Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Greatest American

The Disovery Channel's Greatest American campaign is now over. After three million votes, the winner is Ronald Reagan, edging out Abraham Lincoln.

Just last night I finished watching an excellent documentary on DVD, called: In the Face of Evil: Reagan's War in Word and Deed. The film is about "one man’s triumph during the bloodiest and most barbaric century in mankind’s history: the 20th century. It "chronicles the brutal conflict between totalitarianism and freedom as seen through Ronald Reagan’s forty-year confrontation with Communism."

One of the highlights of the DVD for me is being able to view some of Reagan's key speeches in full. Especially significant is Reagan's 1964 speech, "A Time for Choosing," given at a fundraiser for Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. This address eventually became referred to as simply "The Speech." (You can watch, listen to, or read the speech online.) This was Reagan's first opportunity to set forth his politics to the American public in a televised setting. The speech still has tremendous relevance for today. It demonstrates Reagan's command of economics, his insight into the nature of the worldwide struggle for freedom, and his mastery of rhetorical persuasion. It was so brilliant and powerful, that it has been said that there was a collective sense in the room that night that the Republicans had nominated the wrong man for president!

Here are a couple of excerpts:

"Those who would trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state have told us that they have a utopian solution of peace without victory. They call their policy 'accommodation.' And they say if we only avoid any direct confrontation with the enemy, he will forget his evil ways and learn to love us. All who oppose them are indicted as warmongers. They say we offer simple answers to complex problems. Well, perhaps there is a simple answer . . . not an easy one . . . but a simple one, if you and I have the courage to tell our elected officials that we want our national policy based upon what we know in our hearts is morally right."

"We cannot buy our security, our freedom from the threat of the bomb by committing an immorality so great as saying to a billion human beings now in slavery behind the Iron Curtain, 'Give up your dreams of freedom because to save our own skin, we are willing to make a deal with your slave-masters.' Let's set the record straight. There is no argument over the choice between peace and war, but there is only one guaranteed way you can have peace . . . and you can have it in the next second . . . surrender!"

"Admittedly there is a risk in any course we follow other than this, but every lesson in history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement, and this is the specter our well-meaning liberal friends refuse to face. . . that their policy of accommodation is appeasement, and it gives no choice between peace and war, only between fight or surrender. If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand--the ultimatum."