What happens when you run somebody for political office who stands for something against somebody who stands for nothing? Stands for something usually win.
Take the history of the contemporary American presidency. Bush the first versus Clinton is a prime example. Obama versus McCain stands out in painful contrast today. And what was Jimmy Carter’s greatest legacy? The election of Ronald Reagan.
In the annals of the 20th century American presidency the list of losers is legendary. There’s Hoover and his role in the great depression, somewhat like Bush the second in 2008; Roosevelt the second who ‘rescued’ the nation from that great depression when the Japanese snuck up on us and destroyed the Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor; Truman who started the concept of starting wars, killing America’s brave fighting forces and ending up in a stalemate; Kennedy and Johnson who continued that tradition in Viet Nam; Nixon was Nixon and Ford stood for almost nothing, electing Carter who stood for, well something Ford didn’t.
The Ford/Carter fight of 1976 resognates, as one recent president liked to say, today. Eerily similar to the presidential election of 2008. Somebody who stood for liberal, socialistic policies in a time of economic uncertainty ran against somebody who today stands and cheers at his state of the union address. Barak Obama beat John McCain because he stood for something, like it or not, and McCain’s ‘cross the aisle,’ ‘work together,’ kumbaya attitude went down in flames.
Therein lies the hope of 2012. From the ash heap of Jimmy Carter’s failure came the new dawn of the greatest president of the 20th century: Ronald Reagan.
Reagan himself liked to poke fun at his movie career. He didn’t exactly get Academy Award winning roles. Hellcats of the Navy, Knute Rockne All American and the infamous Bedtime with Bonzo were decent box office draws but didn’t’ get the big lights. Fact is that when fellow actor Clint Eastwood was elected mayor of CarmelCalifornia, Reagan called him and asked: "how can a guy who makes movies with monkeys get elected to public office?"
No, Ron Reagan’s movies weren’t nominated by his fellow actors for an Oscar. However they did elect him to the office of President of the Screen Actors Guild Union. Which led him to run for Governor of California and then the Presidency of the United States.
Therein is his Oscar winning performance. The Oscar for best president of the United States in the 20th Century goes to Ronald Reagan. He tore down with 4 words the Berlin Wall and that led to the demise of the evil empire: the Soviet Union. His deregulation of the private sector fed the greatest and longest peace time expansion of the global economy. He had the determined, defined foreign policy that said America goes to war when it has to, and when it has to, it goes in to win not make points.
There’s a prayer in all of this as we celebrate the centennial of Reagan’s birth that someday soon another Ronald Reagan will come forward. It could be Hailey Barbour of Mississippi, Indiana’s Mitch Daniels, even Pennsylvania’s own Rick Santorum who will pull us out of the ash heap of Obama’s utter failure. They may not have Reagan’s star power but to succeed all they will need is his staying power.