Eugene David
...The One-Minute Pundit

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Yesterday we said "[a]nniversary stories...are like clockwork and tend to be polite or obfuscatory (see TOMORROW)." Well, tomorrow is here. Con-SER-va-tive Web sites are today unreadable, and the same liberals who might silently have rooted for John Hinckley thirty years ago are holding their peace. That means both are being typically dishonest. Let us get first things first: Ronald Reagan did NOT walk on water. There are several things he failed to do: He did not balance the budget or control government spending; he did not end the welfare state; despite the hallelujah chorus he did nothing for the pro-life movement but give it lip service; our national culture became ever more sordid whatever the newfound power of evangelists; despite an effusive "responsibility" taking over Lebanon he did nothing to stop terrorism. Then there are the things he did: He appointed the wizard of Oz, godfather of the high-tech and housing bubbles; he "hit the jackpot" creating the S & L disaster, precursor of the much bigger disaster to come; he sat stone-cold silent during the rogue foreign policy machinations of Iran-Contra. An old poli-sci phrase, "passive-positive", comes to mind; he liked the office but didn't do as much with it as his cheerleaders claim. Some religious leaders may be fallible. In this respect he resembles Ike; a really good guy can obscure a really mediocre presidency.

But then there is the one thing for which the history books should effusively praise him, that more than balances out the bad: He brought down European Communism. Of course it helped that Gorby came along. And here is where that old "not me" partisan way of thinking scalds us; liberals think Gorby, not Reagan, deserves the credit. By that measure the incompetent engineers who designed Chernobyl deserved it. But Ronald Reagan never wavered from his fierce anti-Communism, and the Soviets knew it, and in time they backed down. That Russia is today a kleptocracy owes nothing to Reagan; the Russian people had little experience in democracy and a great deal in Mafia. But the eastern Europeans are free, which they could not say a scant two decades ago. Let us ignore the impulse to be false on anniversaries like this and honor Ronald Reagan for a signal achievement of history.

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