25 Years Ago Today

I’ve been reading The Reagan Diaries in fits and starts as other reading assignments take priority, but the personal point of view in this book fascinates me. Years ago, I read Winston Churchill’s The Second World War, which gave the same point of view but with a retrospective narrative. This shows Reagan’s reactions in real time, and it’s intriguing.
For instance, take a look at the entry for August 10, 1982, to see what’s changed and what’s pretty much stayed the same:

Things continue to look better in the Middle East [Israel had invaded Lebanon that summer].
Met with Israeli opposition leader Shimon Peres of the Labor party. He’s quite a contrast to Begin and believes once the P.L.O. leaves Beirut Israel should leave Lebanon. Believes we must also resolve the Palestinian problem. Surprisingly, he wants us to continue befriending the Arabs and wants Jordan brought into the peace process …

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, non?
Speaking of which, those with e-mail will get a kick from Reagan’s last part of the same entry:

Rcv’d. letter from Richard Viguerie with copy of Conservative Digest. He tried to write in sorrow, not in anger about my betrayal of the conservative cause. He used crocodile tears for ink.

This is the same Richard Viguerie who created the Conservatives Betrayed website and now posts an entire appendix of quotes from Ronald Reagan. According to the index, that’s the last mention of Viguerie in Reagan’s diaries. For those who receive Viguerie’s e-mail essays by e-mail, it provides a small bit of context.

3 thoughts on “25 Years Ago Today”

  1. Cap’n – it also goes without saying that everyone should read both volumes of Winston Churchill bio, “The Last Lion” by the late great William Manchester.
    events described in the 2nd volume are highly relevant to today’s world, therefore a must-read.
    Manchester tried to get the 3rd volume out but he was sick for many years and died in 2004 before he could finish the saga. What a gem that book would have been!
    Volume 3 notes and research are supposed to exist and may have been taken up by a longtime Manchester colleague/acolyte. no finished product yet.
    most CQ people know this already, so…
    Homework question: Churchill is widely if not commonly regarded as England’s greatest or best Prime Minister. How might a Disraeli, or Gladstone or Thatcher have performed as PM in the late 1930’s to late 1940’s?
    Quiz Monday morning.
    Have a nice weekend.

  2. I am reading the Reagan Diaries too. I am now in 1985. This is quite possibly the best book I ever read. So many times, the official account of an incident is totally different than what Reagan wrote. For example: Nasser’s assassination was officially attributed to Egyptian extremist, but Reagan states in his diaries that Qaddafi was responsible. I can’t count how often, I was surprised like this. It is a real eye opener.

  3. Viguerie is and was a fringe kook.
    It was he of whom G.H.W.B. was speaking when he told Dan Rather, “I’m a conservative, but I’m not a nut about it.”

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