Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly. Thanks for watching us tonight.
Why Americans liked Ronald Reagan, that is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo." As the nation begins a week-long tribute to President Reagan, pictures like these are reminding people that Ronald Reagan was, indeed, a human being. And people loved him. He wasn't just a president.
It's easy to memorialize President Reagan as a myth. We are not going to do that. The truth is that while he served as president, his overall approval rating was 53 percent according to [the] Gallup [organization]. By comparison, President Clinton's approval rating was overall 55 percent.
But Mr. Reagan's image has aged well. Americans have grown fonder of him over the years. And I think I know why. Ronald Reagan loved America and was not shy about saying that. He was a son of a town drunk in Tampico, Illinois, but rose up to become the most powerful man in the world.
President Clinton also did this. His father abandoned him. So there is no question that everyone in America can succeed if they work hard and persevere.
Reagan embraced that belief. And it drove his anti-Communist, anti-big government ideology. Above all else, Ronald Reagan wanted Americans to be self-reliant and take advantage of their freedoms. Reagan was a traditionalist, who believed America was well-founded and that the achievements of regular folks drove the country.
So he came across as an optimist and he made people feel better about their country and about themselves. Today much of that feeling is gone as America is a divided nation fighting an intense war against terrorists and plagued by dishonest ideologues who seek to impose a far different America on the folks.
It's hard to be optimistic when fundamental creeds like America's Judeo-Christian philosophy, like competitive capitalism, like responsibility for one's actions are all under fire by the likes of George Soros and other "open society people."
Even the optimism of President Reagan would be challenged by organizations like the ACLU (search), the NAACP (search), and some large urban newspapers who want to tear down traditional America and replace it with a secular entitlement-driven system.
Ronald Reagan would have been appalled by that point of view. He didn't want to change America. He wanted to improve it. He wanted the message of freedom and free enterprise to spread all over the world.
This week, "The Factor" will examine the policies of Ronald Reagan as they are relevant today. President Bush would be wise to pay attention as Ronald Reagan secured more votes than any other president in history. There must be a reason why.
And that's "The Memo."
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
Time now for "The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day"...
While clear-thinking Americans understand all former presidents deserve respect, actor Danny Glover (search) has not gotten the message. The far-left Glover said this yesterday:
"The groundwork for the move steadily to the right happened with the Reagan administration. People want to elevate him to some mythic level, they have their own reasons for doing that."
Well, Glover, of course, entitled to his opinion. Perhaps he might want to button it up until the president is buried. But any kind of perspective is ridiculous in the case of Danny Glover.
--You can watch Bill O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo" and "Most Ridiculous Item" weeknights at 8 & 11p.m. ET on the Fox News Channel. Send your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org