Bob Collins has an excellent challenge over at NewsCut:
The five items today are my five favorite presidential moments, limited to the period that I witnessed (I go back to Eisenhower but I’ll be darned if I can think of a huge Eisenhower moment that makes the top 5). They are listed in their order of impact.Yours may differ, in fact I hope they do. Add yours in the comments section below.
So what are the top five Presidential moments of your lifetime? I presume Collins means good, bad and otherwise; he includes Nixon’s resignation and Clinton’s “I did not have sex with this woman” bit.
His choices, by the way, were:
- Reagan’s Challenger speech.
- Nixon’s Resignation
- Obama’s speech on race
- Clinton’s Lewinski speech.
- George W. Bush at the World Trade Center.
Seems like an interesting exercise. So here goes.
1. George W. Bush at the World Trade Center. I had my reservations about Bush even in 2000; he was a big spender with not a few social policies that fit in just fine with Ted Kennedy. But immediately after 9/11, the nation – at least, the part of it I lived in – needed this speech:
At a time when a good chunk of the nation was feeling insecure and afraid, there you had the President, standing on the rubble (that is Secret Service advised him to avoid), talking through a bullhorn (forget about a teleprompter), unafraid, confident, ready to kick ass.
Did he kick the right ass? Did his administration handle the interrogations of those whose asses had been kicked properly? In September of 2001, those questions were as ephemeral as dinner plans in 2016 are today to you and I. The nation needed leading. And Bush not only led, he did it with a style that’d make Reagan and Churchill and Kennedy sit up and say “good job, son”.
2. Jimmy Carter’s “Malaise” speech. I saw this one when I was a kid.
And while I believed, in my teenager-y way, in everything liberalism promised (because it was all I knew, if you think about it, I was struck even then at how depressing everything about this speech was; how Carter looked almost as if the desk controlled him, rather than the other way around. Some of my lefty-apologist friends grin smugly when I mention this speech and say “he doesn’t actually say malaise in the speech”, and them nod their heads with a self-satisfied “hmmph”. I reply “he didn’t have to”. Even as a kid, I could feel it.
I list this speech as one of the key moments that pushed me along the way to becoming a conservative.
3. Reagan’s 1981 Christmas Speech. I wrote about this before Christmas. This was the speech where Reagan lowered the boom on the Communists’ repression in Poland (which kicks off around 3:40).
(The video above cuts off before the last part, where Reagan asks America to light candles in their windows on Christmas for Poland).
I remember this speech. I remember how I felt; a little fearful (I had little concept of presidents actually standing for something), combined with the realization that this is the right thing.
And the notion that a President could do the right, but difficult thing, rather than the expedient one, was a new one for me.
4. Nixon Resigns. I was 11, I think. I won’t say I understood the whole issue at the time. That’d be absurd.
But there’s no way that anyone of any remotely cognitive age could see this, and know what was going on in the nation at the time, and not be affected.
5. Reagan at the Brandenburg Gate. Yeah, I know – two from the same president. I think it’s appropriate.
The speech wasn’t that notable at the time, oddly enough; it passed without widespread comment, as far as I remember. But its ripples changed history.
So let’s hear yours.