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Vol. 17  No. 21 Final Edition
Clovis Free Press
Wedneday May 9 , 2001
Reagan's Wisdom
Will Alaska wind up as our biggest state, or
will it be our smallest state surrounded
by our biggest national park
By Mark Burson

    CLOVIS --
An old Broadway tune goes, "Everything Old Is New Again," and the many bell-bottomed jeans I see walking the streets just might prove the lyrical adage.
     But while fashion seems to come and go and come again, some ideas are as timeless as they are true. For example, just when you thought California leaders lacked new insight about the state's energy crisis comes one of the Golden State's favorite sons with some bright perspectives to light the days ahead.
     "All the world, I guess, is aware of the California shortage. Some think we are careless guzzlers and it serves us right. Others laugh it off as proof that Californians are pixilated. One thing we can prove: Californians aren't to blame, as a Washington Post editorial suggested they were."
     These sentiments sound like contemporary stuff, but the words were written a generation ago -- and they show for the umpteenth time that Ronald Reagan predicted most of what ails and ailed our country, and that he prescribed common-sense solutions that others still suggest today.
     A new book has helped capture this fact -- "Reagan In His Own Hand" edited by Martin Anderson, Annelise Anderson and Kiron Skinner. It is a collection of the radio addresses President Ronald Reagan delivered between 1975 and 1979, leading up to his election as president in 1980.
     And make no mistake: While already a popular figure, the special qualities of his radio work were instrumental in elevating Reagan to the White House. He broadcast more than 1,000 of these radio essays, and in reading them, one can literally hear a full voice of the vintage Reagan wit.
     In describing environmentalist foes of energy source expansion, he writes, "It is rude and ungentlemanly to call them ignorant. They just know a great many things that aren't true."
     Another asks, "Will Alaska wind up as our biggest state, or will it be our smallest state surrounded by our biggest national park?" But most of all, these writings provide ready proof not only of President Reagan's instinctive understanding of foreign policy, domestic affairs, human rights and social issues -- we knew that already -- but of his deep intellect and keen mind.
     And they leave us with perhaps the most compelling evidence of all in making the case for Ronald Reagan as the quintessential thinking man. In truth, Reagan has already received the most important tributes: Statesman, patriot, peacemaker, restorer of the American spirit.
     But one acclaim that has too often eluded him is that of intellectual, mostly because he surely did not seek it. He proudly volunteered Louis L'Amour westerns as his favorite reading, when he surely could have told us of his fondness for Proust or Stendahl.
     His favorite food? Not the haute cuisine of the well-to-do, but the American staple macaroni and cheese. Take a look at today's newspapers. Most every subject dominating the present headlines is captured among Reagan's radio addresses: taxes, crime, education, economics, energy, the environment, China.
     Reagan did not merely comment on the affairs of the day, he considered where America was, and plotted a new and better course for her to choose. Facts, figures, data, research, studies, percentages -- all leap off the pages of this book and show Reagan's love of knowledge.
     And as an avid outdoorsman (he even labeled himself "an ecologist"), he could be graceful in writing of natural beauty: "There is a vast wilderness of mountains, lakes, rivers, glaciers and tundra, where Kodiak bears roam and the great Arctic wolves stalk the caribou."
     The Sierra Club couldn't have put it any better. This book is truly the definitive work on Ronald Reagan, and how appropriate it is that the man himself would be its primary author. As future historians seek to understand the 40th president, and place him into the context of the American experience, they will look first, and often, to "Reagan In His Own Hand."
     For me, one device used in every address is most memorable. Each commentary begins with a short, provocative thought, followed by Reagan's assurance that "I'll be right back," as the broadcast went to commercial break. With this collection, Reagan will always "be right back."
     Those of us who watched him and admired him can treasure him anew, and perhaps even more importantly, those not old enough to remember him can learn what made him great.

        [Editor's Note: Mark Burson is the executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation in Simi Valley, CA].

Letter to the Editor

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