What Reagan Meant When He Said Trees Cause Pollution

ReagansPathToVictoryBK2011-03-11.jpg

Source of the book image: http://thecommentary.ca/images/books/Reagan2.jpg

(p. 10) For better or worse, Reagan’s ability to spin yarns out of everything that ever went into his mind is on display in ”Reagan’s Path to Victory,” the fourth volume in a series of collected speeches, letters and scripts published over the past four years. This one, edited like the others by Kiron K. Skinner, Annelise Anderson and Martin Anderson, is a chronological compilation of the syndicated radio talks Reagan delivered from 1975 to 1979.
. . .
In 1980, as a reporter freshly hired by Time magazine, I was assigned to Reagan’s campaign plane. My first week on the road, while listening to him give a speech in which he talked about how trees cause pollution and other quirky notions, an aide turned to me and said, ”Where did he get those facts?” I wrote a story, parsing the misleading little factoids that studded his stump speeches; the headline was that quote. The afternoon the article appeared, I was invited to sit next to Reagan on his campaign plane. I was braced for a rough lecture, but none came. I realized that he was either smart enough not to have read the article, or smart enough to pretend he hadn’t — or merely smart enough to know it wouldn’t matter. I also learned, when I started to play the old journalistic gotcha game by questioning him on issues ranging from Taiwan to his affection for the gold standard, that he was able to flea-flick the subjects away by launching into some amusing but irrelevant anecdote. At first I thought he was a bit oblivious. Eventually, I realized I was the oblivious one. He knew exactly what he was doing.
Now, having read the collection of his radio addresses, I even know what he was thinking when he proclaimed that most pollution is caused by trees. In a rather convoluted talk, in which he identifies the main pollution problem as oxides of nitrogen, he grandly declares: ”Nature it seems also produces oxides of nitrogen. As a matter of fact, nature produces 97 percent of them. If we could successfully eliminate 100 percent of all the man-produced polluting oxides of nitrogen, we’d still have 97 percent of what we presently have.”
So we’re a little closer to knowing where Ronald Reagan got his facts, and even a bit closer to knowing where he got his beliefs. And that’s not a bad step toward understanding the deeper questions and mysteries about him.

For the full review, see:
Walter Isaacson. “The Reagan Evolution.” The New York Times Book Review (Sun., October 31, 2004): 9-10.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the title “‘The Tycoons’: Benefactors of Great Wealth.”)

Book discussed in passage quoted above:
Skinner, Kiron K., Annelise Anderson, and Martin Anderson, eds. Reagan’s Path to Victory; the Shaping of Ronald Reagan’s Vision; Selected Writings. New York: Free Press, 2004.

Ronald Reagan Celebrated Opening of Disneyland

ReaganCohostingOpeningDisneyland2012-08-17.jpg “Ronald Reagan, left, helped host a TV show about Disneyland’s opening in 1955.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. 11) In an unusual collaboration of presidential scholarship and mass-market entertainment — featuring two men who, truth be told, were never particularly close — the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and the Walt Disney Company have joined together to open a sprawling, nine-month exhibition drawn from the Disney archives.
. . .
Reagan was one of three M.C.’s for the televised opening of Disneyland in 1955; a grainy video in the exhibit captures the event. As governor, Reagan petitioned the United States postmaster to issue a Walt Disney stamp, and he was on hand in 1990 for Disneyland’s 35th anniversary.
“He and Walt Disney did know each other,” said Robert A. Iger, the chief ex-(p. 16)ecutive and chairman of the Walt Disney Company. “They became Californians. And they clearly had mutual respect for one another.”

For the full story, see:
ADAM NAGOURNEY and BROOKS BARNES. “In New Exhibit, Disney Lends Its Star Power to Reagan, and Vice Versa.” The New York Times, First Section (Sun., July 22, 2012): 11 & 16.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the date of the online version of the article is July 21, 2012.)

Museum Visitors Vote With Feet for Reagan Over Lincoln

(p. 9A) For the first time since it opened, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Mu­seum in Springfield, Ill., is no longer the nation’s most visited presidential museum. It’s been overtaken by Ronald Reagan’s museum in Simi Valley, Calif.
Lincoln’s museum had been tops since it opened in 2005, rid­ing the appeal of its Disney-like re-creations of the president’s life. But last year it counted 293,135 visitors — short of Rea­gan’s 367,506.

For the full story, see:
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. “Hail to the new chief.” Omaha World-Herald (Sun., March 18, 2012): 9A.

Reagan: “I Wasn’t a Great Communicator, but I Communicated Great Things”

Today (2/6/2012) is Ronald Reagan’s 101st birthday.

(p. A15) Jim Baker, his first and great chief of staff, and his friend, remembered the other day the atmosphere of merriness around Reagan, the constant flow of humor.

But there was often a genial blackness to it, a mordant edge. In a classic Reagan joke, a man says sympathetically to his friend, “I’m so sorry your wife ran away with the gardener.” The guy answers, “It’s OK, I was going to fire him anyway.” Or: As winter began, the young teacher sought to impart to her third-graders the importance of dressing warmly. She told the heart-rending story of her little brother, a fun-loving boy who went out with his sled and stayed out too long, caught a cold, then pneumonia, and days later died. There was dead silence in the schoolroom as they took it in. She knew she’d gotten through. Then a voice came from the back: “Where’s the sled?”
The biggest misunderstanding about Reagan’s political life is that he was inevitable. He was not. He had to fight for every inch, he had to make it happen.
. . .
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.

For the full commentary, see:
PEGGY NOONAN. “Ronald Reagan at 100; Being a good man helped him become a great one.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., February 5, 2011): A15.
(Note: ellipsis added.)

Reagan Fought “Tyranny” of Big Government

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Former Secretary of State Condolezza Rice, British Foreign Secretary William Hague and London statue of Ronald Reagan. Source of photo: http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2011/7/4/1309780763409/London-statue-of-Reagan-u-001.jpg

The McCarthy mentioned in the passage quoted below is a California representative who also serves as majority whip.

(p. A9) The statue of a smiling Reagan, dressed in a crisp suit, was paid for by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation as part of a worldwide effort to promote his legacy, according to the organization’s executive director.
. . .
Though Mrs. Thatcher is in poor health and did not attend, she provided a statement that was read by Mr. Hague. “Through his strength and conviction,” she wrote, “he brought millions of people to freedom as the Iron Curtain finally came down.”
In a speech, Mr. McCarthy described Mr. Reagan’s fight not only against the forces of Communism, but against the “tyranny” of debt and big government. He and Mrs. Thatcher, he said, “did not move to the center to gather votes, they moved the center to them.”

For the full story, see:
RAVI SOMAIYA. “Finding a New Perch, Americana Takes a Stand in London.” The New York Times (Tues., July 5, 2011): A9.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the article is dated July 4, 2011 and has the title “Statue of Reagan Is Unveiled in London.”)

Ronald Reagan Would Be 100 Today; He Got the Job Done

A couple of years ago, I read a collection of recollections of Ronald Reagan by some of those who had known him. I jotted down a few notes on what was important in the collection:
Mike Wallace’s entry is a good one.  He has a telling exchange with Reagan where Reagan says he is not a politician.  Wallace is flabbergasted.  He says to the effect:  Mr. Reagan, how can you say you are not a politician when you are planning to run for the highest political office in the land?
Reagan’s response is that he’s not seeking the office for glory or self-aggrandizement; rather he’s seeking it because there’s a job that needs to get done.
In a later entry, someone (Cap Weinberger, maybe?) recounts an episode while Governor where someone warns Reagan that if he vetoes a certain bill (on teacher pay, maybe?) he will not get re-elected. Reagan’s response was: ‘I didn’t come here to get re-elected.’
Years ago I remember reading in a newspaper somewhere that an ordinary citizen saw Reagan in a park, at a time well after his announcement about having Alzheimer’s.  The citizen went up to Reagan and thanked him for what he had done to preserve freedom.  Reagan smiled and responded ‘that is my job.’

The book of recollections is:
Hannaford, Peter, ed. Recollections of Reagan: A Portrait of Ronald Reagan: William Morrow & Company, 1997.

Action Hero Reagan Made Sure Message Could Be Heard

BuckleyReagan2010-09-01.jpg “William F. Buckley and Ronald Reagan in 1978, following their debate over the Panama Canal Treaty.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. 23) On the night that William F. Buckley met Ronald Reagan, the future president of the United States put his elbow through a plate-glass window. The year was 1961, and the two men were in Beverly Hills, where Buckley, perhaps the most famous conservative in America at the tender age of 35, was giving an address at a school auditorium. Reagan, a former Hollywood leading man dabbling in political activism — the Tim Robbins or Alec Baldwin of his day — had been asked to do the introductions.

But the microphone was dead, the technician was nowhere to be found and the control room was locked. As the crowd began to grumble, Reagan coolly opened one of the auditorium windows, stepped onto a ledge two stories above the street and inched his way around to the control room. He smashed his elbow through the glass and clambered in through the broken window. “In a minute there was light in the upstairs room,” Buckley later wrote, “and then we could hear the crackling of the newly animated microphone.”
This anecdote kicks off The Reagan I Knew (Basic Books, $25), a slight and padded reminiscence published posthumously this past autumn, nine months after Buckley’s death.

For the full review essay, see:
ROSS DOUTHAT. “Essay; When Buckley Met Reagan .” The New York Times, Book Review Section (Sun., January 18, 2009): 23.
(Note: bold in original.)
(Note: The online version of the review essay was dated January 16, 2009.)