Tag: Ronald Reagan (page 2 of 3)

Tear down this wall!

Advarsel: I sidste uge skrev jeg en post om Ronald Reagans “The Boys of Pointe du Hoc”-tale (1984), og allerede nu er jeg så i samme boldgade igen.

Men lad mig lige begynde et andet sted.  Jeg er som antydet forleden p.t. i Cambridge, og der stødte jeg forleden til en celeber middag på smukke Clare College aldeles uventet ind i min gamle, gode ven, Finn Ziegler (den piberygende økonom og liberalist og 180grader-skribent, ikke den engang cigarrygende, men nu afdøde violinist).  Finn har jeg kendt i knap 25 år, og hvad jeg i sin tid først lærte om public choice teori, lærte jeg ved at ryge pibe sammen med Finn og vores fælles mentor, Otto.

Nå, men henover college-portvinen gjorde Finn og jeg, hvad man så ofte gør, når man får tyndere hår og højere humør, nemlig at mindes “gode gamle dage”.  Og dér slog det mig pludselig: I disse dage for præcis 20 år siden befandt netop Finn og jeg os sammen, på vores første tur til Guds Eget Land, hvor vi var ovre sammen, for som studerende at deltage i et sommerseminar på Marymount College, arrangeret af Institute for Humane Studies.  Vi var ankommet til New York, hvor vi skulle spendere et par dage, inden turen videre til Washington og Virginia.  I den store by havde vi allerede første dag shoppet bøger i stor stil i den nu mere eller mindre hedengangne Laissez Faire Books, som dengang lå på Broadway.  Det var før internettet–før man kunne bestille bøger fra den anden side af verden med et klik på få sekunder, og før man med e-mail kunne lære alle mulige at kende uden nogensinde at møde dem.  Så nu var vi–med en upassende blandingsmetafor–i frihedens Mekka, hvor vi kunne se og købe flere interessante bøger, end vi troede eksisterede, og hvor vi kunne drikke kaffe og hyggesludre med alle mulige andre, der mente de samme gakkede ting som os selv–inkl. den navnkundige nestor blandt amerikanske libertarianere, Roy Childs.  Vi boede til med i en lejlighed på Upper West Side hos LFB’s medarbejder Charlie Fowler; hvordan vi lige præcis endte hos ham, husker jeg faktisk ikke, men jeg husker, at hans “casa” var vores “casa”, fordi han skulle ud og rejse, og at han inden da arrangerede store dele af vores besøg i Washington ved at ringe rundt til frihedsorienterede venner og bekendte.  (Som sagt, det var før internettet.  Det var også dengang før liberaliseringerne af flytrafikken, og jeg husker endnu, at den billigste returbillet kostede ca. 7.000 kr.) 

Anyway … Finn og jeg nød dagene i NYC, traskede byen tynd og stod på toppen af World Trade Center og blev fotograferet med Frihedsgudinden i baggrunden.  Vi var henholdsvis 22 og 20 og følte os ganske frie i frihedens eget land.  Det omfattede uvilkårligt også, at vi fik drukket nogle øl, og jeg husker klart, omend med smerte, den næste morgen.  Det var hamrende varmt, som næsten kun NYC kan være om sommeren, når solen bager ned i asfaltjunglen og blandes med de fugtige rester af den caribiske strøm sydfra–og så tømmermænd.  Jeg gik ind i stuen, hvor Finn havde sovet på en madras på gulvet, og hvor han nu sad og zappede på de 117 kanaler.  Ret mange af dem viste det samme, nemlig en live-reportage direkte fra Brandenburger Tor.  Og dér–i dag for 20 år siden, den 12. juni 1987–stod han, Ronnie-manden, “the Gipper”, og holdt talen:

“Behind me stands a wall that encircles the free sectors of this city, part of a vast system of barriers that divides the entire continent of Europe. From the Baltic, south, those barriers cut across Germany in a gash of barbed wire, concrete, dog runs, and guard towers. Farther south, there may be no visible, no obvious wall. But there remain armed guards and checkpoints all the same–still a restriction on the right to travel, still an instrument to impose upon ordinary men and women the will of a totalitarian state. Yet it is here in Berlin where the wall emerges most clearly; here, cutting across your city, where the news photo and the television screen have imprinted this brutal division of a continent upon the mind of the world. Standing before the Brandenburg Gate, every man is a German, separated from his fellow men. Every man is a Berliner, forced to look upon a scar. 

President von Weizsacker has said, “The German question is open as long as the Brandenburg Gate is closed.” Today I say: As long as the gate is closed, as long as this scar of a wall is permitted to stand, it is not the German question alone that remains open, but the question of freedom for all mankind.

… In the 1950s, Khrushchev predicted: “We will bury you.” But in the West today, we see a free world that has achieved a level of prosperity and well-being unprecedented in all human history. In the Communist world, we see failure, technological backwardness, declining standards of health, even want of the most basic kind–too little food. Even today, the Soviet Union still cannot feed itself. After these four decades, then, there stands before the entire world one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds among the nations with comity and peace. Freedom is the victor.

And now the Soviets themselves may, in a limited way, be coming to understand the importance of freedom. We hear much from Moscow about a new policy of reform and openness. Some political prisoners have been released. Certain foreign news broadcasts are no longer being jammed. Some economic enterprises have been permitted to operate with greater freedom from state control.

Are these the beginnings of profound changes in the Soviet state? Or are they token gestures, intended to raise false hopes in the West, or to strengthen the Soviet system without changing it? We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace.

General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

Whoa! Og, som man siger, “the rest is history …”

Update: John Fund skrev tirsdag om årsdagen i Wall Street Journal, og ovennævnte Finn Ziegler onsdag aften i en klumme på 180grader.dk.

The Boys from Pointe du Hoc

Denne Punditokrat er en gammel sentimentalist, og jeg kan godt lide mindedage–mestendels de glade og symbolsk højstemte. Jeg bliver glad, når de markeres, og ærgerlig når de glemmes–og forbandet på mig selv, når jeg f.eks. glemmer at tænde lys i vinduet 4. maj.

I den forbindelse tænkte jeg i dag en del over, at jeg (der i disse dage befinder mig i smukke Cambridge) reelt havde overset, at det i går var Grundlovsdag derhjemme i Danmark. Men så blev jeg mindet om, at i dag sådan set også er en anden, værdig mindedag: D-Dag. Det er i dag 63 år siden, at De Allierede gik i land i Normandiet, og i det store billede er det en af de dage, der klart må regnes som ikke bare en af de vigtigste i det 20. århundrede men en af de afgørende i frihedens historie.

Men det betyder også, at det i dag er 23 år siden, at præsident Ronald W. Reagan holdt en af sine bedste taler. Måske ikke den mest ideologiske, men klart en af de smukkeste, mest sentimentale (i ordets bedste betydning) og mest velskrevne–og selvfølgelig skrevet af Peggy Noonan. Talen, kendt som “The Boys from Pointe du Hoc”, blev holdt foran rækker med overlevende “Rangers” fra D-Dag, og den findes hér på audio (under datoen June 6, 1984) og hér som tekst. Her er et par uddrag:

“We’re here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue. Here in Normandy the rescue began. Here the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.

… 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. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.

You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One’s country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.

… [But not] all that followed the end of the war was happy or planned. Some liberated countries were lost. The great sadness of this loss echoes down to our own time in the streets of Warsaw, Prague, and East Berlin. Soviet troops that came to the center of this continent did not leave when peace came. They’re still there, uninvited, unwanted, unyielding, almost forty years after the war. Because of this, allied forces still stand on this continent. Today, as forty years ago, our armies are here for only one purpose: to protect and defend democracy. The only territories we hold are memorials like this one and graveyards where our heroes rest.

… Here, in this place where the West held together, let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for.”

Ugens citat: Peggy Noonan om Reagan og Republikanernes kandidater

Forleden var der den første offentlige debat mellem størstedelen af de Republikanere, som søger nomineringen som partiets kandidat til præsidentvalget i 2008.  Debatten, der bl.a. talte John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney og Ron Paul, fandt sted på invitation af Nancy Reagan, i Ronald Reagan Presidential Library i Simi Valley.

Det havde Reagans tidligere taleskriver, Peggy Noonan, som emne i sin ugentlige klumme i Wall Street Journal forleden, og der var bl.a. denne fine, tongue-in-cheek passage, hvor hun beskrev, hvordan kandidaterne mødtes på Reagans hjemmebane:

“They stood earnestly in a row, combed, primped and prepped, as Nancy Reagan gazed up at them with courteous interest. But behind the hopeful candidates, a dwarfing shadow loomed, a shadow almost palpable in its power to remind Republicans of the days when men were men and the party was united. His power is only increased by his absence. But enough about Fred Thompson.”

President Thompson? V

Her kommer så lidt mere om Fred Dalton Thompsons mulige præsidentkandidatur … Ikke-kandidaten har nu fået sit eget radioprogram og tilhørende blog, og det kunne jo godt tyde på en vis fremtidsinteresse udover skuespillerkarrieren. Hos britiske The Times mener man, at Thompson er den nye Reagan (hvilket vælgerne omvendt bestemt ikke mener, at G.W. Bush er), og Stuart Rothenberg, der er kendt som en af de mest seriøse og mest uafhængige kommentatorer af amerikansk politik, har i sin nye klumme, “Is Fred Thompson coming to the GOP’s rescue?”, bl.a. dette at sige:

I’ll admit that I have had a hard time warming to the idea that former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), whom I first saw as minority counsel during the Senate Watergate hearings and whose TV and movie credits include “Die Hard 2,” “The Hunt for Red October” and “Law & Order,” would run for president. And it seemed, at least initially, even more difficult to imagine him as the Republican nominee next year.

But try as I might to dismiss the idea of a Thompson candidacy, I no longer can do so. It isn’t that the former Senator from Tennessee is such a good fit for the role of presidential candidate. It’s simply that none of the other cast members is a perfect fit either.

As every political analyst on the planet has observed for months, all of the top-tier GOP hopefuls face serious obstacles on the road to Minneapolis, and there clearly is a vacancy in the race for a mainstream conservative who doesn’t have a reputation as a troublemaker within the party.

Thompson surely has assets both in the race for the Republican nomination and in a general election, the single most important being that he both looks and sounds like the president of the United States of America. Don’t dismiss the “he sure looks like a president” factor. It’s important.

But I’m not certain whether the former Tennessee official truly fills the vacancy in his party’s presidential field that was created when conservative Sen. George Allen’s (R-Va.) political career imploded. For now, at least, many conservatives seem to think that Thompson is acceptable, though I’m not sure how deeply they have looked into his record.

Anyway, Thompson didn’t offend conservatives when he was a Senator and he doesn’t have a pro-choice, pro-gun-control record, which makes him more acceptable to conservatives than either Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) or former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. More recently, he has substituted for longtime radio commentator Paul Harvey, where he has sounded, according to one Republican observer, “like a conservative Southerner.”

Still, Thompson’s appeal is less about who he is and more about who he isn’t.

… Former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, who now chairs the Virginia GOP, recently told me that criticism of Thompson is not always on the mark, and some of it is reminiscent of criticism aimed at former President Ronald Reagan.

“He is easygoing and amiable,” says Gillespie, who is offering his advice to all candidates and emphasizes that he does not now have a candidate in the Republican race and will stay neutral throughout the contest for his party’s nomination. “And he is kind of laid-back. But Fred has been successful on a number of fronts.”

… Thompson has not yet decided whether to run, though some of his allies have been sounding out consultants about their availability, should he decide to go forward.

A Thompson run would be a serious, possibly fatal, blow to the prospects of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who hopes to emerge (against either McCain or Giuliani) as the “conservative alternative.” Thompson would be a rival for that role, and the announcement of his candidacy would create at least a temporary boomlet that would eclipse Romney if the former governor had not already increased his standing in key polls.

Thompson’s announcement about whether he will make the race could come at any time, though nothing appears to be imminent. He actually may be better off delaying his entry until around the Iowa Straw Poll in August, bypassing an event that maximizes the importance of organization, which he doesn’t have and probably can’t create in a few months.

Anyway, I’m not dismissing Thompson anymore. Nature abhors a vacuum, and Fred Thompson may well have the ability to fill the one that exists in the GOP contest.”

Meningsmålere mener noget lignende.

Update: En anden London-avis, The Telegraph, har også fået øjnene op for potentialet i Thompson. I en artikel forleden hed det bl.a., at Reagans gamle støtter nu støtter Thompson:

“Ronald Reagan’s closest allies are throwing their weight behind the White House bid by the late president’s fellow actor, Fred Thompson.

The film star and former Republican senator from Tennessee will this week use a speech in the heart of Reagan country, in southern California, to woo party bigwigs in what insiders say is the next step in his coming out as a candidate.

A key figure in the Reagan inner circle has now given his seal of approval to Mr Thompson, best known as a star of the television crime drama Law and Order.

As deputy chief of staff, Michael Deaver was a key member of the “troika” of aides who kept the Reagan White House on track. With the chief of staff James Baker and special assistant Ed Meese, he was the master of image and presentation.

Mr Deaver sees the same raw material in Mr Thompson as was perceived in Ronald Reagan, describing him as someone “that could really make a difference”. He added: “He is very popular in his party. He could change this whole thing and turn this primary system upside down.

“As Ronald Reagan used to say, after he stole a line from Al Jolson, ‘Stay tuned, you ain’t seen nothing yet’.”

… Mr Deaver voiced the view of many Republicans that the current crop of declared candidates is unsatisfactory. Of the front runner, the former New York mayor Rudi Giuliani, he said: “His popularity may be a mile wide and an inch deep. I’m sure that lead will shrink.”

Mr Deaver’s intervention is significant. He is very close to Mr Reagan’s widow, Nancy, and is seen as the keeper of the Reagan flame.

Clark Judge, a White House speechwriter for Mr Reagan, said: “Fred Thompson, like Ronald Reagan, is a man of tremendous substance. There is a sense in the party that none of the candidates is quite ‘it’.”

Mr Reagan, he said, had “embodied the mission of the party – entrepreneurial growth, limited government and a strong national defence. Whoever can bring that mission into this age will be the nominee. And it may be Fred Thompson.” Roger Stone, who was a Reagan campaign strategist, said: “The president Americans want is, in fact, the guy they see on Law and Order: wise, thoughtful, deliberative, confident without the cockiness of George W Bush, urba
ne yet country. Fred Thomp
son communicates all those virtues.”

… Mr Thompson has shown that he recognises the importance of assuming the Reagan mantle. He is on record as saying: “Ronald Reagan believed in something. How much we need that today. He showed what can be done if you have the will to push for tough choices, and the ability to ask the people to accept them.”

Mr Reagan himself, asked whether his training as an actor had prepared him for the presidency, once replied: “I don’t see how any fellow that wasn’t an actor could do this job.”

Americans need not wait for Mr Thompson to win next year’s election to see him in the Oval Office. He plays President Ulysses S Grant in the film, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, which opens next month.”

Update II: Og New York Times har idag en laaaanng og grundlæggende ikke-negativ artikel.

Ugens citat: Noonan om Reagan og Republikanerne

Den tidligere taleskriver for Ronald Reagan, for George H.W. Bush og–en gang eller to–for George W. Bush, Peggy Noonan (som jeg er en stor fan af og mange gange har citeret her på stedet), giver i sin faste klumme i dagens Wall Street Journal smæk til de nuværende Republikaneres administration af Reagans parti:

"[This past week's Time magazine cover] had a picture of Ronald Reagan with a tear drawn in, to illustrate a piece on the current Republican Party. Actually it was a good piece in that it suggested a simple truth: The portion of the Republican Party that is based in and lives off the American capital has lost its way. They used to stand for conservative principles and now they stand for–well, whatever it is they stand for. I've written the past few years that the modern Democratic Party has been undone in part by its successes, that it achieved what it worked for in terms of Social Security, the safety net and civil rights, and that a great coalition has now devolved into a mere conglomeration of interest groups. I don't see why Time shouldn't similarly indict the Republicans. I think many of us would agree both parties seem like exhausted little volcanoes, and that they are driven more by hunger than belief.

 The Time story turned the discussion again to Reagan and the shadow he casts, and that's what people are talking about: What would Reagan think, what would Reagan do? So let's posit the obvious. Reagan was great, a one-man hinge of history. He led and encouraged a national effort to rethink the relations of the individual and the federal establishment, to rethink what was owed to and legitimately expected of the state. He increased our security by increasing our strength and removing from the historical stage an evil ideology that had become an evil empire. "The Soviet Union fell." It didn't fall, somebody pushed it.

Here we should stop, for here things become confused. There seems to be a temperamental difference between the two parties regarding their heroes. Democrats are inspired by their greats (FDR, JFK) and spooked by their failures (McGovern, Carter). Republicans ignore their failures (who talks about Hoover?) and are spooked by their greats.

And when you're spooked by someone, or have been beaten by someone, resentment creeps in.

Democrats look back and think Reagan was magic, or rather had some strange and secret magic. The smile, the charm, the humor–that's why he looms! It was Mike Deaver and the balloons! It was his optimism! But Reagan never said he was optimistic. He wasn't "optimistic," he was faithful and practical. He said we could turn around the economy and beat communism. Then we did it. Which left everyone feeling optimistic.

Reagan should be an inspiration for every person in politics who stands for something at a cost and because it is right.

But he should inspire, he shouldn't demoralize. Republicans should stop allowing the media to spook them with his memory. Democrats should stop resenting him and dreaming up new reasons behind his success.

For Republicans especially he should be a reorienting memory. He was modern conservatism. If they are for more government, more spending, a more imposing state, what are they?

For Democrats he should function as a reminder that ideas and philosophy count, that they give politics meaning.

Republicans should take heart from his memory but not be sunk in him or spooked by him. Life moves. Reagan's meaning cannot be forgotten. But where does it get you if it's 1885, and Republicans are pulling their hair out saying, "Oh no, we're not doing well. We could win if only we had a Lincoln, but they shot him 20 years ago!" That's not how serious people talk, and it's not how serious people think. You face the challenges of your time with the brains and guts you have. You can't sit around and say, "Oh what would Lincoln do?" For one thing it is an impractical attitude. Lincolns don't come along every day. What you want to do with the memory of a great man is recognize his greatness, laud it, take succor from it, and keep moving. You can't be transfixed by a memory. Hold it close and take it into the future with you.

Doesn't matter what you call yourself, matters who you are. Reagan wasn't magic. He was serious, farsighted and brave about the great issues of his time. Republican candidates could try that. If they did, it would have a secondary benefit. They'd start respecting themselves instead of merely being full of themselves. This would help them stop being spooked."

President Thompson?

Siden George Allens kampagne–og politiske karriere–imploderede så ynkeligt sidste år, har den del af det Republikanske Parti, der i mangel af bedre, bedst kan betegnes som “Reagan-fløjen” stået uden en naturlig kandidat. Nej, faktisk har man stået uden nogen kandidat. Det har fået mange til at se sig rundt omkring, for om der dog ikke kunne være nogen, man kunne stille op. Én, der ikke som McCain er sådan lidt småupålidelig, når det gælder statslig indblanding i økonomien. Én der ikke, som Giuliani, reelt er så ukonservativ, at det gør noget. Én der ikke, som Mitt Romney, er mormon. Og én der ikke–øvrige kvaliteter uberørt–som Newt Gingrich har omtrent lige så høje negative “ratings” som O.J. Simpson. Nå ja, og så gerne én, der er relativt kendt, ikke er en levebrødspolitiker, og er udbredt velllidt. En slags Reagan.

Om det er dét–en CABAL eller “talent contest” organiseret af Heritage Foundation m.fl.–der er ved at manifestere sig nu, skal jeg ikke kunne sige, men lige pludselig er der ved at tegne sig billedet af en mulighed, der ihvertfald er interessant.

Og så skifter vi lige emne–et øjeblik.

Jeg har i mere end et årti (faktisk siden jeg fulgte første sæson i USA i begyndelsen af 1990erne) været en inkarneret fan af den amerikanske krimi-koncern/serie “Law & Order” (som nu er den længst kørende serie i TV-historien). Ok, ikke alle “spin-offs” er lige gode–jeg er f.eks. ikke meget begejstret for “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”, og “Law & Order: Trial By Jury” nåede aldrig at slå igennem. Men originalserien–også de gamle afsnit–er altid værd at se (igen og igen, som man kan næsten hver aften på Hallmark), og det samme er “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” med den fabelagtigt excentriske Vincent D’Onofrio (som Kanal 5 viser herhjemme–midt om natten). Og jeg var særligt glad for nogle sæsoner siden, da man til originalserien skulle finde en ny offentlig anklager. I et årti havde Steven Hill spillet rollen som den gamle sure District Attorney, og det havde han gjort perfekt. Derefter overtog Diane Wiest i en sæson eller to, men hun var ikke spor sej, og det lignende en gang “lad os prøve noget andet med en, der ikke er en gammel, hvid mand”. Og hvem tog de så? En erfaren skuespiller, der samtidig passede godt til rollen, fordi han er gammel advokat og ved, hvordan det er at stille op til valg: Den fhv. Republikanske senator Fred D. Thompson.

Det glædede mig særligt, fordi jeg–udover længe at have syntes, at han var en god skuespiller (bl.a. i Clint Eastwoods “In the Line of Fire” og i flere andre, hvor han typisk spiller præsident, stabschef eller efterretningsmand)–havde bemærket to ting ved ham: At han havde et klart liberalistisk islæt i sine holdninger, og at han–i modsætning til de fleste politikere–bevidst fravalgte at blive karrierepolitiker i resten af sin levetid. Han trak sig således frivilligt efter blot halvanden periode i senatet, og i de otte år han sad der, opnåede han p.b.a. sin stemmeadfærd at blive klassificeret som “libertarian” af Republican Liberty Caucus, som “ratede” ham 70 af 100 på personlig frihed og 87 af 100 på økonomisk frihed. Meget kunne have set anderledes ud, om andre medlemmer af kongressen stemte på den måde–eller hvis en præsident stod for noget lignende.

Og så kommer vi tilbage til emnet … For andre har tænkt det samme, og i den seneste uge har noget tydet på, at Thompson nu pludselig er i spil som uerklæret kandidat og Republikansk “dark horse”:

“Thompson, who plays district attorney Arthur Branch on NBC’s drama Law & Order, said Sunday that he’s going to “leave the door open” and make a decision in the coming months.

“I’m going to wait and see what happens,” Thompson said. “I want to see my colleagues on the campaign trial, what they say, what they emphasize, whether they can carry the ball next November.”

“I think people are somewhat disillusioned. A lot of people are cynical out there. They’re looking for something different,” he said.”

Det er muligt, at det ikke er alvorligt ment. Det er muligt, at det ikke bliver til noget. Det er muligt, at det slet ikke ville være noget at råbe hurra for. Men det er ihvertfald en ganske interessant udvikling–og der er (selvfølgelig) allerede en impromptu “Draft Fred 08”-kampagne, ligesom der er TV-klip og kommentarer bl.a. her. Her er Wall Street Journals indsigtsfulde politiske redaktør, John Fund, med en historie fra dagens avis:

Lights, Camera . . . Candidacy?
Fred Thompson is shaking up the GOP presidential field. And he’s not even running yet.

BY JOHN FUND
Saturday, March 17, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

NEW YORK–“Expect her to recount every moment of her ordeal,” the savvy district attorney mused to his deputy. “There won’t be a dry eye in the jury.”

“That’s a take!” says a director of the hit NBC series “Law and Order.” With that, Fred Thompson, the former U.S. senator from Tennessee who has played “strict constructionist” prosecutor Arthur Branch for the past four years, walks back with me to his dressing room to talk about a new role he might soon be undertaking: surprise Republican presidential candidate.

It is a slightly surreal setting to be talking big-league politics. But not unprecedented. In 1965, Ronald Reagan held early strategy meetings on his nascent race for governor of California on the set of “Death Valley Days.” In 2003, Arnold Schwarzenegger stepped off a plane from a world-wide publicity tour for his last “Terminator” film and immediately huddled with advisers on his own campaign for governor. Both men effectively used their celebrity status to completely transform the races they entered.

So too may Fred Thompson. When we meet on Thursday night, it’s only been four days since he appeared on Fox News to merely announce he was “looking at” running. Chuck Todd, the political director of NBC News, notes in amazement how “a retired senator can show a tiny bit of interest and literally shake up the race overnight.”

And he is shaking up the race. Every GOP candidate is nervously watching the reaction to his possible entry. J.C. Watts, an Oklahoma congressman from 1995 to 2003, has endorsed him: “I define Fred Thompson as AC, what’s AC? All class.”

Fan blogs for “Law and Order”
note that since the show
is especially popular among women, a Thompson race could help close the GOP’s “gender gap.” The most pithy comment is from Craig Hammond, a former mayor of Bluefield, W.Va. He told the Bluefield News: “He’s the tall timber we’ve been waiting for. He’s the total package. He can hold the red states and pick up a few blue ones along the way.”

But Mr. Thompson appears serene about all the speculation swirling around him. “Those running are all good guys, and would be good presidents,” he says leaning back in a recliner. “But there are truly vital issues–from the looming entitlement crisis to nuclear proliferation–I’m not afraid to talk about. Lots of people have such a low regard for politicians that they’re open to a campaign that would be completely different.”

So how would a possible Thompson campaign be distinctive? “Politics is now one big 24-hour news cycle, but we seem to spend less time than ever on real substance,” he muses. “What if someone harnessed the Internet and other technologies and insisted in talking about real issues in more depth than consultants would advise? What if they took risks with their race in hopes that the risks to our children could be reduced through building a mandate for good policy?”

Bluntly put, Fred Thompson had a reputation for being lazy in wanting to do the political chores that come with office. People openly question if he has “the fire in the belly” to really make a serious race.

“They used to say I moved slowly,” he chuckles. “But I move deliberately. I won every one of my races by more than 20 points in a state Clinton carried twice.”

On issues, he addresses head-on the major complaints conservatives have about his record. He was largely stymied in his 1997 investigation of both Clinton-Gore and GOP campaign fund-raising abuses: Key witnesses declined to testify or fled the country, though evidence eventually surfaced of a Chinese plan to influence U.S. politics. He won’t argue with those who say he showed “naiveté” about how he would be stonewalled in his investigation. He says he’s wiser now.

Many on the right remain angry he supported the campaign finance law sponsored by his friend John McCain. “There are problems with people giving politicians large sums of money and then asking them to pass legislation,” Mr. Thompson says. Still, he notes he proposed the amendment to raise the $1,000 per person “hard money” federal contribution limit.

Conceding that McCain-Feingold hasn’t worked as intended, and is being riddled with new loopholes, he throws his hands open in exasperation. “I’m not prepared to go there yet, but I wonder if we shouldn’t just take off the limits and have full disclosure with harsh penalties for not reporting everything on the Internet immediately.”

Mr. Thompson has also been criticized for failing to back some comprehensive tort-reform bills because of his background as a trial lawyer. Here he insists his stance was based on grounds of federalism. “I’m consistent. I address Federalist Society meetings,” he says, noting that more issues should be left to the states. For example, he cast the lonely “nay” in 99-1 votes against a national 0.8% blood alcohol level for drivers, a federal law banning guns in schools, and a measure limiting the tort liability of Good Samaritans. “Washington overreaches, and by doing so ends up not doing well the basics people really care about.” Think Katrina and Walter Reed.

Indeed, the federal government’s inability to function effectively would likely be a major theme of any Thompson campaign. “Audits have shown we’ve lost control of the waste and mismanagement in our most important agencies. It’s getting so bad it’s affecting our national security.”

Mr. Thompson says that while a senator he was long concerned with U.S. intelligence failures. “The CIA has better politicians than it has spies,” he says, referring to the internecine turf wars that have been a feature of the Bush administration.

A key problem, Mr. Thompson notes, is a general lack of accountability in government, where no one pays any price for failure. When asked about President Bush’s awarding the Medal of Freedom to outgoing CIA Director George Tenet after U.S. intelligence failures in Iraq became apparent, he shakes his head: “I just didn’t understand that.”

The next president, according to Mr. Thompson, needs to exercise strong leadership “and get down in the weeds and fix a civil-service system that makes it too hard to hire good employees and too hard to fire bad ones.” He doesn’t offer specifics on what to do, but notes the “insanity” of the new Congress pushing for the unionization of homeland security employees only five years after it rejected the notion in the wake of 9/11. “Should we tie ourselves up in bureaucratic knots with the challenges we may have to face?” he asks in wonderment.

The challenges, he says, are numerous. On Iraq, he admits “we are left with nothing but bad choices.” However, he says the “worst choice” would be to have Osama bin Laden proven right when he predicted America wouldn’t have the stomach for a tough fight. The costs of Iraq have been high, but they could be even higher “if we have another stain on America like that infamous scene from Saigon 1975 in which our helicopters took off leaving those who supported us grabbing at the landing skids.”

Mr. Thompson is especially worried about nuclear proliferation. He serves as chairman of the International Security Advisory Board, along with former Clinton CIA Director Jim Woolsey and former Democratic Sen. Chuck Robb. The board recently received an unclassified briefing that convinced him three or four countries in the Middle East are “on the cusp” of acquiring nuclear weapons should the Iranians carry through with their own weapons program.

He urges continued pressure on Iran, which he says has grave domestic problems. “Iran may fall of its own weight, and we can help that by offering vocal support to dissident groups and making effective use of the airwaves to reach its people.”

On domestic issues, Mr. Thompson says a major reason Republicans lost last November was that they aided and abetted runaway government spending. Yet Democrats, he contends, are incapable of following through on their pledges to be fiscally prudent. “Their political coalition needs more revenue like a car requires gasoline,” he laughs. “Reagan showed what can be done if you have the will to push for tough choices and the ability to ask the people to accept them.”

But Mr. Thompson says those tough choices shouldn’t include the tax increases contemplated in the new budget released by Senate Democrats this week. “The phony static accounting the government uses has obscured just how successful the 2003 tax cuts have been in boosting the economy,” he says. “Lower marginal tax rates have proven to be a key to prosperity now by Kennedy, Reagan and Bush. It’s time millionaires serving in the Senate learned not to overly tax other people trying to get wealthy.”

Mr. Thompson says he can compete with Democrats in talking plainly about the anxiety many Americans have about the economy, despite good macro numbers. “Someone who is 18 today may well have 10 employers in their career,” he says. “That’s completely different from how their parents lived. I would address that insecurity and help people adapt without shooting ourselves in the foot with protectionism and income redistribution. I had 10 employers before I finished law school.”

Fred Thompson clearly hasn’t decided whether to run for president; and he underestimates just how much the traditional fund-raising he disdains may be necessary for his long-shot campaign. But he has assets that add up to an impressive portfolio.

As Republican counsel in the Watergate hearings, he began building a reputation as a straight-shooter. It was he who asked the question that forced a White House deputy to admit that Richard Nixon had

secretly recorded his Oval Office conversations.

Later in the 1970s he played a key role in exposing a Tennessee cash-for-pardons scandal; his acting career began when he won the part of playing himself in the 1985 movie version of the story. Today, his national exposure is greater than ever with a dozen of his movies playing as TV repeats. All of this month he is substituting for radio legend Paul Harvey, whose show is heard on more than 1,200 stations.

So many voters remain unsold on any of the current GOP contenders that Mr. Thompson just might trade his TV sound stage for a campaign microphone. As this is the first truly open Republican nomination fight in decades, the party might as well revel in the competition it claims to cherish in other parts of life. “

Det kunne–set fra dette ringhjørne–godt være meget værre–og det er ihvertfald interessant. Hvis Thompson bestemmer sig for at forsøge, er mit gæt, at han vil få en stor del af de tvivlende republikanske primærvalgsvægere, spise størstedelen af Gingrichs tilslutning, meget af Romneys, en del af McCains og noget af Giulianis, og at det i sidste ende vil kunne blive et valg mellem ham og sidstnævnte. Men jeg har taget voldsomt fejl før

Bartlett om Gerald Ford

Den amerikanske liberalistisk-orienterede, konservative forfatter og kommentator Bruce Bartlett skrev sidste år bogen "Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy".  Titlen siger vist det hele.  Det syntes de også ved den iøvrigt ellers ganske gode frimarkedsorienterede tænketank, National Center for Policy Analysis, hvor Bartlett dengang arbejdede–så han blev fyret. Nu er han så denne måneds gæsteblogger på New York Times' blog.  Det kræver abonnement at kunne læse, så her kommer med saks og klister, hvad han forleden skrev vedrørende nyafdøde, Republikanske ekspræsident Gerald Ford.  Det er pænere, end man skulle tro–og pænere end hvad Bartlett har at sige om GWB:
With the passing of Gerald Ford, we have lost more than a former president who served the nation honorably in trying times. The Republican Party has also lost its last link to a tradition it once embraced. Gone now is any trace of the solid Midwestern ethics that Ford personified – things like not spending more than you take in, being skeptical about the use of force, and not imposing one's values on others.
Gone also is any trace of the Western-style libertarianism that Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan exemplified. Instead, we now have a Republican Party that has imposed vast financial costs on future generations just to win a few votes today, that is hasty and imprudent in the use of force, and that takes a virtually puritanical approach to imposing on everyone the views of evangelical Christians.
Ford and Reagan were much closer to each other philosophically than either of them would be to George W. Bush. Although Reagan and Ford faced off against each other for the Republican presidential nomination in 1976, they weren't really fighting over basic principles – on those, they mostly agreed with each other. The big debate was about political strategy and tactics.

The Reagan people thought that Ford was insufficiently bold in pursuing a conservative agenda – when he declined, for example, to propose a permanent tax cut and instead, in 1975, offered only a one-shot tax rebate. The Reagan people thought that the Ford people had essentially given up hope of turning around the ship of state and that the best they could do was just keep the ship from sinking on their watch.

Indeed, there was a certain fatalism to the way Ford viewed his options. He had been elected to the House of Representatives in 1948, and during all but two of his long years of service there, the Democrats were in the majority, and Republicans could do little to pursue their agenda. Moreover, in 1974, the Democrats greatly increased their majority, putting many aggressive liberals in positions of leadership for the first time. (The chairmanship of the House Democratic Caucus, for instance, passed from the relatively conservative Olin Teague of Texas to the liberal Phil Burton of California.)

Consequently, Ford saw no chance for any legislation that might fix the problems caused by price controls on energy or skyrocketing entitlement programs. He had his hands full just beating back measures that would have increased spending and made matters worse. But at least he knew how to use his veto pen and did so on 66 occasions in a little more than two years. The fact that Ford was overridden 12 times – the second largest number of any president * – shows just how difficult his political position was.

The circumstances of the time were atrocious. The nation suffered the worst economic recession since the Great Depression** on Ford's watch, yet inflation remained unacceptably high. The Vietnam War was officially lost while Ford was president. And the Soviet Union was at the peak of its military and political power.

The point is that it was not unreasonable to think, as Ford did, that the best that could be done was just to keep things from getting worse. Some of his younger aides, such as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, no doubt chafed at this reality. This may explain why they still exhibit a kind of bunker mentality when criticized. They remember too well the unfair criticism of Ford in 1975 and 1976, when many national problems were simply out of his control.

The more optimistic Reagan people saw the Ford approach as defeatism. In crisis there is opportunity, they thought. And as outsiders, they weren't awed by the power of the Democratic leadership, the national media or the federal bureaucracy. The Reagan people thought that strong leadership and new ideas about foreign and domestic policy could overcome these forces.

In 1976, Ford probably had the better of this argument. The country wasn't ready for Reagan that year, and Reagan himself wasn't really ready to be president either. The nation needed the experience of Jimmy Carter to make Reagan's presidency possible. The American people needed to give the conventional wisdom one last shot at fixing the country's problems before they would be open to new conservative ideas. And Reagan needed time out of office to study and think and discuss these ideas, and learn to articulate them and how to implement them.***

By contrast, the current President Bush came to office without ever having had the humbling experience of laboring for years as a minority leader in Congress or the long years of thought and study Reagan put in on the problems of public policy. From his life in the West, Bush picked up none of Goldwater's libertarianism, but instead absorbed the bravado and evangelicalism that are characteristic of many Texans.

I would be less concerned if I thought Bush was an isolated case of a president out of step with his own party, as Carter was. What bothers me is that I don't see anyone in the Republican Party today who exemplifies either Ford's philosophy or Reagan's. Yet I believe that many at the party's grass roots yearn for a leader who has Ford's humility and prudence and Reagan's optimism and love of ideas, and none of Bush's overconfidence and anti-intellectualism.

___

* Andrew Johnson was overridden the most times, with 15 overrides. Ford is tied with Harry Truman, but Truman served almost four times as long.

** It's a source of some irritation to me that politicians are always saying that the latest recession was the worst since the Great Depression. By any measure, the one Ford dealt with was the worst. Raw data can be found here.

*** To learn about the research Reagan did in the late 1970s and the evolution of his thinking, I strongly recommend reading "Reagan's Path to Victory," by Kiron Skinner, Annelise Anderson and Martin Anderson, which contains many of Reagan's own writings. Clearly, by 1980, he was much better prepared to be president than he was in 1976.       

Nostalgi video

Denne blogs faste læser “Repsak” har privat gjort os opmærksomme på, at US State Dept. er begyndt at lægge gamle udenrigspolitiske klip ud på deres hjemmeside.  Her på stedet tvivler vi på, om det i det store billede er en Pareto-forberende investering–men når de nu engang ligger der, så kan man da nyde at se f.eks. et ualmindeligt klassisk og smukt klip som dette.

2008: Hillary Clinton mod George Allen V

Den neo-konservative journalist og kommentator Fred Barnes har i weekendudgaven af Wall Street Journal et interview med og portræt af senator George Allen (R-VA), som trofaste læsere vil vide, at nærværende punditokrat snart utallige gange (og ihvertfald længere end de fleste andre) har tippet til at ville blive Republikanernes præsidentkandidat i 2008.  (Jeg skal dog bemærke, at jeg på det seneste i stigende grad har hæftet mig ved senator John McCains (R-AZ) vellykkede strategiske manøvrer, mens et kandidatur for Rudy Giuliani eller Condolezza Rice omvendt ikke synes at have nogen gang på jorden.)*  I interviewet sammenfattes Allens grundsynspunkt således:

[He] disagrees with Mr. Bush on the scope of the federal government. The president accepts its size as a given and advocates using it for conservative ends. Mr. Allen says he has "a libertarian sense." He describes himself as more in sync with Thomas Jefferson and Ronald Reagan than with George Bush. "I'm one who dislikes limits. I don't like restrictions. I like freedom. I like liberty. Unless you're harming someone else, you leave people free."

For nærværende skribent lyder det ikke så ringe endda, men af interviewet fremgår det imidlertid også, at Allen i praksis har et relativt pragmatisk syn på, hvornår statslige indgreb i folks frihed alligevel er acceptable.  Om det skyldes manglende intellektuel konsistens eller er nødvendige pragmatiske hensyn foranlediget af meningsmålinger og fokusgrupper er svært at sige.  Uanset hvad, tror jeg allerede nu, at et godt gæt vil være, at medierne senest i 2008 vil fremstille Allen som en overfladisk, intellektuel letvægter, der primært taler i klichéer og soundbites.  (Lyder det iøvrigt bekendt?)

Og apropos Republikanerne og 2008, så har det næsten altid fortrinlige The Economist i denne uge hovedhistorie og leder om emnet, hvor man giver denne rammende karakteristik af partiets image: "The ideological shine has gone, too. The party of streamlined government has been gorging on legislative pork. A party that once prided itself on businesslike pragmatism has become synonymous with ideologically skewed ineptitude …"  I den forbindelse genfortælles bl.a. denne vittighed fra konservative kredse i USA om Republikanernes aktuelle "succes": Hvad er forskellen på "Titanic" og det Republikanske Parti?  I det mindste forsøgte "Titanic" ikke at ramme isbjerget …

At det tænksomme ugeskrift er kritisk overfor Bush og Republikanerne bør dog ikke misforstås som, at man er begejstret for Demokraterne.  Her er noget af, hvad lederen skriver om dét parti og dets politiske linie:

"Nowadays "the alternative to Bush" is a muddle of vacuous populism and meaningless slogans … Worst of all, the Democrats are marching backwards.

Take the party's economic policies. Mr Clinton stood for free trade and (after some retraining) a balanced budget. In 1993, 102 House Democrats, less than half the total, voted for the North American Free-Trade Agreement. Last year, only 15 Democrats defied the unions to vote for a smaller trade bill, the Central American Free-Trade Agreement. In the usually wiser Senate, only 11 out of 44 Democrats supported the bill, and John Kerry and Hillary Clinton were not among them. As for the budget, the Democrats' main criticism of Mr Bush's splurge is that he has not spent enough.

This, sadly, is symptomatic. Some Democrats are trying to unpick Mr Clinton's welfare reforms. Despite the party's rhetoric about protecting the poor, it has blocked most serious attempts to improve the schools poor children are condemned to attend. As for national security, the party seems to be veering ever further to the Michael Mooreish left. Two years ago, Mr Kerry savaged Mr Bush over Iraq, but talked relatively responsibly about a gradual withdrawal. Now the call from many of the party's leaders is to bring the troops home now—and hang the consequences for the region.

Familiar vested interests are sometimes at work. The Democrats' relationship with the teachers' unions is just as crony-ridden as (and even more damaging to America's long-term interests than) the White House's ties to Big Oil. But there is also something new eating away at the Democratic brain: fury at Mr Bush. And though Bush-bashing may be understandable, it also looks increasingly counterproductive. The risk for the Democrats is that, although Mr Bush will retire to Crawford in 2009, he will have defined them as an anti-Bush party—isolationist because he was interventionist, anti-business because he was pro-business. Mr Rove would love that. …

The real danger facing the Democrats is that they become a permanent minority party—a coalition that enjoys support from the super-rich, a few minorities and the working poor, but is out of touch with the suburban middle class, not to mention America's broader interests. Such a party might sneak a victory this year, thanks to Mr Rumsfeld et al, but then get hammered by, say, John McCain in 2008.

Two years ago, this newspaper narrowly favoured Mr Kerry's incoherence over Mr Bush's incompetence (see article). Since then, Republican incompetence has exceeded even our worst fears. How depressing to report that Democratic incoherence has soared too. America deserves better."

The Economist har også en længere artikel om Demokraternes (pauvre) udsigter hér.

* Intrade.com har p.t. McCain til 39,5 og Allen til 22,2, hvilket er en fremgang for begge og yderligere konsolidering af deres frontløber-positioner.  Til sammenligning ligger Giuliani på under 10 og Rice på det halve.  Hilary Clinton ligger fortsat uforandret suverænt i spidsen for det Demokratiske felt (ca. 45).

Viva Reagan!

Til de “historisk udfordrede”: Det er i dag 25 år siden, at Ronald W. Reagan blev indsat i embedet som USA’s 40. præsident, og i dagens anledning er det vel nok værd at sende “the Gipper” en venlig tanke.

Nuvel, som øverste chef for den udøvende magt i verdens mægtigste nation får man uvilkårligt lidt … skidt … på fingrene—selv når man i øvrigt efter alt at dømme har en generelt pletfri karakter.  Og selv de mest “die hard” Reaganistas (Søren Pind? Morten Holm? Finn Ziegler?) må vel erkende, at det langt fra var alt, der gik, som det skulle—især ikke i 2. embedsperiode.  Jeg vil ikke gå så langt som Murray Rothbard gjorde i 1989 i hans—som altid—afsindigt velskrevne (og spydige) essay, “Ronald Reagan: An Autopsy”, men snarere sige at Reagan var en mand, hvor der ikke helt var konsistens mellem ambitionerne/retorikken og de faktiske resultater.

Men det ville også have været svært.  Tænk på, hvor revolutionært det var i 1981 at sige ting som disse i sin indsættelsestale:

“[G]overnment is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we’ve been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. But if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? …

We are a nation that has a government — not the other way around. And this makes us special among the nations of the earth. Our Government has no power except that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed. …

Freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any other place on earth. The price for this freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling to pay that price.

It is no coincidence that our present troubles parallel and are proportionate to the intervention and intrusion in our lives that result from unnecessary and excessive growth of Government.

It is time for us to realize that we are too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams. We’re not, as some would have us believe, doomed to an inevitable decline. I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing.”

Og mens Rothbard nok havde ret i, at Reagans resultater af mange på den amerikanske højrefløj er blevet overdrevet, så er de nu ikke alle helt sådan at kimse af—især ikke når der anlægges et lidt længere tidsperspektiv.  Wall Street Journal har fredag en hyldest og opsummering i en lederartikel, der passende hedder “Still Morning in America: Reaganomics 25 Years Later”:

“Twenty-five years ago today, Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as the 40th President of the United States promising less intrusive government, lower tax rates and victory over communism. On that same day, the American hostages in Iran were freed after 444 days of captivity. If the story of history is one long and arduous march toward freedom, this was a momentous day well worth commemorating.

All the more so because over this 25-year period prosperity has been the rule, not the exception, for America–in stark contrast to the stagflationary 1970s. Perhaps the greatest tribute to the success of Reaganomics is that, over the course of the past 276 months, the U.S. economy has been in recession for only 15. That is to say, 94% of the time the U.S. economy has been creating jobs (43 million in all) and wealth ($30 trillion). More wealth has been created in the U.S. in the last quarter-century than in the previous 200 years. The policy lessons of this supply-side prosperity need to be constantly relearned, lest we return to the errors that produced the 1970s.”

For de sentimentale har Heritage Foundation i dagens anledning lavet et helt nyt website dedikeret til Reagan—hvor man bl.a. kan sample gamle citater, hyldesttaler m.v., men hvor man også kan læse tænketankens mere kritiske bemærkninger om Reagan-periodens mindre vellykkede elementer.

En anden mulig måde at fejre dagen på er denne: Tag en øl (men ikke en Budweiser!), spænd dit AuH2O badge på jakkereversen, sæt dig til rette, smæk cowboystøvlerne på bordet, og se og lyt til videooptagelsen af den tale (kendt som “The Speech” eller “A Time for Choosing”), som Reagan i 1964 holdt for Barry Goldwaters præsidentkampagne:

“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 capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.

You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I’d like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There’s only an up or down — [up] man’s old — old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.

In this vote-harvesting time, they use terms like the “Great Society,” or as we were told a few days ago by the President, we must accept a greater government activity in the affairs of the people. But they’ve been a little more explicit in the past and among themselves; and all of the things I now will quote have appeared in print. These are not Republican accusations. For example, they have voices that say, “The cold war will end through our acceptance of a not undemocratic socialism.” Another voice says, “The profit motive has become outmoded. It must be replaced by the incentives of the welfare state.” Or, “Our traditional system of individual freedom is incapable of solving the complex problems of the 20th century.” Senator Fullbright has said at Stanford University that the Constitution is outmoded. He referred to the President as “our moral teacher and our leader,” and he says he is “hobbled in his task by the restrictions of power imposed on him by this antiquated document.” He must “be freed,” so that he “can do for us” what he knows “is best.” …

Well, I, for one, resent it when a representative of the people refers to you and me, the free men and women of this country, as “the masses.” This is a term we haven’t applied to ourselves in America. But beyond that, “the full power of centralized government” — this was the very thing the Founding Fathers sought to minimize. They knew that governments don’t control things. A government can’t control the economy without
controlling people. And th
ey know when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. They also knew, those Founding Fathers, that outside of its legitimate functions, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector of the economy. …

Now it doesn’t require expropriation or confiscation of private property or business to impose socialism on a people. What does it mean whether you hold the deed to the — or the title to your business or property if the government holds the power of life and death over that business or property? And such machinery already exists. The government can find some charge to bring against any concern it chooses to prosecute. Every businessman has his own tale of harassment. Somewhere a perversion has taken place. Our natural, unalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment. …

You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for, when did this begin — just in the face of this enemy? Or should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard ‘round the world? The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn’t die in vain. Where, then, is the road to peace? Well it’s a simple answer after all.

You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, “There is a price we will not pay.” “There is a point beyond which they must not advance.” And this — this is the meaning in the phrase of Barry Goldwater’s “peace through strength.” Winston Churchill said, “The destiny of man is not measured by material computations. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we’re spirits — not animals.” And he said, “There’s something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty.”

You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.

We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.

We will keep in mind and remember that Barry Goldwater has faith in us. He has faith that you and I have the ability and the dignity and the right to make our own decisions and determine our own destiny.”

Den er sgu’ til at blive både sentimental og helt oprørsk af.

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