Sunday, March 06, 2011

Thoughts From A Modern Historian

From the Wall Street Journal:

"The big change in principle came under Kennedy," Mr. Johnson (British historian Paul Johnson) writes. "In the autumn of 1962 the Administration committed itself to a new and radical principle of creating budgetary deficits even when there was no economic emergency." Removing this constraint on government spending allowed Kennedy to introduce "a new concept of 'big government': the 'problem-eliminator.' Every area of human misery could be classified as a 'problem'; then the Federal government could be armed to 'eliminate' it."

How's that worked out for us?

Other snippets:

The former governor of Alaska, he says, "is in the good tradition of America, which this awful political correctness business goes against." Plus: "She's got courage. That's very important in politics. You can have all the right ideas and the ability to express them. But if you haven't got guts, if you haven't got courage the way Margaret Thatcher had courage—and [Ronald] Reagan, come to think of it. Your last president had courage too—if you haven't got courage, all the other virtues are no good at all. It's the central virtue."

"But I notice it's much more likely that a so-called dictatorship will be overthrown if it's not a real dictatorship. The one in Tunisia wasn't very much. Mubarak didn't run a real dictatorship [in Egypt]. Real dictatorships in that part of the world," such as Libya, are a different story.

And then there was Ronald Reagan. "Mr. Reagan had thousands of one-liners." Here a grin spreads across Mr. Johnson's face: "That's what made him a great president."

Jokes, he argues, were a vital communication tool for President Reagan "because he could illustrate points with them." Mr. Johnson adopts a remarkable vocal impression of America's 40th president and delivers an example: "You know, he said, 'I'm not too worried about the deficit. It's big enough to take care of itself.'" Recovering from his own laughter, he adds: "Of course, that's an excellent one-liner, but it's also a perfectly valid economic point." Then his expression grows serious again and he concludes: "You don't get that from Obama. He talks in paragraphs."

He likes "the cut of her (Sarah Palin's) jib." I like the cut of his.

1 comment:

PeggyU said...

When our daughter (first child) was in high school, I bought a copy of Paul Johnson's History of the American People.

I ordered it so I could read it, but only got part way through before she "borrowed" it to use as an additional resource for a history paper she was writing. I never got it back, and she went on to use it for history and government classes in high school and college. She got good grades in those classes and frequent comments from teachers about her "interesting" papers.

I need to replace that book and get copies for the boys. If you don't own it, you should. It's a keeper. We also have his Modern Times sitting here, but nobody's cracked it open yet.