In any election year, talk is cheap, even coming from high-paid speechwriters. Following through is the hard part. After months of telling the nation how he is going to take us all to new heights, the Chosen One must then actually do so. Sadly, few have.
Barack Obama and John McCain each offers the usual broad promises, and compelling explanations of why his programs, and his brand of leadership, will be best for this country. In fact, it's sometimes hard to discern which candidate is really speaking, and who best understands the problems of the 21 st Century. Can you tell who offered us this right-on assessment of our nation, and the world?:
"Never before in our history have Americans been called upon to face three grave threats to our very existence, any one of which could destroy us. We face a disintegrating economy, a weakened defense and an energy policy based on the sharing of scarcity. I will not stand by and watch this great country destroy itself under mediocre leadership that drifts from one crisis to the next, eroding our national will and purpose. The American people deserve better from those to whom they entrust our nation's highest offices, and we stand united in our resolve to do something about it.
We need rebirth of the American tradition of leadership at every level of government and in private life as well. People are out of work. Many have seen their savings eaten away by inflation. Many others on fixed incomes, especially the elderly, have watched helplessly as the cruel tax of inflation wasted away their purchasing power. We must overcome something the present administration has cooked up: a new and altogether indigestible economic stew, one part inflation, one part high unemployment, one part recession, one part runaway taxes, one part deficit spending and seasoned by an energy crisis. It's an economic stew that has turned the national stomach.
Ours are not problems of abstract economic theory. Those are problems of flesh and blood; problems that cause pain and destroy the moral fiber of real people who should not suffer the further indignity of being told by the government that it is all somehow their fault. A government which has utterly refused to live within its means. Those who preside over the worst energy shortage in our history tell us to use less, so that we will run out of oil, gasoline, and natural gas a little more slowly. Conservation is desirable, of course, for we must not waste energy. But conservation is not the sole answer to our energy needs.
America must get to work producing more energy. Large amounts of oil and natural gas lay beneath our land and off our shores, untouched because some in our government seem to believe the American people would rather see more regulation, taxes and controls than more energy. Coal offers great potential. So does nuclear energy produced under rigorous safety standards. It could supply electricity for thousands of industries and millions of jobs and homes. It must not be thwarted by a tiny minority opposed to economic growth which often finds friendly ears in regulatory agencies for its obstructionist campaigns. Make no mistake. We will not permit the safety of our people or our environment heritage to be jeopardized, but we are going to reaffirm that the economic prosperity of our people is a fundamental part of our environment.
Can anyone look at the record of this administration and say, 'Well done?' Can anyone compare the state of our economy when the current administration took office with where we are today and say, 'Keep up the good work?' Can anyone look at our reduced standing in the world today and say, 'Let's have four more years of this?' It is essential that we maintain both the forward momentum of economic growth and the strength of the safety net beneath those in society who need help. We also believe it is essential that the integrity of all aspects of Social Security are preserved.
When we move from domestic affairs and cast our eyes abroad, we see an equally sorry chapter on the record of the present administration. Our European allies, looking nervously at the growing menace from the East, turn to us for leadership and fail to find it. Adversaries large and small test our will and seek to confound our resolve, but we are given weakness when we need strength; vacillation when the times demand firmness. The current administration lives in the world of make-believe. Every day, drawing up a response to that day's problems, troubles, regardless of what happened yesterday and what will happen tomorrow.
The rest of us, however, live in the real world. It is here that disasters are overtaking our nation without any real response from Washington. Critical decisions are made at times almost in comic fashion, but who can laugh? Who does not feel a growing sense of unease as our allies, facing repeated instances of an amateurish and confused administration, reluctantly conclude that America is unwilling or unable to fulfill its obligations as the leader of the free world?
Of all the objectives we seek, first and foremost is the establishment of lasting world peace. We must always stand ready to negotiate in good faith, ready to pursue any reasonable avenue that holds forth the promise of lessening tensions and furthering the prospects of peace. But let our friends and those who may wish us ill take note: the United States has an obligation to its citizens and to the people of the world never to let those who would destroy freedom dictate the future course of human life on this planet."
If these issues, and promises, sound very familiar, it may be because the same problems have been with us for a long time. These were excerpts from Ronald Reagan's acceptance speech at the 1980 Republican Convention in Detroit. Four presidents ago. Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. And repeat it And repeat it. And...