Ronald Reagan died five years ago - June 5th 2004. This is from Mark Steyn's Passing Parade:
All weekend long, across the networks, media grandees who’d voted for Carter and Mondale, just like all their friends did, tried to explain the appeal of Ronald Reagan. He was “the Great Communicator”, he had a wonderful sense of humour, he had a charming smile… self-deprecating… the tilt of his head…
All true, but not what matters. Even politics attracts its share of optimistic, likeable men, and most of them leave no trace – like Britain’s “Sunny Jim” Callaghan, a perfect example of the defeatism of western leadership in the 1970s. It was the era of “détente”, a word barely remembered now, which is just as well, as it reflects poorly on us: the Presidents and Prime Ministers of the free world had decided that the unfree world was not a prison ruled by a murderous ideology that had to be defeated but merely an alternative lifestyle that had to be accommodated. Under cover of “détente”, the Soviets gobbled up more and more real estate across the planet, from Ethiopia to Grenada. Nonetheless, it wasn’t just the usual suspects who subscribed to this feeble evasion – Helmut Schmidt, Pierre Trudeau, François Mitterand – but most of the so-called “conservatives”, too – Ted Heath, Giscard d’Estaing, Gerald Ford.
Unlike these men, unlike most other senior Republicans, Ronald Reagan saw Soviet Communism for what it was: a great evil. Millions of Europeans across half a continent from Poland to Bulgaria, Slovenia to Latvia live in freedom today because he acknowledged that simple truth when the rest of the political class was tying itself in knots trying to pretend otherwise. That’s what counts. He brought down the “evil empire”, and all the rest is details.
“The Great Communicator” was effective because what he was communicating was self-evident to all but our decayed elites: “We are a nation that has a government - not the other way around,” he said in his inaugural address. And at the end of a grim, grey decade - Vietnam, Watergate, energy crises, Iranian hostages – Americans decided they wanted a President who looked like the nation, not like its failed government.
Is it just me, or does Gordon Brown look like his government - exhausted, shifty and unpleasant?