The passing of Ronald Reagan produced an emotional tribute to the former president from Dan Rather, anchoring the CBS Evening News on June 5. Rather appeared to choke up at the end of the broadcast after describing Reagan’s impressive life and career. Rather’s reaction to Reagan’s death may reflect an awareness, even in this crusty veteran liberal news anchor, that a truly great American who had changed history for the better had passed from the scene.
A former Democrat, Reagan became a Republican and a staunch anti-communist. As an actor, he fought the communists in Hollywood. As president, he began the process that resulted in the collapse of the Soviet Union, which he described as the “evil empire.” He challenged the communists to tear down the Berlin Wall, and it came down about two years later. He conceived what became known as the “Reagan Doctrine” of supporting anti-communist freedom fighters in such places as Nicaragua. His policies resulted in the defeat of the Nicaraguan Sandinista communists, and the collapse of the communist terrorist movement in neighboring El Salvador. Central America is free of communism today because of Reagan’s policies.
In that regard, we found it fascinating that while many journalists went back in history to analyze and comment on Reagan’s political career, they left out the name of one of Reagan’s most prominent adversaries?Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. Kerry’s opposition to freedom for Nicaragua was so intense that he traveled to Nicaragua with Senator Tom Harkin to offer support to Sandinista dictator Daniel Ortega.
This may sound like a harsh judgment, but it is essentially the same analysis presented in the book about Kerry written by reporters for the Boston Globe “who know him best.” They describe how Kerry and Harkin traveled to Nicaragua on April 18, 1985. A congressional vote on aid to the Contras was just days away. Kerry wanted to negotiate with the communists in Nicaragua and “give peace a chance.” Like Neville Chamberlain waving a printed statement hailing “peace for our time” with Hitler, Kerry brought back a peace proposal to derail Reagan’s request for Contra aid.
But there was a problem, the Globe reporters conceded: “In the document Kerry delivered, Ortega reaffirmed the ‘non-aligned nature’ of the Nicaraguan revolution, despite the country’s ties to the Soviet Union and Cuba. And, in response to promises that civil liberties would be restored, the State Department said Ortega had extended for six months the government’s repressive state of emergency?the day after meeting with Harkin and Kerry.”
Then, one day after Tip O’Neill’s House of Representatives rejected the Reagan aid request for the contras, Ortega “boarded an Aeroflot jet to Moscow to collect a $200 million loan.” Kerry said that he was “as mad as anyone” that Ortega went to Moscow. But Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd said, “Where did my colleagues think he was going to go? Disney World? The man is a Marxist.” The Globe reporters said that Kerry was accused of “cavorting with, and [being] used by, the Communists.”