The Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, and Ronald Reagan's 83rd Birthday [1/5]

Posted: Jan 25, 2012

1994-02-03 CNN INTERNATIONAL A SPECIAL REPORT "This is a special report from CNN International." "Hello, I'm Bettina Lüscher. We're departing from our regular programming to bring you live coverage of speeches by former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and former U.S. President Ronald Reagan. The occasion - a fundraising event in Washington, D.C. to mark Reagan's 83rd birthday, which comes on Sunday. Let's go to Washington now." Washington CNN International LIVE Republican National Committee Thatcher: President Reagan, your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for that wonderful introduction. It's the sort I would have loved at the beginning of every election campaign. It is an honour and a joy to be with you to celebrate the 44th anniversary of your 39th birthday. I hope to be here to celebrate the 51st anniversary of this same birthday. Indeed, if you were thinking of running again to see us into the 21st century I'd be even better pleased. I note, President Reagan, from one of your books, that in 1987 you heard one presidential candidate say that what this country needed was a president for the 90's. You were set to run again, because you thought he said a president in his 90s and you were... Well, for us, hope springs eternal. All it needs is to repeal the 27th Amendment to the Constitution. Sir, you strode into our midst at a time when America needed you most. This great country had been through a period of national malaise bereft of any sense of moral direction. Through it all, throughout eight of the fastest moving years in memory, you were unflappable and unyielding. You brushed off the jibes and jabs of your jealous critics. With that Irish twinkle and that easy homespun style, which never changed, you brought a new assurance to America. You were not only America's President -- important as that is -- you were a great leader. In a time of average men, you stood taller than anyone else. With a toughness unseen for a long time, you stood face-to-face with the evil empire. And, with an unexpected diplomacy which confused your foes -- and even some of your friends -- you reached out to that empire, perhaps no longer evil, but still formidable. Yo u met its leaders on their turf, but on your terms. In a time of politicians, you proved yourself a statesman. And that leadership, that faith in freedom and enterprise brought about a renewal of this great country. America was back and the free world became a safer place. It was not only that you were the Great Communicator -- and you were the greatest -- but that you had a message to communicate. The message that had inspired the founding fathers, the message that has guided this nation from its birth -- the essence of good government is to blend the wisdom of the ages with the circumstances of contemporary times -- that is what you did. Not since Lincoln, or Winston Churchill in Britain, has there been a President who has so understood the power of words to uplift and to inspire. You reached beyond partisanship to principles, beyond our own selves to our very souls. You reached for and touched, as Lincoln had said so long before you, the better angels of our nature. Leadership is more than budgets and balance sheets. More than the policy of public measures, it is a matter of moral purpose. And that moral realm is reached by that insight and rhetoric of which only the truly great are capable. This political instinct of truth, convic tion and patriotism began long before you were President. I have been reading that excellent book of your speeches, Ron, and I am going to refer to three speeches in particular. In 1969, as Governor of California, you spoke at Eisenhower College. It w as a terrible time of student rebellion, of violence against property, violence against fellow students and violence against others on the campus. "How and when did all this begin?", you asked. "It began," you said, "the first time someone old enough to k now better declared it was no crime to break the law in the name of social protest. It began with those, who in the name of change or progress, decided they could strap all the time- tested wisdom man has accumulated in his climb from the swamp to the sta rs." And I particularly like the next bit. "Saint Thomas Aquinas warned teachers that they must never dig a ditch in front of a student that they failed to fill in. To nearly raise doubts, and to ever seek and never find is to be in opposition to educ ation and progress." You were right and said so fearlessly while some academics just compromised.