Ronald Wilson Reagan Part 29

This is the second of 11 parts. In this segment, Lucille Ball receives a surprise on-air phone message from Gov. Ronald Reagan. This show was first broadcast in November 1973

My wife and I love to watch “I love Lucy.” The shows are priceless. Below you will see a picture of Lucy. The funny thing is that during the late 1970’s my parents and I would watch the show “Sneak Previews with Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel. When they would not like a comedy, they would say, “That is silly as I LOVE LUCY.” They meant that in  a negative way and I know that my mother was ready to switch channels when they said that.

The next few days I want to post some portions of an excellent article by Peggy Noonan ”Ronald Reagan at 100,” (Wall Street Journal, Feb 3, 2011).

He ran for president four times and lost twice. His 1968 run was a flop—it was too early, as he later admitted, and when it’s too early, it never ends well. In 1976 he took on an incumbent Republican president of his own party, and lost primaries in New Hampshire, Florida, Illinois (where he’d been born), Massachusetts and Vermont. It was hand-to-hand combat all the way to the convention, where he lost to Gerald Ford. People said he was finished. He roared back in 1980 only to lose Iowa and scramble back in New Hampshire while reorganizing his campaign and firing his top staff. He won the nomination and faced another incumbent president.

In Reagan’s candidacy the American people were being asked to choose a former movie star (never had one as president) who was divorced (ditto) and who looked like he might become the most conservative president since Calvin Coolidge. To vote for Reagan was not only to take a chance on an unusual man with an unusual biography, but also to break with New Deal-Great Society assumptions about the proper relationship between the individual and the state. Americans did, in a landslide—but only after Jimmy Carter’s four years of shattering failure.

None of it was inevitable. The political lesson of Ronald Reagan’s life: Nothing is written.

He didn’t see himself as “the great communicator.” It was so famous a moniker that he could do nothing but graciously accept the compliment, but he well understood it was bestowed in part by foes and in part to undercut the seriousness of his philosophy: “It’s not what he says, it’s how he says it.” He answered in his farewell address: “I never thought it was my style or the words I used that made a difference: it was the content. I wasn’t a great communicator, but I communicated great things.” It wasn’t his eloquence people supported, it was his stands—opposition to the too-big state, to its intrusions and demands, to Soviet communism. Voters weren’t charmed, they were convinced.

President Reagan, Nancy Reagan, Tom Selleck, Dudley Moore, Lucille Ball at a Tribute to Bob Hope’s 80th birthday at the Kennedy Center. 5/20/83.


Little known presidential facts:

Warren Harding once lost priceless White House China playing poker
  • Harding was obsessed with poker and once bet an entire set of priceless White House China and lost it.k
  • During his second run for presidency, Teddy Roosevelt was shot by a would-be assassin while giving a speech in Milwaukee. He continued to deliver his speech with the bullet in his chest.i
  • Thomas Jefferson was convinced that if he soaked his feet in a bucket of cold water every day, he’d never get a cold.k
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