Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Why I Love Ronald Reagan--Part 2

I will always remember the day that Ronald Reagan died. I usually have Fox News on 24/7 because you never know when a "breaking news" story might happen and I wouldn't want to miss it :-). But on this saturday I had been gone all day. I came home and got on the computer and thats when I saw the headline. Tears started streaming down my face and I went to turn on the TV to watch the coverage. I cried off and on the whole week after his death as I watched the people who knew him tell their stories and as I witnessed his funeral. It hit me how much I had grown to love him through my odyssey of learning about him. I realized the world was losing a great man but his message would live on. Here is some of that message:

His Humor: Peggy Noonan said, "I think he thought everyone was too serious." Ronald Reagan was always known for his jokes and his ability to make people laugh. Its not that he wasn't a man of depth or that he didn't understand the seriousness of life. He had a lot of setbacks in his life. He just realized that nothing was accomplished by being a negative and unhappy person.

Two months into his presidency an assassination attempt was made on his life. He almost died and yet his response was that he forgot to duck and he hoped all the Doctors were Republicans.

The biggest and most impressive way he used humor was to deflect criticism from his critics. To me it is awe-inspiring. I'm trying to get better but when someone criticizes me my natural response is to get angry and lash back. But it is so much more effective to use humor and beat them at their own game. And thats one of the reasons why Reagan was so successful.

When he was continually attacked for being too old during his run for re-election he said this to Mondale in a debate, "I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience." When reporters criticized him for not getting his facts straight he admitted in a speech that even though he was quoting George Washington he hadn't actually heard him say it. And according to Peggy Noonan one of his ways of dealing with criticism was, "not to get mad but to undermine his critics by agreeing with them. When they said he was lazy he didn't deny it, he said, 'I know hard work never killed anyone, but I figure why take a chance?'"

To me it takes a strong person to laugh at yourself and agree with your critics when you know what they are saying isn't true. To be above the fray and to use humor to do it takes a strong person. And Ronald Reagan was just that.

His Optimism: The more I live life the more I see how important it is to be optimistic. Ronald Reagan was known for being an optimist and everyone loves to spend time and be around an optimist. One of his favorite stories he loved to tell was about 2 boys. One was too optimistic and the other was too negative. In order to cure them they were each put in a different room. The negative one was put in a room full of brand-new toys. This didn't cure him and he started to cry because he was sure that somehow he would break all of them. The positive one was put into a room full of dung. The boy started happily jumping in and digging through the dung. When asked what he was doing he said that with all this dung there was sure to be a pony in there somewhere.

His optimism never let him give up. When he barely lost the Republican nomination in 1976 he gave a speech to his loyal, teary-eyed supporters. He said: "Don't give up your ideals. Don't compromise. Don't turn to expediency. And don't for heaven's sake, having seen the inner workings of the watch, don't get cynical." Think of what could've happened had Reagan given up or compromised. Ford may have won the nomination that year but it wasn't because he was a better person or had better ideas. Reagan was right in his message not to give up.

His heart: Michael W. Smith sang a song in the 80's that had Reagan's voice interspersed throughout it with his words that he spoke the day the Space Shuttle Challenger crashed. The words were always very comforting and inspiring to me. They showed his heart and that he cared. Here they are: "The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and "slipped the surly bonds of earth" to touch the face of God."

Reagan was unfairly criticized for not caring about the homeless and the aids crisis and many other things. Like W the liberals would blame him for anything and everything. Reagan had charm and did well in front of the cameras but his concern for people wasn't a photo op like it was for Clinton. There are many stories of Reagan doing things for people and specifically making sure the cameras were turned off while he was doing it.

Peggy Noonan tells a story that shows his heart and that wasn't done for the cameras about a woman named Frances Green. She was an 83 yr. old lady that had very little money but gave small amounts to the Republican party because she loved Ronald Reagan. She was invited to the Whitehouse but needed to RSVP. She spent all she had to take a 4 day train trip to the Whitehouse. When she got there they wouldn't let her in because she hadn't rsvped. A Ford executive was in line behind her and heard her story. He talked to the right people and had it set up for her to meet the President the next day. But the next day some serious events were taking place and it looked like she would only get to take a tour. While she was taking the tour the Ford Executive passed by the Oval Office and Reagan urged them to come in.

This is what Noonan had to say about the encounter: "This," I said in the speech about Reagan's character, "is why Reagan is Reagan. He knows Mrs. Green is a little old lady all by herself in the world, she's no one, with nothing to give him, and Reagan is behind his desk and he rises and calls out, 'Frances!' He says, 'Those darn computers, they fouled up again! If I'd known you were coming I would have come out there to get you myself.'" He asked her to sit down and they talked about California and he gave her a lot of time, and if you say on a day like that it was time wasted, there are a lot of people who'd say, Oh no it wasn't. No it wasn't. He had a big heart, a kind of liquid heart that flowed out to others."

Stay tuned for the 3rd and final part tomorrow. It would've been too long to get it all in today. This has been a labor of love for me. I hope it is inspiring to others and please share any Reagan stories that you have in the comments.

"When Character Was King" by Peggy Noonan
"How Ronald Reagan Changed my Life" by Peter Robinson
"Challenger Disaster" Speech


Lone Pony said...

Very good LCM! I forgot that he rode horses! Thanks, and very interesting.

Rivka said...

Thanks! Great post! i remember the libs saying the exact thing you said they said.. And I thought it was true because I was a lib but not into politics. A guitar player in my band wrote a horrible song about him.
After reading your post I wish I was more 'informed' back then.

He truly was a great man.

Joubert said...

He just realized that nothing was accomplished by being a negative and unhappy person.

Hallelujah to that!

Well, now I'm ready to go out and conquer the world - well, at least got to work. :)

That was a beautiful tribute, LMC, to a beautiful man. I look forward to part three.

Dionne said...

LP: Thanks.

Rebecca: Yes, he was.

Patrick: Thanks. I'm hoping it does encourage and motivate people to tackle life.

bigwhitehat said...

Lord Byron once said of George Washington,

"The first the last the best
the Cincinnatus of the West."

I know now, he was wrong.

Ronald Reagan was God's gift to America. The world would suck if he never did what he did.

Gayle said...

I second Bigwhitehat! Reagan was an incredible personality. I hate that he suffered Altzeimers.

This is a wonderful tribute to him, LMC. It's obvious that you put your heart into it.

Thanks! :)

sandy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
sandy said...

Sorry, I had to many spelling errors in that comment. Ronald Reagan deserves better.
When I worked as a generator operator,
I worked several events where President Reagan attended.

I remember looking at a picture I had taken of him and seeing his Secret Service agent watching me with his hand on his gun.

I have had the honor of passing his secret service guys inspection a few times.

Dionne said...

BWH: Well said as always!!

Gayle: Thanks!!

Sandy: Very cool story.

Dave Miller said...

Hello LMC!

I gravitated here by way of James Manning. I would like to add my reflections on Reagan. In 1980 a coworker of mine was a member of the Republican Central Committee of Las Vegas. I was a Carter Dem and he of course was for Reagan. We kidded each other all day about who would win and we were looking forward to a night of election coverage as results came in. My buddy was so bummed out that the election was over before he even got home! And of course I was bummed out as well.

I was never a big fan of RR's policies. I will say this. He was a great leader! And in that department, exactly what America needed. Carter was right. We had slipped into a malaise. Reagan was the antidote. His optimism and eternal vision of being better was right on target.

Thanks for the post.

Dionne said...

Dave: Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your kind words about Reagan even though you didn't agree with his policies. It is always nice to find common ground even when we may disagree on other things.

ABFreedom said...

Great post LMC... he was one of my favorites, and could get along with anybody.

Mike's America said...

Another excellent post!

I agree with Peggy Noonan that Reagan's sense of humor was part of his charm.

The day I had the photo on my profile taken with him, some White House staffers at the event got together with Senator Bob Dole and posed one of those cardboard cutout President Reagan's that tourists in DC used to pose next to.

As the photographer took my picture with the President I told him "I hope this comes out better than the one with the carboard cutout."

That's the only time I got the laugh from him instead of the other way around.

wallycrawler said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dionne said...

ABF: Thanks.

Mike: Thanks, I have really enjoyed hearing your personal experiences with Reagan. Very cool!!

Bloviating Zeppelin said...

LMC: this has been a wonderful two posts on Ronald Reagan and have created a whole host of memories for me -- memories that got me smiling and recalling not only the man himself, but what I was doing at the time and where our country was those days.

One thing I found unsettling but understandable -- and I suspect maybe many of you experienced the same thing -- when RR exited politics and the public life with his letter about Alzheimers:

"I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead.

Thank you, my friends. May God always bless you."

And thought Ronald Reagan exited the public stage with that letter in 1994, I still felt he was with us as a citizen and a "presence." Yes, we all knew he was dimming but, still, his presence was yet comforting -- was it not?

I felt truly struck when he passed away in 2004. There were a number of personally staggering events that occurred to me in 2004 and, oddly enough, I consider that one of them -- how odd, in reflection. I felt so much respect for that man.

Mr. Grey Ghost said...


I think you did a great job here. Granted, I wasn't a big fan of Reagan and I had more admiration for his marriage than his policy-making, but he did make for a great leader and I think if it werent for term limits, he easily would've been a 3-term president. That's just how popular he was.

Assorted Babble by Suzie said...

President Ronald Reagan was a remarkable brave Leader!! Excellent post LMC. I cried too...when I heard and during the full funeral coverage.

I love the pictures you selected, they are really touching. (smiling)

Dionne said...

BZ: Thanks again for sharing your memories. I like to hear them. For me I learned soooooo much about Reagan during those 10 yrs. that I knew him much better. I didn't cry in 94 cause I didn't know much about him and I was barely paying attention then. I had friends that grieved his loss in 94 but I didn't until he died. It hit me fairly personally too in some ways like 9/11. I cried off and on the week after 9/11 grieving the loss even though I didn't personally know anyone. I was mourning for the loss our country took because I dearly love our country.

GG & Suzie: Thanks!

Pirate said...

I have most anything I can find on the great Ronald Reagan. I loved the man as well. What pains me now is to see how much a little twit Ronnie hs grown up to be. He is so worried about being pushed aside by the liberals in the media and Hollywood he has sold his soul. Then to see michael be pushed aside like he was only a visitor. Sad.

Dionne said...

Pirate: You make an excellent point. I am amazed at how much I loved Ronald Reagan and yet I completely despise his son Ron. I knew nothing about him until Reagan died and I was disgusted by his comments. Then I started seeing him on MSNBC and he is one of the most offensive liberals I know. Even his mannerisms come across as arrogant to me. Unfortunately his only child to turn out well is Micheal and I think that is one of Reagan's only failures was with his kids.

Gayle said...

It's late, LMC, and I'm going to bed. I'll come back another time to look over your post. But you asked me in the comment section of one of my blogs how to save a template. As you don't have your e-mail linked on your profile, I'll have to tell you here. It's simple.

Go to your template, highlight the entire thing and copy it. Then paste it to whatever Word Processor you use, and save it to a document. Title it "Blog Template" or "Chatterbox Chronicle's Template" and save it to your documents. Replace it at least once a week with a new "copy". If I hadn't done that I would have lost my entire blog.

Hope this helps!