I have been reading the "Reagan Diaries." The recent passing of the 20th anniversary of the speech at the Brandenberg Gate on June 12th got me thinking about how much Reagan meant as the president of this country. In his diary he did not mention the content of his speech; he merely noted the size and enthusiasm of the crowd. He also didn't talk about the controversy surrounding what he was going to say.
As I read the book I was constantly reminded of the humility of Reagan regarding his part in history. He continually noted in everyday fashion how he arrived at decisions and the justification for those decisions in his mind. The overriding feeling you get reading the book is the steadfastness of his thinking that was rooted in a set of values and ideals he held and that he refused to compromise. He didn't allow them to go by the wayside for political expediancy. That is the definition of leadership.
Reading this book was like talking to Reagan about the decisions he made throughout his presidency. He made no attempt to cover up the Contra scandal although as was later proven, he and Bush were exonerated. Poindexter and North took the fall and were found guilty of several crimes. I personally was not overexcited about the scandal. I think it was about as important as the prosecutor's scandal is today. In other words, more political that anything else. Many liberals or Reagan-haters always try to portray Gorby as a partner is the downfall of the Soviet Union. I think that is ridiculous. For Gorby to get power he had to be an idealogue to rise to the top. He was not interested in the downfall of the Soviet Union and did everything in his power to keep it afloat as any leader would. He was just confronted with a leader who understood the inherent moral bankruptcy of communism and who had the moral courage to take on the Soviets despite the continual domestic drumbeat of appeasement in this country. He stood tall and steadfast in his convictions and this country and the world are better off.
One thing that can not be underestimated was the presence of two other anti-communist leaders who were of great help to Reagan in his dealings with Gorby, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II. The world was fortunate indeed to have three leaders of that stature come to power at approximately the same time. History has been kind to Reagan so far and I think George W. Bush and Tony Blair will likewise be treated kindly in the future. Both showed real leadership in the face of strong opposition at home and abroad. When it's all said and done I think they will be judged to have done what was necessary in Iraq. It has taken an enormous toll on both, but they stood fast. A historic precedent can be found in Harry Truman whose popularity was in the low 20s when left office. The Korean War was his toughest decision but it turned out to be the right one. Strangely enough, Truman professed to not losing a wink of sleep over his decision to drop the atomic bomb.
Reagan's diary shows that all decisions are ultimately those of the president and it must be awfully lonely at times for them. But if they, as Reagan did, never let go of their principles and values they,too, can sleep at night.