I really think -- adding only that Reagan's presidency is what sealed my political position as being left, but not too far left, of center.

Y'all all have fun now venerating the man. :-)

Xena76 said...

Not too far left of center, ER? HA! That's pretty funny. Keep telling yourself that if you have to.

I, however, do not live in denial and am proud to be so far to the right that I don't think I even qualify as a Republican. Not weird religious zealot right, but very far right politically.

It seems to me that very few presidents actually get to write their own speeches though, so your implied slam because he didn't write them is a little misplaced. I believe the job of writing Clinton's speeches fell to Michael Waldman and Carolyn Curiel.

I was 4 when Reagan took office the first time and 8 the second time, so I don't remember much politically about the man. I do remember that Reagan made some changes whose end result was that my unemployed father got a job and was able to attend college at the same time, we started having more available income for things like clothing and food and although our lives stayed very hard, they were easier during the "Reagan" years than during the Carter, Clinton, and even Bush 41 years. Specific memories about politics I am lacking, so you all will have to provide those.

Erudite Redneck said...

Xena, if you and I have descended to the level of personal insult first,, then let's just stop talking to each other, OK?

I didn't ask for your swipes over at Tug's place, although I certainly understand that you saw a need to defend him. He and I were havin' one of our jabbin' contests, and to be frank, you messed it up by jumping in the middle of it.

I haven't been back to that post because I said I wouldn't comment further on it, and I don't trust myself to be able to read whatever oiling on took place after I left. I left because I don't hit women.

On the other hand, I did toss quite a few redneck gals out of a dance hall when I was a bouncer in my younger, stupider days.

It's a sign of how far right-wing y'all are that you see me as a lefty. I stand by my definition of self: I am liberal, not lefty, and not that damn lib -- only when compared to the extremes of the Republican Party. I was a moderate until about a dozen years ago, when the right went nucking FUTS over Clinton's election.

Erudite Redneck said...

By the way, to those would call me inconsistent, for balking at Xena's "insult" when I've been know to fling a few myself in the heat of the moment:

You're rght. I am inconsistent because I have difrerent relationships with different people, bloggers included.

Until very recently, Xena and I had disagreed but not had a cross or disrespectful word for one another. I hope to nip it in the bud NOW.

Daffy76 said...

My memories of Reagan are very limited as well. I was 12 when Bush 41 was elected. However, I agree with Xena. My memories of those times are that though things were still never easy, the going was better when Reagan was in office.

I remember my Grandmother disliking Reagan because he had been an actor. I never understood how that had anything to do with how he handled his Presidency. My very earliest impression of the man was that he was an excellent example of integrity. That impression probably has a lot to do with why I identify with the GOP now.

To this day, I believe that Reagan is the greatest President this country has ever had. I hope that history will remember him the same way.

Erudite Redneck said...

Come on. The greatest president was Washington, and not just because he was the first one. If God's hand ever WAS on this country directly, it was back then.

BTW, Xena, if I'd wanted to slam Reagan, I woulda slammed him. There's enough material for it without me having to "pick on" him for not writing, but only uttering, those stirring words. I mentioned the authorship as a matter fo fact to those who might believe he HAD written them, and because, as a perfessional writer, I think authorship is as important as ... um, uttership.

MonicaR said...

Not eclipsed at all! I completely enjoyed your memories of the time.

TECH said...

Humph. Both Xena's and ER's remarks really miss the point of this post, but I guess their spat takes priority over what Mark intended.

I also am, of course, a liberal, but I do have a lot of respect for Reagan. I think he was poorly served by many of his cabinet, but I never doubted that he truly wanted America to be a better place. And he had charm by the bucket and a backbone that didn't bend. I always regretted that he didn't take more chances. I think he could have accomplished more than he did and that America would have supported him. (One chance I wanted him to take was for his second election. There was talk that he might drop Bush as vice-president and run with Jeane Kirkpatrick, thus giving us our first female vice-president. I think Reagan was so popular that he could have pulled it off.)

I think the best thing he did was make us proud of our president. Even those who disagreed with him understood what he stood for. And he was funny and able to take a joke. As a Democrat, I’m proud to say that I voted for him both times. (And I hope I don’t get tarred and feathered over it!)

old soldier said...

Thank you, tech. You've added more to the tribute than you can imagine. I certainly appreciate your perspective and comments.

Xena76 said...

Tech, I was not aware that there was any discussion about Reagan possibly taking a female vice-president. By the time I was old enough to understand the importance of that, it was old news I guess and I never had the chance to hear that.

As I recall, the hostages that had been held captive in Iran were released the day Reagan was inaugurated. I obviously can't know for sure whether one thing had anything to do with the other, but it seems to me that the terrorists were willing to keep them as long as Carter was in office but as soon as Reagan was put in office, they were released. I remember my mother crying that day and telling me that the country made the right choice. I can't imagine what the US would have been without Reagan.

By the way, tech, thanks for the reminder.

Xena76 said...

You're absolutely right, ER. I let my temper get the better of me. I will do my best to stay out of your's and Tug's little tiffs. Sorry to all of you to have caused such a problem, especially if it took anything away from this post.

Mike's America said...

"Erudite()" Redneck:

I was actually THERE during the time some of these speeches were written. And if you had the slightest knowledge of Ronald Reagan, you would know that he wrote many of the best speeches himself. Not every single jot and tittle, but whole sections.

He also overrode the wooly headed State Department types who never wanted him to say anything challenging to the Soviets.

Excellent article by one of the speech writers here:

You might also find some enlightenment in Richard Reeves new book: "President Reagan: The Triumph of the Imagination" which I excerpt here:

mike's america said...

We Republicans need to keep smearing soldiers and Veterans like Jack Murtha, Max Cleland, John Kerry, Tammy Duckworth otherwise all we are left with is Jack Abramoff helping us in 2006.

Go GOoPers!!!!

Erudite Redneck said...

Peace, Xena. :-)

Mikes "America" -- don't read more into what I said than I said -- oh, wait! That's part of the hard-right GOP play book. Carry on.

If Peggy Noonan wasn't responsible for borrowing the "surly bonds" line and writing that speech, or most of it, enlighten me and the rest of the world, please.

If Brandenburg was spontaneous, or written by RWR, then tell me. I assumed it was not from his hand or his mind. If I'm wrong, correct me.

I said nothing about his speeches, or his contributions to them, in general.

I didn't-don't hate Reagan. I freely admit that he scared the hell out of me.

I agree with the stuff Tech said. But I voted Mondale Ferraro in '84 and Dukakis-Bentsen in '88.

Erudite Redneck said...

To whomever put the goat thing up, you've libeled Mark, and I hope he finds you and sues you.

And if I got my own hands on you, I'd kick your ass myself.

Mark said...

OK That's it. I am re-enabling comment moderation because of some very hateful comments made by Kevron. Oh, and I flagged your new blog, too, Kevron.

Mike's America said...

Here's the IP of that loon:

Amazing that someone would go to such lengths to be so hate filled and nasty...

But then, with role models like Howard Dean, It's not that surprising.

P.S. ER: We won't hold it against you for being so very wrong about so very much in the 80's. It would be nice however, if you had learned from the lessons that history and Reagan taught, espeically as it relates to President Bush's effective policy to win the current war.

And as it relates to speeches... Did my comment suggest to you that Reagan wrote every word? Perhaps you'd like to review my earlier comment.

You might also want to take advantage of my link regarding Richard Reeves book. You can read chapter one for FREE!

In it, he describes Reagan's first inaugural address. Reagan took all his speech notes (which HE WROTE) and handed them to the speech writer to use. Later, when the speech was written and did not include a particular passage, Reagan re-inserted it.

The process for ANY presidential speech, even the teeny-tiny ones, involves many layers of staff. But in the end, the final draft is nearly always a product of the President, with editing in his own hand.

People like Peggy Noonan, while indispensible, are merely the tool that any president uses to craft his message. In the end, it is HIS message.

I am sure your misinformation regarding this particular process is in no way a knee jerk reflection on Reagan as nothing but a good script reader.

Mike's America said...

P.S. ER: Since you probably did not look at the account of the man who "wrote" the Berlin Wall speech:

Here's the last two 'graphs:

"There is a school of thought that Ronald Reagan managed to look good only because he had clever writers putting words into his mouth. (Perhaps the leading exponent is my former colleague Peggy Noonan, who while a Reagan speechwriter appeared in a magazine article under a caption that said just that: "The woman who puts the words in the president's mouth.") There is a basic problem with this view. Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, George Bush, and Bob Dole all had clever writers. Why wasn't one of them the Great Communicator?

Because we, his speechwriters, were not creating Reagan; we were stealing from him. Reagan's policies were straightforward--he had been articulating them for two decades. When the State Department and the National Security Council began attempting to block my draft by submitting alternative drafts, they weakened their own case. Their drafts lacked boldness. They conveyed no sense of conviction. They had not stolen, as I had, from Frau Elz--and from Ronald Reagan."

Erudite Redneck said...

Mike, re:

"I am sure your misinformation regarding this particular process is in no way a knee jerk reflection on Reagan as nothing but a good script reader."

You are correct.

You and I will be able to communicaste without flaming if you try a little harder.

But if you really just want to flame, just let me know. I got a Zippo in one hand and 20-plus years of thoughtful anti-Republicanism to light up.

Erudite Redneck said...

P.S. Mike, I do not doubt nor do I disute the "effectiveness" of the Bush "war."

I doubt and dispute the morality of it, if it means anything approaching a "unitary executive" and disregard for the other two branches of federal government.

Little Miss Chatterbox said...

Great post!! I was a teenager during the Reagan years and completely oblivious to politics and current events. I also wish now that I had been paying attention then.

I have read several books about him that has enabled me to develop a huge love and respect for him. So much so that I had tears in my eyes the whole week of his death and funeral.

He was an awesome man. I think I will do my next conservative profile on him.

Erudite Redneck said...

This is a nice tribute. For an alternative view, come to my place.

Erudite Redneck said...

Mark, did I dream that I put a comment here regarding my internship with Rep. Pat Swindall? I can't find it ...

Mark said...

No ER, I read it, too. I don't know here it went. I might have accidently deleted it when I was going through trying to clear up this mess withKevron. If I did, it wasn't intended. Feel free to repost it.

Erudite Redneck said...

"Poof" -- nah. The muse has left me. No big deal. :-)

KEvron said...

you guys planning a dinner? may i recommend, as the center piece, an ice sculpture bust of the gipper?


Mark said...

That's better Kev. See? We can all get along if we are respectful.

Oh, and that's kind of funny, too.

Kris said...

What a day in blogoshere!
Great job mark in how you handled the situations and yourself. If my opinion matters or for what its worth; it takes more of man to own up to mistakes and set the record straight. I think you did a great job.

I don't know how a perversion like nambla even exist under our constitution. Only the depths of hell knows that answer.

As far as Reagan; He was the first president I was able to vote for after turning 18. I have never regretted it and I never will.

I feel blessed to have been alive to see his presidency.

KEvron said...

"I don't know how a perversion like nambla even exist under our constitution."

all kinds of mental illness exist under our constitution. hate exist there, too.


KEvron said...

oh, and perversion, per se, is not against the law. i may bed my incontinent mother - were she to be so obliging - and there's not a thing you or anyone else could do about it.