In Amongst the Enemy

The Tomb of President Ronald Reagan

The Tomb of President Ronald Reagan

Today I was surrounded by hundreds of Republicans as I visited the library of their sanctified hero, Ronald Wilson Reagan, 40th President of the United States.

While he was Governor of California and President of the United States, I hated him with a white-hot heat. With hundreds of fellow UCLA students, I jeered him at an illegal screening of Bedtime for Bonzo (1951), in which the widely disliked Governor of California was paired with a chimpanzee.

But times have changed. Although I disagreed with him on a number of counts, especially the Iran-Contra affair and the sending of U.S. troops to be blown up by one of the first suicide bombers in Lebanon. And yet, I would prefer him to any of the Klown Kar GOP candidates for 2016. There was a certain intelligence and sincerity to him that I would now find refreshing. He could also whip them all in a debate with his hand (and tongue) tied behind his back.

The words on his tomb (above) read: “I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always eventually triumph, and there is purpose and worth to each and every life.” That’s not a bad line to be remembered by.

Curiously, Martine and I showed up at the Reagan Library on June 5, 2004, the day Mr. Reagan died. We were interviewed by the Press (though I never saw my interview on TV). At that time, I said I thought that, although I did not agree with many of his policies, I thought he was a superb communicator. I still stand by that opinion.





Disney and the Gipper

Mock-Up Costume Upon Which the Dress of Snow White Was Modeled

Mock-Up Costume Upon Which the Dress of Snow White Was Modeled

When we were at the Grier Musser Museum yesterday, its curator, Susan Tejada, told us about a large Walt Disney exhibit at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in the Simi Valley. It didn’t take much convincing for Martine, who likes the library at Christmastime because of their Christmas Trees of Other Nations exhibit.

Well, things didn’t turn out as we expected. To begin with, the parking lot was filled to overflowing, so we had to park a mile down the hill. Fortunately, the crowds had been anticipated; and there was a shuttle bus service that plied up and down the hill all day. Even then, we had to wait in a line for almost half an hour just to get inside. And when we did, the exhibits were a mob scene.

You see, Southern California is full of tourists who have come to see the Rose Bowl and its Tournament of Roses Parade. While they are here, they take bus tours to such locales as Hollywood (why?), the Reagan Library, and the Santa Monica Pier. We ran into several hundred Wisconsin Badgers fans sporting name tags hung around their necks.

What Martine and I did was to force our way through the crowds to the Disney exhibit, which was put on by D23, the Official Disney Fan Club, and then we split up. Martine went to see as much of the standard exhibits as she could, while I repaired to the Ronald Reagan Country Café and read W. Baring Pendleton’s excellent biography of English journalist and reformer, William Cobbett.

It was worth seeing the Disney exhibit—despite the crowds—but I think I had the better idea of sitting in the café with some green tea and reading a good book. I was already familiar with most of the regular exhibits. Oh, and the Christmas Trees of Other Nations? The Reagan Library stopped doing that three years ago. Tant pis!