Fascinating. (via Andrew Sullivan). Both of them were well-prepared, and they both strike me as smarter than the guys we have now. (I actually think RFK would have been a pretty good president in 1968, but that is a story for another day.) The Europeans asking them questions are just as contemptuous of Americans then as they would be now. Some things don’t change.
The last little comment from Reagan is a good synopsis of his view of things, which was extremelty consistent over many years.
I believe the highest aspiration of man should be individual freedom and the development of the–of the individual, that there is a sacredness to individual rights. And I would like to say to all of the young people as they pursue their way … I think you should weigh everything that is proposed to you, everything in the line of government and law and economic theory, everything of that kind and weigh it on this one scale–that it should at all times not offer you some kind of sanctuary or security in exchange for your right to fly as high and as far as your own strength and ability will take you as an individual, with no ceiling put on that effort. Plenty of room for a floor underneath so that no one in this world should live in degradation, beneath that floor, but you reserve the right for yourself to be free.
Note the business about a “floor.” That is what Reagan meant when he said he wanted to repeal the Great Society, but not the New Deal. Helping those who need it does not mean shackling those who do not. To Reagan, freedom meant no ceilings on how far you could go. How unfashionable. How timeless.