When Ronald Reagan initially walked the halls of the White House he had not yet ascended to the Mount Olympus of conservative love. I remember. I voted for him in 1980.
I know I was very excited and proud when I watched President Reagan deliver his first inaugural address in January, 1981. Then came the news that as the President was speaking the Iranian Hostages were being released. It seemed almost like a dream come true after the four dark years of Jimmy Carter. My family had spent three of the four years of Carter’s term stationed in Augsburg, Germany.
The seventies weren’t a time of great morale for the United States military. Military budgets had been slashed and the post Vietnam Officers Corps had suffered from the loss of the war in Vietnam and the fall of Saigon. There was still an anti-military atmosphere emanating from the Congress, anti-war protesters and the media. John F. Kerry appeared before a Senate committee in 1971 claiming that 200,000 Vietnamese per year were being “murdered by the United States of America.”
I do remember the conditions in the country during the 1980 Presidential election. Jimmy Carter’s policies had brought the nation into a state of malaise and the Iran Hostage Crisis had intensified American’s distrust and disapointment with Carter’s hapless handling of it. Carter had given away the Panama Canal, lusted in his heart, got attacked by a rabbit, cut the budget of the U.S. military and then, there was the Mariel Boatlift.
25,000 of the Cubans ended up being housed at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, an army post near our city. Apparently Castro had opened up his prisons and mental health facilities and sent his worst kind of criminals to our shores. It wasn’t long before the Cubans were rioting and burning buildings at Chaffee. My brothers (who were and are still National Guardsmen) were called up to help stop the rioting. I happened to be home from Germany at the time and remember sitting up all night with my sister-in-law, worried about my brothers. They didn’t have any ammunition in their weapons because of the Carter administrations’ curb on defense spending. My brothers had to purchase their own ammunition.
Thanks to the troops and the tough people of Barling, Arkansas the riot was put down but not before many Cubans escaped and terrorized the surrounding cities and towns. That situation, by the way, was a contributing factor in Bill Clinton’s first defeat for reelection to the governorship of Arkansas. The Carter administration’s image of poor executive leadership was underscored by its ineptitude in resolving its foreign and domestic crises.
So on the day that President Reagan took the oath of office and the hostages were released, American spirits were lifted like never before. It took several months for the grumbling to begin. There was the Democrat congress with which to deal and compromises made with Tip O’Neill
that Reagan would later regret. Then there was the 1982 recession and a 10% unemployment rate.
In the fullness of time we know that once Reaganomics took hold, our nation recovered from the recession and it did become “Morning in America.”
President Ronald Reagan was a unique and gifted leader who managed to get his administrations’ policies in place by going over the heads of the media and the Democrats.
But there is more to the Reagan Era than the successful implementation of conservative policies. President Reagan made us proud to be Americans again. He lifted the morale of our nation with his optimistic, sunny outlook. He demonstrated grace and humor when he was shot by John Hinckley and when he had to have colon surgery.
Reagan stood up to tyrants and dictators, defying his own aides when he demanded that Gorbachev “tear down that wall.”
He became the nations’ consoler-in-chief when he comforted the families of the Challenger.
There will never be another Ronald Reagan. He has become our modern times’ King Arthur and heart-sick conservatives yearn for the return of the slumbering President.
Conservatives are now faced with a presidential candidate, Barack Obama who is a younger image of all the things that Jimmy Carter stood for, although the media try to cast him as a Messiah. Obama is something new, fresh and hopeful is what they are telling us, but many of the policies Obama proposes are the same failures we endured during the Carter administration.
First, according to Obama we must talk face to face with our enemies. Carter actually didn’t do so well talking to the Iranians when they took over our embassy. Carter’s castration of the military destroyed any capability of using force to leverage the release of our citizens. Obama wants to have the same dialogue with those who hate the U.S. without any preconditions.
Second, Obama’s proposed policies require more governmental control over the economy via taxation, reworking NAFTA, and providing healthcare for everyone. Many, if not all of these policies were tried by Carter and the results were double digit inflation, and a higher unemployment rate than virtually anytime in our countries’ history.
Third, the use of military force in “police actions” as defined by Harry S. Truman gave us the never ending conflict in Korea, our defeat in Vietnam, and world condemnation for every military action since then. Our actions in Iraq and Afghanistan were approved by the Congress of the United States and the United Nations. In addition, NATO forces from Europe have also allied with us in Afghanistan.
Obama would have us pull out of Iraq, winning or losing and concentrate on Afghanistan. But for how long? How long is he willing to fight a guerilla war in a foreign country? Obama says that he understands the reason we went to Afghanistan but that assertion is questionable. If our military forces are pulled out of Iraq before it is stable the Al-Qaeda forces will return.
When religious extremists hate us they will attack us anyway they can. They do not hate us because they are poor or come from a bad background. They hate us because we are citizens of the greatest country on earth. We can only curb this hatred by becoming less than we are. This is Obama’s solution.
Obama is heir to Jimmy Carter in other ways too. During the fuel crisis of the late seventies President Carter appeared in the oval office in a sweater, urging Americans to turn down their thermostats and wear layers of clothing. He made us drive 55. Obama said recently that in order to save fuel Americans should get tuneups and have their tires inflated. No, he doesn’t propose drilling to bring down the price of gas. He’s actually fine with the high prices, he just didn’t want them to rise so quickly.
There is so much not to love about Barack Obama. I find it unsettling that some conservatives have found nothing to love about Senator John McCain. Being a pragmatist I have found quite a few lovable qualities in the man and his policies.
Senator John McCain is not only running against Barack Obama in this presidential election, he is competing with the memory of Ronald Reagan. Many conservatives (and I count myself as one) are disappointed with McCain’s independent mantle but he’s square on conservative when it comes to national security and supporting the troops.
Obama was willing to visit the troops in Afghanistan during his trip overseas recently but he cancelled a planned trip to see the wounded troops at Landstuhl, Germany when he learned photographers would not be present. What do I take from this?
American troops are valuable only when they provide a photo-op for Obama.
One day in the future we may be looking back in awe at the accomplishments of President Bush. In fact, I consider President Bush’s steadfast leadership in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan (and many other places around the world) the reason why we are still living in a country that is free. Senator McCain’s support of the war and his willingness to speak out when he knew we could be doing better is one of the most important reasons why all conservatives should now be casting aside their pet peeves and taking on the role of supporters of John McCain.
He is the Republicans’ nominee for President. By any understanding that we have John McCain is the only choice a serious American can make for President. It’s becoming apparent more every day that Barack Obama believes our country is deeply flawed and has plans to acknowledge that wrong by confiscatory methods…that is, he is a socialist with aspirations to remake our nation by taxation and government infringement on our rights and privacy. It’s becoming obvious that the Obama campaign believes that Americans who plan to vote for McCain instead of Obama are downright racists.
So do I love John McCain? Not in the romantic way but perhaps in Elinor Dashwood’s way before her sense gave way to sensibility….
“I do not attempt to deny that I think very highly of him. That I …… greatly esteem him. That I like him.” Elinor said to her sister, Marianne.
I am hoping conservatives will come around this November. Hopefully they will choose to vote for John McCain, if not for love, at least for esteem and respect.
The bottom line is, John McCain is definitely not Barack Obama.