Saturday, June 16, 2007

Liberty, Deluded Republican Presidents, and History

Ronald Reagan, the President of the USA from 1981-1989, wasn't disliked abroad--he was a laughingstock, an ex-actor, worthy only of contempt. Viewed as a man without even much of an education, citizens of foreign countries felt comfortable with looking down on America and Americans. Nevertheless, Reagan believed to the very core of his being that people around the globe deserved freedom, would thrive on democracy, and were capable of self-rule. Many believed Reagan unable to face reality, and a creature of delusion.

In 1987 a wall divided the old German capital of Berlin, sectioning the city into a free West and an unfree East. For twenty-five years the city had been divided, and many from the East risked their lives to try to flee to the West.

In 1987, Ronald Reagan travelled to Berlin and gave a speech, challenging the leader of the USSR to allow freedom to prevail. His speech contained the famous words: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." You might enjoy seeing that speech, which is available online, or reading the transcript.

We now have another Republican president who also believes to the very core of his being that people around the globe deserve freedom, would thrive on democracy, and are capable of self-rule. Like Reagan, he is disliked at home and abroad, and a laughingstock among the Democrats. Like Reagan, he is willing to spend all his political capital for the sake of freedom for others.

The German capital is now reunited, free passage from Eastern Europe to Western Europe is a reality. Ronald Reagan is viewed as one of the greatest presidents in history.

The historical assessment of George Bush's presidency is years from being made. Freedom for the mideast is still in doubt. Nevertheless, there are wheels in motion that could change the world forever, and for the better. Let's hope


Blogger Praguetwin said...

Very optimistic of you.

History will not be so kind to GWB. You can mark my words on that one.

Jun 17, 2007, 8:05:00 PM  
Blogger Publia said...

Well, think you probably have the better President. He had a great article in the Financial Times about global warming. The thought occurred to me, and I thought I would share it.

Jun 18, 2007, 12:49:00 AM  
Blogger Praguetwin said...

I read the article. In some ways I tend to a agree. However, I don't see global warming (and the industrial reaction to it) as trying to roll back the industrial union. Quite the opposite: I see it as a jump start for the evolution of industry to a cleaner, brighter, less dependent future.

But yeah, the sort of lock-step drum-beating of global warming pundits is getting a bit much.

Jun 19, 2007, 1:06:00 AM  
Anonymous MS said...

Who is it that views Reagan as one of the greatest presidents in history? Are you talking about some public opinion poll? Speakers at his funeral? What leads you to say that a president is a great or a terrible president?

Unlike the current president, Reagan did not conquer other countries and impose freedom on them at the point of a gun (except perhaps Grenada). This is a characteristic at which Bush is supreme among our presidents, although I have difficulty seeing how aggressive and preemptive wars of "regime change" qualify leaders for greatness. Why don't you compare Bush to the other world leaders in the past century who practiced those arts and excelled at those types of wars?

Reagan's signature line, as you well know, is "are you better off today than you were four years ago?" Perhaps that would be a good question to ask the Iraqis?

No, I suspect that your interest in presidential greatness stems from the criticism that has been directed towards Bush, such as by Carter, who you subsequently panned as a horrible president.

May I suggest that whatever the merits of Reagan's presidency, it is doubtful that any of them will rub off on Bush's presidency. Perhaps you might consider arguing why Bush is a great president on the basis of his own accomplishments, as well as those people that he hired to perform for him. That is the record that will count for historical greatness, not some superficial resemblances with other presidents recently deceased.

As I was growing up, I really disliked the Kennedy and Lincoln analogies that every school child received. Comparisons between Bush and Reagan seem even thinner.

I really do not suspect, however, that I will be seeing your arguments for Bush's greatness any time soon.

Jun 19, 2007, 8:58:00 PM  
Blogger Publia said...

Praguetwin, I posted up that article on global warming because someone sent it to me me and liked it. I thought it was an interesting perspective. Unfortunately, good ecological practices have been included in discussions that the globe is warming rapidly. I think we need to consider both separately. Good ecological practices are essential; global warming has become cant. I am particularly concered about the SUV's and private jets favored by its most vocal proponents. I try to do my part to be ecological; the rest I think may still be viewpoint.

Jun 19, 2007, 10:17:00 PM  
Blogger Publia said...

ms, If you think I am making arguments, no wonder you are concerned; they are merely thoughts that occurred to me and this isn't a political blog. I will leave the scholarly approach to others.

I am not concerned about being wrong. You are ascribing some opinions to me that I never expressed. In your eyes, my post fails in the marketplace of ideas; that's okay,too. Thanks for your comments. But you could argue all day and I would still believe that Jimmy Carter was a horrible president because he was. I am sorry if you are a fan of his and if I offended your sensibilites. I am sure history won't be taking my opinion into account.

Jun 19, 2007, 10:28:00 PM  
Anonymous ms said...

We certainly have a right to our own opinions, but isn't it a bit of a dodge for you to say that you are not making arguments or that your blog is not a political blog? With all due respect, you are making arguments and joining into a political debate -- and that while many of your posts are not political, many are. I don't believe that to be reprehensible or evil or the like.

You say that you did not mean to offend -- and you did not offend. But what is the point of leaving your record of opinions for all to see who care to, when you immediately back off from dissenting opinions of those who took the time to read what you wrote, think about it, and respond?

A real characteristic of political life in recent year, including those under the current administration, has been the rise of expressing opinions without interacting -- and in fact with the attacking of those who attempt to interact by disagreeing with an expressed opinion. How does expression without critical discussion help anyone to lead better lives? Is this really how to go about living well?

I was going to respond to a more recent post by you of how Seals is not good for the North Shore by noting that, if I recall correctly, Seals actually carried the New Trier precincts in the recent election. That makes me wonder how he can be wrong for the North Shore while being the choice of many on the North Shore. Since I know that your blog is not political however, I will refrain from making such a comment since I do not want to disagree with you or offend you by doing so.

I wish you well with your apolitical and non-argumentative blog and certainly will try not to bother you further going forward by paying any attention to what you may say, since it is just an expression and does not involve any thinking or consideration for your readers.

My bad! So sorry.


Jun 20, 2007, 1:58:00 PM  
Blogger Publia said...

ms, We are all for peace over here, allowing eveyone their own opinion, and I am grateful for your readership. I am somewhat surprised to hear that you read my blog howevr, since you believe it involves no thinking and abuse of my readers.

You are not bothering me at all, but there are so many blogs where the readers whack each other all day long (perhaps you call that discussion and interaction, that I don't know) I would think (and as you've noted, you don't think I do that) there is no need for any more of that genre--there are plenty.

It is possible we vote differently and see issues differently, too.

Helping others lead a better life is not one of my goals.

Jun 20, 2007, 3:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Until I read your prior response, I did not think poorly of you or your blog at all. You are the one, if I have read you correctly, who said that you were not attempting to make an argument and thus did not wish to discuss the matters raised in your post. The use of the loaded and mean "abuse" term is your addition and not mine (so much for "being for peace", I guess). My thought was that if you permit readers to respond to your comments and then dismiss responses you do not like out of hand, one can only wonder about the respect you actually have for your readers. You can call that what you wish. I would call it appropriate.

As to thinking and voting differently, I am a lifelong Republican who objects to actions being taken in the name of our country and the Republican party. As to thinking differently, you have just gone to some effort to tell me that you really do not think much about what you write and do not wish what you write to be examined by those with whom you disagree, so I am really not capable of saying how you think.

As to sites where readers whack each other, that is certainly true -- but I am uncertain of how that applies to what I wrote to you. I asked why you thought Reagan was a great president. I noted differences between Reagan and Bush. I never claimed that Carter was a great (or even a good) president, but was curious about why you thought he was one of the worst. I suspected that you meant to imply that Bush would eventually be seen as a great president and asked why that would be based on his accomplishments.

How any of that shows disrespect or a lack of courtesy to you is puzzling to me. Even my last sentence in my initial post, that I did not expect you to offer any arguments about Bush's greatness, was more than borne out by your response.

You closed your response with:

"helping others lead a better life is not one of my goals."

That is very clear to me now and it is a point on which we clearly disagree - although my initial reference was to clarifying ones own thinking so that one could lead a better life during the short time that we are granted on earth. (Who was it that said that the unexamined life is not worth living?)

I will not trouble you again.


Jun 20, 2007, 5:36:00 PM  
Blogger Publia said...

Hi, anonymous, When you said, "not to bother you further going forward by paying any attention to what you may say, since it is just an expression and does not involve any thinking or consideration for your readers." and "The use of the loaded and mean "abuse" term is your addition and not mine (so much for "being for peace", I guess). My thought was that if you permit readers to respond to your comments and then dismiss responses you do not like out of hand, one can only wonder about the respect you actually have for your readers." Failing to have respect for another human being IS abusive; I can see it no other way. If you believe I don't have respect for my readers, I am abusive, and yes, I inferred it from what you said, and perhaps not what you meant to imply.

But moving on: if your desire is to know what I think and why, I will be happy to share it, simply not argue it.

I think Jimmy Carter was one of the worst presidents ever because I lived through his presidency and every day he presented more evidence of gloom. His message that America was finished, impotent, and it was the duty of every good American not only to understand but also to be happy with this fact was more than depressing. Even worse was the 22% inflation that made me wonder from one week to the next whether I could buy groceries the next week, and whether my savings would buy anything at all other than next week's groceries. Moreover, he held out the prospect of times only getting worse. It was horrible. In his defense, I always figured he was in way over his head given his background. When his presidency was ended he moved on with Habitat with Humanity and gave it a high profile which was good. Bye and bye, he again returned to his original message. I have no doubt now, nor did I then, that he sincerely believed that he was helping others lead better lives.

Why do I think Reagan was a great President? I don't know whether he was, but people are thinking he was a great president because of his anti-communism and the downfall of the USSR which treated its citizens very poorly. I must say, last winter's journey to East Germany--detailed on this blog--did give me a new perspective. As far as evidence, I recommend the arguments of Jeff Berkowitz, host of the local TV show,blogger, host of Public affairs. He has the heavy educational credentials, former partner at a world class law firm (before their dissolution), who I have heard articulate it best. He is not too hard to find around New Trier. Seeking him out would be well worth your time and far more valuable to you than I could be.

As far as George Bush. If Americans can give the middle East the tools to run their countries in an open, democratic, just way, George Bush's place in history is assured.

As far as being a life-long Republican who is not currently happy with the Republicans, the way I see it is you have 3 choices: You can fight from within, which is difficult here in Illinois at the moment, but far from impossible. Ryan's conviction has led to substantial demoralization. You can become a Democrat, which given the current composition and world-view of the party would, I think, be painful. You can become an Independent, a venerable North Shore tradition, and with the addition of Bloomberg and Nader to the mix may hold great interest for the disaffected of both parties. People can and do change parties for very good reasons.

If you think I have a duty to make you a better person, I can do that. Go find a group of like-minded people and debate the issues of politics with them. Find a group who you agree with about 75-80% of the time. This will clarify your thinking on all these matters and suggest solutions to you that you can implement in your own work or on your own blog.

Jun 21, 2007, 2:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your kind response. It is very clear and addresses many of my issues well. I appreciate the time and care that it took to prepare it. I will consider what you say. MS

Jun 21, 2007, 8:51:00 PM  
Blogger Publia said...

I'm glad you liked my reply because it did take a long time to write. While I may dislike arguement, I am always happy to share an opinion, and I always seem to have plenty of those to spare. Glad you came back.

Jun 22, 2007, 12:23:00 AM  

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