Happy 100th Birthday, Ronald Reagan

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Editor’s note: Sunday, February 6, marks the 100th birthday of America’s 40th president, Ronald Reagan. In commemoration, Frontpage Magazine  is honored to present a reflection on President Reagan’s contribution to conservatism, America, and the world.

If in 1980 you had prophesied that Ronald Reagan’s presidency would unleash 17 million new jobs, within six years reduce fifteen percent inflation to one percent inflation, push Euro-Communism to the brink of collapse, and restore the national pride lost after Watergate and Vietnam, even the most right-wing card-carrying YAF member in Orange County would have dismissed you as mad. To grasp the triumph of the Reagan presidency, it is necessary to understand the defeats of the 1970s. It was America’s terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad decade.

The entrance of “Stagflation,” “Whip Inflation Now,” “Misery Index,” and “Malaise” into the political vernacular speaks volumes about the ’70s. The average household income actually declined during the decade. In each year of the Carter presidency, inflation grew worse than it had been the previous year. In March of 1980, the dollar depreciated at an annual rate of 14.8 percent, the highest monthly level since the Truman administration. The wild oscillations in the dollar’s value naturally affected the prime interest rate, which peaked at 21.5 percent during Carter’s last full month in office. “Neither a borrower nor a lender be” never felt so right.

Not since the 1940s had Communism expanded so rapidly. Along with South Vietnam, dominoes Cambodia and Laos fell. Afghanistan, Mozambique, Angola, Nicaragua, and satellites beyond fell into the Soviet orbit. The free world shrank.

Even the land of the free didn’t feel so free. The Vietnam hangover, Watergate funk, gas lines, exploding urban crime, and Iranian hostage crisis all contributed to the widespread feeling that America was a nation in decline. Jimmy Carter understood this better than most when he bluntly told the American people that “all the legislation in the world can’t fix what’s wrong with America,” which primarily wasn’t inflation or expensive oil but “a crisis of confidence.” “We’ve always had a faith that the days of our children would be better than our own,” Carter explained. “Our people are losing that faith.”

Carter identified the problem. Reagan fixed it. The least quantifiable but most obvious accomplishment of the Reagan presidency for anyone who lived through it was the restoration of the American Dream. It was Morning in America again. From the Olympic hockey team making “USA” chants not merely fashionable but obligatory, to Grenada kicking the Vietnam syndrome, the 1980s saw a slumped-shoulders America again hold its head high. Ronald Reagan’s contagious optimism—so good natured that he joked his way to recovery from a would-be assassin’s bullet—uplifted the country.

So did his policies. He reduced the top tax rate from 70 to 28 percent, and greatly simplified the tax code. Americans responded. The economy took off in 1982 and, save for a brief recession in 1990, didn’t come down until 2001. The longest period of uninterrupted peacetime growth in U.S. history was followed by an even longer period of peacetime growth. The stock market tripled. The poor, middle class, and rich all saw real incomes grow during the decade. Inflation, the scourge of the ’70s, simply ceased being an issue of salience in the ’80s. Inheriting a 12 percent inflation rate, Reagan left office with a rate below 5 percent. Similarly, the lifting of price controls and oil-import restrictions made service-station queues and odd-even license-plate gasoline rationing curios of a quite recent but strangely distant time.

America became a freer place as a result of the Reagan presidency. So did the world.  Whereas “peaceful coexistence” and “containment” guided his predecessors, “victory” and “rollback” guided Reagan. His 1983 speech to the National Association of Evangelicals marked the dramatic differences between Reagan and his immediate predecessors. Not only did Reagan choose clarity over diplomacy in dubbing Communism “the focus of evil in the modern world” and the Soviet Union “an evil empire,” he correctly, if unfashionably, observed that “communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages even now are being written.” Not merely words, but actions allowed freedom to transcend totalitarianism. Expanding defense budgets, outlining the Strategic Defense Initiative, and supporting liberation movements in Nicaragua, Afghanistan, and Grenada against the overextended empire helped spend the Soviet Union out of existence. The “ash heap of history” is right.

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  • Amused

    Ahhhh 20/20 hindsight ! Yea Happy Birthday Ronnie , too bad no one wanted your Health-Care plan either . And yea we gripe about China owning our arses ….heh ,heh , …but you helped open that door …..oh and Banking Loan Scandal ….yup we did it again under anothers watch , in fact a couple-of-others watches .And deregulation ? Great Idea , until Big Buisiness interests blurred the lines of Banking responsibilities …everyone became an "Investment Banker ".
    So yea Happy Birthday Ronnie , and don't let these new conservatives fool ya , they haven't learned a bloody thing , except of course how to divide the people of this country into two endlessly contentious groups of echo chamber parrots whose ideology finally supercedes the Greater Good of the USA . But hey , dont roll too hard over in your grave , your last years [including at least ONE YEAR in OFFICE} were spent in the misty confusion of Alzheimers. I guess what it comes down to Roinnie is , "the more things change , the more they remain the same " .

    • http://www.bobzilla.tv Bobzilla

      There is a nice warm place in hell reserved for you, my friend. Ronald Reagan was a great human being – more than anyone will ever say about you.

      • USMVSniper

        Looks like the intellectually challenged "Amused" preferred the skullhumper Clinton and his post menopausal hag Hillary as the co-President's and probably has a tingle down his leg like Chris Mathews for Obama. I wonder Amused, when you were a kid, did you ride to the "special" school on the little yellow bus, or on the big yellow bus to school?

        • Amused

          No sniper , I didn't say a thing about Clinton ….my statement was directed specifically at the "drug-store-truck-drivin'man " Ronni Bonzo Reagan " , who in the final months allowed his wife and a soothsayerto assist in making major decisions . ….you shoulda wore ear protection during target practice pal , because you're shell shocked .

      • Amused

        I dont think I need to tell you WHERE you stick thaty statement , do I ? Bobzilla ? No go put your tin-foil hat back on .

    • poptoy

      You are a disgrace.

      • Amused

        Oh did i offend your "demi-god " ? Coming from a phony , I'll takeyour statement as a compliment . "Selective memory " is almost as blissfull as ignorance , eh poptoy ?
        lol….yea , you bet it is .

  • Steve Chavez

    If Reagan was alive today, he'd say "What about FIDEL CASTRO, the hero of the American Communist Left, who has been a dictator for FIFTY YEARS? According to my math, that's twenty years more in power than Mubarak! He is America's Ahmadinejad and foments revolutions all over the America's and now he is the inspiration of Hugo Chavez to be the America's Hamas/Hezbollah supported by groups like Code Pink and our own Communist Party! Just look at the South and Central American countries that are now under the control of this Chavez dictator, supported by the Left and many in Hollywood, who have never met a Communist they didn't like! Would they support an uprising IN CUBA for the same reasons they are supporting the Egyptian protesters? Yes, we won the Cold War but now the dupes and useful idiots that were funded and brainwashed by the 80's KGB through our Communist Party USA fronts, are today's leaders in every department of government including the White House! So, did we really win? Will Barack Obama be our Gorbachev and bring on the conditions for our downfall? Afterall, he and Hillary loved the Soviet Union more than their own country and I read their files to prove it!"

  • USMCSniper

    Michael is also coming out with a new book timed to the centennial: "The New Reagan Revolution: How Ronald Reagan's Principles Can Restore America's Greatness." Among Michael's many Reagan-related enterprises is a company that sells e-mail addresses with the host name @Reagan.com for as much as $39 a year; the proceeds support conservative causes. Roig Franzia did include critics of Ron Reagan's assertion that his father displayed symptoms of Alzheimer's while President: "Reaganites and Reagan watchers are reacting with varying levels of disbelief and rage. Edmund Morris, the biographer, says in an interview that he doubts the claim in part because Reagan's daily diaries are as "clearly expressed and well-written" at the end of his presidency as at the beginning."

    Read more: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/scott-whitlock/2011/

  • Bear from Russia

    Actualy Reagan was a pathetic president. He was just an actor a puppet but not a leader. his Reaganomic brought us all to crysis of 2008. After 50-70 years you americans will hate Reagan as we in Russia hate Lenin now. http://www.consortiumnews.com/2011/012911.html

    • USMCSniper

      Ahhhh my the mudak from Putin's Evil Empire sputters forth his foul breath and rumbling noises once again. I loved the open mike test comment of Reagan in particular; "I have just ordered the bombing of the Soviet Union to vbegin in 5 minutes." heh heh heh

  • Steve Chavez

    FIDEL CASTRO, is a focus of an article at Huffingtonpost.com and it's amazing, well maybe not, how many of the comments are in support of him and not to be compared to Mubarak! Fifty bucks, that when Fidel dies, Obama and Hillary will be there at his funeral saying "he was an amazing transitional figure!" WHY ARE THE CUBAN PEOPLE SUCH COWARDS? They have enslaved for FIFTY YEARS and now is the time to rise up while the world is watching the world's despots on the fall!!

  • Amused

    Maybe because they dont wanna bring back Batista …eh Chavez ? Does your meager knowledge of history , teach you WHY the people ran up on Castro's side ? I detest Castro for ONE …and only ONE reason , his behavior during the missle crisis . He woulda let them birds fly . Damn him for that , otherwise , he's a winner , atleast in Cuba , he's still there , he stepped down and he'll die a peacefull death after 50 years of sticking a pin up our arses .
    And Besides all that , he hadn't killed anywhere near the amount of people "our preferred dictators " killed . As bad as he was he didn't even come close . Try looking up "our boy " Batista's record on that .

  • Amused

    BTW , Reagan was fortunate enough to be President , in that period of history , at which point the Soviet Union , had finbally had it and was about to collapse ——-after DECADES of COLD WAR , fought by ALL PRECEEDING PRESIDENTS , so to the author …..just say happy birthday Ronnie , but dont single him out as the sole " Defeater of the Soviets " ….thousands upon thousands of Americans fought AND died , multiple billions were spent , countless sacrafices made …before Reagan toldf Gorbachov to "take down the wall " for it was ready to fall , and prepared by others preceeding and up to Reagan's time . Many sowed and Reagan reaped.

  • ziontruth

    A great American president. A great presidency, the accumulated wealth of which gave America its wind for two decades, a wave whose crest is only now beginning to lose its carrying power.

    From a lofty roof to a deep pit… How did that happen?! This question, disturbing enough for Americans, should be downright unsettling to anyone looking on the situation from outside. How did the United States of America, not twenty years after having yanked the Russian base from under worldwide Marxism, fall to the latter? How did Reagan's bitterest enemy rise to occupy his spot?

    It was a great presidency, but the underground currents were unnoticed, or if noticed, not confronted. While fiscal conservatism had its best, the education centers and media outlets passed onto Marxist domination–the old Gramscian plan, the "Long March Through The Institutions." During the fabulous 1980s the Marxists secured themselves the key positions that would enable them to maintain de-facto sway over policy even when they weren't in official power.

    Why was this menace never confronted? The answer goes way, way back, to 1957. The one who warned of this was censured by enemies of the West as well as useful idiot enablers of those. Ever since, there is no one in a position of power who, even were he to acknowledge the threat, could bring himself to fight it. The retribution from the Left would be far swifter than it had been in 1957, when it had come only after years of effort.

    Those were squandered years: The Marxists entrenched themselves, and their ideals of social destruction took root. If only Roe v. Wade had been repealed, the waste might not have been total. Now, however, American conservatives are all but forced to concede the ground of social values to the Marxists, in hopes that they might salvage a few chunks of fiscal responsibility in the bargain. Such is the price of having allowed the Marxists to take control of the discourse. A warning to all God-fearing patriots.

  • http://zenith.blogtownhall.com/ Patrick

    The Legacy of a Great American President

    President Reagan, like many of his predecessors, won a place of greatness in the hearts of his fellow countrymen. At a time when America's economy was flagging, her identity, image, and leadership in the world was being severely criticized, Ronald Reagan stood firm like a rock… and prevailed!

    Accomplishments:

    * Massively cut taxes, deregulated businesses where needed, targeted infrastructure expenditures (defense and development), …, thereby boosting the national GDP by 3.5% annually and reducing unemployment to 5.2%

    * By the above he turned a national economic down spin into the greatest resurgence of American wealth since the days of WWII.

    * Was highly instrumental in bringing down "the Evil Empire," with the help of European allies and the late John Paul II.

    * Strengthened the military and put fear into the heart of terrorists.

    * Restored respect for America around the globe.

    America's 40th commander-in-chief communicated directly to the people. He had the keen ability of making his audience feel renewed hope again. This man will be honored among future generations.

    *** Even the best Presidential administrations have their weak and strong points, successes and failures. In depth examinations of Reagan policies will reveal the pros and cons of his executive leadership, which are interminably debated among political science scholars and domestic/foreign policy historians. Nevertheless, as with other presidents, political and personal criticisms do not diminish Ronald Reagan's over all achievements.

    Miller Center of Public Affairs/ University of Virginia – One of many perspectives reviewing the impact of President Reagan's Domestic and Foreign policies: http://millercenter.org/academic/americanpresidenhttp://millercenter.org/academic/americanpresiden

  • Steve Chavez

    Look at who Reagan had in his Circle. They were all career professionals. GWB did the same. George Sr, Powell, Schultz, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice, Baker, and many experts as Asst. Sec. of State. Look what we have now. A Community Organizer-in-Chief, Gaffy Duck, and Hillary to round off the Three Stooges! Leon Pineda as CIA who had no experience but what is amazing is, where is he? He must be working at least at his desk 24-7 instead of endless LIVE photo-ops of the Jock who tours the States and the World but hasn't toured the White House! There are so many Leftist Activists, who just a few years ago were making protest signs, in senior positions and they are in charge of career professionals who are surely having nightmares! WHAT WOULD RONALD REAGAN SAY?

    • Amused

      LOL…..George Sr. 'who was "out of the loop " . Shultz ,a shill for his international US defense contract sucking company , Rumsfeld ? That the same guy who soldiers had to beg to get the right armor and ammo ? Cheney ?…..a pathetic joke , Rice ????you got the right Admin. there ? Of course and that man the Saudis love , the foreign agent extra-ordinaire Baker ….yea what a crew . I guess you forgot Iranb /Contra / …Arms for Hostages …The Embassy in Lebanon , where was our "intel " ?? and soldiers left to protect it WITHOUT LIVE AMMO …….Who in the hell are you trying to kid Chavez . Reagan was a legend in his own mind , and of course his sychophants .

  • http://www.fivelawsofliberty.com Scott Hyland

    Check out my poem to celebrate President Reagan's 100th birthday. It's titled The Blacksmith's Chisel – President Ronald Reagan http://www.fivelawsofliberty.com/index.php?option

  • Amused

    Forget the poems , and stick to the Hardfacts , he said he was against taxes….but he raised taxes in 6 of his 8years in office , the deficit TRIPLED in the years of his office , he said Govt. was too big , and "big Govt " grew 2.5% every year he was in office . Myths persist , but alas , he was just another politician .

    • USMCSniper

      Go lay some wolf bait and sit in it mudak!

      • Amused

        great reply USMC , but as usual devoid of any real refute or rebutt . those are the FACTS on the Reagan Administrations , your juvenile remarks not-with-standing .

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  • Ihatetheteaparty!

    Ronald Reagan was a retard and was the worst president the United States ever had! Stop trying to change history tea party retards!!! This is what happens when in-breeders form a political party.

  • Reagan's friends

    Welcome to Hell, President Reagan.

    "Thank-you for arming me protecting me from censure at the U.N. throughout the 1980s."—Saddam Hussein.

    "Thanks for visiting the graves of me and my comrades at Bitburg. As you said, 'they were victims of Nazism also, even though they were fighting in the German uniform.' Spoken like a true German patriot of the 1930s."—Heinrich Himmler

    "Thank you for supporting our death squads throughout the 1980s."—The boys of Battalion 316, Honduras.

    "Welcome to Hell, President Reagan. You loyally supported our massacres and our war of genocide in Timor L'Este throughout the 1980s. The blood on my hands is the blood on your hands. We are blood brothers."—President General Suharto (ex-dictator of Indonesia)

    "Bienvenidos al infierno, amigo valiente! You supported our reign of terror throughout the 1980s. When we killed Archbishop Romero and several American nuns, you pretended that they were communists and aggressors and you said that the nuns had guns. Nobody believed you but you kept on saying it! You never flinched as you bravely supported our barbarity. Asado así, nuestro querido amigo!"—Your friends from the Escuadrón de la Muerte, "Squadron of Death" (El Salvador)

    "Thank you for arming us throughout the 1980s. You called us freedom fighters!"—The Islamic fanatics of the Taliban

    "Welcome to Hell, President Reagan! You were a mensch! You gave us invaluable diplomatic support as we killed more than 20,000 people in Lebanon in 1982. You bravely said nothing—NOTHING!—as we descended on unarmed refugees throughout that magnificent campaign. Your silence spoke volumes. You even suppressed a laugh when we called our mission of mass murder "Peace for Galilee"! You were a brave and principled supporter of whatever we did. To hell with the naysayers!—Menachem Begin

    "You were a great American, Herr Ronald. Thank you for visiting our fallen comrades at Bitburg."—Karl Hanke

  • Frind

    reported Zimplats’ June 2010 quarter statement. – The Herald. WEVAC University

  • Dalton
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