The recent tributes to the late Gerald Ford were filled with pomp and ceremony. The media even recalled the former Republican president fondly. Gone was the firestorm over the Nixon pardon. Gone the relentless effort to portray this natural athlete as a helpless klutz.
In fact, once Ford retired he was extremely popular with the press, because retirement is where they wanted him all along. And that, Mr. President, is where they want you.
Already, the major media outlets are running cover stories featuring the hopefuls they hope will replace you. They’re counting the days until the next Inauguration. Sir, are you?
You have barely two years to rescue your endangered legacy. Certainly 9/11 will be at the center of much of what has distinguished your efforts. We all know you will stand firm for victory against the terrorists who want to kill Americans, even in the face of your opponents on Capitol Hill who claim they can protect us better than you can.
Yet on their first day in power, they had to run and hide from their own lunatic fringe. They want to shift all our support to "first responders." You can be sure that if we try to hunker in our bunker, our first responders will be doing a lot more first responding.
When it comes to your duties as commander-in-chief, millions of us know that George W. Bush will not give in. But there is a war on the home front that demands your attention as well. It is a struggle for the kind of world our children will inherit. Your domestic legacy is in serious jeopardy, sir.
You are being advised to abandon the people who elected you. With Democrats taking power ringed by attractive children and grandchildren, while imploring God’s blessing on their new majority, some in the press are telling you to man the battlements of the local country clubs. Ditch those pesky social conservatives, they whisper enticingly. Trade in the legacy of Reagan for the patrimony of Ford.
You have learned many lessons well, Mr. President. For example, you have publicly stated that your father’s greatest mistake was to sign the Democrats’ tax hike. We have a buoyant economy now because you had the courage to push through some of the largest pro-family tax cuts in history. Don’t saddle our children with more government gluttony. Fight to make the tax cuts permanent. As they say in Texas, draw the line in the sand on this one.
Thank you for standing your ground with excellent Supreme Court appointments like Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sam Alito. Mr. President, don’t flinch now. If that battle must be fought again, we’ll be with you, if only for the hope that we’ll have courts that respect our laws and traditions rather than giving ultimate authority to unelected social engineers.
One of your dad’s greatest successes was his courageous pledge to veto any measure that threatened the lives of unborn children. Already, a letter is circulating on the Hill to support you in your defense of crucial pro-life policies. I urge you, Mr. President, to stand for life. Let a growing culture of life be a vital part of the George W. Bush legacy.
Twenty years ago, the political situation was similar. The media thought President Reagan was finished in the fall of 1986. Both Houses of Congress went to his opponents in the midterms. The political reporters were packing their bags for Iowa and New Hampshire. Those left in town headed to the Hill to participate in investigations, which, if they didn’t bring Reagan down, could at least tarnish him in the history books. In those days, some members of the President’s own administration were willing to run out the clock while they polished their resumes.
Faced with this, Reagan might have gone along with the halting and hesitant State Department types who advised caution. Oh, must you go to West Berlin? Do you really have to speak at that Wall? Well, if you must, say something nice like: "Some day this Wall will disappear."
Ronald Reagan did not take that advice. He did not become a bench warmer in the political game. He pushed back. He fought the good fight. He went to Berlin and called over its bloody barbed wire: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" The world heard. The world still hears.
With a banner of bright colors, not pale pastels, Ronald Reagan saved his presidency. He left the world a living legacy of liberty. The media has lots of plans for your retirement. They can’t wait for you to be in your library. You have two more years to disappoint your ceaseless critics, and to honor the principles that twice won you your office. Choose to fight, and pro-family Americans will choose again to be at your side.