By Quin Hillyer at The American Spectator;

Fresh on the heels of lamenting the Aug. 6 death of former U.S. Sen. Paul Laxalt, known as Ronald Reagan’s “best friend in politics,” I found myself last Friday looking at a hand-written sentence from Reagan to Laxalt.

On an otherwise routine response to a policy-inquiry message from Laxalt to the White House, Reagan wrote that “Nancy joins me in sending our love to [Laxalt’s wife] Carol” — thoughtfully insisting, amidst a host of other paperwork, on adding that personal touch.

That personal touch of Reagan’s is evident throughout the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California, which I visited for the first time last week. The museum is a wonderful facility — well organized, engagingly presented, intellectually stimulating, emotionally powerful, and beautifully designed to present an expansive, soul-warming vista of the hill-surrounded valley stretching 15 miles to the Pacific.

The exhibits do a fine job telling the story of Reagan’s remarkable life. Many of them expertly capture his buoyant personality, his infectious optimism, and especially his love for wife Nancy. Yet this isn’t one of those postmodern, vapid substitutions of personal ephemera for real history. Instead, the personal material is seamlessly and appropriately integrated into the important account of Reagan’s world-altering public life and presidency. Never does a visitor lose sight of why there is a museum for Reagan — of what he believed, what he did in office, and why his presidency mattered….

What first really captivated me were the collections of Reagan’s famous hand-written speech-note cards. I had imagined these index-cards, with which he built so many of his addresses and radio commentaries, as being large-lettered, bullet-pointed, quick-glance visual cues. Not at all. Painstakingly written in almost tiny cursive that filled the lines entirely (virtually no white space), the cards — hundreds of them — gave evidence of a rigorous, nuanced intellect…..

[The full column is at this link.]

 

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