Even his severest critics freely concede the president's exceptional abilities as a public speaker. At the difficult art of digesting large public questions into personal terms and memorable vignettes, President Reagan has few equals and no known superiors. The Democrats really have no one to match him.
Of course, before he was a conservative Republican, Reagan was a liberal Democrat. If Ronald Reagan were to return to the party of his father, his criticism of the current administration might go something like this
It is now a full year since the enormous Republican presidential victory and nearly 10 months since, amidst much hope and optimism, the new administration was inaugurated.
Before we are Democrats, we are Americans; and we are patriots before we are partisans. But while patience is a virtue, passive submission is not. The time has come to speak out, not in favor of a political party, but in behalf of the casualties of the Republican war on inflation--the working families of America.
In control of the government now is the party that has met a payroll and that knows the national budget, like the family budget, must be balanced. But remember this. From 1776 to 1969, the nation's total debt grew to $338 billion. It took eight wars and 36 presidents to run up that first $338 billion in national debt. Yet, we are now told that one administration, the current Republican one, will require only 36 months to put another $338 billion of debt on the national books.
For the first time in our history, under the present administration, the national debt is now over one trillion dollars. A trillion is a thousand billion. None of us has ever seen a trillion, or a billion. Just look at the second hand on your watch or on a clock and think of this: a trillion seconds ago was 31,000 years before the birth of Christ. That's a trillion, and we are now a trillion dollars in debt, which translates out to about $4,397.86 owed by every man, woman and child in the United States.
We now have an administration that has lowered the total allowable assets for any family on welfare from $2,000 to $1,000. But that limit does not count the car if the family has one. Consider this situation where the widowed welfare mother comes into a couple of hundred dollars by luck. She wants to buy her kids a set of encyclopedias, which she can get cheap. If she does so, she may be putting herself and her kids in big trouble. Better she should spend the money not on books, but on a Lincoln Continental. Explain that.
In foreign policy, the signals are just as missed and misleading. We have the daily spectacle of official public bickering and semi-public backbiting. Of too many spokesmen who are not speaking to each other. Recently our European allies have been apprised that a future "limited" exchange of nuclear weapons could be held on their neutral court. For some reason, they did not seem appreciative. About the only recurring theme from the administration in foreign policy is the explanation that all political, economic and social unrest in Latin America comes from a single source--Outside Agitators. Remember Bull Connor?
Any administration foolish enough to define ketchup as a vegetable cannot be expected to cut the mustard.
This White House has two separate Loch Ness monsters that nobody connected with it has ever seen: a deserving family on food stamps and an undeserving large oil company trying to take over a less large oil company.
We now confront a Social Security plan that wants to identify and to reward only the truly aging, and an economic plan that has produced an average of 326 corporate bankruptcies a week. That's the highest rate in 20 years. As the cost of living goes up, the standard of living goes down. This administration has put fear not, as promised, in senior Soviet officials, but rather in senior American citizens.
To the Kremlin, the administration seems to threaten: "Shape up or we'll sell you more bread. And if we get really tough, we'll make you some cinnamon toast."
The national tone is set by the president, our one national voice, and yet we learn that a full one-quarter of our young men did not register for selective service. It is our obligation not simply to oppose, but to propose, as well. Let us quote a wise Republican who once said: "The truth is that there are simple answers--there are just not easy ones."