John Howard's In New York!

Or anyway he was yesterday. Here's the speech he gave at an AEI dinner. Largely he spoke about civilizational confidence.
I was here on that fateful September morning in 2001 having, only the previous day, met the President for the very first time.

To experience the shock and disbelief of a free and generous people being subjected to an unprovoked and evil attack left me with a feeling which I have retained to this day.
I speak to you tonight as an unapologetic and continuing advocate of the broad conservative cause, restlessly conscious, as you are, that the battle of ideas is never completely won and must always command both our attention and our energy.

Today’s world remains confronted by the ongoing threat of Islamic fascism, a new and quite unfamiliar assault on our values and way of life.

It relies on indiscriminate terror without regard to the identity or faith of its victims.

It also calculates that it is the nature of western societies to grow weary of long struggles and protracted debates. They produce, over time, a growing pressure for resolution or accommodation.

The particular challenge posed by extremist Islam means therefore that more than ever before continued cultural self-belief is critical to national strength.

Ronald Reagan and that other great warrior in our cause, Margaret Thatcher, taught us many things.

One of them was to remain culturally assertive, to understand always the importance of self belief in the psyche of a nation; to be willing to stand against the fashion of the time.

In his book “The President, the Pope and the Prime Minister” John O’Sullivan wrote of Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II and Margaret Thatcher “all three were handicapped by being too sharp, clear and definite in an age of increasingly fluid identities and sophisticated doubts. Put simply that Wojtyla was too Catholic, Thatcher too conservative and Reagan too American”.

Howard goes on to talk about the effect Reagan's example had on his own political career:
It was his unapologetic American character that really won me. In my years in politics I have seen or heard a no more evocative political slogan than that of “Morning in America” in 1984.

In a brilliant phrase it encapsulated simple patriotism, a confident but not arrogant assertion of the great values of American life and importantly told the American people that their country had emerged from the long post-Vietnam self flagellation.

When Ronald Reagan died Colin Powell reminded us that in the early 1980s military personnel often went to work in civilian clothes, such was the mindset of the time.

That was just one element of the cultural trepidation that President Reagan confronted and overcame.
Still need this today, he says:
In the protracted struggle against Islamic extremism there will be no stronger weapon than the maintenance by western liberal democracies of a steadfast belief in the continuing worth of our own national value systems. And where necessary a soaring optimism about the future of freedom and democracy.

We should not think that trading away some of the values which have made us who we are will buy us either immunity from terrorists or respect from noisy minorities.
And from there to taking on the Archbishop of Canterbury:
We should not forget that it is the values of our societies that terrorists despise most. That is why we should never compromise on them.

It is not only their intrinsic worth that should be staunchly defended. It is also because radical Islam senses – correctly – that there is a soft underbelly of cultural self-doubt in certain Western societies.

There are too many in our midst who think, deep down, that it is really “our fault” and if only we entered into some kind of federal cultural compact, with our critics, the challenges would disappear.
I've never heard Howard talk about social issues --mostly I followed him on foreign policy-- but look:
Despite the repeated attempts of some social engineers to suggest that traditional family arrangements are no longer needed and that they are in any event headed for extinction, the field evidence suggests that united, functioning families remain not only the best emotional nursery for children but also the most efficient social welfare system that mankind has ever devised.

Holding families together in preference to picking up the pieces when they fall apart must always be the major driver of social welfare policy.

It remains a reality in Western societies that two of the greatest contributors to poverty are joblessness and family breakdown.

We should maintain a cultural bias in favour of traditional families. That doesn’t mean discriminating against single parents but it does mean ceaselessly propounding the advantages for a child of being raised by both a mother and father.

Marriage is a bedrock social institution – with an unmistakable meaning and resonance. It should be kept as such.

Taxation laws should promote, not penalise, marriage. The taxation system should generously recognise the cost of raising children. This is not middle class welfare. It is merely a taxation system which with some semblance of social vision.
Read what he says about the privatization of unemployment agencies and faith-based organizations, too. And then global warming and everything else.