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    Anecdotal Observations On History & Politics

    Entries in Ronald Reagan (13)


    There's No Wrong Way to Vacation As President

    Gripes over presidential vacations have become a predictable side-effect of partisan politics. However, those bemoaning President Obama’s week-long Martha’s Vineyard respite may want to re-examine past presidential getaways.

    Criticisms usually sound something like this: it’s an expensive extravagance! It’s unnecessary! It shows an insensitivity to the millions of ordinary Americans struggling through a bad economy!

    But re-examine history: President Ronald Reagan retreated to Barbados for Easter in April of 1982 at a taxpayer cost of $3.5 million. The Caribbean getaway, hosted by Hollywood actress Claudette Colbert, had Reagan’s critics fuming. After all, unemployment was at 9.3%, a historic high, and the exotic destination wasn’t even in the U.S. In fact, Reagan had even rejected the advice of his staff, who feared the potentially bad optics and urged him not to go.

    The Gipper went anyway, and in the process he proved that there’s really no wrong way to vacation as President.*

    History doesn’t remember these little controversies. Thirty years later, the trip and the criticism is long forgotten–but we do have this unique record from Nightly News, as reported by NBC’s John Palmer:

    *This may not apply if you are a candidate for President.

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    Bill Maher with Reagan, Ferraro and Dukakis

    Two ridiculous scenes from the little known 1991 film, Pizza Man, which features a 35 year-old Bill Maher and an assortment of 1980's politicians. In the first scene, Maher walks in on Ronald Reagan and Geraldine Ferraro having an affair and in the second he hitchhikes with Michael Dukakis. Enjoy:


    Primary Season Tribute: 1976-2008

    I cut a "greatest hits" montage of Primary Season Moments from the campaigns of 1976 - 2008 for The Chris Matthews Show and First Read at NBC. Featuring Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Teddy Kennedy, Walter Mondale, Gary Hart, Michael Dukakis, Bob Dole, Pat Buchanan, Al Gore, George Bush, John McCain, John Kerry, Howard Dean, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. A fun retrospective for political junkies, check it out here:

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    Reagan Campaigns for Truman in 1948

    In what might sound like political blasphemy by today's republican party standards, below is a campaign speech delivered by Ronald Reagan, for Harry S. Truman's reelection in 1948. It's well known that Reagan was a new deal democrat before he switched parties in 1962, claiming, "I didn't leave the Democratic Party. The party left me." However, it's still rather jarring to hear the future icon of conservatism espouse liberal ideals and deride the republicans -- some juicy quotes include: 

    "[I'm] more than a little impatient with those promises the Republicans made before they got control of congress a couple of years ago"

    "This is why we must have new faces in congress in 1948 -- Democratic faces."

    "Mayor Humphrey is one of the ablest men in public life"

    Take a listen here: 

    Reagan's unlikely rise to political prominence is also parodied in the film Back to the Future, when Marty McFly is trying to convince "Doc" Emmett Brown that he's visiting from the future (the 1980's). The following is the conversation, per IMDB's quotes page

    [Dr. Emmett Brown is doubting Marty McFly's story about that he is from the future
    Dr. Emmett Brown: Then tell me, "Future Boy", who's President in the United States in 1985? 
    Marty McFly: Ronald Reagan. 
    Dr. Emmett Brown: Ronald Reagan? The actor? 
    [chuckles in disbelief
    Dr. Emmett Brown: Then who's VICE-President? Jerry Lewis? 
    [rushing out and down a hill toward his laboratory
    Dr. Emmett Brown: I suppose Jane Wyman is the First Lady! 
    Marty McFly: [following Doc] Whoa! Wait! Doc! 
    Dr. Emmett Brown: And Jack Benny is Secretary of the Treasury. 
    Marty McFly: [outside the lab door] Doc, you gotta listen to me. 
    Dr. Emmett Brown: [opens the door to the lab] I've had enough practical jokes for one evening. Good night, Future Boy! 
    [closes the door leaving Marty outside

    Jane Wyman was Ronald Reagan's first wife.