Saturday, January 29, 2011

Gary Palmer: Reagan was the right man at the right time

  February 6th, 2011 will mark the 100th birthday of Ronald Reagan, the man who restored our faith in America and in ourselves. Reagan had great confidence in the American people - our common sense, our common decency, our resiliency and our ability to always rise above difficult circumstances.

  In his acceptance speech at the 1980 Republican National Convention, Reagan called on the people of America to help him renew the American compact and return to the core values so important to the founding of this nation. Reagan said, "I ask you not simply to "trust me," but to trust your values - our values - and to hold me responsible for living up to them." He called for a renewal of the American spirit that he said knew no bounds, the spirit that he had seen all over America that was "... ready to blaze into life if you and I are willing to do what has to be done."

  Reagan came along at just the right time to call the American people back to their values and to restore America's self-confidence by returning to and affirming the principles that most politicians of that era had long ago abandoned.

  America was a nation in crisis when Reagan was sworn into office on January 20th, 1981. Inflation was in double digits and so was unemployment. To make matters worse, consumer interest rates were over 20 percent and the economy was experiencing a new phenomenon ... stagflation. The United States had just endured an oil embargo imposed by OPEC with resulting energy prices that further hampered the economy.

  Internationally, America appeared to be weak and inept. Iranian radicals who had taken over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran 1979 were still holding 52 Americans hostage. Many people believed the Soviet Union would win the Cold War. When Reagan took office as president, the nation that had always believed in itself as a nation of destiny was facing a crisis of confidence concerning its future.
  Reagan's vision for American renewal was to unleash energies of the American people, rather than to use government to try to channel them. He understood the best stimulus plan was to allow Americans to reap the rewards of their labors by lowering taxes and cutting bureaucratic red tape that stifled investment and entrepreneurism. He believed the most powerful and effective force for restoring the strength and prosperity of the nation did not reside behind some federal bureaucrat's desk or in the Oval Office. He knew it was in the homes and hearts of everyday Americans.

  He was not afraid to tell the American people the truth and to encourage them to rise to the challenges of that period. Reagan did not concern himself with what the media or intellectual elites thought of him or his ideas; he did not let political opponents or the naysayers in his own party discourage him. He pressed on, believing the American people would rally to his side.

  And he was right.

  Reagan's presidency was the sum of his ideas and the core principles that guided his ideas. Add his integrity and his "guts" and you will see what made Reagan one of our greatest presidents. Reagan possessed a consistency of character that most Americans appreciated, admired and more importantly, trusted.

  In his first inaugural address, Reagan said, "It is no coincidence that our present troubles parallel and are proportionate to the intervention and intrusion in our lives that result from unnecessary and excessive growth of government. It is time for us to realize that we are too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams. We are not, as some would have us believe, doomed to an inevitable decline. I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing. So, with all the creative energy at our command, let us begin an era of national renewal. Let us renew our determination, our courage, and our strength. And let us renew our faith and our hope."

  Reagan could have been speaking of the current condition of our nation. Americans should honor the 100th birthday of Ronald Reagan by striving to be who Reagan always believed us to be ... a people willing to work and sacrifice, a people willing to believe in greatness of our nation and willing to give our best effort to achieve it.
  We need to have Reagan's optimism and hope. Where others saw troubles and problems, he saw possibilities. And we need to once again embrace the values and principles on which this nation was built and pass them on in our homes to our children and grandchildren.

  As Reagan said in his farewell address, "All great change in America begins at the dinner table."
  About the author: Gary Palmer is president of the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families, which are indispensable to a prosperous society.

1 comment:

  1. Hagiography from a hack? Or then again, Gary Palmer may be a true believer? Either way, he earns his keep from his funders conflating family values with Corporate libertarianism. Given that The Gipper was a kept man as well following his b-movie career, perhaps Palmer feels a connection with Reagan? After all, the AMA put The Gipper to work recording an LP for "Operation Coffee Cup" to derail what eventually became Medicare. And General Electric put the amiable Reagan on the PR payroll of course for nearly a decade. How long has Gary Palmer been cashing his API checks?

    Here are the fact Mr. Palmer: Reagan caught the attention of some powerful men in California and beyond. They found in him a worthy vessel, as he'd been honing his lines for years indeed, to advance their radicalism. And our world has never been the same. His voodoo economics were rightly ridiculed by his later Veep (Bu$h the Elder) and yet Carter had started some of the same silliness. By the way Mr. Palmer, Paul Volker's harsh interest rates broke stagflation, perhaps costing Carter the Presidency.

    The deficit exploded under Reagan of course with the tradition of leaving messes behind becoming a seeming requirement of GOP Presidencies.

    Then again the Iran Hostage Crisis hardly helped Carter. I trust Mr. Palmer that the activities of Reagan operatives in negotiating with Iranian operatives are known to you. If not, please look into investigative journalist Robert Parry's work plus that of others. Treason of Reagan's handlers before taking office was just a foretaste of what would come in the Iran-Contra mess.

    As for the fall of the USSR, Nixon's detente policy and some in the intelligence community predicted their demise. Ford's duo of Rumsfeld and Cheney, even then appreciative of the value of fear, revved up the apprehension. Carter's Zbigniew Brzezinski, a man I respect in some respects yet ..., was hardly a peacenik and in fact has admitted the CIA was involved in building up the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan even before Soviet tanks rumbled South.

    While it is no surprise to me, news of Reagan's mental limitations, in especially his second term, have been in the news lately. Early onset of Alzheimer's disease is better understood now and clearly Reagan may have not been operating at 100% capacity at times.

    As for the OPEC oil embargo, Carter told the American public of what was required to shift off of our dependency on foreign oil. Reagan and his fellow Cons ridiculed him for this honesty. They still do.

    John Gunn (@JuntoGunto on Twitter)