Sunday, February 6, 2011

Light 100 Candles

Today, on the occasion of President Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday, Hope n' Change would like to share two stories. One is about a great man, and the other is about a fool. But hopefully both offer cause for optimism about our country and future.

The great man, of course, is Ronald Reagan. Much will be written about him today, speaking of his intellect, his principles, his many accomplishments, his rock-solid belief in America, his strength, his optimism, and his ability to not just lead...but inspire others to greatness. He said of himself "I am not a great communicator... but I communicate great things." Indeed.

Not long ago Newsweek magazine asked if the Presidency is "too big a job for one man." And of course, they were simply ducking the easily-answered question, "is Obama too small for the job?" It would be easy to think that no man could really rise to the task...unless we'd already seen it done. Leadership exists. Strength exists. Principle exists. And that means that it could one day return to the Whitehouse...perhaps as soon as 2012.

The contrast between Reagan and (alleged Reagan-wannabee) Barack Obama couldn't be greater. Ronald Reagan thundered to the Russians "tear down this wall!" Barack Obama told the Russians "if you sign the START treaty, I'll tell you England's nuclear secrets."

So by now, you're probably thinking the "fool" I mentioned earlier must be Mr. Obama... but it's not.

I was the fool.

When I was young (a long, long time ago), I lived through the Reagan area thinking like all of my peers: Republicans are bad, Democrats are good. Reagan is a stupid actor who just reads off a teleprompter. And why would I question my liberal assumptions? The three (count them!) TV channels all seemed to agree with that assessment, as did the newspaper in my small college town.

But life happens...and experience instructs even those who are slow to learn. I got a job, paid taxes, married, had a child, bought a home, had to think about schools, started my own business. And suddenly, politics wasn't abstract anymore. It wasn't theater. Politics had an impact not only on me, but on the world in which my daughter would live.

And over the decades, I could also see the good things in my world that were being lost. Things I'd always taken for granted. Quality schools? Availability of jobs? Fairness in the workplace? Honesty being the best policy? And I saw the programs of the Great Society playing out...and destroying the people they were meant to help.

And eventually I "got it." I understood the difference between intentions and results. I found out that the "news" frequently has an agenda...and that the only way to get an accurate picture is to gather information from many sources. And I also came to understand that it was my (and our) responsibility to try to educate others about all of this...because it's what's best for our country and everyone in it.

In summary, what we learned from Ronald Reagan is that the job of the Presidency isn't too big for one man. But it takes the right man. And what we can learn from my own experience is that, given time and enough information, even fools may eventually see the error of their ways and start doing the right thing.

So best wishes to Ronald Reagan on this 100th anniversary of his birth. I may have been late to the party...but I'm delighted to be here now.

Today is Ronald Reagan's birthday. But this gift is for you.


Bob Mack said...

Great cartoon & an even better essay.

Andrew said...

Beautifully put. You summed up my Boomer journey as well; in the 80s I too was an idealistic young Leftist who thought I saw a glib SAG veteran reading from the teleprompter. It wasn't until he went to Berlin that I realized how greatly I had underestimated him. I'll never forget how proud I was when I heard him say "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

Anonymous said...

Amen to that. But you have to look beyond, or rather, prior to the "Great Society" and the havoc it has wrought, to its orgins; the ideology and programs that came into being under Roosevelt and which continues to drive the Democratic Party and its enablers to this day.

George / Alvin,Tx said...

and, sadly, there are those who revile Mr. Reagan. I know because I work with some. @ Anonymous (just above), the ideologies started back in Woodrow Wilson era, but yes the programs started under Roosevelt (New Deal, et al.)really put this country on the road to big government / nanny state. now, we have a "president" who is trying to push his version of a new deal ..... should be called the Raw Deal!

John the Econ said...

And it's because of your experiences like your's that I retain hope for this country, Stilton. Imagine; A single man with the entire media, educational and most of the political establishments relentlessly marshaling all of their resources against him for over 30 years, and yet he still remains the icon of a true American leader.

Angry Hoosier Dad said...

He did indeed communicate great things and we remember him fondly for the greatness of his words and the strength and character of the man who spoke them. In these dark times, when anti-American actions and watery platitudes pass for leadership, is it any wonder that we miss him so much.

Buzz Bannister said...

What Angry Hoosier Dad said

Pete(Detroit) said...

Personally, I never thought he was that much of a genius, and shady things (Iran/Contra anyone? Guns for Hostages?) during his admin. So, not a saint.
However, his accomplishments were certainly substantial, his ability to gather the nation, and focus us on topic, and get us marching along the same way...
AND he 'got' that tax cuts GENERATE revenue - wish he'd been a bit better at curtailing the spending. Ah, well, no one's perfect, but he was pretty darned good.
First President I voted for..

Suzy said...

Aww Stilt this made me smile today.

Hopefully our current generation will learn what they need to learn...before its too late....before our allies reject us and our country is destroyed.

But I digress.....Happy Birthday, Mr. Reagan. I was too young to vote for you....but you were the best President in my lifetime anyway!

Anonymous said...

more like a classic flip~flop: "Democrats are bad, Republicans are good. Obama is a stupid Nigerian who just reads off a teleprompter."

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

Anonymous- If you read this site regularly, you'll know that I believe (and document) that Democrat policies are bad... that I have no particular love for Republicans whatsoever (except when that label overlaps with genuine conservatism)...and that I have never, ever said, implied, or even hinted that Obama is a stupid Nigerian who reads off a teleprompter!

He is a stupid Kenyan who reads off a teleprompter.

Anonymous said...

I stand corrected. Well, I'm sitting actually.

Anonymous said...

First I want to say "Happy Birthday Mr. President," to Ronald Reagan, I voted for him and I will support him to the end. I do miss him.

On the other hand I could never address Obama as Mr. or President because his Socialist/Marxist agenda scares the hell out of me. He is to be feared as much as Saddam Hussein. He has many friends in Congress who "know not what they do." America cannot stand for the Change and Hope Obama has orchestrated during the past two years. We have more to come, get prepared.

Pete(Detroit) said...

Stilt - Full Point (and good guffaw!)
Anon - Thanks for taking it w/ Dignity, and not getting all 'ad hominem' as some are wont to do.

JustaJeepGuy said...

I just read the article Stilt linked about how Barack Hussein gave Russia the British secrets in order to get the START treaty ratified by Russia. Do you think that NOW the citizenry of America can see that Barack is a TRAITOR?
Reagan would never have done that! Say what you will about Sarah Palin, but she would never do that. Only the socialist-in-chief would sell Britain down the river like that! He needs to be impeached and convicted for treason NOW!!!

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

JustaJeepGuy- It's probably only a coincidence that, just after being made aware that Obama had sold out the UK, the Prime Minister of that nation made a speech blasting multiculturalism and particularly the dangers of Islamic extremism. Not, of course, that our "God DAMN America" prayer-breakfast attending alleged president has Islamic sympathies and a major desire to take down the western world. Like I said, it's probably only a coincidence.

Red said...

I miss Reagan. I never understood the fun poked at him when I was not as politically savvy as I am today and looking back I find it exponentially juvenile (Comic Relief anyone? Family Ties?). When he was shot I was genuinely worried. When he waved at America through his hospital window I cheered. He was a remarkable and well-loved man who —like him or not—loved America with all his might. I wish more people in politics held such stalwart beliefs.

Chuck said...

When Carter was President, the press asked the exact same question: “Is the Presidency too big for one person?”

I was skeptical when Reagan was elected. I. too, was the fool. I was in the Army at the time, but I could not vote … legal resident, but not yet a citizen. The idea of an “actor” becoming a president … oh puleeze! I was so very wrong.

You are correct: the Presidency is not too big … Obama is too small, as was Carter. We HAVE seen it done, and done well! Reagan was the best thing to happen for me … the military … the country – even those who did not see it at the time. I saw quickly that he WAS presidential!

Beware. The media is continuing to try to paint Obama in the same light: “Reagan Like”. Look at the way they are trying to rewrite his legacy into the leftist mold, even going so far as to say the current “right” would not approve of him. They are hijacking a conservative icon. They will fail with Obama, but they will not stop trying. Beware.

Obama is a fake. He is a charlatan. He is a child pretending to be a grown-up, bolstered by an all too-willing leftist media. He whines and cries when he doesn’t get his way … he isn’t used to not getting his way. He is in need of an overdue spanking (I’d rather not be there … he might like it).

It would take a lot more than Alzheimer’s to make me see reality as the fantasy some leftists live in. There isn’t enough disassociation in the world for that. Reagan honestly cared about America, and that is more that I can say about Obama and his followers. They distain everything Ronald Reagan stood for.

Happy birthday Mister President! You are missed!

So, who is the right person man for 2012?
I can vote now!

Pete(Detroit) said...

John Bolton, 2012

Anonymous said...

I remember the Reagan Carter debates -- "Well, there you go again" -- Well here we go again, another Carter in office. We desperately need another Reagan. Someone who loves our country and is unashamed by its greatness. Someone who understands that Government By the People always works best, and someone who understands economics. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR. PRESIDENT, God Bless.

Jim Hlavac said...

My my, all these former liberals and Democrats who became Conservative and Reaganites! Well good for you! Welcome. And just like Reagan too, right? He moved Rightward, he was proud of saying.

Though, allow me to say, this stands in stark contrast to my continued Conservative values since I was a teen, (just about when it seems you all were too,) and I started reading National Review and other Conservative journals.

I didn't have to grow up, get married, pay taxes, have kids, etc., to know this -- and in fact, though I did grow up (or got older actually,) and paid lots of taxes -- as a gay guy, marriage and kids were never an option for me, so they would not have helped me come round to sensibility. And I couldn't lie to some lady and marry her just for the cover she would provide; I took the more obstreperous route of fighting for my right to pursue happiness on my own terms. That I'm still having to fight my own government and many a fellow citizen is a little frustrating, I can assure you. That some in America want to return to a police state against gay folks is worrisome, however. Justice Scalia still wants a law against my brand of kissing, after all.

Still, it was too obvious to me that Carter was a danger, and Reagan was the answer. Perhaps because I had cousins in the Czech Republic, to whom I could speak to in Czech and learn all about the "wonders" of Socialism. And Reagan, ah, he did tear down that wall! And my father's own rock bottom Conservative values didn't hurt, either.

Isn't it weird then, that at least in this small survey of people, that me, the gay guy, was Conservative way before you all came to join me? Oh I know, many will say it's not possible to be gay AND conservative -- but I disagree:

for Liberty For All is what I've always believed -- not just for some, or even just for most, as some still do. And liberty is about different strokes for different folks, and not all in conformity to some self-proclaimed leader's desires, no?

And not having to pay taxes to fund government intrusion into my life was always a guiding principle of mine since I knew at a young age that my taxes helped pay for the police raids against gay bars in which I worried I would be beaten and arrested (talk about your police state, eh? Oh I knew ye well!)

And not following a slavish adherence to group-think, and being for rugged individualism -- and more importantly, even individualism for the not so rugged, has been the lamp which has lit my way. Which has befuddled my gay friends and my straight buddies and just about everyone else I talk to.

So yes, let's celebrate the birthday of the Greatest President of the 20th Century -- and return to much more limited government.

Including getting rid of the Orwellian named "Defense of Marriage Act" -- which doesn't "Defend" marriage, but outlaws it for me by any name, and in the process labels gay folks as somehow 3/5s a person -- and worse -- implies we're a threat to the nation and all it's many families -- and worse -- we still pay full taxes for the "privilege" of our own exclusion.

And remember, there's no American Exceptionalism in being against gay folks. After all, every Communist thought just like that too.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

Jim Hlavac- You've brought up an interesting perspective. You were already an outsider of sorts, forced to evaluate the system actively. For most of us, we could be passive about the system...and simply enjoy the self-congratulatory feeling of knowing we were on the side of the "good guys" (obviously the liberals). Until circumstances forced us to question those assumptions.

Better late than never.

Clark said...

Bravo, Mr. Jarlsberg. Bravo.

79firebirdman said...

He was the first President I ever voted for in 1984. I was a high school freshman when he ran in 1980. We had a mock election at our school. I voted for Carter, I'm ashamed to say. In hindsight, I realize that the lamestream media even then was actively against him and and actively pushing their agenda. In the mock election, I voted for Carter because of those lies. I guess in 1984 my conservative upbringing just took over. I remember the Iran Contra scandal and the congressional hearings, and I believe to this day, the man had our best interests at heart. How we need another like him.

Sue O said...

The 80's was my first decade in this country and I spent most of it barefoot and pregnant and totally oblivious to the news. I'm so sad that I missed those years of Reagan's presence. I love to listen to his speeches and read of his greatness. Wish that we could find another Ronald Reagan.