|To: Bill who wrote (247)||9/4/2005 12:57:28 PM|
|From: Glenn Petersen|
|The more I read about Roberts, the more I like him. He is a literate, principled, intelligent man with a sense of humor. He also has enough real world experience to understand the difference between theoretical concepts and the realities of life. He has the temperament to make a good Chief Justice. I’m sure that the Bush people are giving that possibility some thought today.|
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|To: Bill who wrote (249)||1/21/2006 5:00:21 PM|
|From: Glenn Petersen|
|Reagan's legacy at crossroads|
25 years after oath, his agenda endures. But is the GOP adrift?
By William Neikirk
Tribune senior correspondent
Published January 21, 2006
WASHINGTON -- On a warm Jan. 20 morning precisely 25 years ago, Ronald Reagan assumed the presidency in an inaugural ceremony that served as the catalyst for the conservative movement that now dominates each branch of the federal government.
Whether it's tax cuts, deregulation, a strong defense or judicial and cultural conservatism, Reagan policies have become firmly embedded throughout American society. "Reagan is more powerful today than when he was president," said Martin Anderson, one of his White House advisers.
There is fresh evidence throughout the capital. Two young lawyers who worked for Reagan--Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito--are expected to have a major impact on the nation's legal system for many years, as a result of being named to the court by President Bush. Conservative Republicans hold leadership posts in the House and Senate. And Bush's politics seem much more closely tied to Reagan than to those of Bush's father, who was Reagan's vice president.
But that movement is now at a juncture nearly as important as Reagan's election, with the continued power of "Reaganism" called into question. The blunt force of Bush's defense policy in Iraq is being challenged. And rising government expenditures and political corruption in Congress have combined to vex Republicans with midterm elections rapidly approaching.
Some conservatives are worried.
"We're at the biggest crossroads since Reagan won the nomination in 1980," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a fervent Reagan disciple, said in an interview. "We face very large challenges and we have no absolute proof yet that we are going to take the right position in meeting those challenges."
Part of the problem is a fracturing from within. Business-oriented pragmatists, deficit hawks, cultural conservatives, Christian activists, libertarians, neoconservatives -- all have different agendas, and all claim the mantle of Reagan, sometimes in the name of things he never accomplished, such as balancing the budget.
"The Reagan legacy is very vulnerable because George W. Bush has embraced it so wholeheartedly," said Michael Genovese, political science professor at Loyola Marymount University. "Bush is the model, not the father, of the legacy. So much of the Reagan legacy is dependent on the Bush legacy."
Even more than his own father, who followed Reagan in the White House, the president has adopted Reagan's ideas, cutting taxes, building up the military because of a terrorist threat and embracing a conservative social and cultural agenda. He also has pushed to enhance the power of the presidency, as Reagan did during his two terms.
Yet to conservatives such as Gingrich and Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.), the GOP has strayed too far from the Reagan agenda.
"It is the abandonment of Reagan's policies that has gotten us in trouble," said Feeney, who is sharply critical of spending increases in recent years with the GOP in charge of government.
"Reagan was an ideologue," said Mallory Factor, a New York businessman who heads a political group that contributes to conservatives. "He had a simple message and simple programs. We have lost that in our society." He blamed GOP leaders in Congress who have "drunk the water out of the Potomac" River and, he added, lost touch with Reagan's ideas.
"If we're not the party of reform and we try to run as the party of pork, we'll lose," Gingrich said. "Reagan was about reform. He was not about pork."
Legacy in judiciary
Within the federal judiciary, the Reagan influence has enormous reach, culminating with the selection of Roberts as chief justice and Alito's expected confirmation.
Herman Schwartz, a law professor at American University, said the federal judiciary is increasingly taking a right-leaning direction with more conservative nominations over the years.
Edwin Meese, Reagan's attorney general, said he believes the GOP will survive the current challenges and that Reaganism will continue as a powerful influence in American politics. So did Ralph Reed, a Republican operative and former head of the Christian Coalition who is running for lieutenant governor of Georgia.
Meese said the scandals over influence-peddling in Congress are bipartisan and that the GOP will be able to weather criticism over the Iraq war in this year's elections.
Historian Robert Dallek said both Reagan and John Kennedy "remain inspirational voices" long after their presidencies.
"But when you go through the scandals we have seen, the doubts that have been raised about Bush and the Iraq war, the recriminations [over spying] by the National Security Agency, Reagan and Kennedy become all the more appealing," he added.
Reed said Reagan gave the Christian evangelical movement a boost by embracing its agenda after his nomination in 1980, although Reed conceded that the former president did not push some of the movement's causes actively during his two terms. Even so, evangelicals still hold Reagan in high esteem, said William Martin, a Rice University sociology professor and an author of books on the Christian right.
"He was the first president to say he favored restricting abortion on demand," Reed said. "That was a critical moment."
As Democrats criticize Republicans for fostering a "culture of corruption" in Washington, Reed said if the GOP is able to enact lobbying reforms as promised it can overcome the scandals. He said Democrats failed in the 1990s to make internal reforms when several scandals erupted in the House.
Reed has been caught up in the corruption scandal because of his business dealings with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. His public relations and lobbying companies received at least $4.2 million through Abramoff's firm to mobilize voters against Indian casino gambling.
But Reed said he did nothing wrong. "I was assured by the law firm at the onset that funds contributed to my effort would not derive from gambling activity," he said, adding that "if I had known what I know now, I would not have done that work."
Scandals such as Iran-contra also hounded the Reagan administration. The large deficits that he ran up also bring criticism. But 25 years later, his philosophy still drives GOP politics even as a major test looms for Republicans in 2006 elections.
Nostalgia for Reagan remains high in the GOP. Anne Davis Burns, a public relations official for a trade association, helped with the inaugural ticket operation on Jan. 20, 1981, and had a front-row seat for the swearing-in. She remembers clearly when Reagan appeared on stage.
"He was kind of larger than life," she said. And to many Republicans, he still is.
- - -
Still an inspiration
Voices of ideological disciples of the Reagan Revolution:
-- Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, ran Youth for Reagan in Virginia in the 1976 primaries. He called Reagan "my modern-day philosophical hero," adding, "Reagan is the man who inspired me to enter into politics while I was a law student at the University of Virginia."
-- Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), a conservative and deficit hawk: "While Reagan was deeply committed to traditional values and a strong defense, to understand him was to realize he was a man committed to limited government. This meant things like local control of schools and reforming our government, and not creating new entitlements. He's the reason I became a Republican."
-- Ralph Reed, Christian Coalition founder and now a GOP candidate in Georgia, recalled how Reagan won over evangelical Christians in 1980. "Reagan said, `I know you can't endorse me, but I want you to know I endorse you.' That formal embrace by the Republican Party and by its presidential nominee, who went on to become the president, gave an imprimatur and a seal of approval."
-- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) spent the last six years of Reagan's presidency in the Air Force. "My first impression of Ronald Reagan was, I really liked this guy. . . . I thought he was a cool dude, I thought he had a great sense of humor, he made conservatism not only acceptable but cool, and he brought a dignity but a personal touch to office that it needed."
-- William Neikirk and Tribune news services
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|From: Glenn Petersen||3/6/2006 8:39:27 PM|
|Some sad news about Lyn Nofziger:|
An Old Hand's Ode to Two Loves
Former Reagan communications and strategy aide Lyn Nofziger isn't just sitting around as he fights an uphill battle against bone cancer. He's creating a tribute to his two passions: conservative journalism and Ronald Reagan. With the support of important friends like former Attorney General Ed Meese, he has created the Lyn Nofziger Fellowship in Journalistic Excellence. The goal is to raise $500,000 to foster college kids interested in Reagan's conservative revolution and values. "He feels this is the best way to honor Ronald Reagan," says friend Cindy Canevaro. She says he is upbeat even though his cancer is progressing rapidly. Canevaro's brother, Mark Tapscott of the Heritage Foundation, says that to cheer up the beloved curmudgeon, several friends cut a video filled with their recollections of Nofziger's work for the Gipper. "He really had no idea that he meant so much to so many people," says Tapscott.
Lyn's website and blog can be found at:
I heartily recommend his autobiography:
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|From: Glenn Petersen||3/28/2006 7:32:46 AM|
|Lyn Nofziger, 81, Irreverent Adviser to Reagan, Is Dead|
By JOHN M. BRODER
Published: March 28, 2006
LOS ANGELES, March 27 — Lyn Nofziger, the cigar-chomping former newspaperman who served as spokesman and strategist for Ronald Reagan in Sacramento and Washington, died of cancer on Monday at his home in Falls Church, Va. He was 81.
Nancy Reagan, the former first lady, said: "Lyn was with us from the gubernatorial campaign in 1965 through the early White House days, and Ronnie valued his advice — and good humor — as much as anyone's. I spoke with him just days ago and even though he knew the end was near, Lyn was hopeful and still in good spirits."
Mr. Nofziger was at the hospital with Reagan after he was shot in March 1981 and relayed to the press the president's memorable, if perhaps apocryphal, line to Mrs. Reagan at the hospital: "Honey, I forgot to duck."
Mr. Nofziger was a reporter in the Washington bureau of the Copley newspaper chain when he was recruited to serve as the spokesman for Reagan's first campaign for governor of California in 1966.
Stuart Spencer, who managed that campaign and Reagan's later campaigns for the White House, recalled Mr. Nofziger as profane, disheveled and always quick with a quip. Mr. Spencer said he still had the Mickey Mouse tie Mr. Nofziger gave him years ago. The difference between them, Mr. Spencer said, was that Mr. Nofziger regularly wore his.
Mr. Nofziger frequently expressed his disdain for Washington and for politics, but he kept returning. He put up a cynical facade that endeared him to the reporters he dealt with, but he remained devoted to Reagan, even though he was never part of the president's innermost circle.
Ms. Dahmen, a great-niece of Mr. Nofziger, told The Associated Press on Monday: "He transcended parties; he was loved on both sides of the aisle. You could love him or hate him, but everybody respected him."
Despite his service in the Reagan and Nixon White Houses, Mr. Nofziger was not a doctrinaire conservative. He could, however, take the gloves off when he felt it necessary to serve the boss, either as a communications aide to Richard M. Nixon or as a political director for Reagan.
He worked under Reagan to replace Democrats in the federal bureaucracy with loyal Republicans. John Dean, Nixon's White House counsel, wrote that Mr. Nofziger had helped compile the Nixon White House's "enemies list."
Kenneth L. Khachigian, who worked with Mr. Nofziger in the Nixon White House and remained close to him afterward, said Mr. Nofziger had enlivened meetings, sometimes to the president's displeasure. "He could be infuriating because he never seemed to take things seriously," Mr. Khachigian said. "But on the other hand, he was utterly loyal and devoted to Reagan."
Like several former Reaganites, Mr. Nofziger opened a lobbying practice in Washington after leaving the White House. In 1988, he was convicted of illegally lobbying for two defense contractors and a labor union. Mr. Nofziger dismissed the charges as trivial and told the judge he felt no remorse because he did not believe he was guilty.
A year later a federal appeals court threw out the conviction, saying prosecutors had failed to show he had knowingly committed a crime.
Franklyn Nofziger was a native Californian, born in Bakersfield on June 8, 1924, and a self-described conservative by the time he entered college. He served in the Army and attended San Jose State College, where he earned a bachelor's degree in journalism. He worked in journalism for 16 years as a reporter and editor, and took his manual typewriter with him to the White House even after electric typewriters and then computers rendered it obsolete.
In a 2003 interview with the University of Virginia, as part of its presidential oral history project, Mr. Nofziger conceded that he never would have imagined going into politics. But in 1966, he took a position as press secretary for Reagan's campaign for governor. He served as the governor's director of communications for nearly two years.
Mr. Nofziger's friends said he could be candid to a fault, which sometimes strained his relations with Mr. and Mrs. Reagan. In 1991, when the president dismissed three former close aides, including former Attorney General Edwin Meese III, from the board of the Reagan Presidential Library, Mr. Nofziger wrote a scathing op-ed article for The Washington Post. He said Mr. Reagan had broken his heart by turning his back on friends.
"Yes, I know you were a long way from being a perfect president," Mr. Nofziger wrote. "I thought that sometimes you listened to and took bad advice. I thought that toward the end you were paying too much attention to what history might think of you — a mistake most presidents make."
He went on, "But still, while on a scale of 1 to 10 you were more nearly a 7 than a 10, you remained my hero because it's hard to visualize anybody else scoring more than a 5 — at least on my scale. But today, Mr. President, and I weep because of it, you are no longer my hero."
He said Mr. Reagan had forgotten old loyalties and walked away from old friends. "You have let Nancy and the rich and beautiful people with whom she has surrounded herself and you force off the board of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library three of the most dedicated and selfless Reaganites there are."
Mr. Nofziger wrote four western novels and a political autobiography, "Nofziger."
But those who know him remember not his serious writings but his puns and quips and bits of doggerel. Among them is a limerick that he penned after the doomed nomination of Harriet E. Miers to the Supreme Court last year, which appears on his Web site, www.lynnofziger.com:
Conservatives are fearful that Harriet
Will be George Bush's Iscariot.
They have little doubt
That she'd sell them out
For a ride in a liberal's chariot.
Mr. Nofziger is survived by his wife, Bonnie, their daughter Glenda and two grandchildren. Another daughter died in 1989.
Carolyn Marshall contributed reporting from San Francisco for this article.
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|From: J.B.C.||7/28/2010 4:05:20 PM|
|California To Mark 'Ronald Reagan Day'|
Former first lady Nancy Reagan joined California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in Simi Valley for a ceremonial signing of a bill making it Ronald Reagan Day every Feb. 6 in California.
The late president — and former California governor — was born Feb. 6, 1911, so the 100th anniversary of his birth is approaching.
The 89-year-old former first lady, wearing a yellow pantsuit and balancing on a cane and the governor's arm, walked into the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. She smiled as Schwarzenegger sat at a desk and ceremoniously signed a pair of bills Tuesday morning. He officially signed them July 19.
The other bill establishes a commission to plan Reagan centennial events.
Schwarzenegger told the audience, "Ronald Reagan is my hero."
The governor says Ronald Reagan Day will allow schools to teach about Reagan and be a day in which Californians can remember his legacy.
Other Californians honored with official days include farm labor leader Cesar Chavez, gay rights crusader Harvey Milk and environmental icon John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club.
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|To: J.B.C. who wrote (254)||11/1/2010 9:09:21 AM|
|NEW YORK, Aug. 5, 2003 |
Writing For Ronald Reagan
Speachwriter Talks About How It Changed His Life
By Tatiana Morales
(CBS) There's no question that words can change the world, and there's no better proof of that than the famous words spoken by President Reagan at the Berlin Wall back in 1987.
Two years later, the wall came down. The man who wrote those words is Peter Robinson, who spent six years as a speechwriter in the Reagan White House. He has a new book about his experiences, titled "How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life."
He tells The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith, President Reagan seemed to him larger than life.
Robinson says, “He seemed like a figure carved on Mount Rushmore. And I was constantly perplexed by how he did it. How did an actor persuade the American people to take him seriously? How did he move people? Bit by bit, by living in the White House, studying him closely, I can remember the moment when I realized, he's human after all. He'd come back from cancer surgery and he spoke to us all in the White House. The chief of staff at the time wanted everyone to see the president was back to normal. And his shirt collar was too big because he had lost so much weight. I thought, ‘oh, no, he's one of us.’ For me a baby speechwriter, I was just 25 when I took the job, it was a lesson in itself.”
The other thing Robinson talks about is the idea that Ronald Reagan seemed so lucky. But one of the things that he demystifies in the book is that the former president was anything but lucky.
Robinson says, “I thought at first he was surreal because he had been lucky all his life. Good looking, became a radio announcer, movie star, married at an early age. Not true. His father was a drunk. It is clear in his boyhood he went through one scary experience after another as a result of that. He was profoundly in love with his first wife, movie star Jane Wyman. After eight years, after what he thought was a happy marriage, she divorced him. Then after marrying Nancy Davis and starting a second family, he was still in his early 40s, his career as an actor dried up. So he had his full share of life's misfortunes. What I discovered, what I decided watching him was from an early age he had to learn to find the good, even in dreadful situations. I think it was probably his mother, her simple faith passed on to him. He understood in a deep way that life was fundamentally good.”
Robinson is the host of the PBS television program, “Uncommon Knowledge,” and the author of two previous books, “It's My Party: A Republican's Messy Love Affair with the GOP” and “Snapshots from Hell: The Making of an MBA.” A fellow at the Hoover Institution, he lives in Stanford, Calif.
Read an excerpt from "How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life."
The Pony In the Dung Heap
When Life Buries You, Dig
Journal Entry, June 2002:
Over lunch today I asked Ed Meese about one of Reagan's favorite jokes. "The pony joke?" Meese replied. "Sure I remember it. If I heard him tell it once, I heard him tell it a thousand times."
The joke concerns twin boys of five or six. Worried that the boys had developed extreme personalities -- one was a total pessimist, the other a total optimist -- their parents took them to a psychiatrist.
First the psychiatrist treated the pessimist. Trying to brighten his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with brand-new toys. But instead of yelping with delight, the little boy burst into tears. "What's the matter?" the psychiatrist asked, baffled. "Don't you want to play with any of the toys?" "Yes," the little boy bawled, "but if I did I'd only break them."
Next the psychiatrist treated the optimist. Trying to dampen his out look, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with horse manure. But instead of wrinkling his nose in disgust, the optimist emitted just the yelp of delight the psychiatrist had been hoping to hear from his brother, the pessimist. Then he clambered to the top of the pile, dropped to his knees, and began gleefully digging out scoop after scoop with his bare hands. "What do you think you're doing?" the psychiatrist asked, just as baffled by the optimist as he had been by the pessimist. "With all this manure," the little boy replied, beaming, "there must be a pony in here somewhere!"
"Reagan told the joke so often," Meese said, chuckling, "that it got to be kind of a joke with the rest of us. Whenever something would go wrong, somebody on the staff would be sure to say, 'There must be a pony in here somewhere.'"
The other day Josh Gilder, one of my colleagues on the Reagan speechwriting staff, reminded me of Mr. Cho, the barber Josh and I discovered a couple of blocks from the White House. Mr. Cho had come to the United States from somewhere in Southeast Asia -- Thailand, as I recall -- where it was the custom for a barber to massage each customer's scalp before cutting his hair. When you sat in his chair, Mr. Cho would rub your scalp with the palms of his hands, then knead it with his fingertips. He'd work his way slowly up both sides of your head to your crown, then forward to your eyebrows, then backward to the base of your skull. When Mr. Cho finally finished the massage and began cutting your hair, you'd feel so relaxed that you'd have to grip both arms of the barber chair to keep from sliding onto the floor.
For the six or seven months from the time we discovered him to the time Mr. Cho moved to a new barbershop in the suburbs, Josh and I found ourselves getting our hair cut almost once a week. Soon we stopped thinking of Mr. Cho as our barber and began thinking of him as our therapist. Our visits to the barbershop amounted to our own modest exercises in stress management. Mr. Cho helped us cope.
On a typical afternoon, for instance, Josh and I might have drafts of two or three speeches spread across our desks. The telephones would be ringing. Members of the National Security Council or the Office of Management and Budget would be pestering us for rewrites. Our boss, Tony Dolan, the chief speechwriter, would be clomping down the marble-tiled hallway in his cowboy boots to ask us whether in writing certain passages we had actually intended to cause pointless trouble with the senior staff or had simply gone out of our minds. When it got to be too much, Josh or I would telephone the other.
"Thought you'd never ask."
Josh and I have agreed ever since that only one other event could compare with a visit to Mr. Cho. That was a visit to the Oval Office.
"Reagan's presence was just -- I don't know, remarkable," Josh says. "We'd go in there, all worked up over staff wars or the way the researchers weren't doing their work. We might even have been worked up over something important for a change, like the Sandinistas or the situation in the Middle East. Then Reagan would calm us right down. He was just so sweet and serene. A few minutes with the guy were just as good as one of Mr. Cho's massages. Remember?"
Would I ever forget? Ronald Reagan's serenity taught me one of the most important lessons of my life.
For a long time, though, I just couldn't figure it out. I made a mistake about Reagan that you'll understand immediately if you've ever watched the television program The West Wing. The program does a good job of portraying the intensity in the White House -- people who work there really do look serious, speak earnestly, and spend half their days taking urgent telephone calls and the other half hurrying to vital meetings. My mistake lay in assuming that the intensity must reach a peak or climax in the person of the President. If the people who worked for him were driven and harried, it stood to reason that the President himself must be the most driven and harried of all. The West Wing makes the same assumption. Just look at the way Martin Sheen plays the role of chief executive. The man's anguished soul searching never lets up.
Yet in the Reagan White House, the intensity didn't peak in the person of the President. It evaporated. Where Sheen often appears rumpled, Reagan always appeared immaculate, his shirt unwrinkled, his tie snugly knotted, a knife-edge crease in his trousers, his shoes gleaming ...
The foregoing is excerpted from "How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life" by Peter Robinson. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
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|To: J.B.C. who wrote (255)||2/3/2011 3:00:32 PM|
|From: Glenn Petersen|
|Lavish Centennial Plans Testify to the Strength of Reagan’s Influence|
By JENNIFER MEDINA
New York Times
February 2, 2011
SIMI VALLEY, Calif. — Ronald Reagan would have turned 100 this Sunday, and nearly seven years after his death, one might think he were still alive and leading the Republican Party.
Along with the requisite speeches and academic panels, the festivities include: a Rose Parade float, a six-foot-high cake, commemorative stamps and jelly beans, a Beach Boys concert, a tribute from the Jonas Brothers and a video homage at the Super Bowl, which is also on Sunday. The memorials, including a 21-gun salute and a graveside wreath-laying by Nancy Reagan, are expected to draw hundreds of former aides and supporters.
Reagan is not the first former president to enjoy the honor of a centennial celebration, but it is hard to remember any that were quite so lavish, speaking to his enduring role in American politics. (This weekend’s festivities at the Reagan Library here, the highlight of a year’s worth of events around the country, will cost roughly $5 million; by contrast, the cost of Lyndon Johnson’s centennial in 2008 was a mere $500,000.)
And a number of the prospective 2012 presidential candidates will be on hand to offer their praise during the revelry, among them Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, who has just written a book about Reagan and, in an interview, called him the “most successful president at actually achieving his specific and articulated goals.”
The accolades illustrate the unusual durability — at least among Republicans — of the Reagan legacy, which has endured even as so many institutions have been under attack. Reagan’s near-idol status in the G.O.P. is so ingrained that when potential party chairmen were asked last month to name their political hero, the moderator hastened to add “aside from President Reagan.”
If the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation has any say, that qualifier will be repeated for decades.
“Our job is to promote the legacy of his words and work, which were simply incredible,” said John Heubusch, the executive director of the foundation and a former Congressional aide, who said that Reagan inspired him to enter politics. “I’d go toe-to-toe to debate with anyone who said he was not a transformational president. He certainly was.”
Staff members at the foundation are careful to point out that the money for the events and for the museum’s $15 million renovation came entirely from private fund-raising. “President Reagan would not have wanted Congress to spend any money on this,” said Stewart McLaurin, the director of the centennial events, who also went to work for Reagan in 1984.
What about the presidential Jelly Belly jelly beans? Reagan was a famous fan, so it is certainly possible that he would look kindly on spending $24.95 for the special edition Reagan Centennial box. Along with 50 flavors of jelly beans, the box comes with a copy of the Declaration of Independence, a brief history of Reagan’s life and several of his quotes.
The Reaganisms include the lofty: “I can assure you that personal faith and conviction are strengthened, not weakened, in adversity.” And then there’s his philosophy on jelly beans: “You can tell a lot about a fella’s character by whether he picks out all of one color or just grabs a handful.”
Perhaps it is hardly surprising for Reagan, who was known as the Great Communicator, to be quoted so extensively.
“He’s referred to all the time because he’s extraordinarily quotable and inspiring, as much as Lincoln and more than anyone else in the 20th century,” Mr. Gingrich said.
Mr. Gingrich is hardly the only presidential hopeful who will lavish such adoration for Reagan in the coming days. Ms. Palin is scheduled to speak at a banquet for the Young America’s Foundation, a conservative group that uses the former Reagan family ranch near here as its headquarters. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is also expected to attend the official events, as will former Vice President Dick Cheney.
The love for Reagan is not universal, of course, and liberals do not hold him in such high esteem.
“Reagan holds unique status today because the Republicans don’t have anyone else,” said Paul Begala, a former Clinton aide and a political strategist. “They can’t lionize Eisenhower because, by today’s standards, he was a liberal. They can’t lionize Nixon because he was a criminal. Who have they got left?”
“He was an extraordinary president,” Mr. Begala added, “but the right needed a hero, so they turned him into a hero.”
Still, President Obama’s aides were happy to let it be known that his vacation reading list included a biography of the 40th president by Lou Cannon.
Mr. Cannon said that the popular view of Reagan had only improved with time, although his approval ratings were higher than many other presidents when he left office.
“There’s always a certain nostalgia,” Mr. Cannon said. “But the reality is he really did help end the cold war. The world now ain’t a walk in Central Park, but it’s certainly a much safer place than when Reagan took office. And he convinced Americans to believe in themselves.”
That is the sort of lesson the foundation hopes to pass on, mindful that most of today’s students were not yet born when Reagan left office. This year, they distributed a Reagan-centered curriculum to more than 1,400 high schools throughout the country. The schools will also receive a special Reagan centennial coin, which organizers here hope will be used for the coin toss at Friday night football games. Once the game is done, Mr. McLaurin said, those same schools are expected to use the coin to present a student with a Reagan leadership award.
The flurry of activity is a bit bewildering to those who helped plan Johnson’s centennial three years ago.
“Our goal wasn’t really an extravaganza, it was something more modest,” said Larry Temple, the chairman of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation. “We were just trying to put a spotlight on things that might be overlooked. We were trying to do what any history should do, which is show the relevancy to today.”
The Johnson people did have aspirations for a postage stamp, but they quickly realized that getting even a former president’s image on the right corner of an envelope could take years. Reagan Foundation officials, on the other hand, were able to fast-track the process, in part because the Postal Service created the first Reagan stamp in 2004, shortly after his death. The newest version will be issued this month as a “forever” stamp, making it valid even when the price of postage increases. This time, it might please Reagan to know, his image will not be subject to inflation.
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