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Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. These articles are republished from V & V, a web site of the Center for Vision & Values. Paul Kengor is author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004) and The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007). His latest book is The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan's Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007).

Bush, Obama, and Osama: America's Hour of Choosing

"In Bin Laden Announcement, Echoes of 2007 Obama Speech," declared the headline in The New York Times. It's difficult to find a newspaper that has demonstrated a more pro-Obama and anti-Bush bias than The New York Times, especially when dealing with the War on Terror. And so, I expected a headline like this in the Times. When I searched Google this morning, looking for a text of President Obama's statement on the death of Osama Bin Laden, the Times headline was the first thing that popped up.

That's too bad. A better banner would have been, "In Bin Laden Announcement, Echoes of 2001 Bush Speech." That's what I immediately thought when I heard the stunning statement by President Obama announcing the killing of Osama Bin Laden. President Obama stated:

Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama Bin Laden. . . .
The American people did not choose this fight. It came to our shores, and started with the senseless slaughter of our citizens. . . . Yet as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed. We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to Al-Qaeda's terror: Justice has been done. . . .
Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

For President Obama, it was a refreshing and surprising expression of American exceptionalism.

More than that, President Obama's words read like an exclamation point, on what President George W. Bush had said on September 14, 2001, during an unforgettable 9/11 memorial service at the majestic National Cathedral. Bush himself had organized the service. He picked the music, selected speakers, and carefully chose the words he delivered that afternoon.

Bush had declared the day a "National Day of Prayer and Remembrance." In preparing for his speech, he literally prayed that he could rise to the occasion and deliver his talk meaningfully in keeping with the somberness of the occasion. "I prayed a lot before the speech," he later told reporter Bill Sammon, "because I felt like it was a moment where I needed, well, frankly, for the good Lord to shine through."

Everyone in elite Washington was there: Former presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford sat in the third pew, as did Al Gore. The Clinton family sat in the front pew. An ailing Billy Graham, in a poignant display, struggled to address those gathered. President Bush approached the platform at 1:00 PM. He stated:

We are here in the middle hour of our grief. So many have suffered so great a loss, and today we express our nation's sorrow. We come before God to pray for the missing and the dead and for those who love them.
On Tuesday our country was attacked with deliberate and massive cruelty. We have seen the images of fire and ashes and bent steel. Now come the names, the list of casualties we are only beginning to read. . . .
Just three days removed from these events, Americans do not yet have the distance of history. But our responsibility to history is already clear: To answer these attacks and rid the world of evil.
War has been waged against us by stealth and deceit and murder. This nation is peaceful, but fierce when stirred to anger. This conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others. It will end in a way, and at an hour, of our choosing.

Note that last word, "choosing." Indeed, here is where both President Bush and President Obama - not to mention America and history - found common ground: This war, and that awful attack on September 11, 2001, crafted by the diabolical Osama Bin Laden, had not been our choice. Both Bush and Obama pledged that justice against Osama would come at a time of our choosing.

That time arrived, at long last, on May 1, 2011. Justice, indeed, has been done, and on America's terms, not Osama Bin Laden's.

When Winston Warned America: Churchill's "Iron Curtain" at 65

It was 65 years ago, March 5, 1946, when Winston Churchill delivered his "Iron Curtain" speech in Fulton, Missouri. It was a speech that rocked the world and changed history.

By then Churchill was no longer British prime minister. He and his conservatives had been replaced by Clement Attlee and the Labour Party, which busily nationalized everything under the sun, from car companies to healthcare, pursued Keynesian economic policies with reckless abandon, exploded the public sector, and piled debts that buried Britain for a generation. Churchill was out, and Britain's giant lunge leftward was in, enabled by an electorate that voted for "change."

Churchill and his work, however, were hardly finished. He had been called upon to save Western civilization at the start of the decade, when Hitler's Germany was at the gates. Now, he saw new vandals, equally dangerous, already inside the gates, and colored red. Stalin was their dictator.

Worse, the West, complacent and tired of war, had no clue of the threat; it could not see the wolf at the door. The former prime minister travelled to America to issue a wake-up call to the free world.

So, at little Westminster College, on March 5, 1946, at the invitation of President Harry Truman, Churchill cut loose:

Nobody knows what Soviet Russia and its Communist international organization intends to do in the immediate future, or what are the limits, if any, to their expansive and proselytizing tendencies . . . .
From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest, Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in the Soviet sphere and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and increasing measure of control from Moscow.

Churchill conceded these were tough words to hear on the "morrow of a great victory" over Nazism, one where Stalin's Russia had been an ally. Nonetheless, we could not be blind to reality, and simply wish away the dangers.

Of course, Churchill was exactly right, as anyone paying attention should have noticed. A month earlier, Stalin had delivered his Bolshoi Theater speech, which followed blatant Soviet violations of the Yalta agreement signed a year earlier. Moscow was installing puppet governments and refusing promises of free elections throughout Eastern Europe, all the while committing countless war crimes, especially in eastern Germany, where Red Army soldiers committed two million rapes.

The former prime minister spoke the truth.

Naturally, Stalin responded by blasting Churchill: "To all intents and purposes, Mr. Churchill now takes his stand among the warmongers."

Churchill expected Stalin's reaction. He also would not have been surprised to learn that members of Communist Party USA had gathered at Fourth Avenue in New York to prepare a P.R. strategy to smear his plans to launch "a new world war." The international Communist movement wasted little time.

Yet, Churchill was taken aback by the response of many progressive Americans. Eleanor Roosevelt was furious. She accused the courageous prime minister of "desecrating the ideals for which my husband gave his life." She took a personal swipe: "Perhaps it's just as well," she publicly sneered at Churchill, "that he [FDR] is not alive today to see how you have turned against his principles."

President Truman was stunned by the outrage among the liberal/progressive left. He had read the speech ahead of time, and seemed fine with it. Nonetheless, once confronted by angry reporters, Truman distanced himself from the former prime minister. According to historian James Humes, Churchill was so troubled by Truman's disappointment that he did not recover until he found a friendly smile (and a drink) at the Gettysburg home of World War II pal Dwight Eisenhower.

Journalist David Brinkley, who covered the speech, recalled that his fellow press people were appalled; they thought Churchill had lost his mind.

Of course, we know the rest of the story.

In the next few years, the Soviets blockaded Berlin, sponsored a coup in Czechoslovakia, and swallowed up Eastern Europe. According to the seminal work by Harvard University Press, The Black Book of Communism, at least 100 million people were killed by Communist governments - a conservative figure that, even then, is double the combined deaths of World War I and II. Soviet authorities like Alexander Yakovlev maintain that Stalin alone was responsible for 60-70 million deaths.

It took the rest of the world a while to awaken to Churchill's reality. When it did, it recognized the prime minister as a political prophet. But on March 5, 1946, Winston Churchill was a voice in the wilderness.

The Ted Kennedy Chronicles: A Look at the Latest Declassified FBI Files

Editor's note: A longer version of this article first appeared at American Thinker.

Another round of declassified FBI files on Senator Ted Kennedy has been released. Fittingly, in Kennedy's case, they once again raise all sorts of questions, from the moral to the political, to issues of national security.

First, however, allow me to pause with a sympathetic note. Among the documents within Kennedy's 2,200-page FBI file are materials from the mid-1960s on various lunatics threatening to shoot the young senator. Reading those pages is sad, particularly as they move from not only Ted as a target but also his brother Bobby. And then, it all struck home - like a punch to the gut - when I suddenly happened upon a June 6, 1968 Western Union telegram, sent directly to J. Edgar Hoover, which stated simply:


Bobby was gone, in the same manner as John before him, and now Ted was left as a living target. I don't care how much of a beef you have against Ted Kennedy and his actions and politics; that telegram chills your bones.

As to the politics, however, once again we have more declassified files on Ted Kennedy producing yet more unsettling questions. As readers of my previous columns and books know, Ted Kennedy made a confidential outreach to Soviet despot Yuri Andropov in May 1983, evidenced by a stunning KGB memo. The goal was to undermine Ronald Reagan's defense policies and, in my view, Reagan's re-election prospects as well. That document, which has since been resealed in Russian archives, is published in full in Dupes: How America's Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century, by Paul Kengor.

Do the latest FBI files produce anything at this level? Well, it's hard to equate degrees of outrage, but these items jump out:

Most serious are the documents relating to a July-August 1961 "familiarization tour" by Kennedy of several Latin American countries. Throughout, Kennedy expressed a curious desire to meet with "Leftists," wanting to know what made them "think the way they do." The documents note that Kennedy "met with a number of individuals" with "Communist sympathies." Kennedy asked ambassadors and State Department officials in these countries to help arrange interviews. One official was annoyed, describing Kennedy as a "pompous and spoiled brat."

Ted's behavior was not exactly angelic. Among his unique extracurricular activities, according to two of these documents (dated December 28, 1961, and October 20, 1964), was to attempt to "'rent' a brothel for an entire night."

This aspect of the files fits with the roguish-philandering image of the late senator. More serious, however, is a particularly sobering item: Among the Leftists that Kennedy reportedly met with was none other than Lauchlin Currie, former close aide to FDR. As one of these documents dryly notes, "Currie's name had been mentioned in Washington investigations of Soviet spy rings."

That's an understatement. As we now know, Currie was one of the most duplicitous Roosevelt advisers, widely suspected of Soviet espionage.

Why did Ted Kennedy want to meet with Lauchlin Currie?

Unfortunately, the FBI files provide no answers.

But that doesn't mean there aren't witnesses who could be contacted for further information. Among the living is John Tunney, a former Democratic senator from California who was Ted Kennedy's law-school roommate and close pal. Tunney was Kennedy's liaison to the Soviets in May 1983. In this FBI file, he is listed as one of the individuals who joined Kennedy on this Latin America tour.

Tunney likewise might be able to comment on another stunner in these files: A claim that Ted and his brother Bobby were looking to parade around America a group of 100 Vietnamese children maimed by American napalm. A March 1967 memo contends that the Kennedy brothers were "plotting" such a scheme as a way to humiliate President Lyndon Johnson.

The memo gives specific names and is grounded in what seems a very credible source.

Finally, a November 21, 1962, memo in these files reports a fascinating tidbit: the muckraking columnist Drew Pearson was planning to report that 19-year-old Teddy had been rejected from attending "a school at Fort Holabird, Maryland, while in the U.S. Army" because of "an adverse FBI report which linked him to a group of 'pinkos.'" According to this memo, when Teddy's dad, Joseph P. Kennedy, heard of this, he threatened to sue Pearson for libel if he dared to print one word.

Of course, Joseph P. Kennedy has been dead for decades. He's no longer a threat to our "journalists" doing their job. Will those journalists now, at long last, two years after Senator Ted Kennedy's death, pause to investigate some hard questions?

This latest FBI file begs yet more answers on the doings of Ted Kennedy.

Death of the Pro-Life Democrat?

Editor's note: A longer version of this article first appeared in American Spectator.

With the swearing in of the 112th Congress, an already endangered species is nearing extinction in the Capitol Building: the pro-life Democrat.

That the Democrats took a thumping last November is obvious. In the House of Representatives, over 60 seats changed from Democrat to Republican.

Less-remarked upon, however, was the equally dramatic switch to pro-life legislators, which, not coincidentally, accompanied that Democrat-to-Republican shift. Marjorie Dannenfelser, director of the Susan B. Anthony List, which seeks to elect pro-life women to Congress, counts 38 switches from "pro-choice" to pro-life legislators, plus another 14 seats where "unreliable" pro-lifers were replaced with "reliable" pro-life votes. In all, 52 seats were "strengthened" in a more pro-life position.

Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), longtime pro-life stalwart, celebrates that this January marks "the beginning of the arguably most pro-life House ever." Smith calls it

. . . another message to President Obama that the American people will not be fooled by the Obama administration's accounting gimmicks and phony executive orders. They expect their elected officials to stand up for life without backing down.

This is a reference to the "Bart Stupak Democrats," who voted yes on the "Obama-care" healthcare bill that provides taxpayer funding of abortion. They convinced themselves that President Obama's corresponding executive order will ban abortion funding. Most of those pro-life Democrats find themselves no longer in Congress. Some, like Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA), were defeated in landslides.

Particularly telling, leadership of the House goes from Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), a tectonic shift in the pro-life direction, from one lifelong Roman Catholic to another - but with only Boehner applying "social justice" (not to mention the Church's teaching) to the unborn.

Likewise, the U.S. Senate includes notable pro-life gains. In Florida, Republican Marco Rubio registered a remarkable victory in a three-candidate race in November, trouncing a turncoat ex-Republican endorsed by Bill Clinton, the president who vetoed partial-birth abortion bans. In Arkansas, pro-life Republican John Boozman defeated incumbent Democrat Blanche Lincoln. In a major upset in Wisconsin, pro-life Republican Ron Johnson defeated Democrat incumbent Russ Feingold, a dependable vote for the abortion lobby. Other significant pro-life wins occurred in North Dakota, Indiana, and elsewhere. In Pennsylvania, pro-lifer Pat Toomey edged out Democrat Joe Sestak, who was atrocious on human-life issues.

In short, the Democratic Party, which was already heading down this path, now has preciously few pro-lifers in the House or Senate. We're approaching the point where you can count them on two hands, potentially one hand.

Alas, I say this with regret. I honestly do. I'm a pro-life Republican, but I know that the parties, and what they stand for, change over time. I'm far more concerned with the lives of unborn babies than political lives of Republicans. I don't support "pro-choice" Republicans; in fact, I've actively worked for their defeat. I'm an American deeply saddened by the Death Culture thrust upon this nation through the evil of Roe v. Wade in January 1973.

For a time, in the early years after Roe, it wasn't completely clear where the two parties, Democrat and Republican, would align on the matter of unborn human life. It has taken time, but, ultimately, the progression has been steady toward the Republicans becoming the party of life. Importantly, there are exceptions to this, but, by and large, certainly in Congress, the vast majority of Republicans are pro-life while the vast majority of Democrats are not.

Consider a fascinating analysis of Roman Catholic members of Congress, done by the National Catholic Register and National Right to Life. Their church is adamantly against legal abortion. And yet, of those Catholics with a dismal 0 to 5 percent pro-life ranking, all are Democrats, whereas of those with a solid 95 to 100 percent pro-life ranking, all are Republicans. That's a stunning religious-political shift.

Along this descent, there were Democrats who tried to stop the train-wreck. One was a governor in my home state of Pennsylvania, the late Bob Casey, who was distraught that his party, which prided itself as defender of the "little guy," was turning its back on the most innocent among us: the unborn child. When Casey pleaded for a speaking spot at the 1992 Democratic National Convention, Bill and Hillary Clinton and the self-proclaimed apostles of "tolerance" and "diversity," refused him. Looking back, that was a telling moment.

It's a sad development for the culture and the country. It further polarizes the abortion issue, more starkly along party lines. For pro-life Republicans in Congress, it's a loss, as they need pro-life Democrats as precious allies. No one - Republicans included - should celebrate such a moral demise in a once great political party. *

Read 3758 times Last modified on Saturday, 05 December 2015 10:37
Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004), The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007), The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007) and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).

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