Editor's Note: What follows is a speech delivered by Neal Freeman from March 23 in Amelia Island, Fla., entitled "Lessons for Today From the Immortals: Buckley and Reagan." Mr. Freeman is an award-winning TV producer credited with more than one thousand programs for national broadcast. He served as an executive with the Hearst Corporation before founding his own advisory firm, the Blackwell Corporation. Mr. Freeman also served in the Reagan administration as the director of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Looking over this audience, I sense that I may have been around the political track a few more laps than most of you. I can tell you that every lap is unique in its own way -- and that the lap we completed last November was uniquely disappointing. Rarely in my experience has a winning candidate appealed to meaner spirits. Never has a winning candidate seemed less interested in calling his countrymen to reconciliation and common purpose. When has an American President, even in the afterglow of victory, seemed so small?
As you all are painfully aware, it is the settling judgment of the commentariat that the light of the American day is beginning to fade. They say that we are on the downslope of history and headed for inconsequence. That’s highly unlikely, in my view, but it may help to remember that ours is not by a wide measure the darkest day in the American story. Heed the words of Abrhama Lincolm, speaking from the pitch-blackness of December 1862: “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty and we must rise with the occasion . . . We must disenthrall ourselves and then we shall save our country.”