It is often said that a man's character and core beliefs may be judged by the company he keeps. To wit; When Ronald Regan became the 40th President of the United States he immediately surrounded himself with a close group of advisers, many of whom were members or affiliates of the Heritage Foundation. Founded in 1973 and according to the their website (http://www.heritage.org/about), the Heritage Foundation "...is a research and educational institution—a think tank—whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense."* Seeing as these were President Reagan's goals it's not difficult to understand why he sought the counsel of these venerable men and women.
At first blush it may appear that Reagan possessed the ideology while the Foundation provided the bricks and mortar, but that would be a simplistic conclusion. Among the first things Reagan strove for as President was to free the United States from our national sense of pessimism and hopelessness following years of racial strife, recession, war, a crippling energy crisis, Watergate, the utter failure of the Carter administration, unemployment...
He was not the first or the last to use the parable of America as a Shining City on a Hill. He is however, the man most closely associated with it's modern usage. Ronald Wilson Reagan saw America's potential when others saw only our faults. He told us, "Its morning again in America," and we believed him. In our darkest hour Reagan foretold of the dawn.
In 1980 the Foundation published an 1,100 page "Mandate for Leadership" containing detailed policy descriptions spanning everything from tax, regulation and trade reform to national defence. The United Press International (UPI) described it as a "a blueprint for grabbing the government by its frayed New Deal lapels and shaking out 48 years of liberal policy." President Reagan was so taken by the "Mandate's" recommendations that copies were given to every member of his Cabinet and nearly two-thirds of its recommendations were adopted or attempted.
According to conservative writer William F.Buckley, Jr, Reagan acted upon approximately sixty percent of the three volumes of "Mandates" awaiting him when he took office which is why his Presidency was about sixty percent successful. Debatable.
In Reagan's second inaugural speech he cited twenty-two specific proposals from "Mandate for Leadership II" perhaps not verbatim, but the meat and potatoes were certainly on the table.
I am in no way asserting that Reagan was a puppet or mouthpiece of the Heritage Foundation, I am simply pointing out that that organization's principles mirrored the President's. Anyone who knows anything of Ronald Reagan knows he was his own man; guided by faith in God and the Republican principles of the Founders. In that sense the Heritage Foundation was a valuable ally.
Ronald Reagan never shied away from pointing out the important influence that The Heritage Foundation had on his Presidency and the United States' relationship with the rest of the world. This is an organization that if you are not familiar with it perhaps you should be.
I began this piece to compare and contrast President Reagan's advisers to those of our current Commander-in-Chief.
Next up: A closer look at some of the people President Obama has chosen to surround himself with.
*I strongly urge my readers to visit the Heritage Foundation Website.