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Lindsay Perigo: Why Ronny Rocks!

Originally broadcast by Lindsay Perigo on Radio Pacific's Politically Incorrect Show.

Lindsay Perigo: Why Ronny Rocks!

Yesterday Larry King interviewed Nancy Reagan - it was her husband's 90th birthday. She was not an easy interview, seldom venturing beyond a single sentence & often confining herself to "Oh yes" or "Oh no" in her answers. I can tell you from experience that interviewers dread interviews like that, where they end up having to do more talking than their subject. Yet - at least for someone like me who has always had a soft spot for "Ronnie" - it was riveting. Larry coaxed Nancy into talking a little about the time her husband wrote THAT letter, the one in which he announced his Alzheimers disease. There had been little forewarning, notwithstanding the jibes of those who now gleefully insinuated that Reagan had been senile for the entirety of his presidency. The disease in fact was still in its early stages, & Ronnie was certainly still compos mentis enough to tell his countrymen with eloquent clarity what was going on, as the handwritten note in which he did so showed.

Why would I, as a libertarian, have a soft spot for a conservative like Reagan? For one thing, I relished the fact that crimped so-called liberals of my acquaintance - sneering, snide state-worshippers of one kind or another - hated the thought that he was in the White House. He had buried their own man, Jimmy Carter, in a landslide, & they loathed him for it. That made me feel terrific. The words "President Reagan" were music to my ears.

I loved much of Reagan's rhetoric. Run a mile, he advised, from anyone who says, "Hi, I'm from the government & I'm here to help you." Though his concept of freedom was flawed, he spoke often & soaringly of his "shining city on the hill." His description of freedom's #1 enemy at the time, the Soviet Union, as an "evil empire" provoked a firestorm of indignation among the empire's fellow-travellers - a storm that Reagan weathered with his characteristic, twinkling equanimity. He stood in a divided Berlin & threw down a historic challenge - "Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall." Not long after, Mr Gorbachev did - aided by thousands of ordinary Berliners attacking the despised edifice with anything they could find.

What I thought was best about Reagan was his spirit. The man could lift you to the stars. "The future belongs to the brave," he said as he reassured Americans that space exploration would continue even after the Challenger disaster. The dead astronauts, he said, had "touched the face of God." He saw the big picture, & was content to let others dot the 'i's & cross the 't's. When these others were gathered with him around the cabinet table, he would fall asleep - displaying, to my mind, an impeccable sense of priorities. Yesterday, Larry King read a love letter Reagan had written to Nancy from the Oval Office. It wouldn't melt the hearts of the crimped "liberals" I referred to earlier, since they have no hearts to melt - but to any normal human being it would bespeak a man of singular sincerity & decency.

Let the last words be his, said to an audience of students in the heart of the "evil empire" at Moscow State University in 1988. Ponder these words, & wonder if we will ever again hear them from an American president:

"The explorers of the modern era are the entrepreneurs, men with vision, with the courage to take risks & faith enough to brave the unknown. These entrepreneurs & their small enterprises are responsible for almost all of the economic growth in the United States. They are the prime movers of the technological revolution. In fact, one of the largest personal computer firms in the United States was started by two college students, no older than you, in the garage behind their home ...

"We Americans make no secret of our belief in freedom. In fact, it's something of a national pastime. Freedom is the right to question & change the established way of doing things. It is the continuing revolution of the marketplace. It is the understanding that allows us to recognise shortcomings & seek solutions. It is the right to put forth an idea, scoffed at by the experts, & watch it catch fire among the people. It is the right to dream - to follow your dream & stick to your conscience, even if you're the only one in a sea of doubters."

- For Lindsay Perigo's daily "Politically Incorrect Show" editorials, visit: http://www.freeradical.co.nz or listen to Radio Pacific from noon to 2pm weekdays.


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