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Conservative Political Commentary

Quote of the Day

Lady Liberty

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Among Ronald Reagan's many fine qualities, not the least was his great sense of timing, in both large and small matters. In smaller matters, we recall how, with that twinkle in his eye, he would perfectly time his one-liners to disarm his critics, such as in the 1984 debate with Mondale, when he put to rest the issue of his age: "I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience." In larger matters, his 1964 GOP convention speech didn't seem like such great timing until at least 16 years later, but in hindsight we see how that speech, delivered when the GOP was about to fall to its modern nadir, established Reagan as the founder of a conservative resurgence that continues to this day. Another example of his great timing in very large matters was his 1987 speech at the Berlin Wall when he predicted that "this wall will fall. For it cannot withstand faith; it cannot withstand truth. The wall cannot withstand freedom." That prediction seemed unlikely to be fulfilled any time soon, if ever. Just a few years later, the wall came down.

It would be an overstatement to say that Ronald Reagan won the Cold War single-handedly. That victory was won only after fifty years of struggle, and Reagan didn't do it alone. But he secured the victory, when victory had seemed unlikely, because he stood firm while almost all of our European allies and much the American public itself had lost spirit for the fight. When he went to Europe to speak at the Brandenburg Gate, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Europeans were in the streets protesting against his policies. Yet he stood firm . . . and the Wall came down.

It has been said that the Civil War, by extending and establishing once and for all the true principles of freedom and equality in the American polity, completed the unfinished business of the Revolutionary War. In a similar way, World War II did not truly end until the West's victory in the Cold War completed Europe's liberation from tyranny. So there is kind of poetic symmetry that Ronald Reagan would depart this life as we commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Normandy invasion. His death at this very moment causes us to reflect more deeply upon how the D-Day invasion, and the end of the Cold War some fifty years later, were part of a single war of freedom against tyranny, connected in history through difficult and frustrating struggles in Korea, Cuba, Viet Nam, Angola, Nicaragua and elsewhere. That fifty-year struggle puts into perspective what brief spans of time are the fifteen years since the First Gulf War and the year and a half since our second invasion of Iraq. Reagan's death at this very moment connects all these events together to remind us that the march of freedom is a long one.

posted by Bathus | 6/06/2004 10:47:00 AM
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