The American left was truly terrified of Ronald Reagan. They pretended to detest him for his cowboy jingoism, supposed intellectual deficiency (he only went to Eureka College, you know) and his obstructionist stance across our National Path to Greatness. Which was largely defined, of course, by ever-increasing government control by Wise Government Bureaucrats over the public sphere, progressive re-distribution of income and humorless scolding. Moving down the National Path of Greatness necessarily meant focusing more on the “warts” side of the American “warts and all” equation here at home. On the international stage we had loose “containment” hiding behind a détente which in reality gave license to an expansionist Brezhnev Doctrine.
No sense dwelling on the restless energies and unparalleled accomplishments of a great nation. In that direction lay self-satisfaction and inertia, the death knell to “progress.” No sense fighting against communist expansionism, someone could get hurt. Listen for the warning signal children, step in to the hallway, put your head between your legs and close your eyes.
It will all be over soon.
Reagan flipped the coin on all of that. When, in the midst of a “national malaise,” he proclaimed that it was “morning again in America,” the left cringed. When people started to actually believe him, they went into full panic mode. When he labeled the Soviet Union an evil empire, the realists tut-tutted, and shook their heads. Trying to match his re-armament sent the creaking Soviet economy into a tailspin from which it could never recover, and his willingness to choose between the Polish Solidarity movement and the communist government that pretended to represent the interests of the working class led the disintegration of of European communism, and eventually the Soviet Union itself.
In a neatly ironic exercise of the material dialectic, America gave us Reagan, causing the Soviet Union to in turn offer up their Gorbachev, who conceded Poland back to the Poles. The rest was history.
President Reagan added to the costs of Soviet foreign policies in the third world and their arms build-up at the very moment of greatest Soviet vulnerability. The Reagan Doctrine as a policy involving all the aspects of the program to unseat the Soviet Union, was something that evolved out of an initial ideological stance put forward by President Reagan early in his administration but that could only come to fruition in the second term. Although there was much confusion in the first term at the lower levels, at the operational and strategic levels there was a common thread — a combination of the man and the moment, an aspiration and many forces came together. Reagan helped pull these forces together. That is what made it a historical development — a leader and his vision coincided with a historical moment.
Many of the same journalists and academics who tried to argue that communist expansionism was unavoidable, and perhaps even beneficent would spend their later energies arguing that its collapse was structurally inevitable, that Reagan’s strategic offensive had nothing to do with it. At home, they called the 80s a “decade of greed,” while the 90s were a “decade of growth.” The collapse of the dot com economy at the end of that era was an inconvenient footnote on an objectively greater materialism. Forgivable in this case, because we had the “right people” at the helm.
The Gipper made us believe in ourselves again, and for that he could never be forgiven. Nor would anyone ever be allowed to replace him. Because there are all those warts standing across the National Path to Greatness. In this the media will play their role, according to Mark Steyn:
If we’re talking about letting the Left “set the rules,” Mr. Marcus’s column reminded me of a larger point: Don’t take your opponents at face value; listen to what they’re really saying. What does the frenzy unleashed on Sarah Palin last fall tell us? What does Newsweek‘s “Mad Man” cover on Glenn Beck mean? Why have ”civility” drones like Joe Klein so eagerly adopted Anderson Cooper’s scrotal “teabagging” slur and characterized as “racists” and “terrorists” what are (certainly by comparison with the anti-G20 crowd) the best behaved and tidiest street agitators in modern history?
They’re telling you who they really fear. Whom the media gods would destroy they first make into “mad men.” Liz Cheney should be due for the treatment any day now…
The media would like the American Right to be represented by the likes of Bob Dole and John McCain, decent old sticks who know how to give dignified concession speeches. Last time round, we went along with their recommendation. If you want to get rave reviews for losing gracefully, that’s the way to go. If you want to win, look at whom the Democrats and their media chums are so frantic to destroy: That’s the better guide to what they’re really worried about.
Watching the pack go braying off into a chase doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve got a valid target in their sights. But if we can rise above the din, it is at least educational and even entertaining.