05 May 2009

Remembering Ronald Reagan

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Byron York published a nice tribute to Ronald Reagan recently in the Washington Examiner. The GOP would be well-advised to ignore people named Bush and to return to fidelity to the legacy of Ronald Reagan.

You drive up a steep, rough and winding road to reach Ronald Reagan’s ranch in the Santa Ynez mountains. For eight years, from 1981 to 1989, this place north of Santa Barbara was the Western White House; Reagan spent nearly a year of his time in office here. Now, what he called Rancho del Cielo is pretty much deserted.

But the ranch, tended by a lone caretaker, is still much like it was when Reagan was alive. It’s not open to the public; these days, the old adobe house and 688 surrounding acres are owned and carefully maintained by the conservative Young America’s Foundation. The group doesn’t have the staff or resources to conduct public tours, but they were kind enough to take me on a visit one afternoon last week.

The first thing that strikes you as you approach the house is how modest it is. The main part of the building was constructed in 1871. Even after Reagan added a couple of rooms when he bought it in 1975, the whole house only measured about 1,500 square feet. …

The house is nestled on the edge of a mountainside meadow. It’s idyllic, but if you drive about five minutes away, you’ll find another spot on the property, at the top of a hill, where the president could have built a new home, perhaps an impressive monument to himself, with fabulous views of the Pacific to the west and the valley to the east. Instead, Reagan preferred the little house by the meadow.

Walking around the ranch, you can’t help thinking about the current Republican party and its relationship to Reagan.

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