We sure miss a strong president like Ronald Reagan. When you consider what Reagan faced – a massive military machine with the power to wipe out the world – you wonder how he managed to vanquish the Soviet Union with a smile on his face. Because Reagan was a tough and serious man, but he had a lighter side too. And he did not let the presidency get into his head as Obama has, reflected in Obama’s endless lectures, sermons, summits and introspection.
Having been trained as an actor, Reagan was superb with the comical quip. He loved to tell jokes about lots of subjects including communism. But not about the evils of communism – because that was no joke at all – but about the incompetence of and absurdity of communism. He used humor to cut the Soviet Union down to size in a way that other criticisms could not.
One of Reagan’s favorite jokes concerned poor Yevgeny, the hapless, oppressed victim of Soviet economic degeneracy. One day, says Reagan, Yevgeny was sitting in the saloon next door to the factory where he toiled in obscurity when he let loose on Soviet general secretary Leonid Brezhnev. “He is just a bum! Brezhnev has ruined our lives and our nation! We have nothing left!” Yevgeny said loudly and drunkenly for all within earshot.
Hearing the diatribe against the great leader, a plain-clothes police agent at the next table hustled poor Yevgeny outside, pushed him hard against the wall and warned him that if he ever spoke such ill of general secretary Brezhnev again that Yevgeny would be in great peril.
Next morning, Yevgeny awoke and told his wife about how awful things were in their broken nation. “Things are so bad that they’ve even run out of bullets!” he told her.
Another Reagan favorite involved an elderly man who goes up to a store clerk in Moscow and asks for a kilogram of beef, half a kilogram of butter, and a quarter kilogram of coffee. “We’re all out,” the clerk said, pointing to the empty shelves. The customer leaves. Another man, observing the exchange, says to the clerk, “That old man must be crazy!” And the clerk replied, “Yeah, but what a memory!”
Reagan loved to tell the story about the Muscovite who goes to the Soviet bureau of transportation to order an automobile. He is told that he will have to pay upfront, and that he will have to wait ten years to get the car. So he spends the whole day filling out the forms, pays his money and then another clerk says: “Come back in ten years and get your car.” The man asks, “Morning or afternoon?” The clerk says, “We’re talking about ten years from now. What difference does it make?” The man replies, “Because the plumber is coming in the morning.”
Reagan always told such stories with a smile on his Irish face because he was confident in himself and in his agenda, and certain of the corruption of communism. And he always had some good and wise quotes for his audiences. Here are the Top 10 Quotes from Ronald Reagan:
10) “The most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help you’.”
9) “Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the US was too strong.”
8) “If we ever forget that we are one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”
7) “The taxpayer is someone who works for the federal government but does not have to take the civil service examination.”
6) “An economist is somebody who sees something that works in practice and tries to make it work in theory.”
5) “It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.”
4) “Some people spend a lifetime wondering if they made a difference. The Marines don’t have that problem.”
3) “The nearest thing to eternal life that we ever will see on this earth is a government program.”
2) “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”
And Number 1: “Here’s my strategy on the Cold War. ‘We win. They lose.’
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have that kind of directness and wisdom once again, someone unafraid to tell the truth and to stand unequivocally on principle?
We all miss Ronald Wilson Reagan. And for those too young to have known him, he truly was a political giant who blessed our nation for eight wonderful years from 1981 to 1989, transforming America and the world in a way that even his political adversaries today admit was consequential beyond words.
Please visit my website at www.nikitas3.com for more. You can print out for free my book, Right Is Right, which explains why only conservatism can maintain our freedom and prosperity.