100 years ago

February 8th, 2011 at 5:45 am by David Farrar

The 6th of February is not just Waitangi Day, but 100 years ago also saw the birth of Ronald Wilson Reagan.

I republish this story from General Debate, in tribute:

The inestimable Powerline blog in the US paid tribute to Reagan’s famous “Tear Down this Wall” speech by quoting from the memoirs of one of Reagan’s speechwriters Peter Robinson http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/02/028298.php

The story behind this speech is fascinating and I quote portions of it verbatim from Robinson’s book “How changed my life”:

“In April 1987, when I was assigned to write the Brandenburg Gate address, I spent a day in Berlin with the White House advance team, the logistical experts, Secret Service agents, and press officials who went to the site of every presidential visit to make arrangements. In the evening, I broke away from the advance team to join a dozen Berliners for dinner. Our hosts were Dieter and Ingeborg Elz, who, after Dieter completed his career at the World Bank in Washington, had retired to Berlin. Although we had never met, we had friends in common, and the Elzes had offered to put on this dinner party to give me a feel for their city. They had invited Berliners of different walks of life and political outlooks–businessmen, academics, students, homemakers.

We chatted for awhile. Then I explained that, earlier in the day, the ranking American diplomat in West Berlin had told me that over the years Berliners had made a kind of accommodation with the wall. “Is it true?” I asked. “Have you gotten used to it?”

The Elzes and their guests glanced at each other uneasily. Then one man raised an arm and pointed. “My sister lives twenty miles in that direction,” he said. “I haven’t seen her in more than two decades. Do you think I can get used to that?” Another man spoke. As he walked to work each morning, he explained, a soldier in a guard tower peered down at him through binoculars. “That soldier and I speak the same language. We share the same history. But one of us is a zookeeper and the other is an animal, and I am never certain which is which.”

Our hostess broke in. A gracious woman, Ingeborg Elz had suddenly grown angry. Her face was red. She made a fist with one hand and pounded it into the palm of the other. “If this man Gorbachev is serious with his talk of glasnost and perestroika,” she said, “he can prove it. He can get rid of this wall.”

Back at the White House I adapted her comment, making “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” the central line in my draft. On Friday, May 15, the speeches for the President’s trip–he would be traveling to Rome and Venice before reaching Berlin–were forwarded to the President, and on Monday, May 18, the speechwriters joined him in the Oval Office. My speech was the last we discussed. “Mr. President,” I said, “I learned on the advance trip that this speech will be heard not only in West Berlin but throughout East Germany. Is there anything you’d like to say to people on the other side of the Berlin Wall?”

The President cocked his head and thought. “Well,” he replied, “there’s that passage about tearing down the wall. That wall has to come down. That’s what I’d like to say to them.”

With three weeks to go before it was delivered, the speech was circulated to the State Department and the National Security Council. Both attempted to suppress it. The draft was naive. It would raise false hopes. It was clumsy. It was needlessly provocative. State and the NSC submitted their own alternate drafts–my journal records that there were no fewer than seven. In each, the call to tear down the wall was missing.

When in early June the President and his party reached Italy (I remained in Washington), Ken Duberstein, the deputy chief of staff, sat the President down in the garden of the palazzo in which he was staying, then briefed him on the objections to my draft. Reagan asked Duberstein’s advice. Duberstein replied that he thought the line about tearing down the wall sounded good. “But I told him, ‘You’re President, so you get to decide.’” And then, Duberstein recalls, “he got that wonderful, knowing smile on his face, and he said, ‘Let’s leave it in.’”

The day the President arrived in Berlin, State and NSC submitted yet another alternate draft. Yet in the limousine on the way to the Berlin Wall, the President told Duberstein he was determined to deliver the controversial line. Reagan smiled. “The boys at State are going to kill me,” he said, “but it’s the right thing to do.”

 

I like this story, partly because I have heard it first hand from Peter Robinson.

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52 Responses to “100 years ago”

  1. Lee C (2,720 comments) says:

    Even a broken watch can tell the right time twice a day I suppose. Who ca forget the howls of delight we all shared when he stated that he’d launched a nuclear strike against the Soviets to the press ‘for a joke’? My personal favourite Reagan quote is:

    ‘Where’s the rest of me?!!!”

    You had to be there, I suppose.

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  2. BlairM (2,340 comments) says:

    A great man and a great statesman. This is a good speech, but his best speech is his stump speech of 1964 for Goldwater – A Time For Choosing. Nearly fifty years later, it has not been bettered as the definitive statement of conservative and classical liberal philosophy.

    We need more men and women like Reagan in power, both in the United States, and in New Zealand, and around the world. Where are the new Reagans?

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  3. ben (2,280 comments) says:

    I heard another story that has other details about the day it was delivered, I can’t remember where I heard it. But it was in two parts. First, Reagan knew he was being listened to on his visit, and so he went out on his balcony knowing he was within range of the remote listening devices and proceeded to make some very uncomplimentary remarks about East Germany.

    Second, “tear down this wall” was a calculated double insult, because Reagan addressed not the East German premier but went over his head, in his presence, to Gorbachev. So it really was an extremely provocative line.

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  4. Danyl Mclauchlan (941 comments) says:

    People on the right who worship Reagan are like those dickheads on the left who walk around wearing Che tee-shirts.

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  5. Christopher Thomson (377 comments) says:

    Really!? Why?

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  6. Danyl Mclauchlan (941 comments) says:

    Because they’re indulging in a childish fantasy about a historical figure.

    Example: ‘Tear down this wall’. And so the wall came down.

    But back in reality Reagan’s speech didn’t get any coverage in Eastern Europe. Nobody there knew he’d said it. And the wall didn’t come down for another three years – after Reagan’s term in office was over.

    [DPF: You are normally more astute than this. No one thinks Reagan calling for it to come down, by itself was a major factor. What we like is that he went against all his officials, and actually called for something that was thought impossible. He put principle ahead of pragmatism.

    And you are wrong that those in the East did not hear it. The state media of course did not cover it, but many East Germans post unification said they head it on radios, or from friends and neighbours – and that it did give them hope.

    Left wingers scorn Reagan and Thatcher, but go talk to those in the former Soviet bloc – many hold them up as heroes – because they had the courage to stand up to the Soviet Union, not just appease it]

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  7. Viking2 (11,686 comments) says:

    But it was still the right thing to do, and that’s more important than any excuse you give.

    Oh but we had a PM and Govt. that would adopt that approach.

    ]Great news for the unemployed!!

    Q: ]What do you do when you have a whole lot of things left on your shelf that you simply can’t sell?

    A: You raise the price.

    If that sounds counter-intuitive, or even dumb, that’s because it is.

    Yet that’s precisely what New Zealand’s sellers of labour have just gone and done. At a time when unemployment is going up and more and more would-be labourers are being left on the shelf, they’ve gone and raised the price of their labour. Or rather, they’ve had it raised for them.

    http://pc.blogspot.com/2011/02/great-news-for-unemployed.html
    Not the right thing to do.

    Youth Unemployment
    Dr Eric Crampton
    6 February 2011

    Minimum wages are a bit like minimum speed limits. For a while, they can seem not to matter too much. Then all of a sudden they start to bite.

    It was disappointing but not surprising that National killed Sir Roger Douglas’s bill that would have allowed the youth minimum wage to diverge from the adult rate. Few of the kids currently unemployed would have credited a National change in policy with their employment, but both they and their parents might have blamed the policy for lower wages. It might have been the right political decision. But it sure wasn’t the right decision for those kids likely to suffer a lifetime of lower earnings as consequence.

    http://www.nzcpr.com/guest227.htm

    And this is not off topic its right on the topic of doing the right thing.

    Killed on his 17th birthday
    By Andrew Koubaridis
    5:30 AM Tuesday Feb 8, 2011

    A teenager celebrating his 17th birthday was killed in a road crash yesterday –

    On his way to school rather than going to work.

    When can we expect the PM and his Govt. to do the right thing and allow his young citizens to negotiate a pay rate according to their needs, ability and skill levels.

    The disgrace of the National Party.

    [DPF: It is off topic and 10 demerits. Use general debate]

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  8. bhudson (4,741 comments) says:

    Viking2,

    And the issue with a 17 year old going to school is just what exactly?

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  9. tom hunter (5,134 comments) says:

    … the speech was circulated to the State Department and the National Security Council. Both attempted to suppress it. The draft was naive. It would raise false hopes. It was clumsy. It was needlessly provocative.

    Which was exactly what I heard from every left-winger I knew at the time – together with the usual scoffing and laughter about the stupid absurdity of such a demand, typical of a senile moron.

    Because they’re indulging in a childish fantasy…

    … and nothing on the left has changed.

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  10. Viking2 (11,686 comments) says:

    bhudson That he should be out working rather than propping up a bloated education sector. Schools are only the start of learning for life but it seems that many like you think they are the be all and end all. Our yoputh unemplyment is currently at 25% and more for Maori and that doesn’t count the manythousands who are doing just what this fellow was doing, filling in time because this Govt. see’s fit to disenfranchise them from their rights as citiuzens oif this country and deprive them of a chance to earn a living by pricing them out of the employment market while giving away the work to Chinese at a weekly rate equivilant to our daily rate.
    Anyone who doesn’t se or understand that needs to educate themselves.
    Its apparently easier to give young people the dole or spend a fortune keeping them in school or jail than it is to allow them to work. So the Chinese man gets the work.
    Plain fucking mindless stupidity.

    Time we had some Nationalism introduced to our way of life.

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  11. bhudson (4,741 comments) says:

    Viking2,

    If the effect of the abolishment of youth rates is that people stay in education longer then you just found what is probably the only reason why abolishing youth rates is a good thing. It’s a shame you can’t see that. A society that places greater value on education (even if that kernel starts from something of a negative basis – stay at school because there is no work) is a society investing in future economic growth.

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  12. Falafulu Fisi (2,141 comments) says:

    Danyl said…
    People on the right who worship Reagan are like those dickheads on the left who walk around wearing Che tee-shirts.

    You’ve just described yourself there (a dickhead). How about you stick to satire, because that’s what you’re good at. Reagan had a philosophy, you don’t or even believe that there should be 1. You move around with where ever the wind is blowing from.

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  13. simonway (387 comments) says:

    I sport my Che t-shirt with pride.

    Which was exactly what I heard from every left-winger I knew at the time – together with the usual scoffing and laughter about the stupid absurdity of such a demand, typical of a senile moron.

    Well, they were right, weren’t they? :D The speech was just an attention-grab that didn’t actually do anything. Of course, that’s pretty much what presidents are in the business of doing, but still.

    My favourite part of the Reagan presidency was when he illegally funneled weapons to the Iranian theocracy in order to fund South American terrorists.

    Hey, wanna hear a joke?

    Q: How many dead nuns does it take to prop up fascism?
    A: We lost count.

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  14. Falafulu Fisi (2,141 comments) says:

    Simonway said…
    The speech was just an attention-grab that didn’t actually do anything.

    Idiotic comment. The US president is the most reported person on earth for his every move, even popping in to a public toilet or to a takeaway shop, TV cameras are everywhere. You don’t seek attention, when you’re the center of attention.

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  15. tom hunter (5,134 comments) says:

    People on the right who worship Reagan are like those dickheads on the left who walk around wearing Che tee-shirts.

    I remember being appalled at the number of idiots at US universities in the 1980’s who walked around wearing stetsons, cowboy boots and “It’s Morning in America” tee-shirts.

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  16. dime (10,222 comments) says:

    More importantly, Feb 6 is the birthday of one W. Axl Rose :)

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  17. kiwi in america (2,314 comments) says:

    Danyl
    “Nobody there knew he’d said it” You’re talking through a hole in your head. The speech was widely reported on and broadcast over various radio stations that beamed into Eastern Europe and were listened to on illegal crystal radio sets and word of mouth spread the news of the speech. The Communist party leadership in East Germany and the Soviet Union were not isolated from European media so they knew.

    Natan Sharansky, the third most prominent Soviet Jewish dissident and prisoner in the Soviet Gulags, met fellow released dissidents when the Berlin Wall did finally collapse amongst the Jewish dissidents that were allowed to go to Israel. Dissidents still in the Gulags in 1987 later told Sharansky that the effect of Reagan’s speech on the incarcerated political prisoners was electrifying with prisoners tapping in Morse Code to each other what was said. The tone of the speech and Reagan’s unequivocal call for the symbol of Soviet oppression to be removed spread like wildfire through the Gulags and became one of the beacons of hope that they clung on to – a hope that one day the edifice of Soviet Communism would collapse – as indeed it did.

    Never underestimate the power of a Presidential speech. Whilst its true that the collapse of the Soviet Union was caused by a complex series of reasons – it was the uncompromising attitude of Reagan, Thatcher, Pope John Paul II, Lech Walesa and others than led to this outcome – an attitude that was viciously and continously attacked by the left and their MSM friends.

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  18. simonway (387 comments) says:

    Margaret Thatcher is just like Lech Walesa.

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  19. k.jones (210 comments) says:

    My favourite reagan ethical moments – Iran contra, Panama

    the fact his son recently confirmed dad was expeiencing the onset of alzheimers in office!!!

    Spitting image shredding him every week….

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  20. YesWeDid (1,056 comments) says:

    Credit should be given to the one man who did the most to allow the wall to be torn down and that’s Mikhail Gorbachev.

    It’s hard to see Reagan as more than an actor playing the role of president especially when you take into account his deteriorating mental condition during his second term in office.

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  21. k.jones (210 comments) says:

    Hoots: where are you – havnt you written a poem or something to commemorate the day?

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  22. tom hunter (5,134 comments) says:

    …the fact his son recently confirmed dad was expeiencing the onset of alzheimers in office!!!
    …epecially when you take into account his deteriorating mental condition during his second term in office.

    … and nothing on the left has changed.

    I have to say that I think Gorbachev’s role has been unfairly reduced – but the difference is that he was still trying to save Marxist-Lennism, even if he mereky lacked the stomach for using the measures of his predecessors. Had he acted like Stalin (or Deng in China) he could have prevented the collapse but he held back from such bloodshed. I appreciate that but I don’t see that he should be given too much kudos for acting like a normal, decent human being.

    Anyway, I am enjoying the fact that the same, old, shopworn attacks on Reagan are being recycled. Ranting against Reagan’s legacy, even as it has grown – whilst Che’s has diminished. Something to learn there.

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  23. k.jones (210 comments) says:

    Tomasino says “shopworn attacks on Reagan” or, as we in the real word like to say “historical fact” and “his own sons testimony”

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  24. Bevan (3,232 comments) says:

    Q: How many dead nuns does it take to prop up fascism?
    A: We lost count.

    Q: How many does it take to prop up communism?
    A: None of your business.

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  25. kiwi in america (2,314 comments) says:

    Kjones
    “his own sons testimony” – Testimony disputed by his other children. Typical of the left – avoid the topic at hand (the game chaning speech) and use tentative family recollections (even Ron’s recollections on the alzheimers is very tentative) to repeat the same old tired mantra of the MSM media of the old, out of touch stupid President. If Reagan was all these things why is Obama trying so hard to look like Reagan. He was seen taking Reagan’s biography on holiday, he allowed the Time front cover with his photo alongside Reagan and gushing Obama lovers like Christianne Amanpour rabbitted on about how Reaganesque his SOTU speech was. Make up your mind – if he’s all you say he is why is your hero cuddling his image rather than running away and trashing it like you do.

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  26. tom hunter (5,134 comments) says:

    Or as we like to say in the scientific world – medical evidence from multiple doctors that contradicts anecdotal stories from someone trying to gin up book sales or articles.

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  27. Redbaiter (11,880 comments) says:

    Here the left make jokes about killing nuns and right wingers then try to reason with them. I despair. No reason will ever break through that wall of hate and ignorance and amorality. These people are far beyond reason and deserve only detached contempt.

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  28. YesWeDid (1,056 comments) says:

    Shit Redbaiter you looked in the mirror lately?

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  29. philu (12,989 comments) says:

    “…We need more men and women like Reagan in power, both in the United States, and in New Zealand, and around the world. Where are the new Reagans?..”

    gee blair m….you are really jonesing for more reagans aren’t you..?

    what exactly are you missing..?

    that he tripled the american deficit…?

    that he raised taxes 11 times…?

    that unemployment soared..

    ..that income inequality exploded…?

    that he grew the federal govt..?

    that he hiked defense spending..?

    ..that he vetoed anti-apartheid legislation..?

    or that he created the taliban and osama bin laden..?

    have a reality/fact-check… eh..?

    http://whoar.co.nz/?s=reagan

    or are you missing his drooling/alzheimers-riddled second-term…?

    when the/yr gipper cd barely get it together to smile and wave in unison…?

    eh..?..which is it…?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  30. cha (4,144 comments) says:

    Libertarian and Austrian School economist Murray Rothbard put the knife in with Ronald Reagan: An Autopsy

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  31. simonway (387 comments) says:

    Red: How much contempt do the people who were actually killing nuns deserve? What about their paymasters, such as Ronald Reagan?

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  32. Bevan (3,232 comments) says:

    simonway 8:43: My favourite part of the Reagan presidency was when he illegally funneled weapons to the Iranian theocracy in order to fund South American terrorists.

    Ahem……..

    While President Ronald Reagan was a supporter of the Contra cause,[7] no conclusive evidence has been found showing that he authorized the diversion of the money raised by the Iranian arms sales to the Contras.[3][4][8] Handwritten notes taken by Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger indicate that Reagan was aware of potential hostages transfers with Iran, as well as the sale of Hawk and TOW missiles to “moderate elements” within that country. [9] Oliver North, one of the central figures in the affair, wrote in a book that “Ronald Reagan knew of and approved a great deal of what went on with both the Iranian initiative and private efforts on behalf of the contras and he received regular, detailed briefings on both.” Mr. North also writes: “I have no doubt that he was told about the use of residuals for the Contras, and that he approved it. Enthusiastically.”[10] North’s account is difficult to verify because of the secrecy that still surrounds the affair.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran_contra

    Now about those nun allegations, I note you have made an allegation without offering any proof. Care to provide some to back up your claim? Or should we file it under half arsed slander?

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  33. k.jones (210 comments) says:

    Bevan – reagan publicly apologised to the US nation for lying about his funding the contras. The TV footage is on you tube.

    He was also called Bonzo by his detractors who thought he was as thick as pigshit. He even made it into a Ramones song as “Bonzo”….

    Watch him debate with Mondale in the first debate – you’ll see Bonzo at his best.

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  34. Fletch (6,532 comments) says:

    I’ve mentioned this before, but there’s a review HERE of a book, Reagan: In His Own Hand based on boxes of handwritten articles written in Reagan’s own hand of radio show segments etc, that show he was very intelligent.

    Recently a treasure trove of documents was discovered that demolishes [..] myths about Reagan. These papers were found stacked in cardboard boxes at the Reagan library and were never reviewed by historians, including his authorized biographer, Edmund Morris.

    These documents, written in Reagan’s own hand, span more than three decades and prove that the entire conventional (read “left-wing”) thinking about Reagan was 100 percent false.

    Reagan, the documents prove, was highly intelligent, extremely well informed on a staggering number of issues, a gifted writer, and a man of foresight and vision.

    While “Reagan in His Own Hand” offers original Reagan writings from his high school years until his final note to America upon learning of his Alzheimer’s disease, the bulk of the documents deal with the years between 1975 and 1980, the period between his governorship of California and his presidency.

    During that period Reagan wrote a syndicated newspaper column and a regular radio commentary. It was widely believed, even by close associates, that Reagan’s work was ghostwritten, as were his speeches. They weren’t. Reagan wrote almost everything himself.

    I had a sneak preview of this book last summer when I visited Martin Anderson at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

    Martin, who served as President Reagan’s Domestic Policy Adviser and worked closely with Reagan for more than three decades, let me in on what was then a secret about the finding of these documents and told me that a book was being prepared for release this year.

    I must confess I found the new information startling and turned upside down my own views on Reagan.

    While Reagan was a man of extraordinary charm, wit and integrity, he was not super intelligent, I believed. He gained success, I believed, through a Hollywood persona and certain Zen-like qualities that attracted others. Still, I believed he was a person of deep principles and the result was, for America, good.

    But my take on Reagan was wrong. Anderson proved to me that Reagan was in fact a genius who worked extremely hard his entire life. He perhaps was the most informed man to sit in the Oval Office in recent times.

    The bulk of the material in “Reagan in His Own Hand” are manuscripts Reagan wrote for his five-minute radio commentaries that were broadcast throughout the nation. He gave more than a thousand such commentaries, and just 670 of these written in Reagan’s hand were saved. (Even more documentary evidence of Reagan’s brilliance would have been saved had Reagan not tossed so many of his handwritten drafts in the wastebasket, as was his habit.)

    Anderson showed me several original Reagan manuscripts, yellow sheets of legal notepad paper now protected in plastic.

    Reading through one of them, it became clear to me that Reagan was a natural writer whose mind was highly organized. He wrote fluently and easily.

    The book is true to these original manuscripts, printing reproductions of some of the actual manuscripts.

    MORE

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  35. Bevan (3,232 comments) says:

    k.jones 12:38pm Bevan – reagan publicly apologised to the US nation for lying about his funding the contras. The TV footage is on you tube.

    Wrong, he took responsibility as any great leader should.

    “First, let me say I take full responsibility for my own actions and for those of my administration. As angry as I may be about activities undertaken without my knowledge, I am still accountable for those activities. As disappointed as I may be in some who served me, I’m still the one who must answer to the American people for this behavior.”[66]

    From the same link I provide above.

    Watch him debate with Mondale in the first debate – you’ll see Bonzo at his best.

    Frankly, that has as muck relevance as me saying: You mean like Obama without his teleprompter?

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  36. k.jones (210 comments) says:

    “Their father’s mannerisms while in office – including stumbling over his words, his occasional falling asleep in public, his weak memory – led to much speculation about how early on dementia had set in. The New York Times medical writer Larry Altman even raised the question with Reagan during an interview in 1980 just BEFORE he entered the White House.

    I’m resting now Bev – I sense your indefatigable mood….

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  37. Bevan (3,232 comments) says:

    I sense your indefatigable mood….

    Nah, you’ve just sensed your looking like an idiot. You see, you are not providing anything to back up your ascertions – on the other hand I’m proving you wrong with facts & evidence.

    I know its tough when you look like an idiot, but no need to run away.

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  38. RRM (10,104 comments) says:

    Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

    Now we are engaged in a great war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can blame for all its ills communists, homosexuals and foreign religion…

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  39. Fletch (6,532 comments) says:

    An excerpt from Reagan: In His Own hand from the Forward –

    I remember when I accompanied the president to the Geneva Summit meeting in 1985, where he and Mikhail Gorbachev, whom he would meet there for the first time, were scheduled to talk about the full range of issues confronting the United States and the Soviet Union. On the second morning, the subject was strategic nuclear arms. Donald Regan, Bud McFarlane, Paul Nitze, Roz Ridgway, and Arthur Hartman joined the president and me on our side of the table, facing our Soviet counterparts.

    Mikhail Gorbachev suddenly began to harangue us about our Strategic Defense Initiative, our plans for missile defense. 
    President Reagan exploded. The two leaders went back and forth, interrupting each other and expressing their views with vehemence. 

    Then Ronald Reagan got the floor. He spoke passionately about how much better the world would be if we were able to defend ourselves against nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles. He was intense as he expressed his abhorrence at having to rely on the ability to “wipe each other out” as the only means of keeping the peace. “We must do better, and we can,” Reagan declared. 

    The depth of President Reagan’s belief in missile defense was vividly apparent. Ronald Reagan was talking from the inside out. Translation was simultaneous. Gorbachev could connect what Reagan was saying with his facial expressions and body language. 

    When the president finished, there was total silence. 
    After what seemed an interminable time, Gorbachev said, “Mr. President, I don’t agree with you, but I can see that you really mean what you say.”

    On another occasion, I accompanied Reagan to a meeting of NATO heads at a particularly tense time. As always at such meetings, each leader was allotted a limited amount of time to speak. Questions were raised about the importance of NATO and the U.S. commitment to its success.

    Sitting beside Ronald Reagan, I could see him become increasingly restive and agitated. He had some prepared notes in his hand, but when his turn to speak came, he ignored the notes and virtually exploded into the meeting. He talked intensely and extemporaneously about the importance of NATO and its role, and his complete commitment to its mission. 

    Nobody had written that talk for him, and he had not written it himself beforehand. He just knew what he wanted to say, and it showed how crisply and clearly he had thought through this important matter in our foreign and defense policy. 

    I could tell dozens of stories about specific times when Ronald Reagan displayed detailed knowledge about policy issues, and when he took decisive action based on that knowledge—without the benefit of someone whispering in his ear or sliding a note into his hand. But so ingrained is the belief that he was an amiable man—not too bright, the willing captive of his aides—that it would probably not make much difference.

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  40. Fletch (6,532 comments) says:

    Reagan speaks out against Socialized medicine (ie ObamaCare) –

    One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It is very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project. People are very reluctant to oppose anything that suggests medical care for people who possibly can’t afford it.

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  41. simonway (387 comments) says:

    Frankly, that has as muck relevance as me saying: You mean like Obama without his teleprompter?

    If you want an example of that, I believe he recently had an interview with Bill O’Reilly.

    Fletch@1:52pm: so Reagan eloquently defended a moronic moneysink? Colour me unimpressed.

    Fletch@2:00pm: Since the PPACA plan mostly relies on people having private insurance, it’s only accurate to call it “socialised” inasmuch as all insurance is socialised.

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  42. Fletch (6,532 comments) says:

    back soon..

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  43. Fletch (6,532 comments) says:

    simonway, it’s socialized medicine – whichever way you slice it, it’s still baloney..

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  44. Bevan (3,232 comments) says:

    Has he improved on this?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=of61E1FesPU

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  45. Dazzaman (1,082 comments) says:

    My favourite reagan ethical moments – Iran contra, Panama

    the fact his son recently confirmed dad was expeiencing the onset of alzheimers in office!!!

    Spitting image shredding him every week….

    But, but, but….doesn’t everyones favourite black panther, B O, want to be like Reagan?

    You believe Ronnie Jr! He got dropped at birth, hit his head & burst a blood vessel…….hasn’t recovered since…..

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  46. kiwi in america (2,314 comments) says:

    k jones
    You call Reagan Bonzo at his best in the debate against Mondale. Now let’s see how many states did Reagan win in that election – ah yes 49 – Mondale was only able to carry his own state of MN (oh and Washington DC).

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  47. k.jones (210 comments) says:

    dear Kiwi in America

    and my how the US have paid and paid and paid since Ron beat Walter.

    Further to the above litany, Ronnie:

    tripled US national debt
    Took the “war on drugs” to mind blowingly costly and ineffective levels

    goodnight.

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  48. Simon J Taylor (32 comments) says:

    “it was the uncompromising attitude of Reagan, Thatcher, Pope John Paul II, Lech Walesa and others than led to this outcome ”

    …but it was 1987 and we already knew the general direction things were going in under Gorbachev and they looked encouraging. Sure he had no intentions of freeing East Europe immediately, but one can still sense a tone of encouragement and challenge in Reagan’s speech, rather than grim defiance. A US president would have been wasting those words completely on Brezhnev or Khrushchev.

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  49. adze (2,130 comments) says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZdZbZl28nU ;)

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  50. cha (4,144 comments) says:

    Eugene Jarecki interviewed about his documentary Reagan.

    And this fake folksiness is a real poison, a real toxin in our time. And it finds its most haunting and effective expression in the trillion dollar industry that has emerged in the misappropriation of Ronald Reagan for contemporary political agendas that are privately held by an elite few.

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  51. Rex Widerstrom (5,013 comments) says:

    Viking2 says:

    But it was still the right thing to do, and that’s more important than any excuse you give.

    Oh but we had a PM and Govt. that would adopt that approach.

    With due respect DPF I disagree V2’s observations are off topic. Leaders of the past can be viewed either as historical curiosities of interest to biographers and political tragics, or as examples (good or bad, usually both).

    Of whom in the present Parliament can we honestly say “He (or she) did it because it was the right thing to do”?

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  52. Fletch (6,532 comments) says:

    cha, I wouldn’t bother listening to what Eugene Jarecki had to say: yet another of the Leftist, Liberal mindset. Here’s part of a review from his previous movie Why We Fight –

    Let’s be clear at the outset: Eugene Jarecki’s Why We Fight is a reprehensible film in its intellectual dishonesty. But it is so poorly cobbled together that it never rises above the propaganda level of Fahrenheit 9/11. It purports to be a serious documentary not about soldiers in the first Gulf War, Afghanistan, or even Iraq, but about all sorts of conspiracies of how they got there. Unfortunately, after four years of “No blood for oil,” “Bush lied, thousands died,” Halliburton, neocon wars for Israel, and intimations of September 11 foreknowledge, it is hard for an anti-war propagandist to shock movie audiences in any way that can be considered novel.

    To the extent that this predictable film has a coherent script it seems to be the following. We remember that Frank Capra’s Why We Fight documentaries of the 1940s reminded the wartime public that our GIs were dying for freedom and democracy in World War II. But we now learn that that was not the whole story: See, more often our military was blasting away at elected governments in out-of-the-way places to make profits. Or, in the words of talking-head Washington insider Charles Lewis, American wars have usually been about capitalism and extinguishing democracy — making corporate profits abroad to feed the military-industrial complex at home. How does the film advance this novel insight? In three ways.

    First, critics such as Lewis, Gore Vidal, retired Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, Chalmers Johnston, and Joseph Cirincione confirm that neocons, CEOs, and arms merchants run our lives. Authors of books with “Empire” and “Imperial” in their titles spell out foolish concepts like “blowback” and “economic colonialism.” Jarecki brings these conspiracists in at opportune moments to assert that legions of capitalists — not an elected Congress, president, or independent judiciary — hold the real power in our political system. . . .

    To Be honest, I don’t think I really care for what someone with that mindset has to say about Reagan.

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