A man whose greatness as President becomes more evident each day that Barack Obama spends in the Oval Office:
Even Reagan’s bitterest critics, by contrast, would agree that the Gipper was superb at bringing the country together in times of national grief and on occasions of solemn remembrance. His address on the night of the Challenger explosion in 1986 was a defining moment for a generation; so, too, was his speech at the Normandy cliffs on the 40th anniversary of D-Day. Gesturing to elderly Army veterans, the President declared, “These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent”–as an enthralled world watched in misty-eyed admiration.
But Reagan was vastly more than a scene-setter and speechmaker. He was a great president, one of America’s greatest. During his eight years in office, inflation and interest rates fell from their double-digit levels, even as the nation’s economic output grew by a third. He appointed center-right judges who helped restore order and sanity to our legal system, initiating a process that reduced crime and ended egregious legal insults to common sense.
He rebuilt our military, a group that had been demoralized after Vietnam. In the late 70s, the United States had ships that couldn’t sail, planes that couldn’t fly and soldiers and sailors who were on food stamps. In the 80s, Reagan changed all that. He built the mightiest military in the world with improved manpower and the best equipment in the world that faced down the Soviets from a position of superior strength. The Reagan defense buildup has been the backbone of today’s military, which has defended America and its allies for the last quarter-century.
Overseas, Reagan’s achievements were even more remarkable. Working through agents and allies, the president beat the Soviets in Afghanistan, without the loss of a single American G.I. His leadership set the stage for the fall of the Berlin Wall, thus imploding the Soviet Union and ending the Cold War.
Did he make mistakes? Sure. But when he did, he took responsibility and fixed the problem, without wallowing in self-pity. And all the while, he demonstrated a personal probity that never left anyone wondering if the man in the Oval Office was keeping faith with the people who had put their faith in him.
James Pinkerton, the author of the piece, goes on to write of what Reagan would do if he were in office today.
A must read.