Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
June 12, 2007
HISTORY: Tear Down This Wall

Twenty years ago, Ronald Reagan then stood much where George W. Bush does now - 6 1/2 years into his term, rejected at the polls the prior November, facing a Democratic Congress and a hostile media, mired in battles with Congress over scandal, increasingly overshadowed by the coming Presidential race, abandoned by many of his best subordinates, given little credit by elite opinion for a long-booming economy. But Reagan had one big advantage: he was Reagan. And so he seized a moment to make history: "Mr. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Powerline has more, including video of the speech and Reagan's decision to override nervous Nellies at the State Department:

The day the President arrived in Berlin, State and NSC submitted yet another alternate draft. Yet in the limousine on the way to the Berlin Wall, the President told Duberstein he was determined to deliver the controversial line. Reagan smiled. "The boys at State are going to kill me," he said, "but it’s the right thing to do."

Of course, this was itself a call Reagan had been making for two decades, witness this line from his famous 1967 debate with Robert F. Kennedy:

I think when we signed the Consular Treaty with the Soviet Union, I think that there were things that we could have asked in return. I think it would be very admirable, if the Berlin Wall, which was built in direct contravention to a treaty if the Berlin Wall should disappear, I think that this would be a step toward peace, and towards self-determination for all the peoples if it were. And so, I think that what you're bringing up here, and this ties in with something that Bill Bradley said, and it's very significant--among people of good will in the world today, there is too much of a tendency to argue challenging or suspecting the other fellow's motive, when perhaps what we're challenging is only the method that has been suggested. Let's start with the premise that all people want peace, and not suspect that anything that someone else suggests is a plot. For example, we don't want the Berlin Wall knocked down so that it's easier to get at the throats of the East Germans. We just think that a wall that is put up to confine people, and keep them within their own country instead of allowing them the freedom of world travel, has to be somehow wrong.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:30 AM | Comments (41) | TrackBack (0)

Reagan cared so much about human freedom and dignity that he trained and send money to authoritarian killers and rapists and Central and South America and climbed into bed with Marcos, South Africa, Pinochet, Saddam Hussein, Noriega, et al. Maybe he was going senile at the time of the Berlin Wall speech and forgot that he was usually on the side of authoritarianism.

Posted by: steve at June 12, 2007 11:44 AM

Ah, the 80s greatest hits are playing...I assume you think FDR "was usually on the side of authoritarianism" as well? We have not always had the best of allies to choose from, but the larger picture needs always to be borne in mind.

Reagan's goal was to provide for the victory of liberty and democracy over Communist totalitarianism. I think his record of success in that regard speaks for itself. You will note that the nations on your list - the Philippines, South Africa, Chile, Iraq and Panama - are, for each of their various problems, all freer and more democratic today than they were in 1981. The same is true of Nicaragua, El Salvador, Afghanistan, Lebanon, South Korea, much of sub-Saharan Africa and of course the entire Soviet bloc.

The march of freedom has hardly been easy or neat, but Reagan did more than almost anyone since the Second World War to advance its cause.

Posted by: The Crank at June 12, 2007 11:55 AM

Well, you started the 80's greatest hits with the Berlin Wall photo op.

Your statement that "Reagan's goal was to provide for the victory of liberty and democracy over Communist totalitarianism" is remarkable and reflects a childlike adherence to the Republican Party line which has been demolished by declassified records, independent human rights reports and investigative journalists. I expect more from a well-educated attorney who has been trained to think independently.

Funny how Reagan was so wonderful and incredibly benevolent and the Democrats on the other side of the aisle were evil and hated freedom every step of the way.

Posted by: Steve at June 12, 2007 12:26 PM

The difference here is that I understand the overall strategy. I don't dispute that we worked with some nasty people. But this was in the context of a larger struggle. The Democrats didn't hate freedom, they just had no clue how to advance its cause, precisely because they got hung up on giving more grief to our allies than our enemies. You are just perpetuating that error.

Posted by: The Crank at June 12, 2007 12:42 PM

I'd say that Reagan's goal was the victory of capitalism and democracy over communism. When he couldn't have both, his rhetoric favored the democracy, but his policies favored the capitalism.

Posted by: Jerry at June 12, 2007 12:46 PM

Explain to me how Reagan's freedom strategy justified siding with the white South African government. And please don't give me "constructive engagement."

Much of what you believe about Central America was proven to be lies emanating from the State Department's Office of Public Diplomacy, which issued false propaganda to the American people in support of our policies. Google it to see what I'm talking about. Much of that propaganda remains in circulation today, unfortunately.

Posted by: Steve at June 12, 2007 12:55 PM

Steve, On this board you have to pick what topics you are willing to address. On this board Iran-Contra either never happened or, if it did, it was a good thing. This is a topic where there is zero traction here. I think it is some sort of Machiavellian thing but I haven't quite figured it out. Good luck.

Posted by: jim at June 12, 2007 1:57 PM

Of course Iran-Contra happened, but will either Jim or Steve explain to me how deposing the Sandanistas was a bad thing? Jim the biggest problem Steve his having is his argument is long on rhetoric and short on stated facts. I can sit here and tell you the Royals have the best everyday lineup in baseball all day long, but until I can support it with facts I am going to get the same reception Steve is getting.

Posted by: maddirishman at June 12, 2007 3:15 PM

“Iran-Contra either never happened or, if it did, it was a good thing. This is a topic where there is zero traction here. I think it is some sort of Machiavellian thing…”

“Of course Iran-Contra happened, but will either Jim or Steve explain to me how deposing the Sandanistas was a bad thing?”

Thanks for proving my point.

Posted by: jim at June 12, 2007 3:49 PM

MadIrishman: here is are some facts, if you are interested. The Sandinistas were elected, in 1984. We have no right to depose an elected government. The Contras had a human rights record 100x worse than the Sandinistas.

Posted by: Steve at June 12, 2007 4:11 PM

Always hilarious to see that some people are still bitter over the Sandanistas losing. When it comes to the Cold War the Left is the equivalent of one of those WWII Japanese soldiers that's found on a deserted island decades later unaware the war is over. Get over it guys, you lost.

Posted by: andrew at June 12, 2007 4:26 PM

Steve, Tony Pena, Jr. is the greatest shortshop in the history of baseball.

Jim, you didn't answer my question. I didn't say it was good. Are you arguing that the Sandanista's where a positive force in the universe?

Posted by: maddirishman at June 12, 2007 4:36 PM

Read my original post. I stopped getting into this topic because there is no point to it. No matter what I type here you and yours will either a) not care b) not believe it c) not care even if you do believe it. There is no point to having a debate when one side has an argument that will consist of "Yeah, so?" If Steve wants to get into this and try and convince you that Iran-Contra was a really, really bad thing then more power to him. I hope he does. I am done with that topic on this board.

Posted by: jim at June 12, 2007 5:38 PM

I agree with Irish. If there is one thing we should have learned from Castro is that, while Communism is always a crusher of the human spirit, it should be intolerable here in the Western Hemisphere. Ask Venezuelans now how they feel about comrade Chavez.

That said, I can't imagine comparing Reagan to Bush in any way shape or form. Reagan was a great president with occasional, but typical lapses. Lincoln had them, Washington, FDR, all of them. Bush is a mediocre president with a few flashes of positives.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at June 12, 2007 7:56 PM

Reagan allowed authoritarian extremists like Cheney and Wolfowitz to get into positions of great responsibility. That they subsequently leveraged those positions into even more authority (where they have badly misused it) is the Reagan Administration's catastrophic failure. Bush II is perhaps its greatest (indirect) disaster; GWB isn't mediocre, he's easily the worst president ever. Corrupt, incurious, incompetent, and dedicated only to expanding his own authority while silencing critics and bullying anyone who stands in his way, his defining event -- the Iraq war -- is the very embodiment of folly.

Reagan the man had a lot to recommend him, but as a president, his great weakness was to delegate and assume the goodwill and competence of those to whom power had been entrusted.

Posted by: Rob McMillin at June 13, 2007 1:41 AM

In what way in Wolfowitz "authoritarian"? He clearly believes in a global exercise of American power, but that's in order to counteract the influence of real authoritarian governments, like those of China or Iran. You may disagree with this global strategy and say it is too aggressive, but "authoritarian" is the wrong term. He himself said that one of his proudest moments in government was helping to rid the Phillippines of the Marcos regime.

Posted by: DAW at June 13, 2007 3:32 AM

Wasn't Cheney in Congress during Reagan's administration? I thought he was the Congressman from Wyoming until the Bush I term.

As for the worst President in my lifetime, that is easily Jimmy Carter. I single-handedly almost destroyed our military and then tried to ruin our economy too.

W has dropped in my estimation in the last couple of years, but worst...not even close.

Posted by: maddirishman at June 13, 2007 9:37 AM

maddirishman is right. Cheney was in the House during the Reagan years; it was Rumsfeld (under Nixon), Ford and Bush I that gave him jobs in the Executive Branch. And I don't even know where calling Paul Wolfowitz "authoritarian" comes from.

Carter is definitely the worst in living memory.

Posted by: The Crank at June 13, 2007 9:49 AM

No, Bush is easily the worst. It is a no contest, slam-dunk on that.

Posted by: jim at June 13, 2007 11:39 AM

Let's see:
Liberated two contries
Led nation through worst attact in our history
Interest rate around 6%
Economy strong
Unemployment below 5%

Allowed American hostages to be taken and held for over a year
Allowed military to degard to the point of being ineffective
Economy in the tankl
Interest rate around 18%
Unemployment rampent

Bush has his flaws, but Carter is the only slam-dunk in my lifetime.

Posted by: maddirishman at June 13, 2007 12:00 PM


*Ignored repeated information about terrorist attacks
*Worst terrorist attack in the US on his watch
*Lies about reasons for attacking country not involved in said attack
*Spends untold hundreds of billions on foolhardy war
*US Dollar at all-time low
*Gas prices at all-time high
*Savings rate at all-time low
*Credit debt at all-time high
*US standing globally at all-time low
*Large amounts of US currency owned by giant Communist country
*Repeated political scandals within Administration
*US Constitution at all-time low

I could go on.

Posted by: jim at June 13, 2007 12:38 PM

Jim, we lack time & space here to debunk all of your charges, most egregiously the first and last points, but "Gas prices at all-time high" is just ignorant - if you adjust for overall inflation/cost of living, the cost of gas is way, way lower than it was during the Carter years.

Posted by: The Crank at June 13, 2007 12:54 PM


You can choose to believe what you believe but there is no doubt that Bush and Co. were warned about a looming terrorist threat and attack repeatedly in 2001. I would say MI's first 2 points are far more specious than anything I wrote.

Looking at gas prices adjusted for inflation. In the Top-10 5 happened under Reagan, 4 under Bushy-boy and 1 under Carter. Somehow it was probably all Clinton's fault though, right?

Posted by: jim at June 13, 2007 1:22 PM

Jim, since you brought up warning on attacks and Clinton, what about all the warning Slick Willie had about the run-up to 9/11? Oh I forgot, he was to busy lubricating his cigar.

Posted by: maddirishman at June 13, 2007 2:12 PM

I guess we'll never know what Clinton would have done since Bush had been President for 9 months when we were attacked. Maybe NORAD would have actually responded had someone competent been in office. My bet is that Clinton would not have been reading a goat story to kids. How's that for a comparison?

Posted by: jim at June 13, 2007 4:27 PM

We've already established what Bill and Monica were doing. When you are offered the head of the most significant terrorist organization in the world 3 times and you let it pass, you lead the blame game for a terrorist attack on American soil. Clinton had eight years to resolve the problem and Bush had 9 months. While we are taking about Bill, was he lying too when he stated Iraq had WMD?

Posted by: maddirishman at June 13, 2007 4:35 PM

Clinton never made public appearances with schoolchildren. Duly noted.

NORAD would have been able to dispatch fighter jets to intercept, say, the second plane to hit the Trade Center in the space of 14 minutes. Duly noted.

You are aware, I assume, that the August 2001 PDB contained no new factual information that had not been presented to Clinton, and that the timing of that briefing was due to a request for a briefing on the subject?

This is fantasyland stuff. Next you will start in on how the Mossad was in on it or the whole thing was staged ... There were significant failures system-wide, and I do think some blame can be shared by senior people in both parties, the pundits and the media for lacking the vision to move to a more aggressive posture on this issue generally.

But the problem was with the failure to connect disparate pieces of information and present them to policymakers. If you want to argue that George Tenet knew things he should have acted on, I'm with that. But the rest is utter nonsense.

Posted by: The Crank at June 13, 2007 4:38 PM

Anyway Jim, if you want to talk about Clinton I would refer you to this.

Posted by: The Crank at June 13, 2007 4:50 PM

Sorry, you are so wrong on this. Here is a picture of Clinton with kids (kid). You are willing to defend Bush to no end to the point of just making crap up.

This attack happened on Bush's watch. Could Clinton have prevented 9/11? Hell, if I or anyone knows. I do KNOW that Bush could not and did not. You can start bringing up all the conspiracy stuff which no one else has mentioned to try and bully and bluff your way through this.

The facts are: Your boy was at the wheel and nothing got done previously or day of. Pants at the ankles, reading to school kids and generally not in command of anything. If he was a Dem you would be killing him to this day. You and others here are blind loyalists which is never a good thing.

By the way, you and yours hijacked your own post which was about Reagan not whether Bushy can find his butt with both his hands.

Posted by: jim at June 13, 2007 4:54 PM

This also proves my point. It was Clinton's fault wasn't it? I make a little remark, obviously in jest and now 2 of you have gone off on Clinton. Is it a homo-erotic thing with conservatives and Clinton (Bill, that is)?

Posted by: jim at June 13, 2007 4:57 PM

Jim, the thread clearly shows that Rob brought up Bush and you brought up Clinton.

You clearly missed my sarcasm re Clinton never meeting with schoolchildren.

Posted by: The Crank at June 13, 2007 5:02 PM

Um, Rob mentioned Bush in passing, I mentioned Clinton in jest. The rest was all you folk.

Yeah, as I have mentioned before, Conservative humor is indistinguishable from non-humor so it is pretty impossible to tell when y'all are joking.

Posted by: jim at June 13, 2007 5:05 PM

It actually took me a few minutes to even figure out what your attempt at humor was. That Clinton was a pedophile and therefore did not do appearances with kids. Oh my God, you're right, that is SOOO funny.

Posted by: jim at June 13, 2007 5:08 PM

If you are going by actual indictments/convictions/taking the Fifth, etc... Bush II is one of the least corrupt Presidents ever. Scandals with any real substance are about as low as is possible for a two-termer.

Posted by: andrew at June 13, 2007 5:09 PM

You're kidding, right? Aside from stuff that is not "indictment producing" sort of scandals how about this,

"...the most scandal-ridden administration in the modern era, apart from Nixon's, was Ronald Reagan's, now widely remembered through a haze of nostalgia as a paragon of virtue. A total of twenty-nine Reagan officials, including White House national security adviser Robert McFarlane and deputy chief of staff Michael Deaver, were convicted on charges stemming from the Iran-Contra affair, illegal lobbying and a looting scandal inside the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Three Cabinet officers -- HUD Secretary Samuel Pierce, Attorney General Edwin Meese and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger -- left their posts under clouds of scandal. In contrast, not a single official in the Clinton administration was even indicted over his or her White House duties, despite repeated high-profile investigations and a successful, highly partisan impeachment drive.

The full report, of course, has yet to come on the Bush administration. Because Bush, unlike Reagan or Clinton, enjoys a fiercely partisan and loyal majority in Congress, his administration has been spared scrutiny. Yet that mighty advantage has not prevented the indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on charges stemming from an alleged major security breach in the Valerie Plame matter. (The last White House official of comparable standing to be indicted while still in office was Grant's personal secretary, in 1875.) It has not headed off the unprecedented scandal involving Larry Franklin, a high-ranking Defense Department official, who has pleaded guilty to divulging classified information to a foreign power while working at the Pentagon -- a crime against national security. It has not forestalled the arrest and indictment of Bush's top federal procurement official, David Safavian, and the continuing investigations into Safavian's intrigues with the disgraced Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, recently sentenced to nearly six years in prison -- investigations in which some prominent Republicans, including former Christian Coalition executive director Ralph Reed (and current GOP aspirant for lieutenant governor of Georgia) have already been implicated, and could well produce the largest congressional corruption scandal in American history. It has not dispelled the cloud of possible indictment that hangs over others of Bush's closest advisers."--Sean Wilentz

Posted by: jim at June 13, 2007 5:32 PM

Sorry Jim, you are like every other lib I have encountered, you make claims you can't back up and then get mad when you get called on it. You can claim an attempt at humor, nobody laughed.

Bottom line, in the last 50 years residental rankings would go something like this.


You could make the arguement that Kennedy and BushII should swap, but that is about it.

Posted by: maddirishman at June 13, 2007 5:33 PM

I am the only one in this whole thread who has backed anything up. You are just making up rankings based on your political point of view. That is as valid as me reversing it and saying that is how it would go. By the way, actual Presidential historians would disagree with you wildly. Would you like me to back that up too or would you just like to call them all wild liberals that don't know shit?

Posted by: jim at June 13, 2007 5:41 PM

By the way I was not attempting to elicit laughter. My use of the Clinton remark was in "jest" as in to speak playfully, make fun of or ridicule. I know that you, as a Conservative, have only a vague idea of what "humor" is and therefore don't know how to separate different forms of humor from one another. Sorry.

Posted by: jim at June 13, 2007 5:47 PM


if you adjust for overall inflation/cost of living, the cost of gas is way, way lower than it was during the -Carter years.n

My verdict is "false, but accurate"! ;o)

Just a "straight conversion" using the "average" CPI over the period 1979-2007--- It is about 'flat'. (I think we recently peaked just above the old "inflation adjusted" record...)

But, this 'factoid' ignores a few issues:

1)Why try to compare one single item to the "average" CPI--- Just look at housing prices, medical care, or college educations-which have all been "outpacing" the average CPI quite substantially for the last 30 years- then look at computers (and any other 'consumer electronics'), air travel, food (50% cheaper), even cars(in 1980, a new American car was $10k- and it was almost guaranteed to die before 120k miles. Have you looked at a Hyundai lately? "Consumer Reports"- leading quality and a 100k mile warranty- for under $15k... while gas prices have tripled.)

2)State gasoline taxes--- these figures are based upon "retail" averages. For instance, Ohio's gas tax has recently(2003) been increased over 27% (from .22/gal to .28/gal)- in three increments ending in 2005.(with a prior increase in 1993... and in 1985)-- are these taxes accounted for when adjusting for inflation?

3)Actual use as compared to real income--- Average household spending on gasoline has dropped by almost 40% since 1979- when considered as a percentage of total family income (and we drive a lot more!)-- but, we're also much richer!

Posted by: fletch at June 13, 2007 8:54 PM

I would rank the presidents differently. Here are Irish's, on the left, and mine on the right:

Reagan Ike
BushII Reagan
Kennedy Insert Gap here
Nixon Clinton--Bush I (tie)
Ford Insert another gap then nothing

Jimmy Carter was such a disaster, he lost the right to be ranked. Ike is sort of forgotten, but he knew when to take his hands off the wheel. His ego was enough to not leave a mark when he didn't have to.

LBJ did some good things for sure, especially domestically, but he was a miserable vote stealing bastard, and his escalation of the Viet Nam War means he has earned a poor place in hisory.

Nixon pisses me off, because of what could have been. Kennedy is seen as anotheor Lincoln, because he was martyred, but in the end, hw good was he really?

Clinton and Bush I both had good and bad points, but overall, had a sense of how to get things done, maybe not great, but well. Reagan kept it simple, but did what he said he would. How about that? A politician keeping his word? With class too.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at June 13, 2007 10:28 PM

Bush I

Bush II

Posted by: jim at June 14, 2007 11:35 AM
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