Reagan: In His Own Hand

ReaganInOwnHandSuggested by Brad Nelson • Ronald Reagan was an inveterate writer. Most of Reagan’s original writings are pre-presidential. From 1975 to 1979 he gave more than 1,000 daily radio broadcasts, two-thirds of which he wrote himself. This book also includes writings selected from throughout his life.
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9 Responses to Reagan: In His Own Hand

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    [This is excerpted from the book “Reagan: In His Own Hand”]

    Communism the Disease
    Recorded May 1975 by Ronald Reagan for his radio program. Written by Ronald Reagan.

    Mankind has survived all manner of evil diseases and plagues. But can it survive Communism?

    I’ll be right back.

    When a disease like communism hangs on as it has for a half century or more, it’s good, now and then, to be reminded of just how vicious it really is. Of course, those who have the disease use all kinds of misleading terms to describe its symptoms and its effects. For example, if you and I in America planted land mines on our borders, ringed the country with barb wire and machine gun toting guards to keep anyone from leaving the country, we’d hardly describe that as “liberating” the people.

    But we’ve grown so used to communist doubletalk. I sometimes think we’ve lost some of our fear of the disease. We need frequent vaccination to guard against being infected until the day when this health threat will be eliminated as we eliminated the black plague. . .

    Now the Associated Press brings another story from Berlin illustrating how the communist sickness looks upon human life—even the life of a child.

    Berlin is divided, as we [you] know, into the East or sick-with-communism side and the well or Western side. Between the two flows the Spree River. Around noon on May 11, a 5-year-old boy fell into the river. Firemen from West Berlin started to go to his rescue. An East German patrol boat barred them from entering the water because at that point the stream flows wholly on East Berlin territory. The 5-year-old boy drowned.

    The Mayor of W. Berlin described the refusal of the East German guards to permit the Westerners to come to his rescue as “an incomprehensible and frightful act—placing political considerations before the saving of a human life.” Which is exactly what they did. Remember they were in a patrol boat—they chose to prevent the West Germans from entering in their Eastern water rather than go to the child’s rescue themselves. But they did tidy things up—3 hours later East German frog men recovered the body.

    Communism is neither an economic or political system—it is a form of insanity—a temporary aberration which will one day disappear from the earth because it is contrary to human nature. I wonder how much more misery it will cause before it disappears.

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    [This is excerpted from the book “Reagan: In His Own Hand”]

    Two Worlds
    by Ronald Reagan

    The ideological struggle dividing the world is between communism and our own belief in freedom to the greatest extent possible consistent with an orderly society. I’ll be right back.

    I was going through a bundle of quotations I’ve collected over the years looking for a speech. I keep them on cards and they aren’t indexed or catalogued so I literally have to shuffle through the whole stack.

    While doing that a thought came to me apropos of the present world situation where we continue to believe we can maintain a détente with the Soviet Union and that their leaders down underneath must be pretty much like us. I was shuffling through statements of great Americans, and mixed in with them were quotes by the past and present greats of the Soviet Union.

    There was that poetry from whence comes the inscription on our Statue of Liberty: “Here name — Mother of Exiles. From her beacon hand glows worldwide welcome; her mild eyes command the air bridged harbor that twin cities frame. Keep your ancient lands, your storied pomp! cries she with silent lips. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

    How that contrasts with these words of the Soviet Union’s founding father — Nicolai Lenin: “It would not matter if 3/4 of the human race perished; the important thing is that the remaining 1/4 be communist.” And his invitation; “The communist party enters into bourgeois institutions not to do constructive work but in order to direct the masses to destroy from within the whole bourgeois state machine and the parliament itself.” [Sounds a lot like Van Jones, Jeremiah Wright, Saul Alinsky, and William Ayers.]

    John Winthrop on the deck of the tiny Arbella in 1630 off the coast of Massachusetts said to the little band of pilgrims: “We shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us, so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this world we have undertaken and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword throughout the world.”

    The oath of the Communist Party U.S.A. written in 1930 says nothing of a city upon a hill. “I pledge myself to rally the masses to defend the Soviet Union the land of victorious socialism. I pledge myself to remain at all times a vigilant and firm defender of the Leninist line of the party, the only line that insures the triumph of Soviet power in the U.S.”

    Thomas Jefferson said, “The policy of the American government is to leave their citizens free, neither restraining nor aiding them in their pursuits.” And he added, “The God who gave us life gave us liberty—can the liberties of a nation be secure when we removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God.”

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    [This is excerpted from the book “Reagan: In His Own Hand”]

    Education I
    November 16 1976
    written for broadcast by Ronald Reagan

    “Reading and Writing and Arithmetic” is a fine old song, but I’m afraid its lyrics are as out-of-date as a nickel cigar. I’ll be right back.

    I know I’ve spoken before about the decline in quality of public school education as evidenced by college entrance exams over the last 20 years. Just recently I read in Washington D.C. newspapers about one of the highest ranking graduates of a D.C. high school — valedictorian of his class — who couldn’t get a high enough mark on the standard entrance exams to get into George Washington University. The Dean of the university described the young man as having been conned into believing he’d had an education.

    But it took the news of an interview on a St. Louis TV program station to get me back on this subject again. They interviewed a product of the St. Louis public school system, a young man 20 years of age who had gone from Kindergarten through grade 12 and had his high school diploma to prove it. He is a functional illiterate, unable to read or write who is now presently enrolled in an adult remedial reading program.

    Now lest you think he is exceptional — possibly handicapped in some way — let me state for the record he is not mentally retarded. Neither is he stupid. He’s just plain untaught. The adult center where he’s at last being taught to read says he has plenty of company in that one metropolitan area alone.

    Education is compulsory in our land of the free. You can’t decide that you’ll do without and if you try, the law will be knocking on your door asking why isn’t Johnny in school where he belongs.

    Alright then! But what is our response if little Johnny is in school where he belongs and all that is required of him is his physical presence? If he sits in his assigned seat 5 days a week for 9 months he’ll be passed and promoted to the next higher grade.

    When I was Governor, a black mother during the height of the controversy over desegregation in the schools told me that wasn’t nearly as important to her as some of the education fraternity would have us believe. She said, “Never mind moving them around to a different school, just teach them where they are.” And then she made this request, “Stop promoting my son to the next grade just because he’s come to the end of the year. Make him stay in the grade he’s in until he’s learned what he’s supposed to know.” I’m afraid I thought she was exaggerating when she added, “One day they’ll hand him a diploma and he won’t even be able to read it.”

    What happens to a young man or woman who dons cap and gown, is handed a diploma as proud parents and friends applaud, who believes he has qualified to go into the job market and learns he can’t even fill out the application for a job?

    There have been great innovations in education and we’re told the old-fashioned methods (phonics as the way to learn to read, for example) are no longer approved by educators. Well let them answer one question. It is acknowledged that we have added more to man’s knowledge in the last 25 years than in all the previous history of man. Those who did this were brought up in that earlier, now outmoded, school system. Surely it must have been doing something right. This is Ronald Reagan. Thanks for listening.

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    [This is excerpted from the book “Reagan: In His Own Hand”]

    Looking Out a Window
    January 27, 1978
    written by Ronald Reagan for broadcast

    It’s nightfall in a strange town a long way from home. I’m watching the lights come on from my hotel room window on the 35th floor.

    I’ll be right back.

    I’m afraid you are in for a little bit of philosophizing, if you don’t mind. Some of these broadcasts have to be put together while I’m out on the road traveling what I call the “mashed potato circuit.” In a little while I’ll be speaking to a group of very nice people in a banquet hall.

    Right now however I’m looking down on a busy city at rush hour. The streets below are twin ribbons of sparkling red and white. Tail lights on the cars moving away from my vantage point provide the red, and the headlights of those coming toward me the white. It’s logical to assume all or most are homeward bound at the end of a day’s work.

    I wonder why some social engineer hasn’t tried to get them to trade homes. The traffic is equally heavy in both directions so if they all lived in the end of town where they worked, it would save a lot of travel time. Forget I said that, and don’t even think it, or some bureaucrat will try to do it.

    But I wonder about the people in those cars, who they are, what they do, what they are thinking about as they head for the warmth of home and family. Come to think of it, I’ve met them — oh, maybe not those particular individuals, but still I feel I know them. Some of our social planners refer to them as “the masses” which only proves they don’t know them. I’ve been privileged to meet people all over this land in the special kind of way you meet them when you are campaigning. They are not “the masses” or, as the elitists would have it — “the common man.” They are very uncommon; individuals each with his or her own hopes and dreams, plans and problems, and the kind of quiet courage that makes this whole country run better than just about any other place on earth.

    By now, thinking of their homecoming, I’m counting how many more hotel room windows I’ll be looking out of before I’m in the rush hour traffic heading home. And, yes, I’m feeling a little sorry for myself and envious of the people in those cars down below. It seems I’ve said a thousand goodbyes, each one harder than the one before.

    Someone very wise once wrote that if we were all told one day that the end was coming, that we were living our last day, every road, every street, and all the telephone lines would be jammed with people trying to reach someone to whom we wanted simply to say, “I love you.”

    But doesn’t it seem kind of foolish to wait for such a final day and take the chance of not getting there in time? And speaking of time, I’ll have to stop now. “Operator, I’d like to make a phone call — long distance.”

    This is Ronald Reagan. Thanks for listening.

  5. faba calculo says:

    Fantastic book! I got it years ago when I was trying to write a sci fi story about an alternate history of the 1976 election in the wake of the Soviet beating the US to the moon. Unfortunately, in the book, Reagan said almost nothing of the space race.

  6. Timothy Lane says:

    I have a copy (which I located just before writing this), but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. That’s what happens when you buy as many books as I do.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      You do sound as if you have a splendid book collection. “Reagan: In His Own Hand” is the kind of book you can read just a bit here and there. In fact, I didn’t read the entire thing. I picked and chose the topics that interested me.

      One thing about Reagan is that he represents a seismic shift in the way people think about leaders. Perhaps that only lasted for a moment. As Rush lamented on the air yesterday, people quickly forget the lessons of liberalism. But Reagan remains there as an object lesson if we can pry ourselves away from our own conceits.

      Everyone wants to own Reagan today for some reason, even those on the Left, and especially the squishy, listless, wandering “moderates” who conceitedly place themselves in “the middle.”

      But Reagan wasn’t a moderate. He was a brash conservative. He actually believed in things and was willing to fight for them. He also was one of the most gifted and intelligent American conservatives our nation has ever known. He was certainly book-schooled. I forget which conservative mentioned this, but he or she was surprised upon meeting Reagan for the first time that the bookshelves in his office were lined with great works, especially those by Hayek and Adam Smith.

      But what people such as Jonah Goldberg and others have lost site of is that being “intellectual” and crafty with one’s super-duper chess-club brain is not the same thing as being wise. And Reagan had wisdom. Intelligence, per se, is way over-rated. Bill Clinton, by all standard measures, is an extraordinary intelligent man. But he is not wise. All of that intelligence, like a 600 horsepower engine, is wasted if you live simply to rev the engine and don’t know what course to put it on.

      Much the same can be said for Sarah Palin. She has an innate wisdom that goes missing from the Charles Krauthammer types, which is no doubt one reason she rankles the Establishment crowd. There are many people on both sides of the aisle (and in and out of politics) who have a lot invested in the idea of themselves as belonging to the exclusive club of The Wizards of Smart.

      And in our dumbed-down, celebrity-oriented culture, I think the main trend driving politics (other than misplaced, girlish ideas of “compassion”) is the zealous attempt to try to patch up the hollow place in one’s life (which I think people are at least unconsciously aware of) by trying to identify with the various Wizards of Smart, such as Obama. This is why some people, and quite without evidence, believe in global warming. It puts them on the side of the supposed Wizards of Smart.

      And we are simply drowning in these vacant conceits. This is why it’s such a pleasure to pick up and read Reagan, in his own hand. When we look at these kinds of conservatives and pronounce them as rubes, bumpkins, and unsophisticates, we reveal our own pact that we have made with The Wizards of Smart. But real wisdom does not come from mere association, wearing the right ribbon, or mouthing the bumper-sticker slogans of pop culture. Wisdom itself is much deeper, and much simpler, and has no need to try to clothe itself in the conceits of intellectual wizardry.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        One thing to consider here is the matter of credentialism. Liberals in particular have an excessive regard for the Ivy League, and a corresponding disregard for those (such as Reagan and Palin) who went elsewhere. This can always be forgiven for those who agree with them, of course.

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