Ronald Reagan: The Anti-Nixon/Kissinger

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Reagan advisers confirmed this to me, including Shultz. When I asked Shultz about it, his typical understated expression widened into a giant grin. “Oh, yes,” he told me. “He always had that list and never hesitated to give me a few names.”

I believe that Ronald Reagan’s feelings for Russian Jews might be traceable as far back as November 1928, when his devout Christian mother, head of the Missions Committee at their little church in Dixon, Illinois, brought in a Russian Jew named B.E. Kertchman. Kertchman spoke about persecution he faced. That empathy never left Reagan. Two decades later, in 1947, I discovered Reagan, as a young actor in Hollywood, a liberal Democrat, working with Eleanor Roosevelt to find safe haven for Europe’s “Displaced Persons” (mostly Jews) after World War II.

Again, this is a striking contrast with Kissinger-Nixon, but it’s more than that.

Reagan was seen as the ultimate Cold Warrior, giving no quarter to the “Evil Empire.” Yet, his care for the everyday lives of human beings languishing in the USSR went largely unnoticed. That’s too bad, as that concern is a moving testimony of where this president’s heart guided him. That’s something worth remembering as a nation remembers the life of Ronald Reagan this February 2011.

Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values. His books include “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism,” “God and Ronald Reagan,” and the newly released “Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.”

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  • Rifleman

    It didn't matter that the 'smart' people on the left and right thought Reagan was a simplistic Rube, a person could tell from his speeches and statements he had a better understanding of communism and how to defeat it than any of them. Reagan didn't negotiate with communists to make treaties or agreements, he negotiated to advance freedom and US interests. He got more than the democrats and some Republicans thought possible without giving up SDI. human rights, or our allies.

    He also had a better understanding America, of what was wrong with our economy, and how to correct it, than the 'smart' people.

  • Jim C.

    Ronald Reagan was the most interesting phenomenom we're likely to see hold office in our lifetimes. A born leader with unshakeable views of right and wrong, he was nevertheless nowhere near as doctrinaire as his right wing heirs turned out to be. He was simply interested in effectiveness, which is why he gravitated toward those who got things done in the corporate boardroom. And this was not unusual for a man of his generation with moderate politics and no particular interest in social justice.

    But it's the devil in the details, and Reagan was not interested in those. We're now paying for the ascendancy and enshrinement of the corporate boardroom in our politics. For Reagan, this was liberty. For us, it has turned to a sort of soft tyranny that for some reason, the Right has no interest in exposing. Maybe it's because they know where their bread gets buttered, and don't care.

    • USMCSniper

      The greatest danger in the so called government-corporate business partnership is that it cannot never be honest. Whenever government controls or favors are introduced into a free economy, they create economic dislocations, hardships, and problems which, if the controls and favors are not repealed, necessitate still further controls and favors, which necessitate still further controls and favors, etc. Thus a chain reaction is set up: the victimized groups seek redress by demanding favors and imposing controls on the profiteering groups, who retaliate in the same manner, on an ever widening scale. Such a mixed economy can never be honest,

  • WildJew

    Reagan may have been one of America's better leaders in the twentieth century. I voted for him twice. On matters of the economy and foreign policy in Europe, Russia, etc., he was a strong / resolute leader. On the Middle East, he stumbled badly like many other twentieth century US presidents – particularly after Israel became a modern nation-state – with the exception of Carter and Obama whose Mideast policies were and are deplorable.