Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | June 12, 2012

Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

Few may have joined in commemorating Ronald Reagan’s “ash heap of history” speech last week, but the infosphere is alive today with the sound of perhaps his most famous appeal, made on this day in 1987.

Peter Robinson had a wonderful piece at the Wall Street Journal over the weekend, in which he cited the opinions of former subjects of the Eastern Bloc that Reagan’s words spoken at the Brandenburg Gate had indeed made a difference.  A retired German, Dieter Elz, offered this perspective:

[T]he division of the continent [into Communist East and free West] had come to seem permanent, inescapable, fixed.

“Everyone was aware of the suffering in the East,” Dieter said, “but no one could see what to do about it. Reagan made us understand that maybe things could be different. Here is a piece of wall. Why not remove it? Reagan changed—how would you say it in English? In German, Bewusstsein. Consciousness? Yes. He changed our consciousness.”

Former Soviet dissident Yuri Yarim-Agaev offered this:

In the 1975 Helsinki Accords, Yuri explained, even the West accepted the division of Europe. “Imagine how hard this made our struggle. We almost had to admit that it was hopeless. Then Reagan says, ‘Break the wall!’ Why break this wall if these borders are valid? To us, it was more than a question of Berlin or even of Germany. It was a question of the legitimacy of the Soviet empire. Reagan challenged the empire. To us, that meant everything. After that speech, everything was in play.”

The wall was erected quickly, starting the night of 13 August 1961 – to keep East Germans from fleeing to the West.  More than 3 million of them already had since the end of World War II, when the Soviet occupation of eastern Germany was established, and later, when a communist government was installed.  The Wall became the quintessential symbol of the Cold War: an enduring emblem of the brutality and failure of state-based Marxism.

Berlin itself was a divided city, with West Berlin a Western enclave inside East Germany, surrounded by concertina wire and armed guard posts.  Throughout the Cold War, it outperformed its Eastern counterpart in every way, and became, like the Wall, a symbol – of holding on against the odds, of hope, courage, and freedom of speech and ideas.  The Wall transfixed the imagination of the globe, but West Berlin represented a quiet, tenacious downpayment on the triumph of the free world.  In retrospect, it was the outpost not of a long, twilight defeat but of a victory that was foreordained, if the free peoples had the courage to press for it.

In speeches like the one to the House of Commons, five years before he spoke in Berlin, Reagan articulated why the victory was foreordained.  He was not lobbing snark at the Soviet Union, or merely uttering false-heroic challenges.  He saw, across the landscape of his moral and political vision, the victory for freedom.  He saw the lights on the Western side, and knew they had to win out over the darkness on the other.  He saw West Berlin, where everyone else saw the Wall.  And when he said “Tear down this wall,” he meant: “Tear down this wall!”

This is what he said in a less well-known portion of the address:

Yes, across Europe, this wall will fall, for it cannot withstand faith; it cannot withstand truth. The wall cannot withstand freedom.

He meant every word.  The Wall came down, two years and five months after Reagan’s speech.  Fittingly, it was torn down by the German people.  So effective had been the break-out of the Eastern Bloc that by late 1989, Gorbachev was no longer the one who had to tear the Wall down.

I think Reagan would be the first to say that it was the people of Eastern Europe who seized their future.  He would not take credit for what they did, and he would be right to efface himself.  But the courage and ingenuity of the people do need a champion, and that’s what Reagan was.  His philosophy is vindicated wherever people insist on and demonstrate their ability to outdo the limits set for them by small-minded governments and ideologues.  It is hard to let others be free, but Reagan knew that the rewards are tremendous, and worth giving up the urge to exercise control.

Peter Robinson concludes his piece with this summary of a question he posed to Nancy Reagan:

Had the president ever remarked that it was the people of Berlin, not General Secretary Gorbachev, who had torn down the Berlin Wall? “Oh, yes,” Mrs. Reagan replied. “He always felt that it happened because the people made it happen, and he was happy to have helped them in any way possible.”

That’s something his critics never got about Reagan – something even many of his supporters have missed, perhaps because it’s so simple, and because it seems sentimental to our modern minds, conditioned as they are to materialist and systematic thinking. With Reagan, it was about the people.

Reagan’s speech to the people of Berlin

12 June 1987

Chancellor Kohl, Governing Mayor Diepgen, ladies and gentlemen: Twenty four years ago, President John F. Kennedy visited Berlin, and speaking to the people of this city and the world at the city hall. Well since then two other presidents have come, each in his turn to Berlin. And today, I, myself, make my second visit to your city.

We come to Berlin, we American Presidents, because it’s our duty to speak in this place of freedom. But I must confess, we’re drawn here by other things as well; by the feeling of history in this city — more than 500 years older than our own nation; by the beauty of the Grunewald and the Tiergarten; most of all, by your courage and determination. Perhaps the composer, Paul Linke, understood something about American Presidents. You see, like so many Presidents before me, I come here today because wherever I go, whatever I do: “Ich hab noch einen Koffer in Berlin” [I still have a suitcase in Berlin.]

Our gathering today is being broadcast throughout Western Europe and North America. I understand that it is being seen and heard as well in the East. To those listening throughout Eastern Europe, I extend my warmest greetings and the good will of the American people. To those listening in East Berlin, a special word: Although I cannot be with you, I address my remarks to you just as surely as to those standing here before me. For I join you, as I join your fellow countrymen in the West, in this firm, this unalterable belief: Es gibt nur ein Berlin. [There is only one Berlin.]

Behind me stands a wall that encircles the free sectors of this city, part of a vast system of barriers that divides the entire continent of Europe. From the Baltic South, those barriers cut across Germany in a gash of barbed wire, concrete, dog runs, and guard towers. Farther south, there may be no visible, no obvious wall. But there remain armed guards and checkpoints all the same — still a restriction on the right to travel, still an instrument to impose upon ordinary men and women the will of a totalitarian state.

Yet, it is here in Berlin where the wall emerges most clearly; here, cutting across your city, where the news photo and the television screen have imprinted this brutal division of a continent upon the mind of the world.

Standing before the Brandenburg Gate, every man is a German separated from his fellow men.

Every man is a Berliner, forced to look upon a scar.

President Von Weizsäcker has said, “The German question is open as long as the Brandenburg Gate is closed.” Well today — today I say: As long as this gate is closed, as long as this scar of a wall is permitted to stand, it is not the German question alone that remains open, but the question of freedom for all mankind.

Yet, I do not come here to lament. For I find in Berlin a message of hope, even in the shadow of this wall, a message of triumph.

In this season of spring in 1945, the people of Berlin emerged from their air-raid shelters to find devastation. Thousands of miles away, the people of the United States reached out to help. And in 1947 Secretary of State — as you’ve been told — George Marshall announced the creation of what would become known as the Marshall Plan. Speaking precisely 40 years ago this month, he said: “Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine, but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos.”

In the Reichstag a few moments ago, I saw a display commemorating this 40th anniversary of the Marshall Plan. I was struck by a sign — the sign on a burnt-out, gutted structure that was being rebuilt. I understand that Berliners of my own generation can remember seeing signs like it dotted throughout the western sectors of the city. The sign read simply: “The Marshall Plan is helping here to strengthen the free world.” A strong, free world in the West — that dream became real. Japan rose from ruin to become an economic giant. Italy, France, Belgium — virtually every nation in Western Europe saw political and economic rebirth; the European Community was founded.

In West Germany and here in Berlin, there took place an economic miracle, the Wirtschaftswunder. Adenauer, Erhard, Reuter, and other leaders understood the practical importance of liberty — that just as truth can flourish only when the journalist is given freedom of speech, so prosperity can come about only when the farmer and businessman enjoy economic freedom. The German leaders — the German leaders reduced tariffs, expanded free trade, lowered taxes. From 1950 to 1960 alone, the standard of living in West Germany and Berlin doubled.

Where four decades ago there was rubble, today in West Berlin there is the greatest industrial output of any city in Germany: busy office blocks, fine homes and apartments, proud avenues, and the spreading lawns of parkland. Where a city’s culture seemed to have been destroyed, today there are two great universities, orchestras and an opera, countless theaters, and museums. Where there was want, today there’s abundance — food, clothing, automobiles — the wonderful goods of the Kudamm.¹ From devastation, from utter ruin, you Berliners have, in freedom, rebuilt a city that once again ranks as one of the greatest on earth. Now the Soviets may have had other plans. But my friends, there were a few things the Soviets didn’t count on: Berliner Herz, Berliner Humor, ja, und Berliner Schnauze. [Berliner heart, Berliner humor, yes, and a Berliner Schnauze.²]

In the 1950s — In the 1950s Khrushchev predicted: “We will bury you.”

But in the West today, we see a free world that has achieved a level of prosperity and well-being unprecedented in all human history. In the Communist world, we see failure, technological backwardness, declining standards of health, even want of the most basic kind — too little food. Even today, the Soviet Union still cannot feed itself. After these four decades, then, there stands before the entire world one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds among the nations with comity and peace. Freedom is the victor.

And now — now the Soviets themselves may, in a limited way, be coming to understand the importance of freedom. We hear much from Moscow about a new policy of reform and openness. Some political prisoners have been released. Certain foreign news broadcasts are no longer being jammed. Some economic enterprises have been permitted to operate with greater freedom from state control.

Are these the beginnings of profound changes in the Soviet state? Or are they token gestures intended to raise false hopes in the West, or to strengthen the Soviet system without changing it? We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty — the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace.

There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace.

General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate.

Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate.

Mr. Gorbachev — Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

I understand the fear of war and the pain of division that afflict this continent, and I pledge to you my country’s efforts to help overcome these burdens. To be sure, we in the West must resist Soviet expansion. So, we must maintain defenses of unassailable strength. Yet we seek peace; so we must strive to reduce arms on both sides.

Beginning 10 years ago, the Soviets challenged the Western alliance with a grave new threat, hundreds of new and more deadly SS-20 nuclear missiles capable of striking every capital in Europe. The Western alliance responded by committing itself to a counter-deployment (unless the Soviets agreed to negotiate a better solution) — namely, the elimination of such weapons on both sides. For many months, the Soviets refused to bargain in earnestness. As the alliance, in turn, prepared to go forward with its counter-deployment, there were difficult days, days of protests like those during my 1982 visit to this city; and the Soviets later walked away from the table.

But through it all, the alliance held firm. And I invite those who protested then — I invite those who protest today — to mark this fact: Because we remained strong, the Soviets came back to the table. Because we remained strong, today we have within reach the possibility, not merely of limiting the growth of arms, but of eliminating, for the first time, an entire class of nuclear weapons from the face of the earth.

As I speak, NATO ministers are meeting in Iceland to review the progress of our proposals for eliminating these weapons. At the talks in Geneva, we have also proposed deep cuts in strategic offensive weapons. And the Western allies have likewise made far-reaching proposals to reduce the danger of conventional war and to place a total ban on chemical weapons.

While we pursue these arms reductions, I pledge to you that we will maintain the capacity to deter Soviet aggression at any level at which it might occur. And in cooperation with many of our allies, the United States is pursuing the Strategic Defense Initiative — research to base deterrence not on the threat of offensive retaliation, but on defenses that truly defend; on systems, in short, that will not target populations, but shield them. By these means we seek to increase the safety of Europe and all the world. But we must remember a crucial fact: East and West do not mistrust each other because we are armed; we are armed because we mistrust each other. And our differences are not about weapons but about liberty. When President Kennedy spoke at the City Hall those 24 years ago, freedom was encircled; Berlin was under siege. And today, despite all the pressures upon this city, Berlin stands secure in its liberty. And freedom itself is transforming the globe.

In the Philippines, in South and Central America, democracy has been given a rebirth. Throughout the Pacific, free markets are working miracle after miracle of economic growth. In the industrialized nations, a technological revolution is taking place, a revolution marked by rapid, dramatic advances in computers and telecommunications.

In Europe, only one nation and those it controls refuse to join the community of freedom. Yet in this age of redoubled economic growth, of information and innovation, the Soviet Union faces a choice: It must make fundamental changes, or it will become obsolete.

Today, thus, represents a moment of hope. We in the West stand ready to cooperate with the East to promote true openness, to break down barriers that separate people, to create a safer, freer world. And surely there is no better place than Berlin, the meeting place of East and West, to make a start.

Free people of Berlin: Today, as in the past, the United States stands for the strict observance and full implementation of all parts of the Four Power Agreement of 1971. Let us use this occasion, the 750th anniversary of this city, to usher in a new era, to seek a still fuller, richer life for the Berlin of the future. Together, let us maintain and develop the ties between the Federal Republic and the Western sectors of Berlin, which is permitted by the 1971 agreement.

And I invite Mr. Gorbachev: Let us work to bring the Eastern and Western parts of the city closer together, so that all the inhabitants of all Berlin can enjoy the benefits that come with life in one of the great cities of the world.

To open Berlin still further to all Europe, East and West, let us expand the vital air access to this city, finding ways of making commercial air service to Berlin more convenient, more comfortable, and more economical. We look to the day when West Berlin can become one of the chief aviation hubs in all central Europe.

With — With our French — With our French and British partners, the United States is prepared to help bring international meetings to Berlin. It would be only fitting for Berlin to serve as the site of United Nations meetings, or world conferences on human rights and arms control, or other issues that call for international cooperation.

There is no better way to establish hope for the future than to enlighten young minds, and we would be honored to sponsor summer youth exchanges, cultural events, and other programs for young Berliners from the East. Our French and British friends, I’m certain, will do the same. And it’s my hope that an authority can be found in East Berlin to sponsor visits from young people of the Western sectors.

One final proposal, one close to my heart: Sport represents a source of enjoyment and ennoblement, and you may have noted that the Republic of Korea — South Korea — has offered to permit certain events of the 1988 Olympics to take place in the North. International sports competitions of all kinds could take place in both parts of this city. And what better way to demonstrate to the world the openness of this city than to offer in some future year to hold the Olympic games here in Berlin, East and West.

In these four decades, as I have said, you Berliners have built a great city. You’ve done so in spite of threats — the Soviet attempts to impose the East-mark, the blockade. Today the city thrives in spite of the challenges implicit in the very presence of this wall. What keeps you here? Certainly there’s a great deal to be said for your fortitude, for your defiant courage. But I believe there’s something deeper, something that involves Berlin’s whole look and feel and way of life — not mere sentiment. No one could live long in Berlin without being completely disabused of illusions. Something, instead, that has seen the difficulties of life in Berlin but chose to accept them, that continues to build this good and proud city in contrast to a surrounding totalitarian presence, that refuses to release human energies or aspirations, something that speaks with a powerful voice of affirmation, that says “yes” to this city, yes to the future, yes to freedom. In a word, I would submit that what keeps you in Berlin — is “love.”

Love both profound and abiding.

Perhaps this gets to the root of the matter, to the most fundamental distinction of all between East and West. The totalitarian world produces backwardness because it does such violence to the spirit, thwarting the human impulse to create, to enjoy, to worship. The totalitarian world finds even symbols of love and of worship an affront.

Years ago, before the East Germans began rebuilding their churches, they erected a secular structure: the television tower at Alexander Platz. Virtually ever since, the authorities have been working to correct what they view as the tower’s one major flaw: treating the glass sphere at the top with paints and chemicals of every kind. Yet even today when the sun strikes that sphere, that sphere that towers over all Berlin, the light makes the sign of the cross. There in Berlin, like the city itself, symbols of love, symbols of worship, cannot be suppressed.

As I looked out a moment ago from the Reichstag, that embodiment of German unity, I noticed words crudely spray-painted upon the wall, perhaps by a young Berliner (quote):

“This wall will fall. Beliefs become reality.”

Yes, across Europe, this wall will fall, for it cannot withstand faith; it cannot withstand truth. The wall cannot withstand freedom.

And I would like, before I close, to say one word. I have read, and I have been questioned since I’ve been here about certain demonstrations against my coming. And I would like to say just one thing, and to those who demonstrate so. I wonder if they have ever asked themselves that if they should have the kind of government they apparently seek, no one would ever be able to do what they’re doing again.

Thank you and God bless you all. Thank you.

 

Section of the Berlin Wall reposing in eternal peace at the Reagan Library, Simi Valley, CA

 

Speech text from American Rhetoric.   C-SPAN has the full video here.  Just the money quote here

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at Hot Air’s Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, and The Weekly Standard online.

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Responses

  1. It would be interesting to see how Reagan would have announced the killing of Osama. We at least know who he wouldn’t have sounded like …

    • he might have sent him personalized copies of bibles and Stingers or might have eulogized him by calling him a freedom fighter.

      Ronald Reagan was capable of a great many things.

      • The US under RR aided the Muj, not Al Queda. Although the US policy did allow AQ to develop and grow in the course of supporting the Muj it was not really on the radar in those days.

        The main goal then was to remove the overwhelming danger of the USSR. RR was indeed “capable” of that, and there is no danger of confusing him w/BHO in that respect.

        • Marc, my references were first to the Ayatollah Khomeini and his regime of nice, good old moderates with whom, Reagan assured the American public, we could get along and do business.

          the second reference, to “Freedom Fighters”, I’ll leave to you to ferret out.

          • Feel free to spend your time in the faculty lounge or at Starbucks ferreting away Mike.

            RR’s great achievements, esp. taking out the USSR, are now legends for the ages.

            • long time since I’ve been in a faculty lounge, chico, and I’ve never been in a Starbucks.

              It’s pretty much an absurdity to say that Reagan “took out’ the USSR. that was something toward which his administration contributed towards, not something that they designed or oversaw. )IIt was a long and slow process and most of the collapse was self-induced.

              • Whatever … you sure do a good imitation of faculty lounge or Starbucks chatter.

                For anyone interested, here are some accounts of how Reagan stumbled, Magoo-like, into the downfall of the USSR (http://www.hacer.org/pdf/Bailey001.pdf, http://www.amazon.com/Reagans-War-Forty-Year-Struggle-Communism/dp/0385722281/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1339799625&sr=1-2-fkmr0&keywords=peter+schweizcwe+reagan).

                • Nah, Reagan didn’t stumble into it. His admin recognized that they Soviets were tottering and did some good work to push them over.

                  • Congratulations. You are oblivious to sarcasm.

                    Your previous comments paint the picture of Reagan as Magoo, bumbling around foreign policy. I hope you didn’t get whiplash trying to pull that 180.

                    My links (above) indicate Reagan’s genius and courage in this matter.

                    • yup, you’re right. I’ve never encountered any sarcasm directed my way and, having never, offered any, I’m pretty much unable ever to detect it

  2. [...] Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! Share this:ShareTwitterFacebookEmailStumbleUponLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. ← Rex Nutting Can’t Handle the Truth [...]

  3. We are all indebted to Ronald Reagan – the real figure and gentleman. Not the perverted re-invention portrayed by the far-right element that has hi-jacked the GOP.

    “Reagan would have, based on his record of finding acccommodation, finding some degree of common ground, as would my father – they would have a hard time if you define the Republican Party…….as having an orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for finding common ground”
    and,
    “Back in my dad’s time and Ronald Reagan’s time they got a lot of stuff done with a lot of bi-partisan support”
    and,
    “Reagan today……. would be critized for doing the things he did”

    Jeb Bush 06/11/12

    • And the collectivist hog that rooted up that little Bush truffle demonstrates why no conservative would consider bro’ Jeb for president.

      • Nor presumably would the same crowd consider Ronald Reagan, if the latter was still with us.

        • Historical revision is the worst sort of intellectual dishonesty.

          The ‘same crowd’ would overwhelmingly vote for Reagan today.

          When Reagan ran against Carter, Reagan was portrayed as a radical right-winger, a man who would welcome nuclear confrontation with the Soviets.

          There was absolutely no mass media characterization of the ‘real’ Reagan as a gentleman.

          In fact, the term “Teflon President” was coined in frustrated reaction by the left and media, at their inability, despite vociferous and unending biased coverage, to make that “radical right-winger characterization” stick in the minds of the public.

          Once again, another dishonest attempt at rewriting the narrative to suit your agenda.

        • Given again the choice between voting for Reagan in ’80 or voting to return Carter to office, the staunch conservatives would criticize but not switch.

          • If I understand you correctly, that’s a ludicrous assertion.

            Today’s staunch conservatives would vote for Reagan in a heartbeat. He’s practically been canonized by the right. Conservatives bewail that another Reagan is not available.

            On the other hand, Carter is the poster boy for knee jerk liberalism, badly concealed antisemitism and incompetence.

            • GB, if you understood me correctly, you would realize that I said that no conservative would switch their vote to Carter…….

              they may have moved further into inflexibility, but none of them would wish to change the result of the 80 election.

              claro?

              • yup, thanks.

                • you’re welcome and sI’m sorry if i was unclear.
                  we’ve disagreements aplenty without adding in misunderstandings

  4. Yup. I agree what you say about historical revision.

    Can you imagine the reaction a Republican President would provoke from the nutters of the Tea Party if he or she engaged in constructive compromise with the leader of a Democrat Congress like Reagan did with Tip O’Neill?

    That’s why you lot make me reach for the sick-bag when you attempt to hi-jack the memory of the safely dead Ronald Reagan.

    No, sir, the historical record shows that Reagan had nothing in common with the ‘not-an-inch’ fundamentalists who now control the Republican Party.

    So, yeah, you could say that “intellectual dishonesty” just about sums you up.

    • “imagine the reaction a Republican President would provoke from the nutters of the Tea Party if he or she engaged in constructive compromise with the leader of a Democrat Congress like Reagan did with Tip O’Neill?”

      Projection does not a case make, nor does ‘doubling down’ on your intellectual dishonesty. The Tea Party’s principles; primarily smaller government and the nation living within its means are entirely in line with Reagan’s expression that “Government is the problem” , you know it, I know it, we all know it.

      Obama’s arrogant “We won” certainly indicates his unwillingness to even discuss, much less compromise. During the development of Obamacare, Republicans were entirely excluded from deliberations. Then the bill was pushed through without debate, Congressmen being told “they had to vote for it before they could read it”. Democrats haven’t passed a budget or allowed one to come out of committee in over three years, despite having a majority for the first two years of Obama’s Presidency. Democrats have blocked any consideration of the CBO approved Ryan budget, which addresses the coming entitlements boondoggle, while offering no alternative.

      The Democratic Party was highjacked by the left long ago, old pols like Tip O’Neil, Scoop Jackson and Patrick Moynahan would not be welcome today. Moynahan’s “Politics stops at the water’s edge” is no longer true, for Democrats, ideological agenda trumps loyalty to the country.

  5. Sorry I’m off topic. Can’t you guys find any common ground at all? Sorry to sound like :Why can’t we all just get along” . But to paraphrase Christine Lagarde to HanK Paulsen before Lehman Bros, “Hank there’s a tsunami coming and we’re arguing about what color bathing suits we wore to the beach”

    • What exactly does the ‘tsunami’ consist of and exactly what practical, workable solutions is the left and their ‘useful idiots’ liberals, proposing?

      Raising taxes and then looking at ways to reduce the debt? Reagan tried that and then, after taxes were raised, the democrats reneged on the deal. Should we trust that Obama, far more radical than Tip O’Neil will honor his unwritten commitment? What basis is there for trust?

      What basis is there for ‘common ground’ when Obama and the party he leads wish to eviscerate America as we’ve known it? Open your eyes to just how radical America’s democrat leadership has become.

      We’ve got a President who voted three times to allow infanticide to continue. A bill he voted against, that was in turn, voted for by every US Senator without exception. A President supported by liberals whose moral compass is so morally deficient that they defended as ‘inconsequential’ then President Clinton receiving oral sex in the oval office…refusing to acknowledge that it’s not what he did, a private issue but where he did it, entirely a public issue. It revealed a level of disrespect that entirely disqualified Clinton from continuing to serve as President but instead of facing the issue squarely, democrats and liberals placed ideology above any other consideration. And they have repeatedly demonstrated that pattern in innumerable examples.

      Does part of the tsunami consist of the coming fiscal bankruptcy of our nation? In a recent Senate Budget committee hearing, called by the democrat Chairman of that committee, not one other democrat attended. How serious about finding common ground can the democrats be, when they completely ignore the coming fiscal cliff ahead and then consistently block any discussion on dealing with the issue?

      Democrats support Obama’s directive to our national security apparatus to use politically correct terms when describing Islamic terrorism, using instead euphemisms. Despite media claims, Al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism aren’t going away, yet we are in the process of adopting an entirely defensive posture. When that ‘policy’ backfires and people unnecessarily die, will the left and liberals stand accountable? Only in our dreams. Where’s the ‘common ground’ on that issue?

      Obama wants to reduce our nuclear arsenal below China’s by up to 80%. Where’s the ‘common ground’ on that?

      On virtually every major issue, democrats are demonizing the conservative position. How do you achieve common ground when the other side characterizes you as evil, greedy, racist monsters? When the media invariably supports that characterization?

      • This isn’t a full blown response GB, that would take days.
        Some common ground could be found, although not ideal we could at least, as a first step:
        Reduce the number of abortions through alternatives, Abortion could also be left up to the states to decide.

        Raise taxes on the very rich and concurrently reduce social spending. The money could go to reduce the national debt.
        I do not believe taxing the very wealthy would reduce growth. Cutting social spending would certainly reduce the deficit.
        In times bordering national crisis, all must make sacrifices.

        I never understood why either: anyone should be making a million dollars a month nor why anyone should receive monthly social payments without doing work for it. There are certain exceptions to the previous, but not many. The pay scales in our financial sector are obscene, they breed greed and our welfare system breeds laziness. Both are true.

        The punishment or not of our politicians , except in cases of criminal behavior should be left up to the electorate.

        Our armed forces are grossly extended, we risk stranding 100000+ troops in the heart of Asia, both parties share the blame in this. We should be selectively hitting our adversaries where it hurts and make them fight each other.
        The MSM is slowly losing its power to grossly influence. People are smarter and better informed. The more they know the better decisions they will come to.
        It’s the first I’ve heard about reducing our nuclear weapons to below the Chinese, if true, it borders on suicidal given the world we live in, may someone elaborate on this?

        I would add that the immigration act should be amended to reflect the realities of today’s world.

        Politics is politics, it’s apparent to everyone with half a brain in their head though, that we gotta get to work fixing some things soon.

        • “Reduce the number of abortions through alternatives, Abortion could also be left up to the states to decide.”

          The left wants unlimited abortions to be available, for any reason. Their view is that any ‘compromise’ is a de facto lessening of a woman’s right to an abortion. The left wishes ALL social issues to be determined at the federal level, they are adamantly opposed to any controversial issue being decided at the state level.

          Given that stance, where exactly is the ‘common ground’?

          “Raise taxes on the very rich and concurrently reduce social spending. The money could go to reduce the national debt.”

          Theory meets the real world. Under no circumstances are democrats going to agree to the reduction of social spending. When the left is reminded that Obama’s debt commission stated that just three social programs, S.S., Medicare and Medicaid consume ALL government revenues, complete denial of the implications is the response. Obama has raised our national debt by more than the last 5 Presidents combined. He now wants to double down and increase the debt even more. Reducing the debt is anathema to the left, the only ‘common ground’ they will accept is the rate of increase. They believe that we can spend our way out of debt.

          “I do not believe taxing the very wealthy would reduce growth.”

          Unless you are opposed to the concept of private property, at what point does fair taxation become simple thievery? The top 1% currently pay 36.73% of income taxes. The top 10% of earners pay 70.73% of income taxes. Our corporate taxes are the highest in the world. Do you really believe that the left will be satisfied with anything less than the 90% of earnings that the richest paid prior to Reagan?

          When one points out that if we completely confiscated ALL of the wealthy’s assets it would fall far short of our debt and that you would eliminate private pools of investment capital…a blank look is the response because it factually challenges their world view, the very assumptions and premises that govern their lives.

          “I never understood why either: anyone should be making a million dollars a month nor why anyone should receive monthly social payments without doing work for it.”

          “Should” be making a million $ a month? That may be an indication of an individual’s psychological issue. It certainly indicates that among the wealthy who earn their income through earned remuneration, such as the CEO of a company, that salaries and compensation are obscenely skewed out of balance. But capping income, as a principle is wrong headed thinking, implicitly stating that people ‘should’ only be ‘allowed’ to make so much.

          To my knowledge, no one is legally receiving monthly social payments without having worked for it.

          House Republicans express opposition to nuke cuts

          • GB- If we agree bipartisanship is the way forward then the Right, Left, and everyone in between isn’t going to get exactly what they want.
            I had a much longer reply but I accidentally deleted it ,so in a nutshell:)
            I’m not opposed to private property or am I for salary caps, just property acquired through devious greed-driven kleptofinacial alchemy on the border of legality and morality.
            I’d settle for a reformed/simplified tax code that reflects the Eisenhower years.
            I’m for workfare not welfare, except in certain obvious cases where a person is physically or mentally incapable.
            This is critical, the left will grudgingly go along with social spending cuts sooner or later. Once the Europeans put their house in order, the supranational financial sharks are gonna turn on us and the dollar. Then the Left won’t have a choice cause we will have bigger problems to deal with. Once government spending cuts have been enacted in Europe on a grand scale, the left will have no ideological excuse. The cuts in Europe will have been implemented essentially by social-democratic/quasi-socialist systems. The the Left in Europe is going along with the reducing the size of government , so will the left in the US.

            To be blunt, I want to take out the “greedy” along with the “needy” , not either or.
            The nation is in need of common sense and reform. More candor, more reason, more responsibility, less ideology less politics,
            I do not want to end up lamenting that mine was the generation the squandered the greatest legacy ever seen in recorded History.

          • PS. I read Exchequer at NRO on SS, Medicaid, etc. I thought I was reading about….Greece. That was the bad news.

            Here is the good news, using the Greek economic situation as an analogy. After two years of salary cuts, reductions in public/social spending and increased taxes, Greece achieved a primary budget surplus before interest payments. That was accomplished with a bunch of incompetent socialists running the show. Now (theoretically) if a wave of privatization, closing of inefficient state enterprises, revamping of the taxes codes and further reduction in government follows that up, Greece should be up and running in 2013/14. Of course this came about at a huge social cost, polarization, increased suicides, and they are in danger of voting in the radical left. Tomorrow’s elections will tell. But it does show you how being broke sharpens the politicians’ mind.

            Imagine what the America will accomplish once its sets its mind to it (or finds herself in Greece’s position)!

  6. Well, jgets, Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill, two ‘Irish’ guys with very different ideas on almost everything, managed to forge an unlikely alliance to get things done for everyone’s benefit by way of compromise and co-operation – often by cajoling their respective parties and giving courageous leadership, aimed, not at obstruction, but at finding common ways forward.

    Reagan’s speech on the retirement of O’Neill was a wonderful testimony to the friendship and mutual respect these two men had for each other. It is a reminder of how the Founding Fathers gave us political structures which work best by consensus rather than conflict.

    BTW, I hadn’t heard the Lagarde quote before. I like it.

    pt

    • I can go along with that Paulite, America first.

      • Absolutely, America first. Unfortunately, Paulite t and others of his ilk are being disingenuous. Were he being truthful, it is Amerika first, that he applauds. The proof of that accusation is that it is not your liberty that he supports but rather, ideological control of how we shall define liberty itself.

        Which most definitely does not include your or any other individual’s determination of their pursuit of happiness. He supports reducing your liberty to fit within his ideologies agenda of political correctness.

        We on the right and in the libertarian middle support your ‘right’ to “tell us all to go to hell” provided that your actions do not impinge upon our rights.

        • I can go along with that GB, I disagree with Paulite on many issues, nearly all. But I can’t disagree with seeing a Reagan/O’Neill style leadership in our country again, soon. It’s the only practical way we are ever going to get any urgent reform.
          America first.

          • America first. I fully agree that sincere, joint leadership that places America first is urgently needed.

          • I can take no issue whatsoever with your disagreeing with my views. You are as entitled to yours as I am to mine. Reagan and O’Neill, who had fundamental disagreements on many things, recognised that whatever their differences, they each held their convictions as patriotic Americans committed to the welfare of their nation and its people. Both also recognised, as have generations of American politicians before them, that the fundamental principle of the constitutional arrangements bequeathed to us by the Founding Fathers, is government by consensus.
            We are now living in a different country. We have a fundamentalist dispensation within the Republican Party which believes that its particular viewpoint is hardwired into the Constitution and that contrary viewpoints are illegitimate. That is why they cannot countenance the sort of co-operation, compromise, and consensus that worked so well between Reagan and O’Neill. Their currency is to “not an inch” and to accuse those who differ from their views as being “unpatriotic”, “unamerican” and even “treasonous”. It is within this febrile environment that the remarkably persistent “birthers” and deranged conspiracy-theorists come to dominate discourse on the right of the Republican Party. At a juncture in history, when serious issues of economic and foreign policy demand serious debate we have the usual grandstanding extremophiles tabling a motion in Corgress calling for an inquiry into the “extent of Moslem influence” in the Obama administration (It must be conceded that the vast majority of sensible mainstream Republican reps. have declined the invitation to join Bachmann in the gutter).
            For the far right the response to those who hold opposing views is not to debate, negotiate, and seek out common ground – it is to reject consensus and to seek to de-legitimize. The record shows that the real Ronald Reagan would have had no truck with the irredentists of the Tea Party, or with the likes of Palin or Bachmann who would surely be enraged by any arrangement such as that which existed between Reagan and O’Neill.

            (Incidentally, I’m a retired business-person with a deep committment to the sacredness of private property, personal autonomy, capitalist commerce, and the rule of law)


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