President Reagan on the unexpected, decisive victory

By Dave Andrusko

Pro-life President Ronald Reagan

Pro-life President Ronald Reagan

It’s my custom–often but not always– to check various sites for “what happened this day in history.” Yesterday I was so busy I didn’t take a look.

If I had I would have been reminded that 30 years ago–on April 22,1986–pro-life President Ronald Reagan delivered a memorable speech at a think-tank’s anniversary dinner.

It is by now a truism to anyone who has bothered to keep up with the scholarship on President Reagan that while he was usually given high marks for delivery, he was dramatically underrated as a thinker. Our 40th president was very smart and a truly gifted writer.

The following is an excerpt from that speech, one which pro-lifers ought to keep by their bedside. It is an invaluable reminder about hope, faith, and charity and the power of good to ultimately defeat evil.

One of the most valuable lessons that history has to teach us is that after the most terrible frustration and discouragement sometimes change can come so quickly and so unexpectedly, it surprises even those who have made it happen. This is particularly true in Washington. One Cabinet member in a former administration put it very well: “The toughest job in Washington,” he said, “is being able to tell the difference between the tides, the waves, and the ripples.” Well, actually that’s been the problem with the perceptions of many of the experts and the pundits; they concentrate so much on the ripples, they can’t see the waves and the tides.

Mr. Reagan then talked about what was one of his favorite analogy–March 1943–when it had become clear the allies were losing the Battle of the Atlantic. But then only a month later, it all turned around for a combination of reasons, in the process confounding the experts. “In a little over 60 days, the looming catastrophe had turned to decisive victory.”

Nothing that dramatic is likely to happen in our battle against the evil of abortion (and, of course, I am NOT comparing the Abortion Industrial Complex to the Nazis).

But what I am saying is that there have been and will again be times when waves and tides in the public’s mood favoring the littlest Americans will come rolling in. The most famous example may be the educational tide that accompanied the debate over partial-birth abortion.

We now are educating the public to the gruesome truth about dismemberment abortion and the capacity of the unborn child by week 20 (if not earlier) to experience unimaginable pain when she is torn apart.

We can hope–we can trust–that as these twin truths make their way into the marketplace of ideas, it’ll represent change that came “so quickly and so unexpectedly, it surprises even those who have made it happen.”

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