|To: calgal who wrote (231)||4/3/2005 6:41:52 PM|
|From: Glenn Petersen|
Pope John Paul II will forever be linked in history with Ronald Reagan.
A great man has passed
By George Will
April 3, 2005
WASHINGTON -- In Eastern Europe, where both world wars began, the end of the Cold War began on Oct. 16, 1978, with a puff of white smoke, in Western Europe. It wafted over one of Europe's grandest public spaces, over Michelangelo's dome of St. Peter's, over statues of the saints atop Bernini's curving colonnade that embraces visitors to Vatican City. Ten years later, when the fuse that Polish workers had lit in a Gdansk shipyard had ignited the explosion that leveled the Berlin Wall, it was clear that one of the most consequential people of the 20th century's second half was a Pole who lived in Rome, governing a city-state of 109 acres.
Science teaches that reality is strange -- solid objects are mostly space; the experience of time is a function of speed; gravity bends light. History, too, teaches strange truths: John Paul II occupied the world's oldest office, which traces its authority to history's most potent figure, a Palestinian who never traveled a hundred miles from his birthplace, who never wrote a book and who died at 33. And religion, once a legitimizer of political regimes, became in John Paul II's deft hands a delegitimizer of communism's ersatz religion.
In an amazingly fecund 27-month period, the cause of freedom was strengthened by the coming to high offices of Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and John Paul II who, like the president, had been an actor and was gifted at the presentational dimension of his office. This peripatetic pope was seen by more people than anyone in history and his most important trip came early. It was a visit to Poland that began on June 2, 1979.
In nine days a quarter of that nation's population saw him. Marx called religion the opiate of the masses, but it did not have a sedative effect on the Poles. The pope's visit was the nation's epiphany, a thunderous realization that the nation was of one mind, mocking the futility of communism's 35-year attempt to conquer Poland's consciousness. Between 1795 and 1918 Poland had been erased from the map of Europe, partitioned between Austria, Prussia and Russia. This gave Poles an acute sense of the distinction between the state and the real nation.
Igor Stravinsky, speaking with a Russian's stoicism about Poland's sufferings, said that if you pitch your tent in the middle of New York's Fifth Avenue, you are going to be hit by a bus. The Poland where John Paul II grew to sturdy, athletic manhood was hit first by Nazism, then communism. Then, benignly, by John Paul II.
It was said that the fin de siecle Vienna of Freud and Wittgenstein was the little world in which the larger world had its rehearsals. In the late 1970s, the Poland of John Paul II and Lech Walesa was like that. The 20th century's worst political invention was totalitarianism, a tenet of which is that the masses must not be allowed to mass: Totalitarianism is a mortar and pestle for grinding society into a dust of individuals. Small wonder, then, that Poland's ruler, Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, visibly trembled in the presence of the priest who brought Poland to its feet in the face of tyranny by first bringing Poland to its knees in his presence.
John Paul II almost did not live to see this glorious consummation. In 1981 three of the world's largest figures -- Ronald Reagan, Anwar Sadat and John Paul II -- were shot. History would have taken an altered course if Sadat had not been the only one killed.
Our age celebrates the watery toleration preached by people for whom ``judgmental'' is an epithet denoting an intolerable moral confidence. John Paul II bristled with judgments, including this: The inevitability of progress is a myth, hence the certainty that mankind is wiser today than yesterday is chimeric.
Secular Europe is, however, wiser because of a man who worked at an altar. Europeans have been plied and belabored by various historicisms purporting to show that individuals are nullities governed by vast impersonal forces. Beginning in 1978, Europeans saw one man seize history by the lapels and shake it.
One of G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown detective stories includes this passage: ``'I'm afraid I'm a practical man,' said the doctor with gruff humor, 'and I don't bother much about religion and philosophy.' 'You'll never be a practical man till you do,' said Father Brown.''
A poet made the same point: ``A flame rescued from dry wood has no weight in its luminous flight yet lifts the heavy lid of night.'' The poet became John Paul II.
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|From: Glenn Petersen||4/3/2005 6:52:55 PM|
|Charles Krauthammer on Pope John Paul II:|
Pope John Paul II
By Charles Krauthammer
April 3, 2005
WASHINGTON -- It was Stalin who gave us the most famous formulation of that cynical (and today quite fashionable) philosophy known as ``realism'' -- the idea that all that ultimately matters in the relations among nations is power: ``The pope? How many divisions does he have?''
Stalin could only have said that because he never met John Paul II. We have just lost the man whose life was the ultimate refutation of ``realism.'' Within 10 years of his elevation to the papacy, John Paul II had given his answer to Stalin and to the ages: More than you have. More than you can imagine.
History will remember many of the achievements of John Paul II, particularly his zealous guarding of the church's traditional belief in the sanctity of life, not permitting it to be unmoored by the fashionable currents of thought about abortion, euthanasia and ``quality of life.'' But above all, he will be remembered for having sparked, tended and fanned the flames of freedom in Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe, leading ultimately and astonishingly to the total collapse of the Soviet empire.
I am not much of a believer, but I find it hard not to suspect some providential hand at play when the white smoke went up at the Vatican 27 years ago and the Polish cardinal was chosen to lead the Catholic Church. Precisely at the moment the West most desperately needed it, we were sent a champion. It is hard to remember now how dark those days were. The 15 months following the pope's elevation marked the high tide of Soviet communism and the nadir of the free world's post-Vietnam collapse.
It was a time of one defeat after another. Vietnam invaded Cambodia, consolidating Soviet hegemony over all of Indochina. The Khomeni revolution swept away America's strategic anchor in the Middle East. Nicaragua fell to the Sandinistas, the first Soviet-allied regime on the mainland of the Western Hemisphere. (As an unnoticed but ironic coda, Marxists came to power in Grenada too.) Then finally, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan.
And yet precisely at the time of this free-world retreat and disarray, a miracle happens. The Catholic Church, breaking nearly 500 years of tradition, puts itself in the hands of an obscure non-Italian -- a Pole who, deeply understanding the East European predicament, rose to become, along with Roosevelt, Churchill and Reagan, one of the great liberators of the 20th century.
John Paul II's first great mission was to reclaim his native Eastern Europe for civilization. It began with his visit to Poland in 1979, symbolizing and embodying a spiritual humanism that was the antithesis of the soulless materialism and decay of late Marxist-Leninism. As millions gathered to hear him and worship with him, they began to feel their own power and to find the institutional structure -- the vibrant Polish church -- around which to mobilize.
And mobilize they did. It is no accident that Solidarity, the leading edge of the East European revolution, was born just a year after the pope's first visit. Deploying a brilliantly subtle diplomacy that never openly challenged the Soviet system but nurtured and justified every oppositional trend, often within the bosom of the local church, John Paul II became the pivotal figure of the people power revolutions of Eastern Europe.
While the success of these popular movements demonstrated the power of ideas and proved realism wrong, let us have no idealist illusions either: People power can only succeed against oppression that has lost confidence in itself. When Soviet communism still had enough sense of its own historical inevitability to send tanks against people in the street -- Hungary 1956, Czechoslovakia 1968 -- people power was useless.
By the 1980s, however, the Soviet sphere was both large and decadent. And a new pope brought not only hope but political cunning to the captive nations yearning to be free. He demonstrated what Europe had forgotten and Stalin never knew: the power of faith as an instrument of political mobilization.
Under the benign and deeply humane vision of this pope, the power of faith led to the liberation of half a continent. Under the barbaric and nihilistic vision of Islam's jihadists, the power of faith has produced terror and chaos. That contrast alone, which has dawned upon us unmistakably ever since 9/11, should be reason enough to be grateful for John Paul II. But we mourn him for more than that. We mourn him for restoring strength to the Western idea of the free human spirit at a moment of deepest doubt and despair. And for seeing us through to today's great moment of possibility for both faith and freedom.
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|To: calgal who wrote (235)||4/3/2005 11:25:35 PM|
"It is time to realize that we are too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams." –Ronald Reagan
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|From: Glenn Petersen||4/27/2005 7:06:10 AM|
|Straight From the Gipper's Pen|
HarperCollins to Publish Reagan's Personal Diary Of His White House Years
By David Montgomery
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 27, 2005; Page C01
Ronald Reagan kept a diary -- handwritten, blue-inked reflections and observations of nearly every day of his eight years in the White House -- and now it will be published, executives of HarperCollins and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Foundation announced yesterday.
The existence of the five leather-bound volumes embossed with a gold presidential seal was not a secret. Key entries were quoted in the press during the investigation into the Iran-contra arms sale controversy in the mid-1980s: "I agreed to sell TOWs to Iran" -- Jan. 17, 1986. Reagan drew on the diary for his 1990 memoir, "An American Life: The Autobiography," and certain scholars have had access to it over the years.
But very few people have seen most of it. And in an investigative era when written introspections have a way of becoming public -- President Bush recently told journalists that for that reason he declines to send e-mail, even to his daughters -- it may be the first and last contemporaneous daily glimpse of a presidency through the eyes of the president himself.
"We are not aware of any president in the modern presidency who has kept a detailed personal diary," said Fred Ryan, an assistant to the president in the Reagan White House and now chairman of the library foundation. "It literally begins the day he's sworn in as president and it ends with his flight back to California eight years later. . . . It has a very unique type of candor."
The only significant gap is the few weeks after John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate Reagan in 1981, said Edmund Morris, one of the few scholars to have read the whole thing and who quoted bits in his 1999 book "Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan."
"The diaries are amazingly dispassionate, clear and sequential," Morris said. "They show a man, a chief executive, with an extraordinary degree of objectivity. There's very little vanity and self-congratulation in the diaries."
Nor apparently is there much news.
"No bombshells at all," Morris said. "What you saw with Reagan was pretty much what you get with the diaries."
Still, scholars are greeting publication with anticipation: "We've known of these diaries for a long time, and it'll be interesting to see if they tell us anything that's new," said Lou Cannon, a former Washington Post reporter and author of several books about Reagan, including "President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime," his biography. "One of the things all of us who write about Reagan know, no matter how much we thought we knew him, there's always something else to learn."
HarperCollins will publish the diaries next year, said Jane Friedman, president and chief executive. The precise format -- one volume with highlights of the hundreds of pages or multiple volumes containing every word -- has not been decided. The company has not even seen the entire work yet, having been shown only a portion during negotiations in recent weeks, when several publishing houses were vying for the prize.
A person with knowledge of the transaction said HarperCollins is paying "in the high seven figures," but Friedman declined to confirm that. Whatever the price, all the money will go to the nonprofit library foundation.
Ryan said none of the president's words -- possibly a half-million by Morris's estimate -- will be withheld from the HarperCollins editors, but the prose may be subject to a national security review for inadvertent mentions of classified information.
The story of the presidential diaries goes back to the end of Reagan's term as governor of California. "When we left Sacramento, we felt the time passed so quickly, we could hardly remember the eight years," Nancy Reagan said in a statement released by the library foundation. "When Ronnie became president, he wanted to write it all down so we could remember these special times."
He bought the bound journals from a local bookbinder -- Ryan forgets which -- and paid with his own money. By all accounts, he was a diligent diarist, setting aside time every day. The handwriting is wobbly when he is flying by helicopter to Camp David.
Reagan gave the diary to the foundation about a decade ago, with instructions to dispose of it as the foundation thought best. The decision to find a publisher now was not driven by Reagan's death last year. Nancy Reagan and the foundation board "concluded it's a valuable piece of history and this should be available to the public," Ryan said.
HarperCollins secured world publishing rights in the deal, perhaps counting on Reagan's comments on foreign leaders having particular appeal to different audiences. "We feel there will be a tremendous amount of world interest in this," Friedman said.
The first volume of the diary was put on display for the first time yesterday at the library in Simi Valley, Calif.
What does Reagan sound like when he's confiding to his diary? The library declined to release excerpts yesterday. But Morris included some snippets in "Dutch."
"The inauguration was an emotional experience," Reagan wrote at the beginning, according to Morris's book, "but then the very next day it was 'down to work.' "
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