07 November 2008

Of Political Courage, & The Company You Keep

Ronald Reagan's views regarding the USSR, communism, and the then emerging Cold War were initially formed by his experiences in the Hollywood labor strike of 1946.

According to author Peter Schweizer's (Reagan's War) research of Soviet archives, strike leader Herb Sorrell was being funded by the Communist Party... and received operational help from Soviet agents. Sorrell was head of the Conference of Studio Unions (CSU), and the goal was nothing less that control of the Hollywood film industry. He had said at the onset of the of the strike "There may be men hurt, there may be men killed before this is over"- and had brought in crews of goons, just in case things got rough as he was predicting... which of course, they did.

The Screen Actors' Guild voted on whether to join-in, and a majority decided not to honor the strike. Reagan's employer, Warner Brothers Studio, was determined to keep up to production schedule, but advised actors crossing the picket line to sneak-onto the lot through a drainage pipe. Reagan saw that as being intimidated by an unjust cause, and one with underhanded methods. His response to this advice from WB security was "if I'm going to cross the picket line, I'm going to cross the picket line"- and he did just that. He soon emerged as a leader of the anti-strike, anti-communist movement in Hollywood.

It wasn't long before Reagan received a phone call in which he was told that if he continued to oppose the CSU strike, he would never be able to work in films again... as a crew would find him and disfigure his face with acid. He soon obtained a gun for the protection of himself and his family, which he kept handy in a holster each day, and placed on his nightstand every night. Communist sympathizers in Hollywood denounced him as a "fraud", a "stooge", and a "fascist"... even old friends turned on him. His wife Jane Wyman blamed Reagan's new political mission and the environment of fear created by his ruthless new enemies for their divorce.

But, when all was said and done, the strike had collapsed- and Reagan's leadership and courage had impressed even his most bitter opponents. In 1947 several actors, writers, and directors testified before the Un-American Activities Committee of the US Congress on communist influence in Hollywood. Both the Congress and press were extremely impressed with Reagan's poise and intelligence in testimony, and it was clear he had done his homework.

Later, in 1951, in front of the same committee, actor Sterling Hayden testified that the 1946 Hollywood strike had failed because the CSU had run into Reagan, who he described as a "one-man battalion".

His brave, and often lonely fight against Communism became, and was to remain for 40 years, highly personal. When others were seeking an accommodation with the Soviet Union, from the 1950's on-through the Carter Administration, Reagan's belief in the American capitalist system told him that if the USSR was forced to compete in a real all-out arms race with the US, their weaker economic system simply "couldn't keep up". Few agreed with this at the time, and it was actually widely ridiculed. However, this truly insightful viewpoint was 100% validated when he was President in the 1980's.

The his hard-line strategy for dealing with the Soviet Union earned him criticism from all quarters of the press and academia as a "warmonger", and a trigger-happy, "self-assured bumpkin" with an overly simplistic world view, among other things. While most feared what they saw as invincible Soviet power, Reagan said that "the Russians aren't ten-feet-tall" and spoke of inherent weaknesses in the communist system that few others saw. This was a difficult position to take, but Reagan always displayed true, visionary leadership.

He also said while campaigning for Barry Goldwater in 1964, regarding appeasement to avoid war, that: "there is only one guaranteed way you can have peace... and you can have it in the next second: surrender!". Such unwavering views were often unappealing to a large chunk of the electorate... but the man was sincere in his convictions above all else, and had no taste for political opportunism. Reagan's KGB file defined him with grudging respect as a "convicted anti-communist" and a "firm and unbending politician, for whom words and deeds are one in the same."

Even once elected President in 1980, his military buildup and confrontational approach with the USSR were unpopular. With both double-digit inflation and unemployment inherited from the Carter administration, his own cabinet in 1981 was highly divided on the issue of increased military spending and new weapons systems... but President Reagan held firm with plans to confront both militarily and economically in a concerted manner what he famously dubbed the "Evil Empire". When others called the Warsaw-Pact nations of eastern Europe "Soviet satellites", he more accurately referred to them as "captive" states.

Reagan's foreign opponents felt threatened by his influence long before he became President. KGB agents stationed in the US were told in the 1970's that someday, they may be called upon to "get rid of Reagan". There was also a stillborn mission by Cuban agents to nip this problem in the bud in the 1960's... and assassinate him. There were three known attempts on Ronald Reagan's life before deranged lunatic John Hinckley shot him in 1981.

As California Governor in the late 1960's, Reagan was well-known for his outspoken views on topics ranging from campus radicalism to Cuba and the Soviet Union. He became the number one opponent of Berkeley radicals, whom he didn't hesitate to call "brats" and "freaks" at press conferences and in his speeches. In 1967, Secret Service agents fired upon two men lighting gasoline bombs next to the Governor's mansion. Reagan's brave stands soon earned him a spot on the hit-list of the Weather Underground... the group even kept a bullet with Reagan's name on it at their headquarters. These radicals were planning an armed, Marxist overthrow of the US Government, and they had contacts with the intelligence services of countries such as Cuba, Czechoslovakia, and North Vietnam. They had also collaborated with a Cuban agent on a plot (broken up by the FBI) to assassinate Reagan.

And where does Barrack Hussein Obama fit into this story of valour, honor, and principle?

Unlike Reagan's brave political stands, which had earned him at best lost friends and public condemnation (and at worst a divorce and death threats)- Mr Obama has a record of consistently adopting pragmatic, self-serving platforms that get him the power and positions that serve his aspirations... first and foremost. This of course includes support of, and promotion by, the Chicago Democratic machine- one of the most corrupt in the country, with whom he certainly made no waves... just "get along to get ahead".

And there was no shame in seeking the advice and support of powerful, yet controversial figures in Chicago politics to aid his career, and perhaps get some "street cred" (with south-side African Americans that didn't grow up in Hawaii or go to Harvard).... anti-American racist Reverend Wright, Nation of Islam rabble-rouser Louis Farrakhan, and shady political mover/racketeer Tony Rezko, among others.

Later, when the DNC had adopted him as their prodigal son, he was more than willing to slavishly serve the party's entrenched interests (i.e. unions) and it didn't seem to violate his principles to win elections by disqualifying opponents with questionable legal maneuvers...and thereby running unchallenged.

Mr Obama was also received an early boost from former bomb tossing members of the very same Weather Underground that had planned a Marxist overthrow of the US Government... and attempted to put a hit out on Ronald Reagan.

Unrepentant Weather Underground terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn (who had bombed numerous US Government buildings in the 1960's) hosted a meet-and-greet for Obama at their home in 1995. Obama of course denies any significant connection, but records show that he had in-fact e-mailed and called Ayers repeatedly after 9/11... relevant due to the fact that Ayers stated after the Al Qaida terrorist attacks that ""I don't regret setting bombs".

Of course, during the 2008 presidential campaign , Obama distanced himself from all these controversial figures. Not too surprising, considering the shocking opportunism and lack of character this man has displayed throughout his political career- from thrown elections fixed by the party to gangster connections like Tony Rezko- whatever it takes. Most or all previous candidates never would have been able to dodge such issues... but the media's complete abandonment of their traditional vetting role (at least on the Democratic side) allowed the DNC to present an appealing, yet plastic, manufactured-to-order product for electoral consumption... and consume they did.

Meanwhile, Obama had spoken during the campaign of reaching an accommodation with determined and aggressive foes of the United States, such as Iran and Syria... exactly the kind of appeasement of an insatiable enemy that Reagan warned us about for years. What else can a militarily and economically weaker nation like Iran, Syria, or North Korea- or a terrorist organization like Al Qaida- do to get their way with us, except to attempt to scare a majority of our electorate with frightening brinkmanship?

What a contrast this specious and ruthless political chameleon is to the brave and visionary principles of Ronald Reagan. And to add insult to injury, we already have Obama taking a classless cheap shot at Nancy Reagan at his first post-election press conference (while she's just out of the hospital, and 87 yrs old). The problem with the smiling, charming Barrack is that a quite different one tends to leak-out when he's not chained to a teleprompter.

This scheming opportunist is clearly no messiah. And regarding issues of judgement, principle, character, political courage... and true leadership?

Barrack Hussein Obama couldn't hold The Gipper's jockstrap.