Farewell to the chief

He arrived late on the national political scene, but Ronald Reagan made up for it with 8 years as governor of the largest state and another 8 years as President of our country. Although he was never a superstar in the movies, his political career soared like a comet blazing a trail across the horizon.

 

The first glimpse of his greatness came in 1964 when he spoke at the Republican Convention during the nomination process that would make Barry Goldwater the GOP's choice for President. That one speech was powerful enough to ignite a spark in the American people that lasted for 40 years. I can remember being a Goldwater supporter, but secretly wishing the candidate was that eloquent and inspiring man who stood at the podium and made me feel like I was on the right side of history.

 

Two years later, the former thespian, and host for the television series General Electric Theater, was running for governor of California. There were those, including many political pundits, who thought it was absurd for him to take on the wildly popular two—term incumbent, Pat Brown. But when the ballots were counted, Reagan had won by over a million votes.

 

When he became President in 1981, he pumped fresh oxygen into a country that had been suffocating from an economic recession and a taste of terrorism in its embryonic stage. America seemed to be a paper tiger without the will to maintain its preeminence in the world. President Carter appeared weak and incompetent as Iran held 52 American hostages for 444 days. No sooner did Reagan take the oath of office than the hostages were freed and on their way home. It was 'morning in America,' as he liked to say, and the country fell in love with the confident smile and optimistic style of 'the Gipper.'

 

In 1981, only 69 days into his Presidency, he was shot and suffered a punctured lung. When he arrived at the hospital and was surrounded by doctors, his courage and sense of humor was evident when he said, 'I hope you guys are Republicans.'

 

'Ronnie,' as his adoring wife Nancy referred to him, was a wholesome symbol of decency in a country that had just been through the Vietnam era, the Watergate era, and the impotence of the Carter years.  His laid back, jovial persona belied his intractable will to stay the course and fight indefatigably for a principle.

 

A former Democrat who used to say he didn't leave the party, the party left him, Reagan often said the mistakes of the past were the reason for the recession during the early part of his first term. When a reporter asked him if he accepted any responsibility for the recession, he answered, 'Yes, because for many years I was a Democrat.'

 

He made his reputation as a staunch defender of freedom when he labeled the Soviet Union an 'evil empire,' and he worked vigorously to dismantle it. Who can ever forget his angry demand during a visit to West Berlin: 'Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.'?

 

To me, he was a symbol of all that was great about America. In addition to his innate sense of leadership, he had charm, style, grace, and wit, all wrapped up in a package that made us proud to have him steering this ship of state. Often chiding government for being the problem, rather than the solution, he was a fierce proponent of tax cuts. Someone asked him the difference between a small and a large businessman. He replied: 'A large businessman is what a small businessman would be if the government would get out of the way and leave him alone.'

 

But the best quip of all came during his campaign for reelection in 1984, when, at 74, his age was being used to create skepticism about his ability to handle another term. During a debate with Walter Mondale he said: 'I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience.' The timing and delivery was classic Ronald Reagan, and he won in a landslide.

 

We all knew he was slowly deteriorating from Alzheimer's disease, but somehow we refused to anticipate his demise. Now that it's happened we can rejoice in the past and be thankful that for 8 glorious years he watched over us like a loving father, and we are a better, stronger, and safer country because of him. Rest in peace, Mr. President, you certainly earned it.

 

Bob Weir is a columnist for The American Thinker. The author of 7 books, he is a retired NYPD sergeant, living in Flower Mound, Texas. BobWeir777@aol.com

He arrived late on the national political scene, but Ronald Reagan made up for it with 8 years as governor of the largest state and another 8 years as President of our country. Although he was never a superstar in the movies, his political career soared like a comet blazing a trail across the horizon.

 

The first glimpse of his greatness came in 1964 when he spoke at the Republican Convention during the nomination process that would make Barry Goldwater the GOP's choice for President. That one speech was powerful enough to ignite a spark in the American people that lasted for 40 years. I can remember being a Goldwater supporter, but secretly wishing the candidate was that eloquent and inspiring man who stood at the podium and made me feel like I was on the right side of history.

 

Two years later, the former thespian, and host for the television series General Electric Theater, was running for governor of California. There were those, including many political pundits, who thought it was absurd for him to take on the wildly popular two—term incumbent, Pat Brown. But when the ballots were counted, Reagan had won by over a million votes.

 

When he became President in 1981, he pumped fresh oxygen into a country that had been suffocating from an economic recession and a taste of terrorism in its embryonic stage. America seemed to be a paper tiger without the will to maintain its preeminence in the world. President Carter appeared weak and incompetent as Iran held 52 American hostages for 444 days. No sooner did Reagan take the oath of office than the hostages were freed and on their way home. It was 'morning in America,' as he liked to say, and the country fell in love with the confident smile and optimistic style of 'the Gipper.'

 

In 1981, only 69 days into his Presidency, he was shot and suffered a punctured lung. When he arrived at the hospital and was surrounded by doctors, his courage and sense of humor was evident when he said, 'I hope you guys are Republicans.'

 

'Ronnie,' as his adoring wife Nancy referred to him, was a wholesome symbol of decency in a country that had just been through the Vietnam era, the Watergate era, and the impotence of the Carter years.  His laid back, jovial persona belied his intractable will to stay the course and fight indefatigably for a principle.

 

A former Democrat who used to say he didn't leave the party, the party left him, Reagan often said the mistakes of the past were the reason for the recession during the early part of his first term. When a reporter asked him if he accepted any responsibility for the recession, he answered, 'Yes, because for many years I was a Democrat.'

 

He made his reputation as a staunch defender of freedom when he labeled the Soviet Union an 'evil empire,' and he worked vigorously to dismantle it. Who can ever forget his angry demand during a visit to West Berlin: 'Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.'?

 

To me, he was a symbol of all that was great about America. In addition to his innate sense of leadership, he had charm, style, grace, and wit, all wrapped up in a package that made us proud to have him steering this ship of state. Often chiding government for being the problem, rather than the solution, he was a fierce proponent of tax cuts. Someone asked him the difference between a small and a large businessman. He replied: 'A large businessman is what a small businessman would be if the government would get out of the way and leave him alone.'

 

But the best quip of all came during his campaign for reelection in 1984, when, at 74, his age was being used to create skepticism about his ability to handle another term. During a debate with Walter Mondale he said: 'I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience.' The timing and delivery was classic Ronald Reagan, and he won in a landslide.

 

We all knew he was slowly deteriorating from Alzheimer's disease, but somehow we refused to anticipate his demise. Now that it's happened we can rejoice in the past and be thankful that for 8 glorious years he watched over us like a loving father, and we are a better, stronger, and safer country because of him. Rest in peace, Mr. President, you certainly earned it.

 

Bob Weir is a columnist for The American Thinker. The author of 7 books, he is a retired NYPD sergeant, living in Flower Mound, Texas. BobWeir777@aol.com