Brief Note: David Barton and Ronald Reagan’s Pretty Shallow Faith

Photo: David Barton (Left); Eric Metaxas (Right)

In a Wednesday Onenewsnow article about Ronald Reagan’s Christianity, David Barton is quoted as saying:

Reagan’s faith matured over the years from a “pretty shallow” faith early on to more mature understanding of scripture.

While many people did doubt Reagan’s sincerity, Reagan biographer and Grove City College colleague Paul Kengor told me that Reagan never had a shallow faith. While Barton can be credited with acknowledging that Reagan had a faith, Kengor has shown via his many articles and books that Reagan’s faith was important in his life from his childhood.

Barton was asked to comment on a newly discovered letter written by Reagan to his atheist father-in-law. The letter was in essence an evangelistic appeal for his father-in-law to convert to Christianity. Kengor has a commentary on the letter here.

My concern in this post is not about Reagan’s faith. It seems clear to me that he was an imperfect believer as is the case with any believer. In my view, any comparisons to Donald Trump as court evangelical Robert Jeffress attempted earlier this year are faulty because Reagan actually believed in Christianity. In my opinion, Trump is acting the part and giving evangelicals just enough to keep them as a voting bloc.

Rather, this comment from Barton is another illustration of why he can’t be trusted as a historian. There has been a resurgence of interest in Reagan’s faith over the last decade or so. A historian familiar with the literature should be aware that there are good reasons to believe Reagan’s personal faith was meaningful to him and that he maintained those beliefs throughout his life. One might contest various applications of his faith or how consistent his actions were with the faith but to call his beliefs or faith shallow isn’t accurate.

By the way, if you want to get a icy silence from Wallbuilders, ask Mr. Barton about his earned doctorate.

Trump's DACA Decision is an Attack on Ronald Reagan's Legacy (VIDEO)

reaganEarlier today, Donald Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) would be “rescinded.” The decision which could result in the eventual deportation of nearly 800,000 people is an attack on the legacy of Ronald Reagan. Reagan supported amnesty for those who came into the country illegally but had settled into American communities. The GOP is no longer the party of Reagan on immigration.
In 1980, both Bush and Reagan in a campaign debate responded to a question about the children of illegal immigrants. Both Bush and Reagan provided a humane and responsible answer. Both understood the destabilizing effect of xenophobia and Reagan specifically rejected the idea of a “fence.” Both understood that a friendly and cooperative Mexico is vital to our security interests. Neither Reagan nor Bush would be welcome in today’s party of Trump. Watch:

In a debate with Democrat presidential candidate Walter Mondale in 1984, Reagan said:

I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and lived here, even though sometime back they may have entered illegally.

Reagan also understood that the economic problems of other countries create conditions which make it likely that people will flee to the U.S. Reagan did not condemn hard working people for wanting a better life. He saw America as the hope for that life. His goal was to improve relations with other nations to help lift them up. Now, the party of Reagan has become the party of America First which seems to mean American Only.
Today’s Republicans in Congress should find their backbone and stand in the tradition of Reagan. First, they need to pass veto-proof legislation which would protect the DACA participants and then next they should pass legislation which would allow a path to legalization for the undocumented.

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Reagan Biographer Paul Kengor on Donald Trump v. Ronald Reagan

From Donald Trump's Twitter page.
From Donald Trump’s Twitter page.

Recently, I asked my friend, colleague and Ronald Reagan biographer Paul Kengor to participate in a Q&A comparing Donald Trump with Ronald Reagan. It is my feeling that Reagan would not be welcome in today’s GOP and that he would be especially troubled by the emergence of Trump.  Kengor agrees and will respond to questions early next week. However, in the mean time, Paul sent along a link to an article he penned for the American Spectator. I think it well-written and brings some valuable observation about Trump in light of Paul’s knowledge of Reagan.

The whole thing is depressing. Consider, Rubio and Cruz, the two genuine conservative front-runners, are the hardworking sons of extraordinary immigrants from Cuba. They are quintessential American success stories. They are both solid Christian family men. And into the race comes a sudden self-proclaimed born-again conservative who laughs at them and eviscerates them, and is rewarded for it. It’s hard to watch.
All of which brings me back to Trump’s mastery of an altogether new campaign tactic of non-stop rapacious ridicule of opponents within one’s own party. The New Jersey casino founder brashly accused Ted Cruz of everything from being a closet Canadian citizen to cheating when the Donald lost Iowa. Schoolboy-like, Trump threatened lawsuits. Of late, he jumps in the sandbox and taunts Marco Rubio: “choker, choker!”
Can you imagine Ronald Reagan doing this? Reagan’s “11th commandment” was never to speak ill of another Republican. Donald Trump’s commandment is to speak ill of every Republican.
Do Republicans want this as the party’s new face and standard-bearer? Apparently those on the Trump side do. Many of them even assume the insult-king’s persona, dealing with dissenters with similar levels of obnoxiousness, blow-torching Republicans in the way of their Donald.

Go read the rest at the Spectator.

Ronald Reagan and George Bush on Illegal Immigration

I fondly remember this Republican party. More evidence to me that the GOP has lurched right and has left many of us in limbo. Unlike these principled leaders of the past, now the front runners for the presidential nomination argue over draconian details of a modern-day trail of tears. For this and other reasons, I don’t believe Ronald Reagan would be welcome in today’s GOP.
[youtube]https://youtu.be/vp46FiCD-qQ[/youtube]
Mass deportation of 11 million people would be a humanitarian disaster. I will do what little I can to prevent it.

Did Ronald Reagan oppose James Brady on gun control? No, David Barton, Reagan favored the Brady Bill (UPDATED)

UPDATE and Correction (2/26/13): David Barton responded to this post on his website in an article dated 2/21/13. He (or someone – the article speaks about him as if someone else wrote it) wrote:

In one part of the program, David specifically noted that even in the aftermath of the shootings of Presidents Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley, John Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan, there were not calls for gun control – that even Reagan (while lying in the hospital recovering from the wound) voiced opposition to such efforts. None of these shootings was used as a reason to immediately call for increased regulation of guns, as was done by President Obama in the aftermath of Sandy Hook (thus applying Rahm Emanuel’s axiom to never let a crisis go to waste). But several of David’s obsessive critics, being more concerned with opportunism than truth or context, quickly took to websites and blogs claiming that his statement concerning Reagan was erroneous – that Reagan did support gun control. 1But David’s statement was completely accurate, for it was ten years after Reagan was shot, and three years after he left office before he declared support for the Brady gun control bill. David had made very clear that his context was presidential responses in the aftermath of shootings; and President Reagan, unlike President Obama, had not used an emotional national crisis to call for gun control.

To get the context, here again is what Beck and Barton said about Reagan at about 3:53 into the video (embedded below):

Beck: The guy who was shot and almost died on the table, Ronald Reagan – what did he do?
Barton: Fought gun control, was not going to allow it, and it didn’t, I mean it didn’t for 15 years. So you had the press secretary of Reagan [James Brady, who was also shot during the assassination attempt on Reagan] who is for it but Reagan himself said, no, no, no, we punish the perpetrators, not taking everybody’s guns away and we just fought that.

To me, the context does not make it clear that Barton was only talking about the post-assassination attempt period. Beck asked Barton what Reagan did on gun control and the correct answer would have been he initially opposed it but later changed his mind and favored the Brady bill.
However, my post does not make Reagan’s early opposition clear and I should have done so. Reagan did sign a gun control law while governor of California and while president signed a bill in 1986 which restricted new ownership of automatic weapons. However, that same 1986 bill relaxed some restrictions previously in place and Reagan had expressed opposition to strict gun control proposals. Thus, the proper response to questions about Reagan’s position is that he changed his mind over the years and came to favor some gun control proposals.
Barton also claims that prior incidents of gun violence did not bring calls for gun control. This is simply incorrect. Perhaps the sitting president in each case did not call for gun control but such proposals have been made by other political leaders in reaction to gun violence throughout our history. A quick review of the ProQuest database of newspapers finds many such calls after the attempt on Reagan and the murder of John Lennon a year before. Earlier, the National Firearms Act of 1934 was in part a response to mob violence at the time.
………………….
(Original post begins here)
With the national conversation on the 2nd Amendment, David Barton is out talking about the Second Amendment and his version of history. In this clip with Glenn Beck, he links the formation of the National Rifle Association to KKK busting activity — something not even the NRA does. But for the purpose of this post, I want to note how he misleads viewers about Ronald Reagan’s position on gun control. First watch (transcript of section from 3:53 to 4:11):

 

Beck: The guy who was shot and almost died on the table, Ronald Reagan – what did he do?
Barton: Fought gun control, was not going to allow it, and it didn’t, I mean it didn’t for 15 years. So you had the press secretary of Reagan [James Brady, who was also shot during the assassination attempt on Reagan] who is for it but Reagan himself said, no, no, no, we punish the perpetrators, not taking everybody’s guns away and we just fought that.

Barton is off here. In the past couple of days, conservatives have been writing about Reagan’s views on gun control. As they point out, Reagan favored the Brady Bill and in 1991 wrote an op-ed for the New York Times advocating passage of the bill. Brady was for modest gun control and Reagan did not say no, no, no.
Writing in the Hartford Courant, Brett Joshpe reminds us that Reagan favored some gun control proposals. Joshpe notes that Reagan might be considered a traitor in his own party by today’s standards. Reagan’s op-ed in the NYT left no doubt where he stood:

This level of violence must be stopped. Sarah and Jim Brady are working hard to do that, and I say more power to them. If the passage of the Brady bill were to result in a reduction of only 10 or 15 percent of those numbers (and it could be a good deal greater), it would be well worth making it the law of the land.

In the op-ed, Reagan noted that he had signed a gun control law while Governor of CA. Furthermore, Reagan opposed the availability of assault guns. In 1994, Reagan joined former presidents Carter and Ford to favor a ban on the manufacture of assault weapons (also see these remarks on AK-47s). They wrote:

“This is a matter of vital importance to the public safety. . . . Although assault weapons account for less than 1% of the guns in circulation, they account for nearly 10% of the guns traced to crime. . . .
“While we recognize that assault-weapon legislation will not stop all assault-weapon crime, statistics prove that we can dry up the supply of these guns, making them less accessible to criminals.
“We urge you to listen to the American public and to the law enforcement community and support a ban on the further manufacture of these weapons.”

Clearly, Reagan’s views were misrepresented on the Glenn Beck show. Reagan did not oppose James Brady and did not say no, no, no.
UPDATE: Thanks to The Blaze for updating their article to reflect this post and Reagan’s actual position on the Brady Bill.
Also, I asked gun control expert UCLA prof Adam Winkler if the NRA was started in part to drive out the KKK as Barton told Beck, and he replied briefly: “No.” See his tweet here.

 

Would the GOP nominate Ronald Reagan today?

Reading today’s Politico made me doubt that Reagan would make the cut in 2012.

Indeed, by the end of the weekend, a dozen potential presidential hopefuls will have auditioned for the role of activist hero at CPAC, which is organized by Cardenas’s group.

So far, though, every leading contender seems to have a potentially fatal flaw.

Mitt Romney has a reputation for flip-flopping, which he acquired during the 2008 campaign and for his record on health care as governor of Massachusetts. Meanwhile, there are doubts about former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s readiness for the national arena. And while Pawlenty remains a cipher to most Republicans, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is entirely too well-known.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, meanwhile, alienated the GOP’s social conservative wing by calling for a “truce” on cultural issues. And Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is an admitted creature of the Washington establishment who has called ideological purity a “dead-dog loser.”

In the wake of the Republican Party’s sweeping victory in 2010, conservatives have less patience than ever for that message. They’re hoping for a nominee who’s a “full conservative,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins — someone who can completely satisfy the economic, social and foreign policy wings, all at the same time.

By “full conservative” Perkins means someone who is sufficiently anti-gay. The Family Research Council pulled out of the CPAC convention, going on now, because a conservative gay group, GOProud, was allowed to take part.

Now consider that former CA Governor Ronald Reagan publicly opposed the 1978 Briggs Initiative which would have allowed school districts to fire and refuse to hire gays teachers and those straight teachers who spoke favorably about homosexuals. The measure failed and Reagan was given some credit for the defeat by gay groups. He had nothing to gain politically and a lot to lose in that he was gearing up for a run at the White House – which of course he won.

What if Reagan approached the GOP race today opposing discrimination against gays as a point in his resume? Can you imagine how he would be treated by the social conservative camp?  I suspect the social conservative establishment would see it as a disqualification.

Three cases in point; for several years former MN Governor, Tim Pawlenty, has been distancing himself from a gay rights employment  measure he supported in 1992.  Some social conservatives will not forgive Mitt Romney for his stance on gay issues when he was MA’s chief executive. And Mitch Daniels is a non-starter for some social conservatives because he has called for a truce on social issues.

Clearly, the bar is high. Out of reach, in my view because the country is moving toward a more moderate position on gay issues, while tilting right on matters that get people elected to Congress. Conceivably, Reagan would play about right in today’s electoral environment but he might be rejected by the current crop of social conservative advocates. Back to Politico:

Calling the 112th Congress the “most conservative” in memory, Perkins argued that there’s now a tougher standard for self-described conservative candidates: “Folks are going to be looking for what we just saw elected to Congress.”

Club for Growth President Chris Chocola, whose group is vetting presidential candidates based on their records on economic issues, agreed that the 2012 crowd has a “higher hurdle to clear.”

“There’s a heightened level of scrutiny that began during the 2010 cycle that’s carrying over into 2012,” he said. “There’s not an obvious choice right now that would be energized by our membership — not to say they couldn’t get energized.”

I submit that Reagan’s role opposing the Briggs Initiative would place him in similar company as Mitt Romney or Mitch Daniels today. With that in mind, I applaud CPAC for keeping the conservative tent a Reagan-friendly one. Now what will the GOP do?

1984 Press Conference: Ronald Reagan opposed discrimination against gays

In a post earlier today, I referenced a Baltimore Sun article where Democrat Presidential nominee Walter Mondale said he heard President Ronald Reagan speak against discrimination against gays. I found a transcript of that June 14, 1984 press conference in the Reagan archives which supports Mondale’s statement. Here is the brief answer to a reporter’s question about gay rights in employment:

Employment Rights for Homosexuals

Q. Mr. President, there is a move afoot in the Congress that has the support of many of the Democratic Presidential candidates to change the Federal civil rights law to prohibit job discrimination against homosexuals. Is that something that you would favor?

The President. Now, I was so — you’re going to have to start again here for — first few words. I missed them. I was so confused about three of you — —

Q. There’s a measure before the Congress to change the Federal civil rights law to specifically prohibit job discrimination against homosexuals. Is that something that you would favor?

The President. Well, I just have to say I am opposed to discrimination, period. Now — —

Q. Well, would you support the measure, Mr. President?

The President. What?

Q. Will you support that measure, putting it into — —

The President. I want to see — I want to see what else they have there.

A few months later, Mondale told a Tupelo, MS crowd that he held essentially the same position as Reagan.

But the issue arose last Thursday when Mondale was asked at a Tupelo, Miss., appearance, why he supported “perversions” such as “gay rights.”

He answered: “I saw Reagan on a news conference a couple of months ago and someone said that about homosexuals.

He said, I wouldn’t discriminate against them.

That’s my position.

Does that draw a distinction between us?”

Reagan’s words in 1984 are consistent with his actions in 1978, opposing discrimination in CA by campaigning against the Briggs Initiative. When Reagan said that he wanted to see what else was in the bill referenced by the reporter, it seems clear that he was unfamiliar with the specific piece of legislation. However, on the broader question, Reagan expressed opposition to discrimination based on sexual orientation. Will those who now seek congruence with Reagan’s policies follow his lead?

Was Ronald Reagan anti-gay? Part 2 – The CPAC boycott

Yesterday, a group of groups boycotting the Conservative Political Action Committee convention ran this full page ad in the Washington Times.

Reagan is incredibly popular among conservatives and the current fight is over whether or not Reagan would support the social conservatives in their dispute with CPAC over the inclusion of GOProud at the convention. In an earlier post on this topic, I noted that Reagan was clearly pro-life but he did not have much to say on gay issues.

In that post, I examined one statement attributed to Reagan that seems to indicate his willingness to discriminate against gays. Here is what I wrote then:

About gay issues, Coulter provided an unsourced quote attributed to Reagan:  

“Society has always regarded marital love as a sacred expression of the bond between a man and a woman. It is the means by which families are created and society itself is extended into the future. … We will resist the efforts of some to obtain government endorsement of homosexuality.”

Looking for a source, all references to the quote I can find point to a 1984 edition of Presidential Biblical Scorecard, a publication from the Biblical News Service. I can’t find any current website for this publication, but have contacted some people for leads about the accuracy of the quote. It may be that the quote is a paraphrase of Reagan’s perceived position.

One reason I wonder if the quote reflects what Reagan’s views were at the time is because he was instrumental in helping to defeat a California anti-gay ballot measure in 1978. Proposition 6, also called the Briggs Initiative after GOP state Senator John Briggs, would have forbidden schools from hiring gay teachers and allowed schools to dismiss teachers who promoted homosexuality.

I contacted David Balsiger, who ran the Presidential Biblical Scorecard at the time, and asked him if the quote came directly from Reagan, the campaign or was derived in some other fashion. Mr. Balsiger wrote back to say, “I do not seem to be able to find the quote” and then he asked me where it was in the publication. Since I don’t have it, I don’t know. And apparently, he doesn’t know either.

On August 17, 1984, the publishers of the Scorecard put out a press release that made a definite claim about the quote.

On homosexuality, a subject many had thought Reagan was intentionally avoiding since taking office, the president told the Scoreboard:

“In the Judeo-Christian tradition it (marital love) is the means

by which husband and wife participate with God in the creation of a new human life.  In part, the erosion of these values has given way to a celebration of forms of sexual expression most reject.  We will resist the efforts of some to obtain government endorsement of homosexuality.”

Reagan’s position on homosexuality clearly distinguishes him from Walter Mondale, who is a frequent speaker at gay funding events and an endorser of the Gay Rights bill (S.430) before the U.S. Senate. The Democratic Party platform also incorporates a number of gay activist planks calling for federal legislation to legitimize homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle.

Now, the publisher cannot find the quote.

Of course, I don’t know for certain what happened. However, there is some reason to doubt that Reagan made the quote or even knew it was being circulated. According to a September 20, 1984 report in the Baltimore Sun, Reagan’s campaign used the statement but Reagan might not have seen it.

WASHINGTON — In a new departure for a presidential candidate, Walter Mondale is making a strong but quiet effort to win the votes of homosexuals, a minority group that has become increasingly politicized in recent years. Mondale has appointed a member of his campaign staff, Sandra Gillis, as a full-time liaison to homosexual groups.

She says she’s the first aide to a presidential candidate ever assigned to deal with homosexuals — and that there are enough homosexuals in the country to ensure a Mondale victory. The Mondale effort contrasts sharply with that of President Reagan’s. Reagan and Bush do not have a liaison to homosexuals, and John Buckley, a campaign spokesman, said no consideration was ever given to such a position. Instead, the Reagan campaign has been circulating a statement by the president that is critical of homosexuals.

“We will resist the efforts of some to obtain government endorsement of homosexuality,” Reagan is quoted as saying. Actually, Reagan never said exactly that.

The statement was drafted by campaign officials in response to a questionnaire from a conservative Christian group.

Then, it was submitted to the White House, where it was approved as Reagan’s position. Gillis criticized the Reagan statement as irrelevant.

“If the issue was endorsement of a life style, we’d speak to it,” she said in an interview yesterday.

“But that’s not the issue … the position we maintain is one in favor of civil rights for all Americans.” Mondale backs a Senate bill that would ban discrimination against homosexuals in employment.

Even Mondale’s gay liaison did not want to talk morality at the time (“If the issue was endorsement of a life style, we’d speak to it…”), but she wanted to clarify that Mondale endorsed civil recognition of gays. And, according this article, Mondale believed his position was about the same as Reagan’s.

We are in the process of talking to every gay activist in the country.” Mondale, however, has emphasized his support for gay rights while campaigning, and Gillis said she did not know of “any specific events that are planned” to appeal to homosexuals. But the issue arose last Thursday when Mondale was asked at a Tupelo, Miss., appearance, why he supported “perversions” such as “gay rights.”

He answered: “I saw Reagan on a news conference a couple of months ago and someone said that about homosexuals.

He said, I wouldn’t discriminate against them.

That’s my position.

Does that draw a distinction between us?”

I have been unable to find any record of the Reagan news conference to which Mondale referred. Clearly, though, Mondale thought Reagan would not discriminate against gays. As I noted in my prior post on this subject, Reagan did not believe in discrimination, at least as it related to teaching jobs. Reagan was a pivotal figure in the 1978 defeat of the Briggs Initiative (Proposition 6) in CA. That ballot initiative would have forbid gays from holding teaching positions in public schools. Reagan opposed it and helped secure defeat of the proposition.

That the Baltimore Sun article reported on the quote indicates that it was circulated at the time but it is not clear at all to me that Reagan was aware of it. It doesn’t really sound like Reagan and his actions as California governor and even some as President (e.g., the gay couple to spend the night in the White House did so during the Reagan Presidency) seem to run counter to it.  

So what would Ronald Reagan think of CPAC today? Not being a Reagan scholar, I can only guess, but I doubt he would boycott it.

Thanks to Kyle Mantyla for the Baltimore Sun reference.

Note: I just noticed that the question about gay rights put to Mondale came in Tupelo, MS, the home of the American Family Association. Not much has changed in Tupelo.

What Might Have Been – The Man Who Could Have Reversed Roe v. Wade

This post is another in a series of interviews with Grove City College friend and colleague, Paul Kengor. In this interview, Dr. Kengor discloses behind-the-scenes events involving Ronald Reagan and one of his closest advisors, Judge Bill Clark. In his new book about Bill Clark, Paul provides rich detail about Judge Clark’s role in winning the Cold War. He also provides this look into the rest of the story behind what would eventually be the appointment of Sandra Day O’Connor.

Throckmorton: You have written about several prominent political figures. Your latest book is about Judge William P. “Bill” Clark, titled, The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007). Tell us a little about who he was and what roles he played in the nation’s recent political history.

Kengor: In so many ways, Bill Clark is the untold story of Ronald Reagan’s political career, from Reagan’s governorship to presidency, and was no doubt the most instrumental and forgotten player in the effort to defeat atheistic Soviet communism. Clark is one of the most important figures in the fall of communism—period. Among Catholics—Clark is a devout Catholic—he was the single most significant American Catholic in the collapse of communism, and, in that respect, I would argue the second most important Catholic in the world in terms of the Soviet collapse, next only to Pope John Paul II.

Naturally, one might ask: If Bill Clark was so central to this huge moment in history, why don’t we know more about him? Because of his striking humility: he never promoted himself, always refusing to tell his story, until now—in this book.

Throckmorton: Aside from what Clark did in the Cold War, you talk about “what might have been” in the Culture War, and the difference Clark could have made for the cause of life in the United States. Talk about that.

Kengor: This is the other untold story, and the one theme in the book that thus far has not received the attention it merits. In June 1981, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart announced that he was stepping down from the high court. Ronald Reagan, the new president, needed a replacement for Stewart. At that time, Bill Clark was serving as Reagan’s deputy secretary of state, fresh off a decade of service as a judge in the California court system, where Governor Reagan had appointed him all the way up to the California Supreme Court.

So, once Stewart resigned, Reagan called Clark into the Oval Office and asked him if he wanted to be considered for the court vacancy. Clark said no. He said he enjoyed what he was doing for Reagan’s foreign policy, and he never came to Washington to die there. He wanted to serve Reagan faithfully for a few crucial years and then return to California to get back to his family and life on his ranch.

When Clark said that, President Reagan pulled a note card from his coat pocket—which included only a few names, I believe with Clark’s at the top—and said, “That’s what I thought you’d say, Bill.” Reagan scratched off Clark’s name.

That was a great day for those who have no respect for the sanctity and dignity of unborn human life. They exhaled a huge sigh of relief.

I have no doubt that if Clark had said “yes,” he would still to this day be sitting on the Supreme Court. Instead, the job went to Sandra Day O’Connor.

Throckmorton: Would Judge Clark have voted to overturn Roe v. Wade?

Kengor: Absolutely. Bill Clark would have been the swing vote that overturned Roe v. Wade, particularly through the 1992 case, Casey v. Planned Parenthood. He would not have voted the awful way that Sandra Day O’Connor voted.

Furthermore, we need to consider the influence he could have had not only through his own vote but possibly on the vote of Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Reagan pick that came after O’Connor. Clark had known Kennedy well. They regularly had lunch together when they were both judges in San Francisco, Clark on the state Supreme Court and Kennedy on the federal court. Kennedy, a fellow conservative Catholic with Irish roots, was known to be pro-life, a key reason why Reagan nominated him. Kennedy, however, is a man easily influenced by others, including the anti-life culture in Washington and on the high court. He became a reliable anti-life vote for those who champion abortion rights.

Had Clark served on the high court, the vote on Casey could have flipped from 5-4 against Casey to 5-4 in favor, and perhaps even 6-3 in favor if Clark influenced Kennedy.

Throckmorton: Did Clark know at the time that he could have played this historical role?

Kengor: That’s a good question, and I’m not sure. This much was and remains certain: Rather than win the Culture War, Bill Clark instead went on to run the Reagan National Security Council, where, through roughly 100 National Security Decision Directives (plus much more), he laid the foundation to win the Cold War. He opted to defeat the evil of Soviet communism rather than the evil of American abortion.

I suppose that’s a large enough challenge and contribution for one man for one lifetime. He left the Culture War to others. That’s now our task.

Throckmorton: How can people find out more about this book?

Kengor: Ignatius Press has set up a website, www.TheJudgeBook.com. Please take a look. This man’s life is a quite notable and moving story.