Long-time reader Matthew e-mails with more on political messages and messengers:
I was reading some of your post today. I have long ago given up having any interest in what Peggy Noonan writes. I do not know the context of the "he was only an actor" comment nor the point Sara Palin was trying to convey. However, there does seem to be a bit of sarcasm intwined with it. Pres. Reagan's critics call him only an actor but he was greater than that for many of the things you point out. When reading about his life one learns the truth about what a prolific student he was. I learned that Pres. Reagan had a fear of flying and during his time as presenter at GE he took trains and cars to make his speeches at various plants around the county. This gave him time to think, plan, and read.
I recently finished the book "The Education of Ronald Reagan" by Thomas Evans and found it to be very educational and enlightening. I do not remember how I obtained this copy, but it must have been part of an Amazon book binge. While the main subject was Pres. Reagan, it seemed to me the back story held greater weight. It talked about the struggle of Labor and its leaders against the free market ideal. It talked struggle America had the intrusion of Socialist ideology into these struggles through the effective tactics of the labor leadership. Because in the beginning, Reagan thought himself to be a FDR Democrat. With his exposure to GE and the tutelage of Lemuel Boulware and his philosophy, he went on to became a conservative and a Goldwater supporter as shown in "the Speech." He learned the ability to go over the heads of opponents and speak directly to those in power. That was how he obtained his victories for SAG, over Congress and in defeating the USSR.
The following quote [from Noonan's column] seems to be a cogent description of the current chief executive in the White House.
"Here is an old tradition badly in need of return: You have to earn your way into politics. You should go have a life, build a string of accomplishments, then enter public service. And you need actual talent: You have to be able to bring people in and along. You can't just bully them, you can't just assert and taunt, you have to be able to persuade."
The Tea Party movement made great accomplishments this past election day and had some pointed setbacks. They will still face opposition from the party establishments and major news media outlets. The struggle has not ended but just begins. Continuing education of one's self and with others must be an ongoing event. With their calls for a return to more traditional constitutional government, they will need to turn from one of "seeming" rhetoric to expressed moments of knowledge. I think it would be most disturbing to those in power and in opposition to hear someone correctly quote the Federalist. Will we see signs Fed. 84, Par. 2, for example? Or quotes from other founding sources? There are those in opposition to the "unwashed" tea party movement that think that understanding the reasons for this country's Constitution are irrelevant. To introduce a strict understanding of the document is irrelevant, that the words of the past have little bearing on today's situations.
The condition of man has not changed over time, so I would reject that argument. Also, Raul Berger's book "The Fourteenth Amendment and the Bill of Rights" argues that the Constitution has been perverted and/or misconstrued through this logic and endangers us to eventually eroding those freedoms we inherently enjoy. In particular, the Warren court was a major element along these road.
But I must make a cautionary note. The Founding Fathers were equally perplexed as to the true meaning of the Constitution and how it was to be implemented then as we see today. One example was the debate of Pres. Washington's Neutrality Declaration as in "The Pacificus-Helvidious Debates of 1793-94." But they discussed what were the limits of Federal power and the balance between the two major branches of government.
I hope those that call themselves Tea Partiers will go on to read more than contemporary political books such as Glen Beck, Jason Lewis, Mark Levin, Amity Schlaes, etc. but to reach into the Bibliographies and find the sources of these ideals from John Adams, Hamilton, Smith, von Mises, and a personal favorite, Benjamin Anderson's "Economics and the Public Welfare." For Ronald Reagan, it it not important to read the narrative of his life. It would be more important to read and understand what he obtained strength from. What caused him to think and believe in what he did. And why.
Ronald Reagan was who he was not just from being an actor and reciting lines. He was a man who educated himself with guiding of others. For us it is important to understand the message and to distinguish what the messenger says and what the word used mean. And it must be based on a solid foundation from which we can compare and examine. In times of great turmoil a messenger may come and distort and pervert meanings to serve malevolent purposes or create change that is undesirable for the long term health of the country. And so we may elect someone who is without depth and value. Or, we may have a message of great import, but loose it on the wind or tide of denial because it lacked the rudder of a good pilot to steer it home. I do not see a current crop of available messengers with a the right message appearing for the 2012 election at this time.
Unfortunately, neither do I. The key words however are "at this time." I still harbor hope that a candidate with the proper combination will emerge in time for the 2012 election.