- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 7, 2015

To mark the 11th anniversary of her husband’s passing, Nancy Reagan placed a small bouquet of white roses at the gravesite of the nation’s 40th president on Friday. Dressed in a white pantsuit and print scarf, Mrs. Reagan quietly sat before the remembrance wall at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California — a stretch of limestone inscribed with one of Ronald Reagan’s most memorable quotes: “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.” The quote is from a speech Reagan made in 1991 when the library itself was dedicated. The audience that day included Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Charlton Heston.

But the Reagan story is not over yet. Now on the radar: “Last Act: The final years and emerging legacy of Ronald Reagan,” an upcoming book by historian and Reagan biographer Craig Shirley, which offers a thoughtful and unprecedented look at Reagan’s life after he left the White House.

“No 20th century president shaped the American political landscape so profoundly. ‘Last Act’ will tell the important final chapter in the life of Reagan, widening our understanding of American history, the presidency and one of the most singular men to occupy the office. Cast in a grand and compelling narrative style, the book will contain interesting and heretofore untold anecdotes and history,” says Joel Miller, vice president of Thomas Nelson, which publishes the book in October.

Mr. Miller notes that the detail-minded author will offer a wealth of social history from the Reagan era, adding, “We’re witnessing almost every day that Reagan’s legacy, his views and his philosophy have become so crucial in the political sphere that they may very well mean the difference between winning or losing elections.”

Indeed, GOP hopefuls now vie to see who can appear the most “Reaganesque.” Mr. Shirley, incidentally, is also at work on “Citizen Newt,” a political biography of Newt Gingrich. “Last Act” will be available for preorder from the publisher on July 15.

‘TRIGGERED AMNESTY LANGUAGE’

Ah, what might have been. Immigration policy is complicated, but so is a muddled immigration policy. Consider recent news that over 3,700 illegal immigrants considered “Threat Level 1” criminals were released onto U.S. streets by the Department of Homeland Security. Executive amnesty is still a bone of contention, as are benefits and driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, guest worker programs, backlogged court cases and legislative gridlock. Federal agencies dealing with it all are hard-pressed to keep up. But some of this turmoil could have been tempered — and quite some time ago.

“The U.S. government could have prevented the release of the 3,700 criminals into our communities by requiring the U.S.-Mexico border be secured the last time it actually had the chance. Congress last passed comprehensive immigration reform in 1986 when a Republican-controlled Senate compromised with a Democrat-controlled House to allow full amnesty but require no border security,” congressional policy analyst Roger Fleming tells Inside the Beltway.

“Had Republicans demanded their ‘triggered amnesty’ language — delaying amnesty until the border was secured — remain part of the Senate-House Conference Report that went to President Reagan for his signature, the vast majority of the 11 million people here illegally today would still be at the border, including the thousands of criminals released onto our streets by DHS last year,” concludes Mr. Fleming, also author of “Majority Rules.”

THE SHIRT FACTOR

Plain old shirtsleeves were the wardrobes of choice among Republican presidential hopefuls at Sen. Joni Ernst’s novel “Roast and Ride” event in Iowa on Saturday, which drew significant press coverage. It was a rare, casual gathering of the candidates — all dressed in their strategic grass-roots best. Sen. Marco Rubio, for example, wore a light-blue shirt with windowpane checks, sleeves folded back once. Ben Carson chose light-blue and white stripes, sleeves buttoned to the wrist. Sen. Lindsey Graham donned a denim shirt sleeves folded back to the elbow. Carly Fiorina was resplendent in green and white checks with some subtle tailoring, sleeves also buttoned at the wrist. Mike Huckabee wore a red and white striped shirt, but topped it with a blue blazer.

Two felt a different calling. Gov. Scott Walker wore a black, short-sleeved Harley-Davidson T-shirt, while Rick Perry chose a black, long-sleeved shirt, sleeves rolled above the elbow. After all, both rode in to the event on Harleys. Rick Santorum, by the way, was absent. But he is in Iowa. On Monday, Mr. Santorum begins a two-day, eight-county tour — very much in his signature “blue-collar conservative” mindset. Among his stops: Sam’s Soda’s & Sandwiches in Carroll, Cronk Restaurant in Denison and Coffee Attic in Iowa Falls.

PERRY’S HISTORIC PRECEDENT

“While Rick Perry has plenty of competition in his second bid for the White House in 2016, a new report shows he has a resume unlike any other candidate for president in the nation’s history,” says Eric Ostermeier, a political science professor at the University of Minnesota. “Rick Perry enters the 2016 race with the most gubernatorial experience of any presidential candidate in history. Perry served 14 years and one month — 5,144 days — as Texas’ top official, and the nation’s 10th-longest statehood gubernatorial tenure.”

Well. That’s at least something for Mr. Perry to bandy about when the press gets ornery.

“Of the nine governors who served longer than Perry, five never ran for president: Terry Branstad — along with Bill Janklow, Jim Hunt, Edwin Edwards and Arthur Fenner,” Mr. Ostermeier continues, noting that the other four — Albert Ritchie, Nelson Rockefeller, George Wallace and Jim Rhodes — did venture into presidential politics, but none served longer than Mr. Perry’s 14-plus years at the time of their candidacy.

“With his candidacy, Perry edges former four-term Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson for the most gubernatorial experience of any presidential candidate. By two days. Thompson served 14 months and 28 days — 5,142 days — as governor of the Badger State and launched a short-lived bid for the GOP nomination in 2007,” the exacting professor concludes.

SAVAGE FURY

“They inveigled us into believing that they would listen to the people. So the enemy is not President Obama. We know who he is. We know he’s always been an enemy of America. We know he was trained to hate everything good about the country. We know he hates the military and the police and patriots. But the Republicans were put into power back in November to stop this disease. So the enemy is not the liberal. The enemy is the fake Republican like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner — and the other individuals in the power structure. They are in there solely to advance the interests of powerful international corporations.”

— Talk radio host Michael Savage, to his 7 million-member audience.

POLL DU JOUR

61 percent of Americans enjoy sleeping “a lot”: 61 percent of Republicans, 59 percent of independents and 58 percent of Democrats agree.

54 percent overall get seven to eight hours of sleep a night: 57 percent of Republicans, 49 percent of independents and 58 percent of Democrats agree.

41 percent overall have nightmares “a few times a year”: 43 percent of Republicans, 38 percent of independents and 43 percent of Democrats agree.

40 percent overall wake up tired up to three mornings a week: 46 percent of Republicans, 37 percent of independents and 40 percent of Democrats agree.

37 percent overall say they have recurring dreams: 43 percent of Republicans, 36 percent of independents and 35 percent of Democrats agree.

17 percent overall say they changed their life as a result of something they dreamed: 11 percent of Republicans, 22 percent of independents and 15 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A YouGov poll of 996 U.S. adults conducted May 27-29

Optimistic asides, chatter to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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