“The Key Is Freedom”

(p. A17) . . . Ronald Reagan, in the last year of his presidency, delivered one of his most magnificent speeches . . . before a packed auditorium of students at Moscow State University.
. . .
Reagan’s ultimate aim was to plant the seed of freedom in the newly receptive furrows of a cracking totalitarianism.
. . .
Reagan delivered his Moscow speech standing before a gigantic scowling bust of Lenin and a mural of the Russian Revolution. He incorporated them as props in his address. “Standing here before a mural of your revolution,” he said, “I want to talk about a very different revolution,” a technological and “information revolution” that was transforming the world. How much progress had already been realized! But progress was not foreordained. “The key,” Reagan said, “is freedom–freedom of thought, freedom of information, freedom of communication.”

For the full commentary, see:
Roger Kimball. “‘When Reagan Met Lenin.” The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, May 31, 2018): A17.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date May 30, 2018.)

When 4% Economic Growth Was Routine

(p. R3) Starting in 1983, when Ronald Reagan was in the middle of his first presidential term, the American economy reeled off three straight years of 4% growth. The economy went on to hit that politically important target in nine of the next 17 years. In fact, even as Mr. Bush ran for re-election, the economy actually was revving up after a two-year lull, though the surge came too late for voters to realize it.
Then, at the turn into a new millennium, that streak stopped. In the last 15 years, the American economy hasn’t grown at a 4% annual rate even once.
But it isn’t just the U.S. In the last 15 years, according to International Monetary Fund data, exactly one of the traditional seven major industrialized nations achieved annual economic growth of 4%, one time: Japan in 2010.
In sum, the kind of economic growth that used to be relatively routine in the industrialized world has become virtually extinct.
This low-growth era leaves political leaders facing two unsavory tasks. The first is to explain to unhappy voters why growth is so anemic, and the second is to convince them that they know what to do about it.

For the full commentary, see:
Gerald F. Seib. “Politicians Pine for Elusive Solution to Voters’ Discontent: 4% Growth.” The Wall Street Journal (Tues., Jan. 17, 2017): R3.
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Jan. 16, 2017.)

One Way to Defend Free Trade (in Honor of Reagan’s Birthday)

(p. A9) Baldrige also knew how to use humor to deflate tense moments, as when the U.S. toy balloon industry petitioned for protection against cheap Mexican imports. Baldrige was opposed, but after debate the entire cabinet favored sanctions. Sensing this was not where the president wanted to go, Baldrige pulled from his pocket a dozen toy balloons and tossed them on the cabinet table. As the room filled with laughter, he said, “This is what we are talking about.” Reagan denied the sanctions.

For the full review, see:
CLARK S. JUDGE. “BOOKSHELF; The Cowboy At Commerce; During tense talks over steel imports, Baldrige insisted the tired Europeans work through lunch. He’d hidden snacks for his team nearby.” The Wall Street Journal (Tues., Jan. 5, 2016): A9.
(Note: the online version of the review has the date Jan. 4, 2016, and has the title “BOOKSHELF; The Cowboy At Commerce; During tense talks over steel imports, Baldrige insisted the tired Europeans work through lunch. He’d hidden snacks for his team nearby.”)

The book under review, is:
Black, Chris, and B. Jay Cooper. Mac Baldrige: The Cowboy in Ronald Reagan’s Cabinet. Lanham, MD: Lyons Press, 2015.

Reagan’s “Failure” Helped End the Cold War

(p. 9) Failure is in fashion these days. We read about failing fast and failing well, about grit incubated by repeated failure in school and innovation by repeated failure in business. So it may be a good time to consider the hidden virtues of failure in foreign policy. And who better to demonstrate those virtues than one of modern America’s great optimists?
On a Sunday evening in October 1986, Ronald Reagan returned to the White House after what he called “one of the longest, most disappointing — and ultimately angriest — days of my presidency.” He had spent more than 10 hours in discussions with Mikhail Gorbachev, in Reykjavik, Iceland, coming gut-­wrenchingly close to a breakthrough in United States-Soviet nuclear talks before everything fell apart. He was, in his personal assistant’s judgment, “borderline distraught.” Network news pronounced “the magic of the Reagan persona gone,” Gorbachev called him a “feebleminded cave man,” and even his own generals told him that his ideas “pose high risks to the security of the nation.” Soon, the Democrats would retake Congress, and the revelations of Iran-contra would spur talk of impeachment.
. . .
. . . foreign policy “failure” turned out to be the foundation of future accomplishment.

For the full review, see:
DANIEL KURTZ-PHELAN. “A Thawing in Iceland.” The New York Times Book Review (Sun., Aug. 3, 2014): 9.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date Aug. 1, 2014.)

The book being reviewed is:
Adelman, Ken. Reagan at Reykjavik: Forty-Eight Hours That Ended the Cold War. New York: Broadside Books, 2014.

Reagan “Was Canny Enough to Take His Cues from Technicians, Who Would Be Candid with Him about What the Doctors Really Meant”

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Source of book image: http://www.dispatch.com/live/export-content/sites/dispatch/life/stories/2011/03/28/2-book-rawhide-art-ga9c3l3q-1rawhide-down-large.jpg

(p. C7) It has been nearly 30 years since President Ronald Reagan was shot outside the Washington Hilton Hotel on March 30, 1981. The attack is well remembered, but the details are not. One reason for the memory lapse, according to Del Quentin Wilber, the author of “Rawhide Down,” a newly revealing account of this potentially deadly attack, is that Reagan survived it so smoothly. Twelve days after being fired upon, he was back at the White House looking sensational. He ultimately enhanced his popularity by rebounding with such courage, resilience and even good cheer.
. . .
“Rawhide Down” is a fast-paced book that captures many points of view. Nurses and medical technicians have especially candid memories of the pressure they faced, the uncertainty about how to deal with such an important patient and the ad-hoc solutions they devised. They decided to call him Mr. Reagan rather than Mr. President; the situation would be less frightening that way. They were amazed by his joking, his courtesy and his general lack of V.I.P. attitude.
They were also impressed by his bravery. Throughout the incident the president had no clear idea of what had happened to him or what to expect. He struggled to breathe, brightened at any mention of the first lady and was canny enough to take his cues from technicians, who would be candid with him about what the doctors really meant. As he got ready to undergo chest surgery, one worker assured him that being taken from the E.R. to the operating room was a good thing. If he were really in peril, she said, doctors would never allow him to be moved.

For the full review, see:
JANET MASLIN. “Books of The Times; Reconstructing the Day Reagan Fell: Chaos After a President’s Shooting.” The New York Times (Thurs., March 10, 2011): C7.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the review is dated March 9, 2011.)

The book under review is:
Wilber, Del Quentin. Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan. New York: Henry Holt & Company, 2011.

Taxpayers Work, Save and Invest More When Taxes Are Low

TheGrowthExperimentBK2013-09-28.jpg

Source of book image: online version of the WSJ review quoted and cited below.

(p. 15) The 1980s boom was launched on the simple insight that, by lowering tax rates and regulatory hurdles and juicing the incentives to produce, innovate and take risks, the animal spirits of the American free-enterprise system would revive. Two seminal books hatched the supply-side revolution. The first was Jude Wanniski’s “The Way the World Works” (1978); the second, George Gilder’s “Wealth and Poverty” (1981).

Almost as influential, coming a few years later, was Lawrence Lindsey’s “The Growth Experiment” (1990). Slightly academic in nature, it was the first book to quantify the economic and revenue windfall of the 1981 Reagan across-the-board tax cuts. Mr. Lindsey’s conclusion was that Reagan’s 1981 tax act quickened the pace of production, which reduced the predicted revenue loss. His research found that although the Reagan tax cuts didn’t “pay for themselves,” the ones at the highest end of the income spectrum “did produce a revenue gain” because of “changes in taxpayer behavior.” He concluded that “the core supply-side tenet–that tax rates powerfully affect the willingness of taxpayers to work, save and invest, and thereby also affect the health of the economy–won as stunning a vindication as has been seen in at least a half-century of economics.”
He has now updated his book, taking us through the booms and busts of the past 20 years. It is a valuable project in part because Mr. Lindsey was a front-seat economic adviser to George W. Bush, serving as director of the National Economic Council and as one of the architects of the often-maligned 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts.
Mr. Lindsey’s central claim is that those tax changes saved the economy from the undertow of the financial meltdown at the end of the Clinton presidency.

For the full review, see:
Stephen Moore. “BOOKSHELF; Book Review: ‘The Growth Experiment Revisited’ by Lawrence Lindsey; The 25 years after Reagan’s tax cuts saw unprecedented wealth creation and progress. America’s net worth exploded by $40 trillion.” The Wall Street Journal (Tues., September 10, 2013): A15.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date September 9, 2013, and has the title “BOOKSHELF; Book Review: ‘The Growth Experiment Revisited’ by Lawrence Lindsey; The 25 years after Reagan’s tax cuts saw unprecedented wealth creation and progress. America’s net worth exploded by $40 trillion.”)

The book under review is:
Lindsey, Lawrence B. The Growth Experiment Revisited: Why Lower, Simpler Taxes Really Are America’s Best Hope for Recovery. New York: Basic Books, 2013.

Margaret Thatcher Funeral: “Suddenly from the Crowd a Great Roar”

ThatcherSupporterWithSign203-09-02.jpg “A supporter of Margaret Thatcher holds a banner outside St. Clement Danes church in London.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.

(p. A15) The funeral of Margaret Thatcher was beautiful, moving, just right. It had dignity and spirit, and in that respect was just like her. It also contained a surprise that shouldn’t have been a surprise. It was a metaphor for where she stood in the pantheon of successful leaders of the 20th century.
. . .
At the end of the funeral they all marched down the aisle in great procession–the family, the queen, the military pallbearers carrying the casket bearing the Union Jack. The great doors flung open, the pallbearers marched forward, and suddenly from the crowd a great roar. We looked at each other. Demonstrators? No. Listen. They were cheering. They were calling out three great hurrahs as the pallbearers went down the steps. Then long cheers and applause. It was electric.
England came. The people came. Later we would learn they’d stood 30 deep on the sidewalk, that quiet crowds had massed on the Strand and Fleet Street and Ludgate Hill. A man had held up a sign: “But We Loved Her.”
. . . When they died, Ronald Reagan, John Paul II, and Margaret Thatcher were old and long past their height of power. Everyone was surprised when Reagan died that crowds engulfed the Capitol; people slept on sidewalks to view him in state. When John Paul died the Vatican was astonished to see millions converge. “Santo Subito.”
And now at the end some came for Thatcher, too.
What all three had in common: No one was with them but the people.
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, rest in peace.

For the full commentary, see:
PEGGY NOONAN. “DECLARATIONS; Britain Remembers a Great Briton; Margaret Thatcher’s coffin stood over he crypts that hold the tombs of Nelson and Wellington. It mattered.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., April 20, 2013): A15.
(Note: the online version of the story was updated April 22, 2013 (I did not see any update in the part I quoted above), and has the title “DECLARATIONS; Noonan: Britain Remembers a Great Briton; Mrs. Thatcher is with Wellington and Nelson now.”)