- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 6, 2001

The Great Communicator remains the great communicator.
As Ronald Wilson Reagan celebrates his 90th birthday today, he still resonates there in the heart of things, at the very confluence of politics and national identity.
It is President Reagan's eloquence that "united Americans in times of triumph and tragedy," said Rep. Christopher Cox, California Republican, on introducing a resolution honoring the former president on his 90th birthday before the House yesterday.
"Ronald Reagan is loved and admired by millions of Americans and by countless others around the world," Mr. Cox continued, then went on to bid Mr. Reagan the best on behalf of the entire country.
There is a new book out as well, published today by the Free Press. "Reagan in His Own Hand" encompasses four years of speeches Mr. Reagan penned himself, revealing the sharp mind and wit that bolstered the conservative mindset with might and heart.
While CNN readies a four-part Ronald Reagan series that begins airing tonight, pundits ponder the lasting vitality of Mr. Reagan's presidency as his ideas surface time and again in policy and history.
He gets people thinking.
"What most amazed me about Reagan was his ability to shut out the buzz in Washington," Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard noted yesterday. "He was purposefully oblivious, and it was empowering. When the Soviets marched out of the Geneva arms talk in 1983, Washington was in an uproar. Reagan calmly said the Soviets would return to the talks, and he was right. They did."
Media coverage this week ranges from affectionate to allegorical as all things Reagan are reviewed. Some wonder if we have entered "Reaganism, Part II." In various reports he is called icon, statesman, family man, philosopher.
President Bush recently told one veteran reporter that Ronald Reagan was "my favorite president, next to my Dad, of course."
But it's also Ronald Reagan Day out in Los Angeles, a tribute to the man who could go "Hollywood" without it getting the best of him.
"Ronnie's birthday was always the fun event of the year," recalled old chum Merv Griffith yesterday. "But always his acknowledgment of his birthday was the same. This year it would have been, 'Thank you for acknowledging the 51st anniversary of my 39th birthday.' "
What with a parade of vintage autos and wily Reagan impersonators, there had been much ado at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California, complete with a 90-foot birthday card for visitors to sign.
And there's a chocolate cake in a quiet room, too.
Nancy Reagan, his beloved wife of 49 years, will preside over a small gathering at the family home in Bel Air. In an interview to air on CNN's "Larry King" tonight, she unabashedly gushed over those old movie-star looks. "Ronnie," she said, "looks fine."
Still, Mrs. Reagan struggles with the challenges of being a caregiver. Mr. Reagan is slowly recovering from a broken hip and has Alzheimer's disease a condition his wife has called "the long, long goodbye."
The pair have shared a sweet and indestructible marriage. She was "My beloved First Lady," "Nancy Pants," "My Darling." He was "Poppa," "Your Ranch Hand," and just plain Ronnie nicknames chronicled in a book of old love letters that Mrs. Reagan, published four months ago.
Mr. Reagan joins John Adams and Herbert Hoover as one of only three presidents to reach 90.

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