The measure of "greatness" in American presidents is often the
retrospective appreciation of their willingness to "stay the course"
in the face of determined opposition from powerful opponents. So it
was with Jefferson and Jackson, Polk and Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt
and Harry Truman. By this standard, Ronald Reagan must be regarded as
one of the most successful presidents of the twentieth century,
particularly in foreign policy.
Reagan confronted powerful forces of cynical, defeatist elites whose
memories of Vietnam had led them to abandon belief in America as a
force for good in the world, and unlike Richard Nixon, who is often
credited with the most successful Cold War foreign policy, Reagan
refused to let scathing criticism from Congress, the media, and the
universities grind him down. He also avoided the cynicism of Nixon
and Henry Kissinger, believing that America, as Reagan himself often
put it in Governor Winthrope's memorable words, "was a shining city
upon a hill."
Most important, of course, he succeeded, and he succeeded because he
was right. The record speaks for itself.
Shocking the Elites