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net.” Would he, as secretary of state, have toasted Bolivia while in Brazil or have referred to Liberia’s Samuel Doe as “Chairman Doe,” as he later did when president? For no reason he will give other than his sense of popular will, Reagan challenged the incumbent for the 1976 Republican nomination. He fell only 70 votes short, and he does not mention how, desperate to broaden support at the Kansas City convention, he took the unusual step of announcing a running mate, liberal Republican Richard Schweiker, before the delegates had decided on Ford. Proud \\ I 5I le X: Available at the following locations: Old World Bakery 814 W. 12th Street Austin The Stoneleigh P 2926 Maple Avenue Dallas Brazos Bookstore 2314 Bissonett Houston Guy’s News Stand 3700 Main Street Houston The Newstand 1101 University Lubbock Daily News & Tobacco 309-A Andrews Highway Midland Books and News 301 State Line Avenue Texarkana The Original Magazine & Bookstore 5360 W. Lovers Lane #210 Dallas The Original Magazine & Bookstore #2 11661 Preston, Suite 301 Dallas of his trajectory “from liberal Democrat to dedicated Republican,” as though Republicans held a monopoly on dedication, Reagan reveals that, at the cunning request of Richard Nixon, he maintained Democratic registration through the 1960 election in order to advertise himself as a Democrat for Nixon. Reagan and Nixon are the good cop/bad cop duo of the modern Republican Party. While it is easy to imagine Nixon gloating over the ailments of his enemies, Reagan claims that prayer cured his ulcer, and not even a liberal Democrat would wish it back. Reagan is remarkably free of overt malice, even toward those who have maligned him. Like his Mosaic friend Charlton Heston, Reagan presents himself as having bestowed an Eleventh Commandment thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican on the chaos of California politics. And, despite allusions to Alexander Haig’s arrogance and Donald Regan’s ruthlessness, he gracious, and bland, in victory. He even extends praise to Tip O’Neill’s dedication to erroneous principles. Reagan tells of how he met his future mate when she appealed to him, then president of the Screen Actors Guild, to protect her from the entertainment industry blacklist on which another Nancy Davis properly belonged. He now regrets some excesses in the witch hunts he supported: “Many fine people were accused wrongly of being Communists simply because they were liberals…. I was all for kicking Communists out of Hollywood, but some members of the House Un-American Activities Committee, ignoring standards of truth and fair play, ganged up on innocent people and tried to blacklist them.” He also regrets his failure to achieve his obsessive goal of a balanced budget, though he neglects to mention that on his “watch” the United States tripled its national debt, moving from the world’s largest creditor to its largest debtor. Though he presided over a swelling bureaucracy, he still insists that government is the problem, not the solution. He fails to explain, or even notice, the blight of homelessness, environmental degradation, banking and investment fraud, and educational mediocrity that resulted from his lazy laissez-faire approach. “The competitive free enterprise system has given us the greatest standard of living in the world,” claims Reagan, with no justification in any statistical measure. What most upset him about the Iran-contra scandal, he contends, is that, “For the first time in my life, people didn’t believe me.” They evidently bought the play-byplay accounts of Chicago Cubs games that he embroidered while sitting in a radio booth in Des Moines and reading wire-service game summaries. Tom Brokaw did not believe the 68-year-old candidate Reagan when, on a 1979 “Today” show, he sought to allay the age issue by claiming: “As president, I would be younger than all the heads of state I would have to deal with except Margaret Thatcher.” Brokaw pointed out that other younger heads of state would include Valery Giscard .LOpez admirers have always known of Reagan’s creative way with the truth. He claims that he lost his first debate with Walter Mondale in 1986 because of being too well informed, and he never made that mistake again “your mind just isn’t flexible enough if it’s saturated with facts.” Reagan does not claim to have attended Eureka College for any reason other than football and a sweetheart named Margaret who later dumped him. Balzac worked best when dressed in a robe and sniffing burnt orange peels, but the New Right’s Knight on a White Horse is most stimulated in the saddle. If Congress had known then what he explains now, that “there’s no better place for me to think than on the top of a horse,” it might have installed a rocking horse in the Oval Office. Instead, the Administration floated on horsefeathers. Even when Reagan is aerating his repetitious prose with pious platitudes, he often gets things wrong. In typically muddled syntax, he says he misses the many people he used to work with “the good and decent people from every state in the union, from all walks of life, black and white, Christian and Jew, rich and poor, military and civilian, political and civil service, who comprise the executive office of the President of the United States, joined only by the desire to serve their country.” Reagan is not a rambling pedestrian; he ignores some “walks of life.” The President who muzzled reporting on Grenada proclaims: “Regarding the press, I’ve always believed a free press is as vital to America as the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.” If he had not been diverted by football and Margaret, he might have learned that freedom of the press is guaranteed within the Bill of Rights, which is part of the Constitution. The prologue to An American Life evokes the exhilaration of arms reduction talks in Geneva in 1985, and the final 200 pages of the book provide numbing details, with excerpts of official and private letters between Reagan and a succession of Soviet leaders, of progress toward genuine demilitarization. The Cold War did indeed thaw away on the watch of the man who subordinated everything else Latin America, East Timor, the Middle East, South Africa to the East-West confrontation. In splendid seclusion on his 688acre Rancho del Cielo north of Santa Barbara, the amnesiac chief executive expects to be remembered as a peacemaker. He beholds God’s plan in the pattern of his American life, though I am not sure that the Deity would endorse Reagan’s hustling to Japan for $2 million, after the career recorded in his book. He has been a disgrace to the high office he no longer holds. Reagan informs us that “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” is his favorite song, but, if the truth goes marching on, this autobiographer marches to the beat of a different drummer. 20 DECEMBER 7, 1990 1st m1!or.i.***e.m.4..7: 400 “,