Conservative Wanderer

“A troubled and afflicted mankind looks to us, pleading for us to keep our rendezvous with destiny; that we will uphold the principles of self-reliance, self-discipline, morality, and, above all, responsible liberty for every individual that we will become that shining city on a hill.” — Ronald Wilson Reagan

Happy Thanksgiving 2012!

To celebrate the day, here’s the text of Abe Lincoln’s proclamation from 1863:

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

Book Review: My Father At 100 by Ron Reagan

A few weeks ago, a nice lady from Penguin emailed to ask if I’d like a complementary copy of My Father At 100, Ron Reagan’s book about his famous father. Being a Reaganite, I gladly agreed. Unfortunately, I think I may end up disappointing her, because the book was a little bit disappointing to me, which is sad, because I really wanted to like the book.

First off, the good parts. Ron (I’ll be referring to him as Ron throughout not out of disrespect, but to avoid confusion with President Reagan) is very good at bringing forward things that might not have been covered by other books — I’m not sure because I haven’t read every book by or about Reagan — and at describing his own journey to discovering these things about his father. He shares a lot of stories that he heard around the dinner table and really helps understand how Reagan developed during his years before entering politics, even going back to the O’Regans of Ireland for a little of the family history. Several of the stories are very touching, sharing things like his recollections of when his father was shot.

However, the book disappoints because Ron can’t quite seem to let go of his political differences of opinion with Reagan, or with Republicans in general. Even though in the introduction he says, point blank:

This is not a political biography — that’s a job best left for others. I argued plenty with my father while he was alive; I have no intention of picking a fight with him now that he’s gone and can’t defend himself.

That seems to be what he does at several points in the book, including this passage:

His cherished tax cuts were passed — only to be scaled back when it became apparent that trickle-down economics was, indeed, as his vice president had put it earlier, “voodoo.”

That’s not the statement of a man who has no intention of picking a fight with a parent who’s passed on. He also denigrates the entire Republican party in the epilogue as being infected by “rage mongering.” Given that the book was copyrighted in 2011, he was probably writing it in 2010 and could easily have been referring to the rise of the Tea Parties in the 2010 midterm elections.

Ron Reagan’s political differences with his father are well known in political circles, and I believe that had Ron gone with his original intention of not writing a political biography, and not picking fights with his late father, the book would have been much better. It would have been impossible to write a book about Reagan without at least glancing in the direction of politics, but in my opinion, it could have been handled much more gracefully.

All in all, I’d give it a C. The parts where Ron concentrates on family history and stories about the Reagan household that we might not have heard are well worth reading; if you’re a conservative who can handle the author rehashing old disagreements with his father in the pages of the book, it’s worth picking up.

%d bloggers like this: