The New York Times editorials about the last two elected Republican presidents to die, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, have strong similarities, calling them both fortunate in their foreign policy victories, comparing them positively to the current GOP office-holders, and bemoaning the negative state of politics under the current commanders in chief.
Over at the Claremont Review of Books, I have a review of Laurence Jurdem’s evenhanded and comprehensive study Paving the Way for Reagan. It’s a look at three conservative periodicals—Human Events, National Review, and Commentary—and how they influenced the development of Ronald Reagan’s worldview. Here’s the lead:
I’ve been thinking of my friend Jeffrey Bell. Jeff, who died suddenly two weeks ago at age 74, was a Vietnam veteran who shocked the political class when he won the Republican Senate nomination in New Jersey in 1978 and again in 2014. He lost both races, but those setbacks freed him for other pursuits. He was a longtime conservative who worked on the campaigns of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Jack Kemp, and who co-founded successful economic and political consulting firms as well as the nonprofit American Principles Project.
On November 13, a 24-year-old North Korean soldier, known only by his surname Oh, commandeered a jeep and sped toward the De-Militarized Zone that for 64 years has separated his communist homeland from the democratic capitalist south.
As he approached the border, the young man abandoned the vehicle and scrambled on foot toward the line of control. North Korean soldiers began firing on him. He was hit five or six times before collapsing onto South Korean ground. Transported to a hospital in Suwon, near Seoul, doctors performed emergency surgery.
Oh risked everything to live in freedom. He has joined the ranks of other defectors, refugees, and exiles that fled oppression for the chance of a life free of tyrannical control. From the Berlin Wall, to Vietnamese and Cuban boat people, to the DMZ, the prisoners of communism run in only one direction: toward liberty and self-government, toward the bounty of the marketplace and the possibilities of representative democracy.