Tag Archives: republicans

Responding to Bill O’Reilly’s Comments about The New York Times piece penned by Secretary George Shultz

Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State, Reagan’s Attorney General, Reagan’s chief speechwriter, Reagan’s political director, Reagan’s chief counsel, the leading conservative columnist in America today, a leading conservative talk show, the head of the Reagan Library and four Reagan historians have all weighed in against Bill O’Reilly’s deeply flawed “Killing Reagan.”

Have I forgotten anybody?

Review—Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan

No historian has done a better job of chronicling Ronald Reagan’s rise to power than Craig Shirley.

As always, Shirley is a perfect antidote to the “court historians” who never really “got” Reagan. Shirley’s books on Reagan’s 1976 and 1980 presidential campaigns, Reagan’s Revolution and Rendezvous With Destiny, are the gold standard in describing the Gipper’s ascendance and successful capture of the White House.

However, Shirley’s latest book, Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan, takes a decidedly different track.

Last Act is the first book to focus on Reagan’s post-presidential life and demonstrates that his importance extended far beyond the eight years he held America’s highest elective office. Though Reagan retreated entirely to private life after his heartbreaking Alzheimer’s diagnosis in 1994, it can be argued that his reputation and legacy grew even from the lofty heights of his presidency during these years.

The Great Communicator’s great ideas gave America a refreshed sense of purpose in the final days of the Cold War, the economy roared back to life and boomed in the 1990s—making Americans nearly forget the malaise of the 1970s—and the military regained the strength and self-respect that had eroded in the aftermath of the Vietnam War.

Reagan was not just a successful Commander-in-Chief, he was a transformative figure who altered the trajectory of the United States and the free world. As a Chicago Tribune eulogy put it, “[Reagan] will be remembered as one of the nation’s most influential and successful presidents. If you want to see Ronald Reagan’s legacy, just look around.”

As Shirley makes clear in his narrative, Reagan was never understood by the liberal media elite, nor the Republican establishment. To them, his rise was puzzling and disturbing; they never understood why the American people had such affection for a man political insiders wrote off as an intellectual lightweight and a dinosaur from a different era. But Shirley explains how Reagan was seen by most Americans, especially conservatives outside the corridors of power.

“The outsiders to Washington and the GOP, who embraced federalism and individuality—American conservatism—said Reaganism was an ideology for the ages; a healthy skepticism of centralized authority or, even worse, a police state, yet without the anarchy of the absence of government,” Shirley explained. “Maximum ‘freedom consistent with law and order’ as Reagan said in 1964.”

Reagan’s connection with the American people couldn’t have been more clear than what was on display in the sudden, enormous outpouring of appreciation that burst forth when Reagan died in 2004. Shirley movingly describes how Americans from all walks of life, from old guard Reagan campaign operatives, to heads of state, to average American citizens, desperately wanted to pay tribute to this man who restored their faith in the United States.

Reagan pushed American conservatism in a populist direction and away from the “watered-down collectivist direction” preferred by Republican insiders. Shirley wrote how upon Reagan’s death, many in the mainstream media were blindsided by the deep American desire to commemorate a man they tried to write off as a B-list actor and mediocre president. Yet, some fair-minded media liberals understood the potency of Reagan’s message and why it resonated even a decade after he retreated from public life. Reagan swayed his party away from elitism and was able to connect with an enormous number of Democrat voters, not just conservative activists and long-time Republicans. Shirley wrote that Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne praised Reagan, saying that he “had the New Deal bred in his bones and could talk to Democrats like a Democrat, and in a way no Republican has matched since.”

It was Reagan who made the term “liberal” deeply unpopular, and successfully characterized the left-wing creed in America as a symbol of “nerdy out of touch bureaucrats (‘faceless bureaucrats’ as Reagan used to deride them) and frazzled, obnoxious out-of-touch college professors.” Reagan made the American Left return to the root term for their movement, “progressive,” a term they abandoned when it previously became unpalatable to the American electorate.

But Reagan did not just make conservatism and the Republican party “popular,” he reestablished it based on deep-seated principles harkening back to the Founding Fathers. Railing against elites was one thing, but injecting true conservative principles—limited government, federalism, individual as opposed to collective rights—was at the heart of the message he wished to bring to the American people. This is why Reagan was always insistent that a party platform was extremely important, it’s why in his final presidential address he insisted that though he was known as the Great Communicator he hoped he would be truly known for communicating great ideas.

Reagan had an almost unique ability to go around the media establishment and speak directly to American citizens; in doing so he discredited the worn out ideas shared by the American elite. In circumventing the liberal media, Reagan brought the ideas of William F. Buckley and National Review to the forefront of American politics.

Shirley writes about how even 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry had to be wary around Reagan’s legacy. As far to the left the party had drifted, there was still a huge number of Democrat voters whom admired Reagan. Though no bearer of the Reagan “mantle,” Kerry used Reagan’s reputation as a way to bludgeon his Republican presidential opponent George W. Bush. The two campaigns used Reagan’s legacy to attack one another, but in Shirley’s estimation neither could truly be considered Reaganesque.

For instance, George W. Bush, whom Shirley described as the most big government president “since Richard Nixon,” took a decidedly un-Reagan-like approach to the 2007 financial crisis—he bailed out Wall Street. Shirley contrasts the Wall Street bailout to Reagan’s reaction to 1987’s “Black Monday” in which the stock market dropped by 22 percent.

The Chicken Littles were out in force, squeaking, crying, chirping, and whining that Reagan needed to do this and Reagan needed to do that and Reagan needed to panic like the rest of them. Reagan simply said, “No.”

“Within days, the markets calmed down and in less than a year, nearly all investors recovered their temporary losses,” Shirley wrote.

Reagan followed the model set by president Martin Van Buren in the 1830s, not Herbert Hoover in the 1930s—he decided to let markets take their course rather than attempt massive government intervention. The 1990s went on to be a decade of plenty and prosperity.

Though heavy on establishing Reagan’s long-term impact on the United States, Last Act is not just about ideas and politics. Shirley does an excellent job describing Reagan the man, who took phone calls from regular people at his ranch post-presidency and treated others—whether heads of state, his Secret Service detail, or his gardner—with equal respect. Reagan comes off as a quintessential American of the Silent Generation—kind, generous, unpretentious—Reagan had an outward-looking self-confidence so common before America’s cultural revolution.

Reagan’s funeral features prominently in Shirley’s narrative and while discussing the events surrounding the massive undertaking of a state funeral he also describes the state of America in 2004. Touching eulogies from closest friends and old opponents demonstrated how wide Reagan’s impact had been. And much like the final scene of Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, which showed thousands of ordinary Americans lining roads to pay tribute to the fallen—Reagan’s funeral demonstrated that this country still remembers and honors its heroes.

What is clear is that while Reagan had not been on the mind of most of the world during his retreat to public life, his death launched a sudden and dramatic reacquaintance with the man and his principles.

As Americans begin the arduous process of deciding who will become the next commander-in-chief, Shirley’s Last Act provides great insight into the character and principles of this country’s last great president. Reagan was certainly the right man for the right time in American history. In a nod to Winston Churchill, Reagan was once called the “last lion of the 20th century;” America is still looking for the first lion of the 21st.

Do Radicals Want Another Pearl Harbor?


By Craig Shirley   |   Thursday, 03 Dec 2015 08:53 AM

Franklin Roosevelt and Earl Warren have always gotten a bad rap from history over the Japanese internment program. They assembled and implemented this plan immediately in the days after the attack on Pearl Harbor beginning in December of 1941.

The big problem has always been presentism, which is the erroneous belief of portraying, elucidating or inferring the past from the perspective of current-day knowledge and understandings. This is the mistake too many of the politically correct classes make about American history, in an effort to tear down or remake.

But Pearl Harbor was 75 years ago, we were a different country and Americans were downright scared, with widespread rumors of more aerial bombings of more cities, sabotage and targeting of civilians.

At the time of the attack, there were hundreds of thousands of Japanese in America and the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor did little to engender sympathy for them, especially after it was later discovered that they’d been using their embassy and legations to spy on America, particularly in Honolulu. There was simply no way of knowing who could be a Japanese terrorist and who was not.

It would have been worse, however, had it not been for Francis Biddle, FDR’s attorney general. Both J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI and the Department of the Army wanted to round up and detain every Japanese citizen in America, regardless of their status. But Biddle persuaded FDR that the government needed to only detain those they thought a possible threat.

Thousands were later rounded up and send to internment camps, many in the desert southwest but not all. They were also in Montana, and in a little town named Lordsburg in New Mexico. Lordsburg was at the confluence of history as it was the furthest eastern internment camp and the farthest western German POW camp.

Japanese Americans weren’t the only ones whose civil rights were violated. Anglo Americans were also subjected to government imposed regulations involving free speech, assembly, movement, and the economy. Stop and searches were routine. The First Amendment was essentially cast aside. “Loose Lips.”

True, native born Americans were not forced into camps and had many of their personal possessions taken away, but all Americans were subjected to one form of government coercion or another in the name of successfully conducting warfare against the Empire of Japan and later Nazi Germany and constitutional rights often took a backseat to security in fighting World War II. And German Americans were also interred (in lesser numbers) though this has never received the coverage which Japanese interment has received.

The problem frankly was the hundreds of thousands of undocumented alien Japanese in the Hawaiian territories and on the West Coast, especially in California. the problem had been an often balky and frankly inefficient immigration service. As an example, Mexican workers crossed the border, sometimes daily, to work and look for work, with no one to stop them.

Today, we have a similar problem involving millions of illegal aliens, not just from south of the border but increasingly from the Middle East, re-settlers thanks to the policies begun by George W. Bush and continuing with Barack Obama.

Exacerbating things, since the mid 1960s, we have a immigration policy that has favored immigrants from Africa, South America and other Third World countries, over those from Northern Europe. Our Judeo Christian heritage has been badly diluted, especially since the Obama government told the US Catholic Bishops to favor more Rohingya Muslims from Burma.

Now, according to the plans of the Obama administration, tens of thousands of Syrians will be resettled in America, without proper background checks. In this age of terror, wouldn’t it be prudent to halt this? Yet Obama has said he wants to “increase and accelerate” the number of Syrian refugees coming into America, leaping over those who have waited for years for legal status.

Adding to suspicions is the widespread corruption of the US government, with billions disappearing down the rat hole of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

In fact, a slow motion invasion has been taking place for years in Europe, with refugees from Syria and other Middle Eastern countries, the forces of political correctness propelling them forward.

Some years ago, Admiral Mike Mullen, then chief of naval operations, made the comparison between Sept. 11 and Dec. 7, 1941. “There were clearly two competing visions of the world: one of freedom, the other of tyranny.” Reportedly, Osama bin Laden was obsessed with Pearl Harbor, just as Tojo was consumed with hatred for America.

Paris may have just been a dress rehearsal for something larger and even more devastating. A larger attack is something that keeps intelligence officials awake at night.

While the Japanese used their military to conduct warfare, ISIL does not abide by anything resembling the Geneva Conventions. Will the European powers and the powers that be in the United States have the strength and integrity to round up and isolate suspected terrorists from the Middle East, should a massive new attack come? Or better yet, before the attack comes?


During the Vietnamese boat lift, liberal Sen. George McGovern sniffed that “Asians people should stay in Asia.” The boat people were an embarrassment to America’s avant garde liberals, as Vietnam and Cambodia were not the workers’ paradise promised by Jane Fonda and others, but instead, “killing fields” created by murderous communist thugs, who’d enjoyed the support, of Fonda and others.

Syrians and Jordanians are already here, but it would be a mistake to assume all have nothing but good intentions for the rest of us.

Craig Shirley is the author of “Rendezvous with Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign that Changed America,” “Reagan’s Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started It All,” and “December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World.” He is the founder of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs, and has been named the first Reagan scholar at Eureka College, Ronald Reagan’s alma mater. He appears regularly on Newsmax TV, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN. 

Up the Establishment

Let’s stipulate that Wall Street is currently occupied by dirty and dim-witted cretins.

But enough about bankers and brokers.

The temptation is to dismiss Wallstock as a bunch of unwashed bums, as some Republicans are doing, or to seek a means of politicizing Woodstreet, as the always crassly political but never intellectual Obama White House is attempting to do.

Shock and surprise, both are wrong.

The tea party, disgusted with the corruption of Washington and Wall Street, emerged from the populist right, refusing to subscribe to the nostrums of the Republican elected officials and their clueless advisers. Continue reading Up the Establishment