Today, President Bush chose to talk about terrorism at an event commemorating the new Air Force One exhibit at the Reagan library. He praised Reagan for “never backing down in the face of evil”:
[Reagan] recognized that freedom was opposed by dangerous enemies. And he understood that America has always prevailed by standing firmly on principals – and never backing down in the face of evil.
This contrasts with a speech Bush made in August in which he questioned Reagan’s response to the 1983 Marine baracks bombing in Beirut. Bush said:
[Terrorists] believe that democracies are inherently weak and corrupt and can be brought to their knees. They looked at our response after the hostage crisis in Iran, the bombings of the Marine barracks in Lebanon, the first World Trade Center attack, the killing of American soldiers in Somalia, the destruction of two U.S. embassies in Africa, and the attack on the USS Cole. They concluded that free societies lack the courage and character to defend themselves against a determined enemy. [V-J Day Speech, 8/30/05]
Looks like Bush was against Reagan’s response to terrorism before he was for it.