A Living Legend

Written on:July 8, 2011
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Guest Submission By Paul Nardi

John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Ronald Reagan and Sarah Palin don’t seem to have much in common. Wayne, Stewart and Reagan were actors, all three were conservative Republicans and all three remain legends. Aside from the fact that Palin is also a conservative, what else could she possibly have in common with these men?

Many consider John Wayne to be the man’s man and an American icon. With a film career that spanned more than 50 years, he portrayed cowboys, marshals, and war heroes until his death in 1979. A Harris Poll in January 2011 placed Wayne 3rd among favorite actors and the only deceased actor to make the list. Few people today know that John Wayne was a conservative Republican whom actively campaigned for Richard Nixon and addressed the RNC convention in 1968 and supported Ronald Reagan in both of his gubernatorial campaigns in 1966 and 1970. Wayne saw the same principled leadership in Reagan for which we revere his presidency, even today. For his life on screen and off John Wayne showed “True Grit” and this makes him an American Legend.

Jimmy Stewart was known for his distinctive voice and everyman persona and no other character he played was more endearing than his portrayal of George Bailey in “Its A Wonderful Life.” Stewart is the most frequently mentioned actor in the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time list by Entertainment weekly. When the second World War erupted, Stewart was drafted into the Army but was initially rejected because he did not meet the weight requirements. He felt so compelled to serve his nation that Stewart enlisted the help of a personal trainer and after three tries, was able to enlist in the Army as private. Eventually, he rose to the rank of Brigadier General, going on to retire from the U.S. Air Force in 1968. After his retirement, in May 23, 1985, Stewart was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and promoted to Major General by none other than President Ronald Reagan. Jimmy Stewart was a staunch Conservative Republican and actively campaigned for Ronald Reagan for President. His unwavering dedication to Military service and all the of the achievements in his personal and professional life, Jimmy Stewart is an American legend.

Ronald Reagan’s early career was in radio, broadcasting football games for the Iowa Hawkeye’s. He went on to become a respected actor eventually becoming president of the Screen Actors Guild. Originally a Democrat, Reagan switched to republican saying “I did not leave the Democrat party, the Democrat party left me.” In 1964, Reagan gave a speech entitled “Time For Choosing” in support of Republican Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater and it was that speech which is widely believed to be responsible for the launch of his political career.

After that speech, Reagan served two terms as Governor of California. As Governor he spoke out against the idea of the welfare state. He also strongly advocated the Republican ideal of reducing government regulation of the economy, including the burden of an immoral level of federal taxation. These positions prevailed in that election cycle, leading to his defeat of Jimmy Carter in the 1980 Presidential election. His Presidency led to Reaganomics which was founded on the beliefs that reducing taxes in order to stimulate investment and growth, controlling the money supply to reduce inflation, and deregulating the private sector to spur the economy. Reagan implemented the strategic security policies that led to the fall of the Soviet Union, and ended the cold war. His belief that America is the greatest country in history is told in his policies and reflected in the growth and prosperity the Americans people experienced throughout the remainder of the twentieth century. Ronald Reagan brought this country out of a recession and returned the US to greatness and is regarded by some historians, and a majority of the American people, as one the greatest Presidents in history. For all of these reasons, Ronald Reagan is the stuff of American legends.

So where does a journalism major and former sportscaster from Idaho named Sarah Palin fit in? Prior to 2008, those few Americans who knew of her at all, knew only that Sarah Palin was the Republican Governor of Alaska. That changed dramatically, on August 29th 2008 when Republican Presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) introduced her as his running mate. Up until the announcement, the McCain campaign was running on empty. He had met Governor Palin at the National Governors meeting in February of that year and came away thoroughly impressed. Sarah Palin breathed a much-needed fire and energy into the McCain campaign, rousing the Republican base with a fervor not seen since the days of Reagan. Her acceptance speech caused Michael Reagan, son of President Reagan to say this:

“I’ve been trying to convince my fellow conservatives that they have been wasting their time in a fruitless quest for a new Ronald Reagan to emerge to lead our party and our nation. I insisted that we’d never see his like again because he was one of a kind. I was wrong!”

“Wednesday night I watched the Republican National Convention on television and there, before my very eyes, I saw my Dad reborn; only this time he’s a she. And what a she!”

Despite McCain’s defeat, Sarah Palin retains the ability, as a private citizen, to change the direction of the political winds, drive changes in policy and stir national debate. Just imagine what she could do as President. The left and the establishment right is terrified of her and it’s not because of who she is, it’s what she stands for: small Government, less regulation, less Government intrusion into our personal lives and the need for a national common sense approach to energy. In short, she holds firmly to the same principles that elevated Reagan to the presidency.

Sarah Palin, should she decide to run for President, would lead our country back to greatness but would not submit to political parties and foreign leaders. She would stand for this country in much the same way Reagan did, leading our country back to greatness. You can say that Sarah Palin has her own “True Grit” and love of country.

This author has been fortunate to be alive at the same time as legends, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, and Ronald Reagan. Now, I am witnessing the rise of a new American legend!

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