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Authors: Bill O'Reilly

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But one thing is virtually certain: Americans are losing the ability to think critically, and that will make it much easier for manipulative, charismatic politicians to gain power.

For parents and grandparents, the situation is frustrating because many of the things that we enjoyed in our youth are now obsolete and have been banished from society. Not good. Playground competition, creative game playing, Monopoly on rainy days—all of these things brought some maturity and a lot of joy, at least to me.

I've actually bribed kids to sample pond ice hockey, one-on-one basketball, and stickball against brick walls. For my trouble, I mostly get eye rolls and deep sighs. The machines are always calling these kids.

Sadly, there is little you can do about any of this, and truthfully, you shouldn't waste too much time trying to stem the tide. The kids will interact with machines, they will. But if you're a parent, design definite boundaries for your children about what they can and can't do in their free time. It will be tough, but you have to demand that they converse or at least listen to your words at the dinner table or elsewhere. Don't allow your children to become zombies dependent on cheap stimulation. These machines and the moronic stuff on them are addictive, and you, the parent, have an obligation to limit the stimulation in a fair way and keep your children clean.

Age-Old Wisdom

But things are not completely bleak. If you are articulate and well-read, your place in America is getting stronger no matter what age you are. If you know how to relate to people, how to engage them
in conversation, your potential for prospering is greatly enhanced. With some hesitation, I'll use myself as an example.

I've been anchoring
The O'Reilly Factor
for fourteen years, and I am sixty-one years old. I keep myself in reasonable shape, but there is no question that I'm in the AARP zone. Years ago, I might have been pushed out by some hot-shot younger anchor. Remember, a younger Dan Rather (who turned out to be a Pinhead) replaced an older Walter Cronkite as the anchor of the
CBS Evening News
in March 1981. Cronkite was forced out of his job even though he was performing well. The CBS suits wrongly calculated that Rather would attract younger viewers and refresh the franchise. The result, as we now know, was disastrous. The
CBS Evening News
has never recovered.

Here's proof that I'm a card-carrying member of the AARP, and proud of it!
Author's Collection

But that most likely would not happen today. There are few hot-shot younger people in TV news now because their experience and education just can't measure up to those of us who worked in the golden age of network news.

Back in the 1970s and '80s, TV news was a serious business, and
companies spent big money sending reporters around the globe to cover important stories. As a national correspondent for ABC News and, later, for
Inside Edition,
I traveled the world reporting all kinds of situations, including combat and intense political conflict. I have visited seventy-five countries and earned two master's degrees: one from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, the other from Boston University's School of Communication. In addition, I spent my third year in college studying at the University of London in a third-year-abroad program. So which younger journalist is going to compete with that? You tell me.

These days, TV news outfits outsource just about everything. No longer is a Bill O'Reilly sent to Argentina to cover the Falkland Islands war. Now some guy named José from Buenos Aires will file the information. José is a lot cheaper, and that's primarily what news organizations care about these days.

Also, the decline of the disciplines of history and geography in America's public schools is shocking. Young journalists today often lack any knowledge of what happened before they showed up on the planet. Go out to the mall and ask some kid where Bangladesh is. Then ask the youth to name one Supreme Court justice. Try it.

So if you think about it, I'm pretty lucky. My competition for the anchor seat on the
Factor
is slim. The old adage says, “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” The rise of the machines is creating far more Pinheads than Patriots and is eroding the traditional skills needed to succeed in the communications industry. The strong will always survive, and if you are dependent on machines, rather than on your God-given abilities, you will not be strong. I suffered while building my frame of reference and experience file, but it is now rock solid. No machine is going to beat me in a debate.

In the future, a few citizens will dominate the many in America. Knowledge will be power, escapism will be weakness. Our society is indeed changing. All you can do is ride with it while sticking to your traditional disciplines. You'll win with those.

JELLY BEANS, PEANUTS, AND HUMBLE PIE

In December 2009 the Pew Research Center did a survey finding that Americans rated the first decade of the twenty-first century the worst in fifty years. Curiously, those polled rated the 1980s the best modern decade. Ronald Reagan presided in the White House for most of the '80s. More on that in a moment.

In addition to the Pew information, an ABC News poll found that a whopping 61 percent of Americans believe that the United States is in a long-term decline. To me, that proves that most of us are uneasy about the great changes taking place in America and around the world. We are not confident that the new age will help us very much or result in a more prosperous environment. We are concerned about our place in a changing America.

President Reagan succeeded in the 1980s because he successfully sold the vision of a strong, traditional America. He exuded confidence as he put forth that we are a noble nation whose blood and sacrifice have greatly benefited the world. Mr. Reagan was not a big details man while in the Oval Office. Rather, he was a symbol of America's strength and basic goodness. The bright, shining city on the hill image incisively defines the Reagan era.

Many liberal Americans despised President Reagan and still do. They claim that he ignored the poor and catered to the moneyed interests. They contend that his opposition to abortion demeaned women, while his intense dislike of runaway entitlement spending hurt the poor. That's the point here: Reagan's belief system is in sharp contrast with the policies of Barack Obama, and now the late President is used as a contrast magnet. Are you a Reagan person or an Obama person? And here is where America must make a major decision: go back to tradition in the Reagan mold, or continue with progressive change under the Obama banner.

Reagan versus Obama. That's what the next presidential elec
tion will likely be about. We just don't know who will be playing Reagan.

Former President Ronald Reagan will always be a true Patriot in my mind.
Reagan Library

Can you imagine the newly elected Ron going to Cairo and telling the Muslim world that the USA had exploited them in the past? Can you imagine that? Even though America
has
exploited the Arab world at times, it has also greatly helped those politically challenged nations. Reagan would have trumpeted our largesse and avoided the mea culpas.

President Obama obviously sees it differently. He believes that a humble America will emerge as more powerful in world opinion than an arrogant America (Obama has branded the Bush administration as chief culprit in the hubris department). Mr. Obama's conciliatory demeanor abroad has played well with the liberal press, but
back home the folks are becoming increasingly skeptical, especially when they hear statements like this:

The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of coexistence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations.

Ronald Reagan would have shuddered and said something like, “There you go again,” the famous refrain from his presidential debate with Jimmy Carter. Unfortunately, in my
humble
opinion, President Obama has misread history. The primary oppressors of Muslims have been other Muslims. Few democratic states exist in the Islamic world. In fact, most are brutal totalitarian regimes where women are repressed and non-Muslims are persecuted. It's difficult to see what colonialism had to do with these cultural atrocities. Besides, the USA has never been involved with colonial activities in the Muslim world. With respect, Mr. Obama was talking through his hat in Cairo!

If you understand America, you know that most Americans sincerely believe that their country is a force for good in the world. And you know what? It is. I've seen it time and time again. For all his unilateral bluster, President Bush saved millions of lives in Africa by financing a number of AIDS and malaria projects. Because of the tens of millions of dollars he spent on those programs, compliments of the American taxpayer, many human beings are alive today. That's just one small example of what the USA routinely practices all around the world. Whenever disaster hits, we as individuals and as a nation are the most generous responders. Just ask the Haitians.

So President Obama risks damage to his image when he runs
down the USA. He is far too smart a man not to understand historical reality. I can only assume that portraying America in a more humble way overseas is a strategy on his part. It is the only thing I can think of that would drive such rhetoric. Whatever his motivation, it is a Pinhead move.

Psychoanalyzing anyone is a waste of time, so I will pose just one more question about Barack Obama's personal worldview. Speaking at a press conference in April 2010, he told the world that, “like it or not,” America is a superpower. Some liberals I know don't like it. They see the USA as a bully. But I agree with many of our fellow citizens that America's superpower status is often a force for good. Our military and humanitarian strength has brought relief to millions. Every tyrant in the world fears us. After every disaster, Americans are on the ground, helping out. We are an overwhelmingly positive presence in this world because we have the money and power to impose justice and to finance charity.

Portugal is a nice country; can they do that?

And if the United States does not right wrongs, who will? China? Russia? Uganda?

The question then becomes this: Is President Obama comfortable in his role as the most powerful person in the world? After closely observing him, I believe that he likes personal power, but is a bit uneasy with macro-power. I could be wrong on this.

Although younger Americans are not as emotional about their country as previous generations, most of us still admire a strong leader who talks
up
the USA. Ronald Reagan was a genius at it. Barack Obama has not yet embraced the concept. But why not?

The reason, I think, is that the President believes America is fundamentally flawed, and that we need to be more progressive in our outlook to create a more just society. Right now, the evidence suggests that Mr. Obama's “change you can believe in” mantra is being driven by his core belief that our system isn't fair because it is stacked against the poor and disadvantaged. Therefore, the President wants
to expand government power in order to provide folks with what they need: health care, fewer carbon fuels, and a more diverse economy that shares wealth.

In addition, Barack Obama is an internationalist, which means he believes America does not have an “exceptional” place in the world. He wants the United States to be humble on the international front, and if that means overemphasizing his country's mistakes, so be it.

The Reagan vision, of course, was the exact opposite: smaller government, lower federal taxes, expanded opportunities for the private marketplace in order to drive job creation in the private sector. President Reagan believed in the “trickle-down theory”—that is, if corporate America is doing well, the workingman and -woman will benefit by more employment opportunities and increased salaries produced by competition.

BOOK: Pinheads and Patriots
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ads

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