The Right Coast

June 16, 2004
Krauthammer on Reagan
By Tom Smith

I took Mike's advice and read Krauthammer's column. It is very good and you should read it. That he ranks Reagan behind FDR is less the point than his dissection of the media's attempt to trivialize Reagan as an optimist. I am old enough to remember the '80's. Indeed, I am embarrassed to say I actually marched in the giant nuclear freeze protest in NYC, during my first year of law school. I was a libertarian by that time, but had yet to be corrupted by the Federalist Society.

Why was the freeze movement so big and vociferous? One reason was money. Somehow along with learning that all anti-communists were right wing kooks, another thing I picked up in college was that the notion that the Soviets sent a lot of money into the US and Europe to foment trouble was just a John Birch society fantasy. But, as the saying goes, just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean people are not out to get you. When I worked in the White House (which means the Old Executive Office Building -- people who actually work in the White House say they work in the "West Wing" to distinguish themselves from the rest of us), the guy sitting next to me was the international trade economist, and he was on the CIA circulation list for all kinds of cool "Secret" stuff. With classification inflation, "confidential" was not secret at all, "secret" was confidential, "top secret" really was secret, and really top secret was "eyes only" various people and/or had a code name attached to it. So Secret was not a huge deal, but you had to keep it in a locked file cabinet, for example. My office mate let me read a secret CIA report about the details of how the Soviet funneled money into the West, in this case to various terrorist groups, but obviously the same conduits could easily have been used for protest groups. Even though I was several years a Reaganite, old ways of thinking die hard. I was still shocked to see evidence that the KGB was bankrolling terrorism, to the tune of millions of dollars. The good liberal in me still gasped "But that's so wrong!" and "Those lying bastards!" I don't know what I thought the KGB was doing. I suppose building health clinics in Nicaragua (NEEEEEE-cahr-RAHHG-wa -- remember! Any NPR listeners from the '80's out there? All together now!).