Saturday, June 05, 2004

Ronald Wilson Reagan, 1911-2004

The 40th President of the United States died at his home in California today. Ronald Wilson Reagan was simply the best president of the 20th Century. Yes, better than FDR (whose leadership in WWII is counterbalanced by his poor misjudgment of Stalin that consigned Eastern Europe to 45 more years of misery, and his establishment of the US welfare state), TR and Truman.

Reagan cured stagflation, jumpstarted a horrendous economy, presided over the best economy in the history of US peacetime, restored American greatness and exceptionalism, DEFEATED COMMUNISM, won the Cold War and did it despite hesitant allies (not including the UK), an unfriendly House of Representatives (where all revenue bills must be initiated under the US Constitution), and a dubious but hopeful populace. He appealed to the greatness of the American spirit, invoked the image of the US as a shining city on a Hill, declared that Communism would be consigned to the ash heap of history, unequivocally spoke the truth by declaring the USSR the Evil Empire, and challenged Gorbachev to TEAR DOWN the Berlin Wall. His words gave hope to millions of people trapped behind the Iron Curtain (read Natan Sharansky for proof) and his policies directly caused the downfall of the Soviet Union. No, of course he was not perfect. But he WAS a leader -- strong and secure in his beliefs, focused on the big picture, charismatic and intelligent (see here for some of his writings), and ALWAYS underestimated by his opponents.

For more information, see The Heritage Foundation's excellent tribute to President Reagan, including a page devoted to his speeches, which includes reactions and retrospectives.

CNN's Special Report is very in-depth, and Fox has this fine list of witticisms and wisdom.

It is often said that no one man is indispensible. This is demonstrably untrue. In 1789, Washington was indispensible; in 1860, Lincoln was indispensible; in 1932, FDR was indispensible; in 1939, Churchill was indispensible and in 1980, Reagan was indispensible. The world is richer for President Reagan's contributions. Rest in peace.

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