Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Gov Christie Explains American Exceptionalism at Reagan Library

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie delivered a strong, rational and passionate speech Tuesday evening at the Ronald Reagan Library. Personally invited by Nancy Reagan, Christie did not disappoint his audience. The topic was American Exceptionalism and lessons taken from the leadership of Ronald Reagan.

Governor Christie has a growing fan base and many still hang on to the hope that he will enter this cycle's presidential race. He continues to decline the calls for a positive decision to the question of will he or won't he. He says he doesn't have the passion for it this time around, and I think everyone should respect his decision and move on. There will be a time for him if he decides to run for president in later years.

There very well may be a future run for president in play for Governor Christie. In Tuesday's speech he dipped into foreign policy and the need for leadership in the world from America.

We tend to still understand foreign policy as something designed by officials in the State Department and carried out by ambassadors and others overseas. And to some extent it is. But one of the most powerful forms of foreign policy is the example we set.

This is where it is instructive to harken back to Ronald Reagan and the PATCO affair. President Reagan’s willingness to articulate a determined stand and then carry it out at home sent the signal that the occupant of the Oval Office was someone who could be predicted to stand by his friends and stand up to his adversaries.

If President Reagan would do that at home, leaders around the world realized that he would do it abroad as well. Principle would not stop at the water’s edge. The Reagan who challenged Soviet aggression, or who attacked a Libya that supported terror was the same Reagan who stood up years before to PATCO at home for what he believed was right.

All this should and does have meaning for us today. The image of the United States around the world is not what it was, it is not what it can be and it is not what it needs to be. This country pays a price whenever our economy fails to deliver rising living standards to our citizens--which is exactly what has been the case for years now.

We pay a price when our political system cannot come together and agree on the difficult but necessary steps to rein in entitlement spending or reform our tax system.

We pay a price when special interests win out over the collective national interest. We are seeing just this in the partisan divide that has so far made it impossible to reduce our staggering deficits and to create an environment in which there is more job creation than job destruction.

Christie spoke to the lack of leadership and the unwillingness in Congress to work on finding solutions to our economic woes. He spoke of President Obama's habit of leading from behind, too.

In Washington, on the other hand, we have watched as we drift from conflict to conflict, with little or no resolution.

We watch a president who once talked about the courage of his convictions, but still has yet to find the courage to lead.

We watch a Congress at war with itself because they are unwilling to leave campaign style politics at the Capitol’s door. The result is a debt ceiling limitation debate that made our democracy appear as if we could no longer effectively govern ourselves.

And still we continue to wait and hope that our president will finally stop being a bystander in the Oval Office. We hope that he will shake off the paralysis that has made it impossible for him to take on the really big things that are obvious to all Americans and to a watching and anxious world community.

Yes, we hope. Because each and every time the president lets a moment to act pass him by, his failure is our failure too. The failure to stand up for the bipartisan debt solutions of the Simpson Bowles Commission, a report the president asked for himself...the failure to act on the country's crushing unemployment...the failure to act on ever expanding and rapidly eroding entitlement programs...the failure to discern pork barrel spending from real infrastructure investment.

The rule for effective governance is simple. It is one Ronald Reagan knew by heart. And one that he successfully employed with Social Security and the Cold War. When there is a problem, you fix it. That is the job you have been sent to do and you cannot wait for someone else to do it for you.

He spoke of the benefits of encouraging freedom and democracy around the world, especially in the middle east, and that we must lead by example.

But, there is also a foreign policy price to pay. To begin with, we diminish our ability to influence the thinking and ultimately the behavior of others. There is no better way to persuade other societies around the world to become more democratic and more market-oriented than to show that our democracy and markets work better than any other system.

Why should we care?

We should care because we believe, as President Reagan did, that democracy is the best protector of human dignity and freedom. And we know this because history shows that mature democracies are less likely to resort to force against their own people or their neighbors.

We should care because we believe in free and open trade, as exports are the best creators of high-paying jobs here and imports are a means to increase consumer choice and keep prices down.

Around the world-- in the Middle East, in Asia, in Africa and Latin America—people are debating their own political and economic futures--right now.

We have a stake in the outcome of their debates. For example, a Middle East that is largely democratic and at peace will be a Middle East that accepts Israel, rejects terrorism, and is a dependable source of energy.

There is no better way to reinforce the likelihood that others in the world will opt for more open societies and economies than to demonstrate that our own system is working

It is clear that Governor Christie is no fan of the Obama administration. He told the story of the Austrian Treasury minister who questioned why Europeans should listen to Timothy Geithner's economic views when Geithner was unwilling to listen to theirs.

Good point.

Christie spoke about the lofty speech delivered in 2004 by then Illinois State Senator Barack Obama. Back then, Obama spoke of a post-racial, post-partisan America with no red states or blue states but United States. He asked, whatever happened to that guy? We all ask that question now. Renewed class warfare as a campaign strategy may get Obama re-elected, he said, but our country suffers in the meantime from that rhetoric.

The speech was good. I have hopes of supporting a candidate Christie for President one day in the future.

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