Tuesday, June 08, 2004

William F. Buckley Jr. on Ronald Reagan

William F. Buckley Jr. offers up some "Little Memories" of President Reagan. My favorites:

"It was his job to introduce me, as the evening's speaker, to a group of California doctors. He acted like a gymnast out of Barnum and Bailey. The control room for the loudspeakers had been left locked. Nobody could find the janitor. So he cat-walked above the traffic to the window of the control room and smashed it open with his elbow, turning on the juice, the show must go on. Nice preview of Reagan, policymaker."

"He was opposed to ratifying the Panama Canal Treaty, and we debated the subject for two hours on television, each of us with illustrious assistants. We punched each other pretty hard. A couple of months later I was scheduled for dinner at his home in Bel Air. He got me on the telephone: 'Drive slowly up the drive, real slow.' I did — and came upon, every twenty yards, huge hand-drawn signs: 'WE BUILT IT.' 'WE PAID FOR IT.' 'IT'S OURS!'"

"I had written him during the campaign that I didn't want a job. He answered back that he was disappointed: 'I've had it in mind to appoint you ambassador to Afghanistan.' Big joke, the Soviet Union having just taken over there. But in correspondence thereafter he always referred to me as 'Mr. Ambassador,' and the week before leaving the White House he wrote to commend me on the Soviet withdrawal — 'and you did it,' he wrote, 'without leaving Kabul for a minute.' Good-humored fantasies played long with Ronald Reagan."

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