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Archive for the ‘Ronald Reagan’ Category

Someone over at Sully’s site writes:

I sometimes wonder what Reagan would have to say about where our country has careened since 9/11.  We openly debate torture as a policy, allow unprecedented access to personal information, and tolerate secret prisons devoid of oversight.

Well, let’s look at how he approached the wars in El Salvador and Central America.  Liberals criticized him extensively for allowing American Special Forces to train and cooperate with “death squads.”  This was considered a great moral failing of America and the seeds of “another Vietnam.”  Bush is no Reagan, but Bush’s willingness to be aggressive in the war on terror is not one of the reasons.  People forget that Reagan’s “optimism” was a function of his belief in America and American power.  It stood in contrast to the dim pessemism of the Democratic Party, which was dejected after Vietnam and willing to accomodate Soviet expansion globally.

No one quite knows what Reagan would have thought about torturing a small number of guys like Khalid Sheik Mohammad and Ramzi bin Alsheib.  But his record shows he wasn’t Pollyannaish about the bad guys, nor was he particularly wary of engaging in extra-legal activities behind closed doors–e.g., arms-for-hostages—to accomplish the broader mission.  Among other events, he bombed Libya without Congressional authorization in response to terrorism and was also known for his rough treatment of hippie rioters as Governor of California.  Reagan likely would not have shied from “waterboarding” or anything else he deemed necessary to win the war against al Qaeda.

Libertarians and moderate conservatives are enamored of an imaginary Ronald Reagan, a sainted figure misconstrued through the distortions of gauzy nostalgia.

 

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Notice how much more coherent, articulate, and balanced his rhetoric is compared to our current crop of “conservatives.” In particular, notice that he recognizes our country’s earlier failings without rejecting these failings as something that wipe away all moral legitimacy to our past, as Bush and Rice have done repeatedly, comparing the savage atrocities of Iraq’s savage insurgents with the brave soldiers on both sides of America’s War for Independence and Civil War. Finally, he is far more steeped in the traditions of Western Civilization, quoting Tocqueville, C.S. Lewis, Whittaker Chambers,  Isaiah, Tom Paine, and Jesus Himself.

How far the quality of our political life has declined in my own lifetime.  Transcript here.

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