Some are Simply Great.
“Thomas Jefferson once said, ‘We should never
Judge a president by his age, only by his works.’
And ever since he told me that, I stopped worrying.”
--- Ronald Reagan
Helen and I held hands on the floor of the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri on the hot sultry night of Wednesday, August 18, 1976. She was a member of the Massachusetts Republican State Committee and delegate to the Republican National Convention.
Helen had been elected a Ronald Reagan delegate because the California governor had earned a third of the Massachusetts delegates in the March presidential primary. Massachusetts has proportional representation as opposed to winner take all.
We had first become interested in Ronald Reagan when we heard his “Date with destiny” speech on behalf of Senator Barry Goldwater in 1964. “The speech”, as it became known, propelled Dutch into the California governorship in 1966.
Among his great assets was his obvious ability to motivate others both through the force of personality and speaking skills. When listening to Ronald Reagan speak of the “shining city on the hill” we shared his vision. At one point I had memorized the basic speech only to learn it was always changing and being made current based on events.
On that night in 1976, Gerald Ford had defeated him for the Republication nomination for president of the United States.
President Ford had the advantage of incumbency because he had been appointed vice president and became president because Richard Nixon had been forced to resign in disgrace. Mr. Ford had the advantage of the old Nixon operation, at least what was left of it.
The establishment Republicans were in control of the convention versus the upstart California governor. Their control of virtually all convention power spots allowed them to run roughshod over the Reagan conservatives. And they did.
That was a mistake!
About forty percent of the delegates were pledged to Reagan and of the sixty percent pledged to Ford many were Reagan followers. Because some of the states won by Ford in the primaries were winner take all and the delegates selected were pledged to Ford on the first ballot, it was a done deal.
Many of us felt that if somehow a second ballot could be forced Reagan would have won. The guests (visitors in the gallery) were overwhelmingly Reagan to.
The Monday and Tuesday nights of the convention were disrupted by noise making by the Reagan supporters as a protest for being shut out of everything from rules to the platform committee. No business was able to be conducted until well after midnight Kansas City time. No prime time for Gerry was the strategy. “Shut us out, we shut you out” was the attitude of the Reaganites.
The Ford people announced Ronald Reagan would address the convention after the balloting. The Reagan people suddenly found the sounds of silence.
Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee was selected to be Ford’s running mate but some serious dirty pool was played within the Ford camp which revealed Mrs. Baker had a drinking problem. Without missing a beat Senator Robert Dole of Kansas was chosen to replace him. (Mass Republican State Chairman Gordon Nelson and I had the pleasure of having a steak and beer with the senator at a veterans club on the Kansas side of Kansas City. Nelson had known him through his work as a Republican National Committeeman while the senator was the chairman of the national party. Dole was a genuinely down to earth man. It was exciting to know the man we were with was now the Veep nominee.)
Finally, at about 9:30 Ronald Reagan was introduced to the convention. The reception he received was even greater than the ovation for the nominee Gerald Ford the following night.
Helen and I stood in awe to be so near to greatness. When The Gipper began his speech you could have heard a pin drop though there was more than 10,000 people and hundreds of media types on the floor. By the end of his speech there was not a dry eye in the house. One of the Ford delegates turned to Helen and expressed sorrow of not having broken her pledge to vote for Ford. Most of us were convinced Ronald Reagan could beat Grits and Fritz (our nickname for Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale, the Democrat candidates).
I recall that moment as though it happened minutes ago. We were all frozen in time and place. I expressed to Helen my disappointment we had just heard the greatest candidate not elected president.
When I started at WSAR, Ronald Reagan was one of many candidates for president. My fear was the former California governor’s age was working against him since he was sixty nine and would be seventy when inaugurated if he won.
A number of us conservatives gathered in early 1979 and decided to get involved with the campaign of congressman Phil Crane of Illinois. He was a former college history professor at the university of Illinois. Crane was young and very articulate.
Gordon Nelson reasoned the following:
If health interfered with Reagan we would have a conservative campaign in place and not have to watch George Bush win the nomination. (While there was a number of candidates, e.g., John Anderson, Howard Baker, John Connally, and Bob Dole, only George Bush had the unified support of the establishment wing of the GOP).
Ronald Reagan’s astuteness in matters political were never more evident than the day of the big debate for the GOP candidates in Nashua, New Hampshire.
He brought the five other uninvited candidates to what was scheduled as a Bush-Reagan, two-man debate. When the host denied the “interlopers” the right to speak, Reagan stunned the crowd by taking command: “I paid for this microphone, Mr. Green!” (referring to the moderator of the event).
The presidential primary was over.
A Reagan slam dunk.
The debate occurred when I was first on the air on WSAR. I discussed what happened and was surprised at the number of people in the heavily Democrat southeastern Massachusetts area were firm supporters of Ronald Reagan. It was my first experience with the political side of talk radio.
Initially, I was confused by the conservative reception.
Throughout my time in the trenches of Republican politics I learned how difficult it was to get the message out on candidates and issues. The radio stations (WSAR included), newspapers, and TV stations were never receptive to the conservative message. As a result conservatives felt they were denied access to the public and the result was a deep frustration. Conservatives still perceive that to be the case with, of course, the exception of talk radio and Fox News Network. Now the Internet has opened even more doors to conservative thought.
The biggest points of discussion on air were the taking of the hostages in the US Embassy in Teheran, “Who Shot JR?” of Dallas fame, Rubik’s cube, the Kennedy/Carter primary, the general election, and later, the murder of John Lennon. All pretty good fodder for talk shows.
Another hot issue was the Russian war in Afghanistan ( for which I had Mujuhadeen as guests more than once) and the U.S. boycott of the Moscow Olympics. All this was more than enough for a rookie talk host to handle.
One of my first forays into controversy was my making light of Senator Edward Kennedy’s collapse under the softball questioning of Roger Mudd on network television. The killer question to the Massachusetts solon was, “Why do you want to be president of the United States?” Kennedy stammered his campaign into oblivion.
By May, the lines were drawn, it was President Carter versus Ronald Reagan. That hot night in Kansas City in 1976 I thought a Reagan convention nomination was not even a remote possibility. I had no thought of a Reagan presidency, ever. Now it was now a probability.
The astuteness of Ronald Reagan the politician was underestimated. It has been said Reagan’s opponents, the road is lined with the corpses of those who underestimated his abilities.
Since his death in 2004, more and more has come out about the thousands of handwritten letters to thousands of different people. His sensitive side is now seen in the love letters he wrote his devoted Nancy. There is an interesting similarity with another president who frequently wrote love letters to his wife, Harry Truman. Give’em Hell Harry was, like Dutch, misunderstood in his lifetime.
There is no telling whether Proposition 2 ½ on the ballot in Massachusetts helped Ronald Reagan or the other way around.
Taxpayers in Massachusetts were fed up with taxes for a number of years. Edward F. King (not to be confused with former Governor Edward J. King) founded Citizens for Limited Taxation. Their motto, “The opposite of limited taxation is unlimited taxation.” The group was initially formed in 1968, to fight the legislature’s effort to enact a graduated income tax in Massachusetts.
The state’s constitution prohibits different rates of taxation for different people or groups. In other words it mandates a flat tax. In order to change the constitution the legislature must place the issue on the ballot for the voters to decide. The voters are the only ones who can amend the state’s constitution.
The first step in the citizen’s war on high taxes had been taken soon after the voters had approved a sales tax. It was passed in 1966 as a temporary 3% tax on all but food or clothing. The promise was the revenues from the sales tax would find its way back to cities and towns to lower the onerous property taxes Massachusetts homeowners were burdened with.
True to form, the politicians kept their word about the temporary nature of the 3% tax. They soon raised it to 4%. Then 5%, where it now stands.
The first time the graduated tax appeared on the ballot was 1968. King and a few of his friends pooled some off their resources and effectively campaigned against the initiative. They prevailed more than two to one. No sooner had the ballots been counted the legislature set in motion the process of enacting a constitutional amendment to permit graduation of the tax tables. Target date 1972.
The informal group organized formally as Citizens for Limited Taxation (CLT) in 1974.
The results in 1972 again were the same, two to one for the good guys. The legislature tried it all again. 1976, thud, nearly three to one this time.
The CLT people came up with the great idea of limiting taxes in the Commonwealth. Heartened by the events of California’s Proposition 13 and it’s other tax limiting propositions we (by then I was a member) decided to go on the offensive.
In 1978 we were hoodwinked by lawyers for the legislature who feigned a willingness to help after we collected more than 125,000 raw signatures. [Raw signatures are the total signatures collected. They are then certified by local voter registrars.]
When the necessary number of certified signatures were turned in to the Secretary of State in triggered the next step to placing the question on the ballot. It compelled the house and senate to meet in constitutional convention for two consecutive legislatures and if the measure got twenty-five percent of the votes cast by senators and representatives the initiative would go on the ballot for the voters.
The final step in amending the state constitution was in the hands of the voters. It was then up to them to say yes or no to amend the it. We had at least thirty-five percent committed to support the amendment in convention.
The president of the senate approached us with the suggestion we allow the legislatures lawyers to review the amendment to make certain it was in the proper form. We agreed. After all no one wanted an amendment which was vague or ambiguous.
We were deceived by some slick actions by the legislative leadership and their lawyers. Our initiative went from useful tool to a useless scrap of paper. The measure died and we helped kill it.
Barbara Anderson had recently moved to Masachusetts from Pennsylvania. She took the reigns of CLT from now popular columnist Don Feder. She remains there today. Two others who were there then and are still there are Chip Faulkner and Chip Ford.
After we were conned by the senate leadership we could have resigned in frustration. The senate’s action of making what appeared top be minor changes to “clean up the language of something which would appear in the constitution for generations” turned into utter nonsense. An auto or insurance salesman who would have treated a customer the way we were by our elected officials would have landed them in jail for fraud. The wizards at Enron had nothing on these charlatans.
We resolved to fight fire with fire. Our weapon was a property tax roll back which put the politicians on the defensive and forced them to do their jobs.
Prop 2-½ is a comprehensive law which limit’s the total levy growth on property to 2-½ percent per year. What’s more it rolled back all property taxes back to 2-½ percent of fair market value. In some communities the rate was seven or eight percent of fair market value.
Older people who had lived in their homes for 20,30, 40, and even 50 years needed to sell their homes because they could not afford the property taxes while living on the fixed income of a pensioner.
For example, we purchased a home in 1973 from a couple who had built it in 1929. They had raised their family there. They had retired about ten years before. Property taxes had risen to a point they no longer could afford their home on which they owed nothing.
After we purchased the house they moved into an apartment. Their lifestyle changed from that of a couple of very active seniors who threw occasional parties for friends and were very occupied with the maintenance of the house and upkeep of the gardens.
The older gent passed away within a year and his wife only a year or so later. We learned from one of their daughters they had pretty much ceased all activity.
I can’t say with certainty their fate would not have been the same but I suspect to this day there was a cause and effect in play.
When the plans were drawn up for Prop 2-½, I couldn’t help but think about that old couple and the many others in their position at the time.
Prop 2-½ was fair and equitable. It had to be done.
Prop 2-½ also prohibited cities and towns from imposing fees in excess of their value of the service delivered. That was to prevent them from circumventing the intent of the law.
There were other fine details, but the main thrust of the ballot question was whether it was time to limit spending by municipalities and thus the taxation as well.
It passed by nearly twenty percentage points despite the all out effort of liberals and Democrats and municipal employee unions to defeat it. It was a rout. A landslide by anyone’s measure. The victory was so great the legislature to this date has not changed the original law.
There is an override associated with the law. Local communities can temporarily amend the cap to deal with emergencies, but only with a ballot initiative. To date more than ninety percent of them have failed, usually by wide margins.
The question of whether Prop 2-½ helped President Reagan or was it his coattails that carried 2-½ is an open one.
I'll tell you one thing. Prop 2-½ was about as hot as it gets on talk radio. The municipal unions had their forces jamming the phones whenever the question arose. Some went so far as to supply scripts to their members for calling talk shows. Frankly is is not difficult to pick out a caller who is using a script. They are not professional readers and anyone listening closely can tell they’re not talking from the heart and becoming involved in the discussion. They were mere parrots, and not very good ones at that.
I guess they understood the power of talk radio listeners.
1980 had came and went and Ronald Reagan had been elected by a landslide, even winning in Massachusetts. Among the holdouts was Rhode Island, which in many ways is even more Democrat than Massachusetts. I believe the term is Yellow Dog Democrats. They’d vote for a yellow dog before voting Republican.
On Tuesday, January 20th, Ronald Reagan was sworn in as 40th president of the United States. Helen and I toasted the event with champagne with our dinner that night.
The oath of office administered by Chief Justice Warren Burger. As that was happening the Iranian thugs released our hostages after 444 days of captivity. The hostages were released to Algiers where our medical evacuation planes took them to Wiesbaden, W. Germany where we had a large military and military medical facility.
Some of the more notable of the many events of the year were:
Lech Walesa urged general strike by Polish workers early in Reagan’s 1st term. The Polish people and the dock workers and coal miners were beginning to exercise their muscle. The die was cast for the future of the Soviet Union. After the visit of Pope John Paul II, what at one time was an impossibility, the enfranchisement of the people in the Iron Curtain Countries including the Baltic nations suddenly became a strong possibility. Little pieces of body rot began to show in the iron curtain.
The USSR was in turmoil, which made the cold war that much more dangerous.
In March of that year, a nutty young man trying to get the attention of actress Jody Foster attempted to assassinate the president. He succeeded in seriously injuring James Brady, Reagan’s press secretary along with a policeman and secret service man.
The true character of a man comes out when all the chips are down and the outcome in doubt.
The president had taken a bullet in the chest in the vicinity of his heart. He remained conscious until he was operated on to remove the bullet.
As the litter was being pushed into the emergency operating room, Ronald Reagan had one more memorable line, “I sure hope the doctors are Republicans.”
I was on the air that night. Needless to say, I was not as confident as Dutch about his well being.
The first real test of Ronald Reagan came in the Summer of 1981 when he confronted the striking air traffic controllers’ union. He ordered them back to work. They said no.
He took the position, “You’re all fired.”
No question, the new president was not to be trifled with. Callers by the dozen said there would be terrible consequences for the firing. Air traffic safety was at stake, they said.
It’s been over a quarter of a century since the PATCO (the traffic controllers union) firings. There has been a dramatic increase in air traffic. It is interesting to note no accidents have happened during that time because of a shortage of experienced air traffic controllers.
Other government employee unions got the message and didn’t mess with The Gipper.
In the summer of 1981 we were on the brink of a business downturn. During the Carter Years of 1977 to 80 we had inflation in the double digits (13.6% on inauguration day 1981) and the prime rate, the rate banks charge their best customers was double digit as well. Home mortgages were going in the vicinity of 15 to 17 % depending on the individuals credit rating.
Banks everywhere were attempting to foreclose on mortgages which had low interest rates. If you were delinquent even by a few days there was little forgiveness.
Reagan saw a silver lining. A JFK type across the board tax cut. It worked. 1981 and 82 saw a rather severe recession. The spiral had begun in 1980 and its effect was especially harsh in the “rust belt and older cities throughout the country. Mill cities in Massachusetts were very hard hit as well.
At the time of the personal tax cuts, personal income taxes accounted for about a half trillion dollars in revenue each year. As a result of the 1981 cuts and the economic growth that evolved from them, revenue doubled and by 1983 the economy was expanding at a healthy rate. That growth continued until roughly 9/11. Eighteen years of sustained growth with only a year or so of a slow down. Even 1991 turned out to be better than most years in other periods. Compared to most of the robust growth in the economy 1991 merely seemed bad relative to the go-go 80s.
Because of the nature of old mill city economies and the past experiences of mill workers, they were especially hard on Reagan’s tax cuts and we regularly heard on talk shows about how we needed to tax the rich more, take away the special breaks of the wealthy, etc.
By the time of the 1984 election those same voices praised the president for his insight into the economy. Even old line Democrats heaped praise on the former California governor.
The governor who benefited most from the surge in the US economy was Michael Dukakis. He created the image of being a miracle worker. The Duke dubbed the Massachusetts economy as the Massachusetts Miracle. The slogan appeared everywhere.
He milked it for all it was worth for the next four years as he built his campaign pitching Michael Dukakis as some sort of fiscal miracle man and economic conservative.
The Duke benefited from the rising tide of the overall economy. The high tech industry at that time was bi-coastal. Essentially the Boston Beltway and Silicon Valley in California.
Instead of rolling back taxes in Massachusetts, Dukakis increased aid to cities and towns, encouraged them to apply for state help for new schools, made welfare more available, all this because the expanding national economy produced revenues in record amounts.
Talk about voodoo economics.
Cities and towns negotiated fat contracts for municipal workers, police, firemen and teachers. Of course when things slowed down from its record pace there would be a price to pay.
It was during this period Michael Dukakis and his transportation secretary Fred Salvucci came up with the brilliant idea of depressing Boston’s major roadway, the central artery. (Congressman Barney Frank, usually a Dukakis supporter, suggested the governor give it a speech, that would depress anything.)
The old roadway was an elevated highway which was obsolete before it was completed in the early fifties. Boston’s airport can only be accessed from the center of the city via two harbor tunnels. Massive traffic tie-ups were created by the convergence of commuters and users of the airport.
The only way to get to the airport from the city, south of the city and the western suburbs was to use the Central Artery to get to the tunnels. Traveling though Boston during commuter rushes was both frustrating and very time consuming. Hence the Big Dig.
A good deal about the Big Dig can be found in Chapter Nine.
The Dukakis campaign train needed fuel for its locomotive. Who are more public spirited with political contributions than public project contractors, highway and building?
Answer. No one.
By 1984, things had gone so well with the economy (it is the economy stupid) the re-election of the president was a foregone conclusion. While our economy perking, the USSR had its hands full.
Ronald Reagan was in control.
In the November 1984 elections former vice president Walter Mondale took probably the worst pounding any presidential candidate ever took, including the landslide taken by Barry Goldwater in 1964.
Ronald Reagan carried every state except Mondale’s Minnesota which the former Veep carried by the narrowest of margins and the District of Columbia.
Even Rhode Island went Reagan.
The era of good feeling continued for most of the remainder of the Reagan presidency.
On the morning of Friday, January 17, 1986 I sat in on the WRKO morning show. What made that morning memorable was a short conversation we had with Christa McAuliffe, a Framingham, Massachusetts native and graduate of Framingham State College.
Then a teacher in Concord, New Hampshire she had been selected to be the first “Teacher in Space”. Christa began her training at NASA's facility in Houston in September of 1985.
According to the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium web site, “At first she was worried that the other astronauts might think she was just along for the ride. She wanted to prove she could work just as hard as they could. But when they met, the other members of the crew treated her as part of the team. Christa trained with them for 114 hours, and when launch time came, she was ready.”
We talked casually with her about that training and what it meant not only to her but other teachers and how her participation may generate a new interest is science and space studies among students.
When the morning of January 28, 1986 came around I was glued to CNN watching with anticipation what would be a great moment in American history. It was one of those rare occasions when someone you felt you knew was the focus of attention around the world. Christa has appeared a couple of times on our Saturday morning Issues of the Day program where she first described the process by which she was chosen, why she applied in the first place, and later her training.
During the space trip Christa was to teach two lessons from space. In one she would have introduced her fellow astronauts, discuss their roles, show off the cockpit with its 1,300 switches and dials. She was also to explain how the crew slept, ate, and exercised in the mictogravity of space.
The second lesson from space would explain how the shuttle flew. She was to talk about why people explored space, and report on technological advances created by the space program.
Christa planned to keep a journal, inspired by the journals of the pioneer women who left their homes in search of a new frontier. Christa said “That's our new frontier out there, and it's everybody's business to know about space.”
Just 73 seconds after lift-off, the space shuttle Challenger exploded, killing all seven astronauts aboard.
Along with millions throughout the world we watched in horror as the explosion was indeed confirmed.
The remainder of the day was a blur until that night, the calming figure of Ronald Reagan appeared and put into perspective this tragic moment as no other politician could:
"Ladies and Gentlemen, I'd planned to speak to you tonight to report on the state of the Union, but the events of earlier today have led me to change those plans. Today is a day for mourning and remembering. Nancy and I are pained to the core by the tragedy of the shuttle Challenger. We know we share this pain with all of the people of our country. This is truly a national loss.
"Nineteen years ago, almost to the day, we lost three astronauts in a terrible accident on the ground. But, we've never lost an astronaut in flight; we've never had a tragedy like this. And perhaps we've forgotten the courage it took for the crew of the shuttle; but they, the Challenger Seven, were aware of the dangers, but overcame them and did their jobs brilliantly. We mourn seven heroes: Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe. We mourn their loss as a nation together.
"For the families of the seven, we cannot bear, as you do, the full impact of this tragedy. But we feel the loss, and we're thinking about you so very much. Your loved ones were daring and brave, and they had that special grace, that special spirit that says, 'Give me a challenge and I'll meet it with joy.' They had a hunger to explore the universe and discover its truths. They wished to serve, and they did. They served all of us.
"We've grown used to wonders in this century. It's hard to dazzle us. But for twenty-five years the United States space program has been doing just that. We've grown used to the idea of space, and perhaps we forget that we've only just begun. We're still pioneers. They, the members of the Challenger crew, were pioneers.
"And I want to say something to the schoolchildren of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle's takeoff. I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It's all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It's all part of taking a chance and expanding man's horizons. The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we'll continue to follow them...
"I've always had great faith in and respect for our space program, and what happened today does nothing to diminish it. We don't hide our space program. We don't keep secrets and cover things up. We do it all up front and in public. That's the way freedom is, and we wouldn't change it for a minute. We'll continue our quest in space. There will be more shuttle flights and more shuttle crews and, yes, more volunteers, more civilians, more teachers in space. Nothing ends here; our hopes and our journeys continue. I want to add that I wish I could talk to every man and woman who works for NASA or who worked on this mission and tell them: 'Your dedication and professionalism have moved and impressed us for decades. And we know of your anguish. We share it.'
"There's a coincidence today. On this day 390 years ago, the great explorer Sir Francis Drake died aboard ship off the coast of Panama. In his lifetime the great frontiers were the oceans, and a historian later said, 'He lived by the sea, died on it, and was buried in it.' Well, today we can say of the Challenger crew: Their dedication was, like Drake's, complete.
"The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honoured us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for the journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of earth' to 'touch the face of God.'"
Sure he stubbed his toe from time to time. However the things he did were for the betterment of the country and not personal gain. He certainly did not benefit from the two biggest controversies in the later half of his tenure as president.
One was a visit to a German military cemetery during a trip to Europe. He did it as a gesture of healing with our ally West Germany. The cemetery at Bittburg had the graves of a handful of SS troopers among the thousands og German soldiers buried there. It stirred a controversy for the couple of weeks before he left. I thought it was the wrong thing to do. There were still millions of Hitler’s SS victims in Europe. It was insensitive.
I recall reading how it pained him that it turned out the way it had. He had left it up to the German leader to make the arrangements for a military cemetery visit. After the arrangements had been made he did not want to create a diplomatic controversy.
The other will always be known as the Iran/Contra scandal.
The liberals in Washington did not want us to support anti-communist insurgencies in Central America. They passed the Boland amendment which prohibited such support. Reagan and his people figured out a way to sell small arms to Iran which was involved in a mortal struggle with Iraq. The profits would then be diverted to the Contras.
After a year of political posturing and the gnashing of teeth, the Contras succeeded in putting enough pressure on communist leader and head of the Sandanistas in Nicaragua to call an election.
The Contras won by a landslide and the stranglehold Fidel Castro enjoyed through the regime of the Ortega brothers in Central America was broken. Word had it that when Ortega told Castro about the plans for an election Castro was heard to say, “You’ve agreed to a what?”
Keep in mind our position in the Iran/Iraq war was that there be a stalemate. We gave limited support to both sides at different times. In the early 80s we gave intelligence information to Iraq about Iranian troop movements when it appeared the Iranians planned to mount a serious assault on Iraqi forces.
Ronald Reagan got his wish, it was a tie.
One final area of major discussion concerning Ronald Reagan during his presidency, especially the last couple of years was the Reagan belief we could spend the USSR into oblivion on the military front. We had the robust economy while the Soviets were on their twentieth five year plan.
The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI, also known as Star Wars) was a stroke of diplomatic and military genius. Coupled with our expansion in bombers, strategic missiles and nuclear powered submarines capable of carrying and firing multiple head rockets, the Soviet military planners realized they could not “keep up with the Joneses”.
In October 1986, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev met in Iceland where Gorbachev ardently opposed this defensive/offensive shield. The New York Times and Washington Post editorialized we were mad. We were only raising the level of danger in the arms race.
By 1991, the Soviet Union was officially out of business. Britain’s Margaret Thatcher observed, "Ronald Reagan won the Cold War without firing a shot."
Ronald Reagan was a very important factor in my interest in public affairs, even beyond politics. I first observed him in that speech in 1964 and revere him today.
My Grandfather, Arthur Lauzier, once observed he had never supported or voted for someone who at some point didn’t disappoint him in some significant way. I also have found that to be true, but with one exception.
From what I’ve read about Harry Truman and Teddy Roosevelt, they too may have been such men. The more we learn about The Gipper, the more I believe there are no skeletons in his closet. Certainly after more than a decade and a half after his departure from the presidency some dirt would have come out.
Ronald Reagan may be the exception to my Granddad’s rule.
Ronnie Reagan, RIP.