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Friday, August 15, 2003

A corny Gipper story

Peter Robinson, blogging on The Corner, has been promoting his new book, "How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life."  He's been getting some very touching, spontaneous emails from others with their own stories, which prompted him to actively solicit more.  (He plans to print them and send them to the Reagan Library.)

For what it's worth, here's my own admittedly corny story that I emailed to him:

One fine clear and windy day in October 1980, I was a brand new lawyer who'd just started a clerkship for a federal judge in Houston.  Our chambers' windows on the eleventh floor in the federal courthouse looked down across Rusk Avenue at Tranquility Park, where a political rally for the Republican nominee in the upcoming presidential election was about to take place.  We all watched from our eagles' nest view, and the PA was loud enough that we could  follow what was going on.

A gleaming white stretch limousine pulled up — REALLY stretched, the biggest I'd ever seen in my life — and out of it, surrounded by his security detail, stepped the #1 hero of my childhood!  I thought he looked pretty good for his age.  He was a bit bowlegged, perhaps, and a bit stiff, but here in Texas we understand that when a man's spent a lot of time on horseback, that just happens.  Certainly I'd seen him whip enough badguys while on horseback, both on TV and in the movies, to understand. 

Another limousine pulled up — this one not nearly so impressive, just a plain black Lincoln Towncar, I think.  Its passenger exited and strode briskly across to join my hero in front of the microphones and the assembled press corps.  I didn't know nearly as much about this fellow, but — well, after all, he WAS Ronald Reagan, the Republican presidential nominee, and I was curious to hear what he'd have to say after my hero — Roy Rogers — introduced him.  (It struck me as perfectly natural at the time, though, that Roy had the bigger limo.)

Roy Rogers died in 1998 at the ripe old age of 86, having lived a full life as the King of the Cowboys.  But that day in 1980 was the first and last time I ever saw him in person, and while I always was and always will be a fan of his, I didn't fully appreciate that day that the man he was introducing would become one of the greatest heroes of my ADULT life.

I had the privilege of voting for Ronald Reagan twice, and I watched him rescue the United States in pretty much the same way Roy and Trigger always rescued Dale.  I watched President Reagan take on our villains, our demons — gas lines, striking air traffic controllers, high interest rates, high inflation, "stagflation," the nay-sayers who'd demoralized and downsized our military, the Evil Empire, and most important of all, a lack of national self-confidence and purpose — and whip 'em.  My gosh, how many bullets DID he have in that six-shooter?

When it comes to those two men I saw together at that 1980 rally, I'm not ashamed to say that I loved Roy Rogers, and I still love Ronald Reagan.  Roy Rogers' make-believe exploits thrilled me as a boy, but he also taught by example a code of honor that I and his other adolescent fans tried to live by.  Ronald Reagan thrilled me as a young man, and he taught me that the idealism I'd learned as a boy was justified, and that same code of honor will always be worth living by. 

Posted by Beldar at 12:06 AM in Politics (2006 & earlier) | Permalink


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(1) LazyMF made the following comment | Aug 15, 2003 10:36:39 PM | Permalink

Corny, indeed.

You're wasting your time with the Jenkins book. Check this out: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?userid=2UYPRXTQS3&isbn=0805023968&itm=3


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