Happy birthday, Mr. President

posted at 12:00 pm on February 6, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Today is the 100th birthday of Ronald Wilson Reagan, the man who seemed to live several lifetimes in his professional career and who arrived at his moment when his nation needed it the most.  Reagan spent half of his adult life in politics, eschewing the easy, lazy liberalism of his colleagues in the entertainment industry to champion an intellectual tough brand of conservatism, picking up the banner of Barry Goldwater in the face of his 1964 defeat.  Reagan spent the next three decades becoming a polarizing, controversial figure in American politics, but even before Alzheimer’s Syndrome robbed him of his last years, Reagan saw his legacy of liberty and triumph confirmed.

As a young boy growing up in Southern California, the first thing I recall knowing about Governor Reagan was that he kept jelly beans on his desk in Sacramento.  Obviously, this was an important political position for the elementary-school constituency.  But it didn’t take long to see how Reagan governed, even when Republicans practically everywhere else started running for the hills during the Watergate scandals. While I watched the hearings in Congress over Richard Nixon’s great downfall, Reagan was patiently and defiantly putting conservative ideals to work in the Golden State. By 1976, Reagan had me excited enough as a 13-year-old to follow his campaign closely in the papers, and calculating on a daily basis the numbers of delegates Reagan and Gerald Ford had and needed to win the nomination. He came back from that defeat in 1980 and pushed the GOP away from its Rockefeller wing and put his Goldwateresque conservative stamp on it for decades.

Many people will offer tributes today to one of the great American Presidents, and they will all be worth reading and watching. My friends at Power Line already have two posts up today.  Many in the blogosphere and the media will undoubtedly follow suit.  The media’s enthusiasm for this centennial is a testimony to the power of Reagan’s legacy and the place in history that his contemporary opponents in both politics and the media tried denying for years.

For my own retrospective, though, I want to focus on Reagan’s ultimate place in history and how he carved it out for himself.  How many people today remember what it was like to live in a world of a divided Europe, a divided Germany, and a divided Berlin — where guards with guns shot people who wanted to get out rather than get in? “We come to Berlin,” Reagan told the crowd at Brandenburg Gate, “because it is our duty to speak at this place of freedom.” And it’s largely because of Ronald Wilson Reagan, along with Margaret Thatcher, Pope John Paul II, and Lech Walesa that the Iron Curtain world died quietly in its sleep 21 years ago. Reagan and those stalwarts gave us a world where freedom and liberty triumphed over an “evil empire,” and the first step towards that victory was Reagan speaking plainly about its very nature rather than indulging in the pablum of moral relevancy that Reagan’s political opponents demanded.

As Mikhail Gorbachev tried selling Communism Lite through glasnost and perestroika, Reagan exposed his parlor tricks by daring Gorbachev to risk true openness by dismantling the prison state he and his predecessors had erected in East Berlin, East Germany, and Eastern Europe.  Three years later, the entire edifice crumbled without a shot.  Reagan’s call at the Brandenburg Gate echoed Joshua at the walls of Jericho, combined with the economic war Reagan waged against the Soviet Union which he knew they would lose.   To me, there is no greater public moment in the Cold War from an American President than this defiant call for freedom at the gates of oppression:

If you just want to cut to the chase, here’s the most famous part of the speech:

Happy birthday, Mr. President, from an eternally grateful nation.


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Happy Birthday, President Reagan! Rest in peace. We are not going to let this country go in the toilet.

Mirimichi on February 6, 2011 at 8:37 PM

RIP Gipper..:)

PS..We miss you very much.. :)

Dire Straits on February 6, 2011 at 8:37 PM

Where I grew up, Cold War era Air Raid Sirens where tested regularly. A constant reminder of the possible danger of the times we lived in. Today, not a peep from those sirens.
Thank you Reagan.

Electrongod on February 6, 2011 at 8:50 PM

Cindy Munford on February 6, 2011 at 8:30 PM

I would not have booed, but I’m sure Junior could have felt the icy wind blowing from my direction. :)

DrMagnolias on February 6, 2011 at 9:01 PM

DrMagnolias on February 6, 2011 at 9:01 PM

Did you see the picture of the marine with the big tear running down her face?

Cindy Munford on February 6, 2011 at 9:12 PM

Cindy Munford on February 6, 2011 at 9:12 PM

No, I haven’t seen any photographs. Is there a collection posted somewhere?

DrMagnolias on February 6, 2011 at 9:27 PM

Happy Birthday President Reagan.
It was your strong stance against the enemy forces (Libya) which inspired me to join the Military and fight for my country. It was here that instilled the finer qualities of responsibility and accountability and confidence within myself.
I salute you Mr. President.
God Bless ya

hawkman on February 6, 2011 at 8:15 PM

I was stationed at the Air Force base in England that sent the F-111s over to Libya. It still gets under my craw that France didn’t give us permission to fly over their airspace. But the “message” was delivered.

itsnotaboutme on February 6, 2011 at 9:30 PM

DrMagnolias on February 6, 2011 at 9:27 PM

It was caught by Fox’s cameras as they covered the tribute this afternoon.

http://gatewaypundit.rightnetwork.com/2011/02/president-reagan-tribute/

Cindy Munford on February 6, 2011 at 10:16 PM

My husband and I just got back from the ceremony at the Reagan Library. It was wonderful–truly moving–you could just feel the love everyone there has for Ronald Reagan. And no, to you lefties, it most distinctly is not hagiography–it is a recognition of the tremendous difference in our beloved country when he entered the presidency and when he left it. No amount of lying about it can ever change the truth.

DrMagnolias on February 6, 2011 at 6:47 PM

Wow, I am envious! I happened to be in Los Angeles visiting friends when he passed. It was amazing to see all of the people lined up along the motorcade route as his body was brought to the library to be interred. Banners and flags were hanging from the freeway overpasses. It was truly awesome.

NoLeftTurn on February 6, 2011 at 10:45 PM

Grow Fins on February 6, 2011 at 12:25 PM

You smell like $hit. Brush your teeth will ya.

csdeven on February 6, 2011 at 10:45 PM

Ronald Reagan…….Rebuilder of the American spirit.

Barack Obama……..Wrecking Ball of American industries.

Quite a comparison there.

PappyD61 on February 6, 2011 at 10:51 PM

Happy Birthday President Ronald Reagan. The best President of the modern era.

Geochelone on February 6, 2011 at 10:59 PM

Geochelone on February 6, 2011 at 10:59 PM

Amen and + One Trillion.

Cindy Munford on February 6, 2011 at 11:01 PM

Ronald Reagan was disliked by establishment Republicans. Although they basked in the glow of the public’s embrace of him and their time in power, they did not and do not believe in conservatism. We don’t have the spokesman that we had in him and those who try are attacked and diminished. It’s depressing.

Cindy Munford on February 6, 2011 at 6:19 PM

Cindy I must return the favor. This post of yours is an immutable truth and we shall not let the Historical Revisionists rob it from our memories.

The establishment Republicans…well…I don’t wish to taint the sanctity of this thread by stating what I think of them.

Geochelone on February 6, 2011 at 11:28 PM

Happy birthday, Mr. President, from an eternally grateful nation.

More like from an eternally grateful world. I’ve done some traveling around Eastern Europe in the past year and the mention of his name provokes a smile and a warm word. As for Western Europeans.. not so much.

22Minutes on February 6, 2011 at 11:29 PM

I follow politics closely now, mostly because I’m concerned and scared. But when you were President, Mr. Reagan, I remember feeling safe because our country was in your competent hands.

I miss you. Happy Birthday.

parteagirl on February 7, 2011 at 12:05 AM

Thank you Ronald Reagan for revitalizing America. For reminding people that it’s OK to be proud of your country.
For helping people to keep more of the money they earn, which encouraged people to go out and earn more. For eliminating the need to know if your license plates were odd or even numbered (to be allowed to buy gas on certain days)

And for bringing an end to the years-long nightmares my family and I had of nuclear war (fostered daily by our teachers) by helping to bring down the world’s greatest threat at the time.

The concept of a divided Berlin and Germany, of an iron curtain seems almost impossible to picture anymore. That’s your fault ;)

Bless you and your family, sir.

We’ll never see another person like you in our lifetime, but we do have some who honor your principles and that’s going to have to do for now.

Rest in peace

DrAllecon on February 7, 2011 at 12:16 AM

I’m late to add my favorite quote, but this one from Reagan’s first inagural address always chokes me up:

“The crisis we are facing today does not require of us the kind of sacrifice that Martin Treptow and so many thousands of others were called upon to make. It does require, however, our best effort, and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds; to believe that together, with God’s help, we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us.

And, after all, why shouldn’t we believe that? We are Americans….”

theotherone on February 7, 2011 at 12:54 AM

This president’s backbone is also the reason I hold the Distinguished Flying Cross. God bless you President Reagan and hold you close to His side.

PJ Emeritus on February 7, 2011 at 1:54 AM

I was stationed at the Air Force base in England that sent the F-111s over to Libya. It still gets under my craw that France didn’t give us permission to fly over their airspace. But the “message” was delivered.

itsnotaboutme on February 6, 2011 at 9:30 PM

\

Really? Do you stay in touch with the pilots? I know many of the guys from Lakenheath. They don’t talk like that about the French. They talk about other third parties but I haven’t heard them say anything bad about the French.

lexhamfox on February 7, 2011 at 2:01 AM

PJ Emeritus on February 7, 2011 at 1:54 AM

Thank You for your service.

Geochelone on February 7, 2011 at 2:06 AM

viking01 on February 6, 2011 at 7:34 PM

Who is our man of the moment now? If I had to name someone it would be the people of the Tea Parties.

Cindy Munford on February 6, 2011 at 8:31 PM

Agreed that the Tea Parties are closer to Reagan than much of the GOP. Opportunistic derelicts like Lugar, Snowe, Collins and Graham with morals and votes of easy virtue must be overcome. We must remember that Blue Dogs like Nelson and Sestak stood ready to betray not ally.

The two most promising to me in terms of Reagan characteristics are Palin and Jindal. Selfless, strong sense of who they are, well controlled sense of ego, strong sense of humor and humility. Unlike Obama neither needs to say what their faith is. Both are slow to anger yet resolute once that threshold of anger has been reached. Neither needs any particular job to be somebody or to be a success. Plus, somewhere along the line Fred Thompson needs to be pulled back into politics with a shot of adrenalin and a bit of fire in his voice. That’s right Fred… you. Ryan and Bachmann look promising, too. When someone makes the veins bulge in Chrissy Matthews’ forehead or Shep Smith’s pomade start to droop… that’s a healthy sign. Anyone who makes Andrea Mitchell, Joy Behar or Katie Couric seethe with hate or can make David Gregory forget how pretty he thinks he is or can make Bob Schieffer, Steffi, or Wolfie Blitzer lose their place in the scripts the DNC has handed each of them … that’s a healthy sign.

Not too fond of Huckabee, Newt or Romney anymore. Too vain. Huckabee has a mean streak unbecoming a minister. Newtie’s venture with Pelosi pretty much scratched him off my list for anything besides his obvious skill at history and teaching. Maybe an appointment to finally help chase Sandy Burglar out of the National Archives or chase the commies out of Smithsonian or PBS / NPR management could rank high in Newtie’s future. Though we disagree on various issues Christie could do well as the appointee to dismantle the Department of Education. If not as POTUS Jindal would do well to dismantle Dept of Energy (or merge it into Defense which energy increasingly becomes), maybe Jindal to eliminate EPA yet improve Interior by his knowledge of how Zero screwed the Gulf of Mexico. Giuliani to clean the dreck out of sleazy Eric Holder’s Augean Stables wreck of “Just-us.”

Overall, I keep giving Palin yet another look. She keeps coming back for more and as her detractors become more desperate the more comfortable within her skin she seems to be. Similar to Reagan she comes from heartland America. Unpretentious, no Ivy League condescension, the ability to be corny, home-spun or light-hearted to irk the Brahmin anal retentives. Palin shares with Reagan (and Nancy) knowing what it is like for the Old Media (and dirty perverts like David Letterman) to attack her children when they can’t hurt her directly. There’s a gentle strength Sarah possesses which is as admirable as it is rare. The sort of determination which made a one-eyed, one-armed Nelson determined to have a go at Trafalgar knowing it needed to be done.

Applying the Reaganesque three Gs of guts, gumption and gusto will be essential knowing what mess Zero leaves behind becomes more formidable every day. Whoever inherits Zero’s mess will probably feel like Lincoln did arriving in DC with Pinkerton at his side, the horizon much a swirl of light, mood and drama as a Turner painting , first assuring our soldiers and allies we haven’t forgotten them, and making the Dept. of Justice less an insult to our Constitution.

Happy Birthday again Ronaldus Magnus. The shining city on a hill still shines… without corkscrew bulbs… Alas !

viking01 on February 7, 2011 at 3:13 AM

Rap Master Ronnie was by far the Greatest POTUS in my life time. Born under Johnson, then Nixon, Ford and Carter. Reagan stood taller than them all. Then we had Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama. Reagan still towers over them all.

EliTheBean on February 7, 2011 at 7:37 AM

Mr. Obama, here is the money statement, I know you don’t read these, but I dream would be someone would point out this quote to you from RR’s speech.

“Because we remained strong, the Soviets came back to the table”

You have never negotiated any deal where we forced the other side to “get up and leave”, we never pushed them to their limits…you gave in and sold out our allies because you did not remain strong…

right2bright on February 7, 2011 at 8:53 AM

I lived in Berlin in the early 70s. The wall, of course, was there. There was a famous bit of graffiti on the wall where someone had written: “Halt. Hier endet die Freiheit”. (Stop. Freedom stops here).

We went to East Berlin a lot, mainly because it was cheap to eat and drink there. But it was such a sad place compared with West Berlin. You could just FEEL the oppression everywhere. You felt like you were walking around with a lead coat on. And coming back through Checkpoint Charlie was like a weight had been lifted from you. Amazing.

sdillard on February 7, 2011 at 9:28 AM

A birthday card for the Gipper.

petefrt on February 7, 2011 at 9:32 AM

A good summation of the Reagan legacy:

http://i.imgur.com/rgOmL.jpg

ernesto on February 7, 2011 at 9:41 AM

Get lost, ernesto! No one needs your snark.

Ignorant Mensan on February 7, 2011 at 10:29 AM

ernesto on February 7, 2011 at 9:41 AM

A good summation of your limited intellect…keep posting it reminds us of why we are not liberal.
I hope you are never banned…

right2bright on February 7, 2011 at 10:39 AM

right2bright on February 7, 2011 at 10:39 AM

Finding the funding of latin american death squads deplorable = limited intellect? Thanks for reminding me why I am not a conservative.

ernesto on February 7, 2011 at 10:45 AM

ernesto on February 7, 2011 at 10:45 AM

Yes, ernesto, because that is what President Reagan intended to do, fund death squads. And of course, Daniel Ortega was so pure: “We leave victorious… because we Sandinistas have spilled blood and sweat not to cling to government posts, but to bring Latin America a little dignity, a little social justice.” Social justice apparently includes buddying up to Ahmadinejad, rigging elections, intimidating the opposition, and sexually molesting of his stepdaughter.

You seem to believe that South America would be some sort of utopian paradise were it not for Reagan’s opposition to communism there. But when has a socialist government ever respected the rights of the individual? There would be a far greater chance of humane treatment if these societies embraced Western civilization; they won’t, so such terrible things will continue. But how about taking off the blinders and looking at their country honestly? Their best hope for decent lives is freedom, not socialism–in other words, what Reagan wanted for them, not what liberals pretend would happen under socialism.

DrMagnolias on February 7, 2011 at 11:13 AM

Thanks for reminding me why I am not a conservative.

ernesto on February 7, 2011 at 10:45 AM

to be a conservative would require an IQ higher than your room temperature, unfortunately yours does not raise much above that. BTW, I challenge you to post some comics about Bill-I-did-not-have-sexual-relationship-with-that-woman-Clinton posthumously (assuming you know this term without googling it, which I doubt:-)…or, wait a sec, that other ‘giant’ dear leader of the left, Dhimmi Carter will probably pass away first, try to post something about his ‘great’ legacy then :-)…

jimver on February 7, 2011 at 11:22 AM

right2bright on February 7, 2011 at 10:39 AM
Finding the funding of latin american death squads deplorable = limited intellect?

haaa, he obviously didn’t send enough of those (‘death squad’ that is) to latin america, how else do you explain that Chavez is still around lol :-)…

jimver on February 7, 2011 at 11:27 AM

Yes, ernesto, because that is what President Reagan intended to do, fund death squads.

DrMagnolias on February 7, 2011 at 11:13 AM

Given that there is no evidence to the contrary, yes, that is what he intended to do. Reagan remains a perfect figure in conservative eyes because the life of a latin american is worthless to you – just pawns in the great game. Oh, and let’s not forget South Africa. Reagan is the patron saint of conservatism because he exemplifies the callous disregard for human life that is the distinguishing factor of conservatism.

ernesto on February 7, 2011 at 12:01 PM

jimver on February 7, 2011 at 11:22 AM

Translation: Latin american death squads…no biggie. BJ in teh oval…heinous.

ernesto on February 7, 2011 at 12:02 PM

ernesto on February 7, 2011 at 12:01 PM

So you think Daniel Ortega was the best choice?

Cindy Munford on February 7, 2011 at 12:30 PM

Cindy Munford on February 7, 2011 at 12:30 PM

I think its absolutely ridiculous to assume that we ought to make those decisions in other countries, especially to the tune of some 30,000 Nicaraguans dead in fighting between Sandinistas and the reactionary rebels Reagan personally created. Attempting to and failing to prevent the rise of Ortega was not worth 30,000 lives. Reagan couldn’t have possibly cared less about those 30,000, having sent them to their deaths for nothing.

ernesto on February 7, 2011 at 12:38 PM

ernesto on February 7, 2011 at 12:38 PM

So there was not opposition to the Sandinistas? So the Bowland Amendment was designed by the Democrats to keep Reagan from financially supporting a group of his own making? This is the first I have heard of this.

Cindy Munford on February 7, 2011 at 12:54 PM

ernesto on February 7, 2011 at 12:38 PM

I’m not equating the two but what do you think of the killing going on in Mexico?

Cindy Munford on February 7, 2011 at 12:55 PM

‘BJ in teh oval…heinous’
ernesto

heinous, what?? nooo, what I was trying to say was that it was Bubba’s ONLY legacy, or the only one worth remembering anyways (BJ in the oval office that is :)… and I sincerely believe that as the ONE and ONLY legacy associated with him, it is quite a remarkable one! :-) I mean he could have done a lot worse, I don’t know, like for instance giving top nuclear secrets to the Chinese :-)…or ordering the then National Security Adviser Sandy Burglar (oups, sorry Burger) to steal top-secret documents from the National Archive :-)…

Translation: Latin american death squads

are you translating your own statements for yourself? :-) …

anyone in Reagan’s place would have done the same, do you seriously think that he fought Soviet Union and the commies in Europe only to let them take over Latin America???…what a concept…as I said, those ‘death squads’ missed Chavez and his ilk (of leftist dictators in the region), which means they were not even that effective after all :-)…so, no need for you to shed crocodile tears :-)…

jimver on February 7, 2011 at 12:59 PM

Huckabee has a mean streak unbecoming a minister.

Ministers are called by God into the ministry. Being a minister, I’ve often wondered how Huckabee could leave his divine calling to preach the gospel and its non-compromising message and go wallow in the slop of politics and compromise. For that reason I have no respect for him.

abcurtis on February 7, 2011 at 1:16 PM

“Because we remained strong, the Soviets came back to the table”

And the current occupant gave the Russians UK Trident info to get THEM to the table.
http://tinyurl.com/6375wlu

abcurtis on February 7, 2011 at 1:23 PM

And the current occupant gave the Russians UK Trident info to get THEM to the table.
http://tinyurl.com/6375wlu

abcurtis on February 7, 2011 at 1:23 PM

smart power, what do you know :-)

jimver on February 7, 2011 at 3:17 PM

The best orbituary about Reagan I ever read can you find here:
http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/feb2011/reag-f07.shtml

iggya on February 7, 2011 at 5:02 PM

The best orbituary about Reagan I ever read can you find here:
http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/feb2011/reag-f07.shtml

yeah, right, as if it means antyhing, coming from an idiotic socialist website visited by 3 people a day…. only someone truly intllectually challenged would link to that pathetic excuse for an article…

jimver on February 7, 2011 at 8:07 PM

ernesto on February 7, 2011 at 12:01 PM

I will thank you not to assign values to me.

So, what do you think Reagan should have done in South Africa? Simply tossing out a “let’s not forget” without actually making a statement is not exactly compelling. You apparently do not believe we should be involved in other countries, until you think we should. And, you may have noted recently that for all its ills, apartheid at least prevented the wholesale slaughter of blacks throughout Africa, which is now a hellhole in which tribalism reigns. But at least liberals can engage in moral preening that there is no longer white rule, so what’s a few hundred thousand dead blacks along the way?

Look, ernesto, I’ve seen enough of your postings that I think you are a decent fellow. I also think you have some very real blinders that keep you from recognizing that in dealing with non-Western societies, particularly, decisions will never have ideal outcomes–they are so fundamentally different from us that almost every choice we make comes down to what is “least bad.” And like it or not, “least bad” for any country is going to involve pursuing what is in our nation’s best interest. Reagan (and, incidentally, Kennedy) recognized the pernicious nature of communism, and recognized it had to be stopped. No matter how much denial of reality liberals want to engage in, communism could not be stopped in a way that was clean and neat, and its nature demands it must spread, and brutally. To any honest person, history demonstrates that fact in spades.

DrMagnolias on February 8, 2011 at 9:03 AM

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