TCS Daily

Mourning in America

By James K. Glassman - June 6, 2004 12:00 AM

A man detested by the liberal establishment, laughed at as stupid by the sophisticates, feared for his aggressive, forthright foreign policy by the Europeans....

A man who cut taxes and revived an economy, gave hope and comfort in tough times by speaking directly and powerfully to average citizens, and brought down oppressive regimes that threatened America....

Yes, Ronald Reagan, who died Saturday at the age of 93, and George W. Bush, who is seeking re-election at the age of 57, have a lot in common.

Clark Clifford, the late Washington lawyer and secretary of defense, called Reagan an "amiable dunce." So much for the perspicacity of the Georgetown set, who regard Bush, as well, as a dunce, but perhaps not so amiable -- since, in some ways, helped by a Republican Congress, the current president has been even more successful than Reagan.

It was not George H. W. Bush, Reagan's vice president for eight years and his successor in the White House for four, who carried the torch. It is George W. Bush.

First, like Reagan, the current president adopted a simple, straightforward program and is resolutely pursuing it: 1) cutting taxes, 2) bringing the fight against terrorism directly to the enemy, 3) building democracy in parts of the world where it has been suppressed, and 4) advocating compassionate, conservative policies in health care, the environment and education.

Substitute "communism" for "terrorism" in the in the second part of the program, and you have -- at least for numbers one through three -- the same goals pursued by Reagan.

Second, like Reagan, the current president is determined to see his program through -- despite the opposition of the media, academia, the bureaucracy, Europe and, unfortunately, parts of the business community as well.

Third, like Reagan, the current president has an optimistic view of America. As Reagan said in his second inaugural, "There are no limits to growth and human progress, when men and women are free to follow their dreams." Bush, also, sees this nation and its people as a force for good in the world with a glorious future -- again, in contrast to Europeans and European wannabes on the East and West Coasts.

On Oct. 27, 1964, Reagan said in a televised speech on behalf of the Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Barry Goldwater: "This is the issue of this election: whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan for ourselves."

A great deal has changed in the past 40 years. Free-market conservatism has grown slowly to become the dominant intellectual and political force in American life -- after 32 years of collectivism. But the struggle continues.

Tomorrow, President Bush will speak of freedom and sacrifice on the beaches of Normandy -- of selfless Americans fighting and dying so that others can enjoy democracy, just as selfless Americans fight and die today in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On June 6, 1984, precisely 20 years ago, it was Reagan at those beaches:

"The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge -- and pray God we have not lost it -- that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest."

George W. Bush, with the majority of Americans, understands that distinction. In Iraq, with our allies, the United States is using force morally, for liberation.

So, over these sad days, when we remember the greatest president of the 20th century, we should take heart. His legacy is in good hands.


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