- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 3, 2011

THE BIG 100

Welcome to Reaganpalooza. It’s colossal. It’s stupendous. It’s also sincere, endearing and not without a certain poignancy. The man of the hour, one Ronald Wilson Reagan, 40th president of the United States, is not here to help celebrate his 100th birthday on Sunday, even as public appreciation and warm affection for Reagan grow.

Yes, there is a birthday cake: 6 feet tall, 400 pounds, chocolate, topped with a 50-pound chocolate eagle, emblazoned with patriotic colors and white chocolate presidential seals. “Ronald Reagan Day” will be proclaimed in the District of Columbia, Dallas, Indianapolis, Sacramento, Houston and nine other cities. Wal-Mart and Target are now selling “Ronald Reagan: An American Journey,” a Hollywood-produced DVD. There’s speechifying, an F-18 flyover and a 21-gun salute at the Reagan Presidential Library; a Jumbotron tribute to the Gipper at the Super Bowl.

“It’s like the night before Christmas, Fourth of July or a political campaign where everyone wins,” Rob Bauer, a spokesman for the library’s centennial events, tells Inside the Beltway.

Nancy Reagan is just feeling terrific right now. This is all one big party, but a meaningful one, like when we remember that Ronald Reagan, for all his accomplishments, was actually a humble man,” Mr. Bauer adds. “He would be humbled by all of this celebration, that is what Mrs. Reagan believes. And he’d have a joke about it all, she says. He’d tell everyone, ‘This is the 61st anniversary of my 39th birthday.”

BEGINNING AGAIN

All Washington journalists have their Ronald Reagan stories. Here is mine — a thought Mr. Reagan shared with me on Dec. 27, 1984, after I asked him to reflect on life as he saw it, from the White House:

“Late in the afternoon, in my office, I find myself gazing through the white glass paned doors that lead to the Rose Garden. I am somehow moved more than usual by the brief but vibrant sunlight of Washington in the winter,” Mr. Reagan said.

“There is so much to do, so many new beginnings. I think of the old toast to a newborn child: ‘May he live in peace and freedom.’ There’s so much to do to broaden the peace we enjoy and see that it endures, so many steps to take to see that our prosperity takes deep root, that our economy yields unprecedented opportunity for our children and grandchildren. The heart quickens at the challenges and opportunities.

“The Rose Garden is empty of roses and the magnolias are bereft of their blooms, but somehow it doesn’t feel like winter. I keep sensing the spring that is coming. There’s a feeling of things beginning again.”

TRASH TALK

Ministry of Filth, Department of Neat and Clean, Department of Environmental Justice, Stephen Colbert Solid Waste Department, Big Waste of Money, Rick Perry’s Log Removal and Government Policymaking Service, Department of Hippies, Hipsters and Eco-Nuts:

Among the 165 potential new names for the Solid Waste Services Department of Austin, Texas, suggested by citizens for a public renaming campaign. The votes will be tallied by the city on Feb. 10.

TINGLE BELLS

“So the Muslim Brotherhood has a parallel role here with the tea party. They’re the ones who keep you honest and decide whether you’ve stayed too long. Whether you’ve got a ‘sell by’ date looming,” MSNBC host Chris Matthews proclaimed this week.

Yeah, well.

“Oh, Matthews says stuff like that all the time. Even this weird comparison is no surprise. I never bother to get riled up about what he has to say. Ever,” Mark Meckler, co-founder of the 15-million-member Tea Party Patriots movement, tells Inside the Beltway.

But run for the hills. Mr. Matthews — long famous for the self-described partisan “tingle” that goes up his leg when he listens to certain politicians — still gets that sensation. He stars in the upcoming “President of the World: The Bill Clinton Phenomenon” — a one-hour “documentary” that airs on the cable channel on (when else?) Presidents Day.

FAITH JOURNEY

“The presidency has a funny way of making a person feel the need to pray. Like all of us, my faith journey has had its twists and turns. It hasn’t always been a straight line.”

— President Obama, to an audience at the annual National Prayer Breakfast

WEEKEND READING

Million-dollar historic homes that once belonged to 19th-century fancy folk are available. Then there are the almost-forgotten places that have intriguing histories, structural challenges and, uh, low prices. Like the 3,430-square-foot Thomas Benton Jacobs House of Indiana, built in 1864, and $1. A 20,000-square-foot, solid brick Minnesota high school built in 1908 is $80,000. The 1900-built Hodges-Walter house of North Carolina — at 2,700 square feet — is $20,000.

See it all, plus interesting resources, here: www. preservationdirectory.com.

POLL DU JOUR

• 81 percent of Americans worry that “Egypt’s problems” will push up the price of gas.

• 75 percent say it is likely the unrest in Egypt will spread to other Middle Eastern countries.

• 70 percent say the U.S. should leave the Egyptian situation alone.

• 59 percent say that if the unrest spreads, it will be “bad” for the U.S.; 23 percent are uncertain about it.

• 46 percent place Egypt somewhere between an ally and an enemy of the U.S.

• 40 percent regard Egypt as an ally of the U.S.

• 7 percent say the U.S. should help the current Egyptian government stay in power.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports poll of 1,000 adults conducted Jan. 28 and 29.

Tipline always open at jharper@washingtontimes.com. Follow the column at twitter.com/harperbulletin.

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