Michael Barone

 Brought it back, because it was the same spirit brought to politics by Franklin Roosevelt, for whom Reagan voted four times. Roosevelt and Reagan both came to office when people had given up on the American economy, and both brought it back toward prosperity and abundance -- Roosevelt by expanding government, Reagan by cutting taxes and curbing inflation, freeing the American economy to produce the largely unpredicted surge of prosperity of the last 20 years.

 Roosevelt and Reagan as presidents both faced a world where totalitarian regimes were on the march and where the United States seemed helpless to stop them. Roosevelt led the American people to victory and the destruction of Nazism and took steps to keep the peace in the postwar world he did not live to see. Reagan pushed the Soviet Union to the brink of collapse and had the satisfaction, before his mind dimmed, of watching as the Berlin Wall fell and Moscow's empire crumbled. He is buried now near a slab from that wall, overlooking the mountains and the Pacific to the west.

 Reagan always admired Roosevelt, even as he came to oppose many of his policies, and there were similarities in their character. Both were optimistic and friendly and seemed open, yet both had hard cores inaccessible even to their closest aides: cold steel beneath the smiles. Both had courage, "grace under pressure," as Lady Thatcher said. Roosevelt, at his speeches, stood in steel braces and with great effort, in enormous pain, walked forward to the microphone and addressed the nation. Reagan, after he was shot, stood and walked from the ambulance into the hospital, taking care to button his jacket, then collapsed when he was out of camera range. The two men stand now, in history, the two most consequential presidents of the 20th century.

Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM