The Blog

Both Great and Right

Why Ronald Reagan made a difference and what his detractors are really after.

1:35 PM, Jun 10, 2004 • By HUGH HEWITT
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

"RONALD REAGAN was great because Ronald Reagan was right." So declared Gipper speechwriter Peter Robinson, author of How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life, on my radio program Monday. Robinson's right, too, of course. There have been many gifted orators whose cause was evil; many "communicators" who dealt in death. Reagan's greatness is anchored in his and his country's goodness. Reagan used the term "evil empire," and sent the intelligentsia into shock. Because he stood with the good, however, Reagan could use the language of absolutes and move public and world opinion as a result.

It may be the effect of seeing Reagan lionized by a grateful public--imagine how Joe Frazier feels when Ali gets the glory again and again-- but the Democratic party is becoming more unhinged by the day. Tuesday's dance of the distraught at the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing featuring John Ashcroft was a marvel. The Senate's leading eccentric, Pat Leahy, led off the meeting with a rambling series of wild charges and even wilder demands of justice for Jose Padilla and an abandonment of DoJ's tough approach to terror. Then, during the question and answer portion, Leahy, Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden, and Dick Durbin put a frenzied Democratic leadership on public display.

I imagine there are some noisy admirers of Leahy and the gang at Judiciary who pretend to be worried that America is descending into some sort of collective Abu Ghraib mentality, and celebrate the hyper-partisanship of the Kerry-Kennedy caucus.

Throughout this week of mourning, Reagan-haters have been calling my show to object that Reagan increased the deficit, and of course, to bring up Iran-Contra. Throwing pebbles at the battleship, as the saying goes, and I ask every one of them to contact a Pole or a Latvian or a Romanian and ask their opinion about Reagan. But, like their counterparts on the Democratic side of the Senate Judiciary Committee's embrace of Abu Ghraib, the anti-Reagans aren't really concerned with deficits or arms-for-hostages, they are concerned with attempting to diminish their domestic political adversary.

The Leahy-led attacks of Ashcroft, and the remnant of the anti-Reagan crowds of the '80s share much more in common: growing desperation that history's verdict is already in, and that they were on the wrong side. Meanwhile, the confidence of the folks who served first with Reagan, and now with Bush, grows.

The acclaim being given Ronald Reagan this week--the acknowledgment and admiration for his genuine greatness, which means his genuine rightness--confirms that the country remains home to vast numbers of serious people committed to traditional American ideals and the export of freedom.

Hugh Hewitt is the host of The Hugh Hewitt Show, a nationally syndicated radio talkshow, and a contributing writer to The Daily Standard. His new book, In, But Not Of, has just been published by Thomas Nelson.