Newsweek's love for Barack Obama knows no bounds. After Obama's speech in Berlin, Newsweek published a headline that suggests an editor who's spent six days drunk on a merry-go-round: "Obama's Reagan Moment." That deserves the Lloyd Bentsen retort: "I knew Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan was a friend of mine. Barack Obama is no Ronald Reagan."
The Newsweek piece sneered that while Obama and John Kennedy spoke to more than 100,000 people, Reagan spoke to a much smaller audience, "only about 20,000," and they were outnumbered by leftist protesters the night before. They recalled, "Even some of Reagan's aides were embarrassed by the 'tear down this wall' line, thinking it was too provocative or grandiose." Newsweek would concede only that "Reagan understood stagecraft," and communism's fall "made his words prescient."
In other words, the Gipper was a showboat who got lucky.
This is nothing more than Newsweek's continuing campaign to rewrite history. Back in 1987, Newsweek was not prescient. They came to bury Reagan's speech as a desperate gesture of a crumbling lame-duck presidency ruined by Iran-contra. Their story on his trip began: "Ronald Reagan wasn't the only lame duck at the economic summit in Venice last week, and he wasn't the only allied leader to nod off when the proceedings turned soporific."
Newsweek chronicled Reagan's woes, then declared how only Mikhail Gorbachev could restore luster to the old man: "It is the ultimate paradox of Reagan's lifelong opposition to all things communist that a U.S.-Soviet arms agreement and a third summit with Gorbachev offer the best, and perhaps last, hope for reinvigorating his presidency." They saw Reagan with a foolish career of "opposition to all things communist" turning to Gorbachev as his savior, and painted Gorbachev as more persuasive and attractive to Europe. The magazine geniuses at the time seemed to adore Gorby as if he were ... Barack Obama.
At least Newsweek in 1987 (but not in 2008) chronicled what Reagan told the pro-Soviet protesters there at the end of his speech: "I wonder if they have ever asked themselves that if they should have the kind of government they apparently seek, no one would ever be able to do what they're doing again."
But Reagan's rhetorical daring in his time marks why Obama's Berlin remarks sounded so phony. He declared: "People of the world -- look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one. If we could win a battle of ideas against the communists, we can stand with the vast majority of Muslims who reject the extremism that leads to hate instead of hope."