national opinion

Monday Column
Carol Platt Liebau

[go to Liebau index]

Latest Column:
Stopping the Meltdown
What Beltway Republicans Need To Do

Subscribe to CRO Alerts
Sign up for a weekly notice of CRO content updates.

Jon Fleischman’s
The premier source for
California political news

Michael Ramirez

editorial cartoon

Do your part to do right by our troops.
They did the right thing for you.
Donate Today

CRO Talk Radio
Contributor Sites
Laura Ingraham

Hugh Hewitt
Eric Hogue
Sharon Hughes
Frank Pastore
[Radio Home]

















Michael New - Contributor

Michael J. New received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford University and is currenty a post-doctoral fellow at the Harvard-MIT Data Center. Michael's research interests include tax limitations, campaign finance reform, and welfare reform. Michael's writings have appeared in a number of publications including Investor's Business Daily, National Review Online, and the Orange Country Register. He is a board member of The Stanford Review and an Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute. [go to New index]

The Reagan Effect
[Michael J. New] 8/9/03
Book Review: How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life by Peter Robinson

How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life by Peter Robinson
Publisher: Regan Books; 1st edition (August 5, 2003)
Hardcover: 272 pages

The past few years have seen a number of books written about the life of our 40th President, Ronald Reagan. However, Peter Robinson’s How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life offers a different perspective. Instead of writing a biography or a call to arms defense of the Reagan Presidency, Robinson instead demonstrates why Reagan was such an effective leader. In the book, Robinson talks about 10 important lessons that he learned from President Reagan and shows how he was able to use these lessons in his own life.

Robinson served as a speechwriter during the Reagan administration and is best known for writing Reagan’s famous speech at the Brandenburg Gate in April of 1987. During this speech, President Reagan questions Gorbachev’s commitment to openness. He tells Gorbachev that if he is serious about reform, he should send an unmistakable signal. He should come to this gate and “Tear Down This Wall!”

Not surprisingly, this speech figures prominently in the book. In fact, Robinson devotes a chapter of the book to four of the most famous speeches that Reagan made about Communism. The address to British Parliament in 1982, the speech to the National Association of Evangelicals in 1983, his speech at the Brandenburg Gate in 1987, and his speech at Moscow State University in 1988.

Interestingly, these speeches were drafted by three different people. However, Reagan always sounded like himself. “How could this be?” wonders Robinson. Indeed what gave Reagan’s speeches a trumpet like quality was his insistence upon telling the truth. In his speeches, Reagan always stood up for his beliefs and spoke with conviction because he knew people would always respond to the truth. In fact, Reagan, unlike his predecessors, did not need an extensive political network because his speeches were so effective in rallying people to his cause.

Robinson also describes the effort that went into the Brandenburg Gate speech. His earliest versions of the speech included the famous “Tear Down This Wall” quote. However, State Department officials raised objections at every turn. Robinson was often frustrated with these pragmatists who did not seem committed to Reagan’s agenda. However, Robinson acknowledges that the pragmatists did play an important role in the Reagan administration. Furthermore, one of the important lessons he learned from Reagan was that in order to accomplish anything, one has to be respectful and forgiving of others.

Indeed, conviction and forgiveness are only two of the many lessons that Robinson received from Ronald Reagan. Robinson also talks about the importance of Reagan’s optimism, his relationship with his wife, and his faith. Additionally, Reagan’s belief in simple policy solutions allowed him to focus on what was important and prevented him from getting distracted by unnecessary details. Furthermore, Reagan’s willingness to act gave him the courage to both intervene in Grenada and launch the Strategic Defense Initiative shortly after the idea was proposed.

While, this book is not intended to serve as a defense of the Reagan Presidency, the background information concisely demonstrates the success of Reagan’s economic and foreign policy proposals. Robinson also gives short, but convincing explanations as to how errors in judgment led to the Iran-Contra scandal in 1987. Furthermore, President Reagan’s handling of the incident was instructive. Instead of brooding, Reagan went on to sign the INF treaty in at the end of 1987. This is an event so significant that one historian argues that it ended the Cold War.

Perhaps even more importantly, many of the anecdotes provide insight into the character of President Reagan. Robinson talks about the time Reagan agreed to meet some blind children after a campaign event and even allowed them to touch his face, so they would have a better idea of what he looked like. Robinson also recalls the well known story about the time Reagan met with an elderly lady who traveled across the country, mistakenly believing that she had received an invitation to the White House.

Overall, conservatives invest a lot of time and effort trying to convince others of the merits of their ideas. However, articulate reasoning itself does not result in policy changes. Indeed, throughout the course of the book, Robinson demonstrates that it was not only Reagan’s ideas, but also his personal characteristics that enabled him to change policy. Furthermore, Robinson shows how all of us can learn from these characteristics that made the Reagan Presidency one of the most successful in history.

Michael New
is a board member of The Stanford Review and an Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute.

copyright 2003 Michael New



Blue Collar -  120x90
120x90 Jan 06 Brand
Free Trial Static 02
ActionGear 120*60
Free Trial Static 01
Applicable copyrights indicated. All other material copyright 2003-2005