Ronald Reagan was dismissed by the intelligentsia as just an actor who read speeches written by others until Kiron K. Skinner discovered a box of Reagan's original radio scripts written in his own hand on ruled yellow paper from 1975 to 1979.
Since he had no staff to research and write for him in those years, the scripts prove that Reagan was a one-man think tank, well versed in political philosophy and history, fully capable of writing his own speeches.
Skinner is the W. Glenn Campbell Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and an associate professor of history and political science at Carnegie Mellon University. In December 2005, he was appointed to the National Security Education Board by President George W. Bush.
Skinner's discovery, and the subsequent publication of many of Reagan's more than 1,000 handwritten radio commentaries, changed the way history now respects Reagan.
M. Stanton Evans, journalism professor and board member of the American Conservative Union, has performed a similar transformation for the most reviled American in modern U.S. history, Sen. Joseph McCarthy.
Evans' 663-page work, "Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America's Enemies" (Crown Forum, $29.95), is the result of six years of reading primary sources. Evans proves that almost everything about McCarthy in current history books is a lie and will have to be revised.
It's an interesting sidelight that one of Reagan's old radio commentaries referred to Evans as "a very fine journalist." He is, indeed, but this book shows that he also is a Sherlock Holmes-type detective who chased every clue to find the truth and to write accurate history in elegant prose.
Evans' vindication of McCarthy was made possible by recently released files, such as the Venona papers (the secret messages between Moscow and its U.S. agents decrypted by our government and released in 1995), data from Soviet archives, and executive-session transcripts of Senate committees that were finally opened after a 50-year ban. Evans' book is copiously documented and reproduces some critical pages from never-before-released files.
In the early 1950s, Joe McCarthy was one of the most popular men in America. Average U.S. citizens recognized him as Horatio at the Bridge battling against our nation's sworn enemies, the Soviet Communists.
McCarthy understood, long before Reagan, that the Soviet Union was an evil empire, one of whose strategies was to infiltrate agents into our government in order to guide our policy to favor Communist goals. In fact, our government was much more infested with Soviet agents than McCarthy imagined.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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