Loading...
Bless the heart of Bill Redding, who stood up at the public hearing on rezoning lots for parking spaces east of ECU...

Blame Canada? Reagan surely didn't.

Fred Hiatt

Fred Hiatt

Loading…

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

As President Donald Trump groused about having to visit Canada and looked for new ways to punish the United States' neighbor to the north, it is instructive to recall an earlier presidential trip.

President Ronald Reagan traveled to Ottawa in March 1981, shortly after taking office. The two nations were at odds over acid rain, fishing, automobile trade, a gas pipeline, Central America policy and more.

But in an address to Parliament, Reagan said, "A final word to the people of Canada: We're happy to be your neighbor. We want to remain your friend. We're determined to be your partner."

The abject willingness of Republican politicians to discard their supposed fidelity to Reaganite principles has become so familiar in the Trump era that we hardly notice any longer. But a visit to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum here nonetheless is a shocking reminder of the vast gulf between the two Republican presidents - not only on issues but also in philosophy, outlook and character.

Reagan's expression of good neighborliness is one of the first exhibits you encounter in the museum. But earlier in the timeline you come across this, about the release of U.S. hostages held by Iran for 444 days: "President Reagan sends former President Jimmy Carter to meet the hostages in Germany and escort them home to freedom."

Can anyone imagine that kind of gracious gesture from Trump toward his predecessor?

Even earlier, there is this childhood memory: "There was no more grievous sin at our household than a racial slur or other evidence of racial intolerance." As a college football player, the museum recalls, Reagan brought two African American teammates home to spend the night when a local hotel turned them away.

The museum, not surprisingly, emphasizes Reagan's commitment to democracy and free markets. "Can you think of a time when any family, thirsting for opportunity, left a democracy to live in a country that was not free?" he asked in Alabama on July 4, 1984.

And more simply, this, from December 1986: "A violation of human rights anywhere is the business of free people everywhere."

Letters from fighters for freedom in the Soviet Union, Cuba and elsewhere testify to how important such words were - and serve as a reminder of how such leadership today has gone missing.

Then there is this: "Whatever else history may say about me ... I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence rather than your doubts."

Yes, presidential libraries, by their nature, highlight strengths and skate over weaknesses. Reagan in his time also could be a divisive figure, often mocked and reviled by the left.

But it matters that Ronald and Nancy Reagan wanted values such as racial inclusiveness reflected in their library, even if he was not always a perfect messenger of them.

It is also true that the fundamental optimism and faith in human freedom that shine through in this museum, in such contrast to today, could not be faked. Nor could the commitment to get along with other leaders, especially allies, even when Reagan disagreed with them in fundamental ways.

The prime minister of Canada when Reagan made that first trip was Pierre Elliott Trudeau - father of current prime minister Justin Trudeau. Reagan was very much a conservative, and Trudeau was very much a liberal, mirroring the difference between Washington and Ottawa today.

But after their first get-together, Reagan wrote this in his diary:

"Went to Parliament hill to meet P.M. Trudeau. Discovered I liked him. We have some problems to be worked out having to do with fishing, energy & environment but I believe we've convinced them we really want to find answers."

And not a word blaming Canada for burning down the White House.

Fred Hiatt is the editorial page editor of The Washington Post. Previously he was a local reporter in Virginia, a national reporter covering national security and a foreign correspondent based in Tokyo and Moscow.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Op Ed

August 15, 2018

The Washington Post

It was a gratifying reaffirmation of American values when thousands of protesters turned out Sunday to denounce the few dozen white-nationalist bigots who rallied across from the White House on the anniversary of last year's mayhem in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was also, from…

August 15, 2018

The Situation Room "is the inner sanctum within an already-secure facility where the most sensitive of the most sensitive information is discussed," Ned Price, former spokesman for the National Security Council said.

Precisely.

In responding to a question from The Washington Post, Price put his…

jim hoagland

August 14, 2018

Have you seen the Nature Valley (the granola bar people) ad out of Canada? It has been making the social-media rounds lately, because it seems to capture something that is well within our power to fix. It portrays different generations of families talking about their childhoods. Scripted or not,…

kathrynlopez

August 14, 2018

If you haven't been to the DMV lately, prepare to be unpleasantly surprised. Everyone's favorite state agency has upped its game and now offers an even more hellish experience.

I'm currently writing this column while sitting cross-legged on the floor at a DMV office. State leaders have been urging…

Colin Campbell

August 13, 2018

Bloomberg Opinion

Zimbabwe's hopes for an election free of violence and manipulation have been dashed, and President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa is preparing to take office under a cloud. Zimbabwe's friends and neighbors shouldn't look away. They still have a chance to help the country's long-…

August 13, 2018

The views of rank-and-file Republicans, captured in voter surveys, are nothing less than galling.

Let's lead with a poll conducted by the global marketing firm Ipsos and reported by the Daily Beast. It found that 43 percent of self-identified Republicans said that they believed "the president…

Colbert I King

August 13, 2018

In North Carolina politics, Democrats dominate urban areas while Republicans win suburban and rural voters. Outcomes are determined largely by which counties have the highest turnout in a given election.

If you follow state politics, you’ve heard some version of this explanation many times.…

john hood.jpg

August 12, 2018

Most of this column is going to be copied from another writer. He knew how to say what I want to tell you, much better than I could ever do.

While I am at it, let me confess that most of what I write for you each week comes from material other people have written or told me. So very little is…

DGMartin.jpg

August 12, 2018

Before the story fully fades from view, it's important to remember one of the most shameful episodes in a shameful presidency: the Trump administration's policy of "zero tolerance" toward illegal immigrants that separated more than 2,500 children from their parents.

Public outcries and legal…

Steve and Cokie Roberts

August 12, 2018

This week a New York man, Carlos Bayon, was arrested after leaving threatening messages for House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., promising to go after their families and "feed them lead."

When police raided his home, they found 200…

MarcThiessen
282 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 29
        Next Page»   Last Page»