Ah, the RedState Department of History has a wonderful entry today.
Today marks what would have been the 106th birthday of Ronald Wilson Reagan, 40th President of the United States and without question the cornerstone of the modern conservative movement. Often imitated (hence the headline), but never duplicated, the man known to his friends as “Dutch” and to a generation of conservatives as both “The Gipper” and “The Great Communicator” still stands as the man by whom conservatives are measured, nearly thirty years after leaving the White House.
Reagan was born February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois. You know the story by now — as a young man, he got his start recreating baseball games on WHO Radio in Des Moines, before heading west to seek fame and fortune in Hollywood. His career as a matinee idol was later used against him by Democrats, which was a bit ironic since at that time Reagan was a self-described FDR Democrat, and served as president of the Screen Actors Guild through most of the 1950s.
But in 1962, Reagan had a change of heart. Famously saying, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the party left me,” Reagan switched sides. He cemented his reputation as a conservative firebrand by delivering one of the most famous speeches in American political history, “A Time for Choosing“, in support of Barry Goldwater’s candidacy in 1964.
October 27, 1964. America, meet Ronald Reagan. (youtube.com)
The speech catapulted Reagan to the national stage and included the first of a series of memorable lines:
“Yet any time you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we’re denounced as being against their humanitarian goals. They say we’re always “against” things — we’re never “for” anything. Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”
Goldwater lost, but Reagan was elected to the first of two terms he served as Governor of California in 1966. Unsuccessful primary runs for the Presidency followed in 1968 and against incumbent President Gerald Ford in 1976 before Reagan transformed the party, and as best he could, the country, by routing Jimmy Carter in the 1980 election. He did so using the slogan “Let’s Make America Great Again”, and routed Carter’s Vice President, Walter Mondale, in 1984 after he had succeeded in doing so.
Reagan’s humor helped raise the spirits of the nation as it recovered from Carter’s disastrous Presidency, and was shown in front of the world in 1984 when he gave his unforgettable Presidential debate answer to the “age issue”.
Walter Mondale knows he’s been hit below the waterline (RedState.com)
The accomplishments of the Reagan Administration have been exhaustively chronicled and won’t be repeated here. But today, let’s celebrate the man by celebrating his good-natured humor, which he often directed in a disarming manner at his opponents:
“Recession is when your neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours. And recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his.”
“I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.”
“I have wondered at times what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the U.S. Congress.”
“Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.”
“Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement.”
“One way to make sure crime doesn’t pay would be to let the government run it.”
“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'”
“Thomas Jefferson once said, ‘We should never judge a president by his age, only by his works.’ And ever since he told me that, I stopped worrying.”
Happy Birthday, Mr. President. As for the rest of us, please enjoy today’s open thread — and share your favorite memory of Ronald Reagan at the same time!