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Remembering Caspar Weinberger...
[Chuck DeVore] 3/29/06
I first met
Caspar Weinberger in 1986 when he was serving as President
Reagan’s Secretary of Defense. I found him to be brilliant,
humorous, and able to think on his feet when testifying before
Congress. Above all, he was an American patriot.
as Special Assistant for Foreign Affairs to the Assistant Secretary
of Defense for Legislative Affairs in Secretary Weinberger’s
Pentagon. My boss, Assistant Secretary Margo Carlisle, worked
directly for Secretary Weinberger. Her office was one office
away from Weinberger’s in the E-Ring. My office was directly
across from the Secretary’s in the D-Ring.
and then I would attend meetings with Ms. Carlisle in Secretary
Weinberger’s office. Memories of these times are etched
in my mind. We were fighting the Cold War. The Soviet Union
presented a real and present danger. That a devastating nuclear
exchange was always less than half an hour away weighed constantly
on our minds.
Chuck DeVore- Contributor
DeVore represents 450,000 residents of Orange County
70th Assembly District.. He served as a Reagan White House
appointee in the Pentagon from 1986 to 1988 and was Senior
Assistant to Cong. Chris Cox. He is a lieutenant colonel in the Army
National Guard. Chuck’s novel, CHINA
ATTACKS, sells internationally and has been translated
into Chinese for sales in Taiwan. [go to DeVore index]
1970s, it was thought that America was in decline relative
Soviet Bloc. This line of reasoning originated
with President Nixon and Secretary Kissinger, and continued to
enjoy prominence in the Ford and Carter presidencies. Following
this belief, nuclear arms control treaties were a way of engaging
the Soviet Union – of moderating its inevitable advance – of
delaying the coming conflict in the hope that the Soviets might
soften. Such a policy was called “détente” after
a French word meaning “release of tension.” Of course,
simply surrendering military supremacy to the Soviet Union was
one sure way to release tension.
When President Ronald
Reagan came into office in 1981 détente
died, and Caspar Weinberger buried its ignoble remains.
Caspar Weinberger’s resume reads like the giants of old.
He graduated from Harvard, then earned his Harvard law degree
in 1941. Just before Pearl Harbor he enlisted in the Army as
a private in the infantry. He fought in the Pacific in WWII.
He was eventually commissioned an officer and served on Gen.
MacArthur’s intelligence staff.
first political position was as an elected member of the San
Francisco Republican Party Central Committee.
He then served three terms in the State Assembly from San Francisco
in the 1950s, when it was not unheard of for a Republican to
represent that city. Weinberger ran for California Attorney General
as a reformer in 1958, but lost the primary. Ironically, he was
painted as a San Francisco liberal Republican.
In 1962, the year Richard Nixon ran unsuccessfully for Governor
of California, Weinberger became the Chairman of the California
Republican Party. An actor named Ronald Reagan helped Nixon campaign
that year, forging a bond between Reagan and Weinberger that
would change history.
Newly elected Governor
Ronald Reagan named Weinberger chairman of the Commission on
California State Government Organization
and Economy, a relatively new commission at the time that we
now call the “Little Hoover,” in 1967, and appointed
him State Director of Finance in early 1968.
President Nixon recruited
Weinberger away from California in 1970 to become chairman
of the Federal Trade Commission. Shortly
thereafter, Chairman Weinberger was appointed Deputy Director
(1970-72), then Director (1972-73) of the Office of Management
and Budget. And in 1973, he was appointed Secretary of Health,
Education, and Welfare, where his reputation as a cost cutter
earned him the nickname “Cap the Knife” from William
Safire, then a presidential speechwriter.
In 1981, President
Reagan recalled Weinberger from the private sector to be his
Secretary of Defense. For the next seven years,
Secretary Weinberger would be President Reagan’s unflagging
ally in an uphill drive to overturn a generation of defeatist
strategic thinking. President Reagan and Secretary Weinberger
did not merely seek to coexist with our enemies – they
sought to transcend them and leave them on the ash heap of history.
For this, their liberal opponents labeled President Reagan an
ignorant actor or a reckless cowboy and Weinberger his warmongering,
heavy spending sidekick.
History has been more kind to President Reagan and Sectretary
Weinberger than their contemporary critics were. And no doubt
history will smile even more upon them as the full magnitude
of their visionary and courageous efforts to defeat Soviet Communism
In 1999, Secretary
Weinberger said, “Even though the Cold
War and Gulf War have been won, all the world’s threats
are not gone. We’re not hunting around for enemies, but
there are potential threats to our desire to live in peace and
freedom. Peace alone is not enough. Peace can even mean slavery
sometimes. Peace and freedom is what we have to have.”
Caspar W. Weinberger was 88. He died with his wife of 63 years,
Jane, at his side. He left a son, Caspar W. Weinberger, Jr.,
and a daughter, Arlin, as well as several grandchildren.
Secretary Weinberger will be missed by his family, friends,
and a grateful nation that is strong and free due to his years
of dedicated service. ONE
2006 Chuck DeVore