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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: Hollywood

Ronald Reagan's birth centennial, Part I: Politics came late in his life

The Reagan family Christmas card 1916 father Jack wife Nelle oldest son Neil and the future president, DutchSunday is the birth centennial of Ronald Reagan, the 40th president, cause for numerous political, memorial and academic observances across the country this weekend.

The Ticket invited one of the nation's top presidential scholars, Prof. Robert Schmuhl of the University of Notre Dame, to examine the political legacy of Reagan as he relates to others of his generation, exclusively for Ticket readers.

(Scroll to bottom for Schmuhl's biography and book information.) We've also included several videos by and about Reagan.

This item is Part I of Schmuhl's writing.

Part II appears here now.

Please use the share buttons above to pass these on, and perhaps leave your own Reagan memories or thoughts in the comments section below.

-- Andrew Malcolm


Politics came late in life

Born a century ago, on Feb. 6, 1911, Ronald Reagan took the political stage well into his 50s after a multimedia career performing on a variety of other stages. Broadcaster, actor, public speaker, Reagan understood the importance of effective stagecraft long before he became, in his phrase, “a citizen-politician.”

Yet Reagan first captured the public’s attention as a political player by doing what he’d mastered years earlier as an entertainer-endorser.

Delivering a speech supporting Sen. Barry Goldwater for president in 1964 wasn’t that different from serving as General Electric’s spokesman in appearances across the country and as host of TV's “General Electric Theater.” (Watch Reagan's practiced television skills in this 1979 announcement of ...

... his candidacy for the 1980 election against Democrat Jimmy Carter.)

Reagan’s 1964 oration, approving Goldwater and defending conservatism, was nationally televised near the end of the campaign. Though Lyndon Johnson soundly defeated Goldwater and Reagan’s name doesn’t even appear in Theodore White’s “The Making of the President 1964,” that one speech proved to be the political springboard for Reagan personally and for the movement he eventually led.

Smiling, jaunty, avuncular, Reagan then and later was always more complicated than he seemed. He was a political man with definite ideas and more than a modicum of ambition.

Indeed, just two years after his 1966 election as California’s governor, he won his state’s ...

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Late-night's best: Oprah, Hu, Obama and Regis

Oprah Winfrey file

As The Ticket's 57,000+ Twitter followers here and 6,500 Facebook fans here know, we regularly share our daily picks of the late-night jokes of interest, usually before broadcast each night. Here's the usual Monday morning collection from the previous week:

Leno: China President Hu spent two days in Chicago. By Rahm Emanuel standards, Hu's a resident now and can run for mayor too.

Leno: Chinese President Hu at his White House state dinner gave President Obama amazing gifts -- bootleg DVDs of ‘The Green Hornet’ and ‘Little Fockers.’

Letterman: China's President Hu visiting the U.S. and White House. Says if he likes....

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The Obama-Hu summit: 'A spirit of cooperation that is also friendly competition'

president Hu Jintao of China listens to Barbra Streisand and Henry Kissinger at State Dept lunch 1-19-11

"We want to sell you all kinds of stuff"--President Obama to China's Hu Jintao

News conference text of Presidents Obama and Hu, as provided by the White House

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good afternoon.  It is my pleasure to welcome President Hu to the White House and to return the hospitality that he showed when I visited China last year.  This is our eighth meeting.  Together we’ve shown that the United States and China, when we cooperate, can receive substantial benefits.  

The positive, constructive, cooperative U.S.-China relationship is good for the United States. We just had a very good meeting with the business leaders from both our countries. They pointed out that China is one of the top markets for American exports. 

We’re now exporting more than $100 billion a year in goods and services to China, which supports more than half a million American jobs. In fact, our exports to China are growing nearly twice as fast as our exports to the rest of the world, making it a key part of my goal of doubling American exports and keeping America competitive in the 21st century.

Cooperation between our countries is also good for China. China’s extraordinary economic....

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Late-night's best: Golden Globes as predictors, Swiss dogs, Turbo Tax phone app and Cam Newton's plans

As The Ticket's 56,000 Twitter followers here and 6,400+ Facebook fans here know, we regularly share our daily picks of the late-night jokes of interest, usually before broadcast each night. Here's the usual Monday morning collection:

SNL: A town in Switzerland warns dog owners that if they do not pay the annual $50 tax on dogs, their pets will be euthanized. "Switzerland: Neutral on Nazis. Tough on Dogs.”St Bernard rescue Puppy

Letterman: The Golden Globes on Sunday night. They say those awards are an excellent predictor of how boring the Academy Awards will be.

Conan: A Swedish firm has designed an efficient city that features buildings on wheels that can be moved in or out of town as desired. This ingenious city of the future is known as a “trailer park.”

Fallon: Twin sisters in California are marking their 100th birthday. They are so cute. They know each other so well, they practically forget each other's sentences.

SNL: A new mobile phone app was released Friday by TurboTax called SnapTax. It allows people to prepare and file their taxes from their smart phones. Finally, the....

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George H.W. Bush narrates 'It's a Wonderful Life' for the visually impaired on Christmas Eve

It's a Wonderful Life

According to many over the years, "It's a Wonderful Life" is a wonderful holiday movie.

But millions of Americans who are visually impaired can only hear the dialog of Frank Capra's 1946 black-and-white classic.President George H. W. Bush

No longer.

This year former President George H.W. Bush (No. 41) has recorded an oral description of the entire movie. He was the president who signed the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.

So this Friday evening, which just happens to be Christmas Eve, as NBC broadcasts the film nationally, anyone can click on the SAP channel and hear the one-time commander in chief's grandfatherly narration on simulcast. (It has the same happy ending.)

It's part of a national fundraising effort by RP International to help save the School for the Blind in Van Nuys, Calif.  According to RPI, only 7,500 people each donating only $10 would enable it to reach the financial goal. Donations possible right here.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Speaking of decision points, make yours to click here and more than 55,600 global readers who follow The Ticket with Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or follow us @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available here on Kindle now.And feel free to share this item with friends and family with the Retweet buttons below.

Photo: Associated Press

Late-night jokes: Sarah Palin, Facebook, Oprah, TSA's cold hands and Charlie Brown's faith

Sarah Palin in Haiti listens to the Rev Franklin Graham 12-12-10 speak about his aid project

As The Ticket's 55,600 Twitter followers here and 6,300+ Facebook fans here know, we regularly share our daily picks of the late-night jokes of interest, usually before broadcast each night. Here's our regular Monday morning collection No. 8:

Letterman: Some sad news: Santa will be one reindeer short this year. Thanks a lot, Sarah Palin!

Letterman: It's so cold in New York that the TSA people at LaGuardia Airport are putting their hands down their own pants.

SNL: A two-year-old Pennsylvania girl was trapped after crawling into a toy crane vending machine. Firefighters got her out safely, but it took like nine dollars in quarters.

Conan: In an interview with Barbara Walters, Oprah Winfrey said she is “not even kind of a lesbian.” It was an awkward moment, because it came in response to the question, “How was your flight?”

Letterman: Oprah told Barbara Walters that she's not a lesbian. So I guess we can all breathe a little easier. I watched it with Jay and Steadman.

Fallon: A Toronto couple had Facebook friends vote on their baby’s name. So....

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A tiny tale about Ronald Reagan one holiday season long ago

Governor Ronald Reagan Befriends a Donkey at a California fair

Here's a sappy little holiday politician story that has nothing to do with large headlines and tax cut conflict in Congress. So it can't be very important.

However, it might fool some people into believing that famous public figures who become icons in our country's unfolding life can also be human at the same time.

The story concerns Ronald Reagan, the notoriously cold-hearted conservative from California. One day in the middle of his eight years as governor (1967-75), Reagan received a letter from two sisters -- Bertha and Samueline Sisco. According to their story, they had promised their dying mother they would always care for their brother, Buzzy who was, as they phrased it in those days, retarded.Ronald Reagan family Rocking Chair

The sisters were seeking guidance to some kind of state help in caring for their 43-year-old sibling and the governor's office steered them toward it.

But Gov. Reagan heard a about the family's situation and made some inquiries. He discovered that Buzzy had always wanted a rocking chair to sit in with his teddy bear.

For some inexplicable reason, this touched the ruthless Republican who was clearly already plotting to become the 40th president, bankrupt the Soviet Union and end the Cold War. 

Shortly before Christmas that year California Highway Patrolman Dale Role delivered a rocking chair to the Sisco home, along with a note explaining that it came from the governor's personal family furnishings and he wanted Buzzy and his teddy bear to be rocking in time for Christmas.

Reagan apparently kept in touch with the family for many years before his incapacitation from Alzheimer's in 1994 and his death 10 years later at age 93.

On Thursday at the RR Auction house in Amherst, N.H. an anonymous buyer purchased the old Reagan family chair and a related handwritten letter for about $14,000, according to the firm's Bobby Livingston.

And now we know that even 40 years ago the former movie actor was clearly conniving for some positive blog publicity during the holiday season of 2010.

We now return to our normally scheduled tales of modern-day political conflict and duplicity.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Click here to join more than 55,000 global readers who follow The Ticket with Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or follow us @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available here on Kindle now.

Photos: Associated Press (Republican Gov. Reagan tries to goad a Democratic donkey); RR Auction.

Late-night joke collection: Betty White, Jerry Brown, Charlie Sheen and some change for President Obama

Seductive Betty White

As The Ticket's 54,000 Twitter followers here and 6,300+ Facebook fans here know, we regularly share our pick of the late-night jokes of interest. Here's collection No. 3:

Leno: So, wait, Jerry Brown is the new old California governor. Hawaii Five-O is a top show. And Betty White is hotter than ever. What year is this? 1976?

Fallon: Ah, N.Y. Marathon weekend. That time every autumn when New York City's best runners get together to be crushed by some guy from Nigeria.

Letterman: Election day. Big day. Millions and millions of Americans take time off from their job to pretend to go vote.
Democrat president Barack Obama before the midterm elections in 2010
Fallon: Final election poll says 55% will vote for Republicans, 40% Democrats. So, I guess Obama will finally get that ‘change’ he's always talking about.

Fallon: Did everyone watch the election returns? Tough, tough night for Democrats. But a terrific night for Washington moving companies.

Fallon: Everyone still talking about the nation's awful unemployment rate. This week it went up by about 65 Democrats.

Leno: So this weekend we turn the clocks back an hour. Don't confuse that with last Tuesday when the Democrats got their clocks cleaned.

Leno: I see Charlie Sheen is getting divorced. That's gotta be tough. I just hope he can adapt to life as a single guy.

Leno: I don't want to say the Texas Rangers pitching was bad, but they let more people walk than LA juries.

Fallon: NYC considers setting up a harassment-free zone for women to avoid male onlookers. We already have one. Its called Pier 1.

Leno: Chicago researchers say sleeping more can help lose weight: "Honey, I'm not sleeping on the couch. I've been dieting all weekend."

Related Items:

Late-night joke collection No. 2: Joe Biden, NPR, Osama bin Laden and Charlie

Late-night joke collection: No. 1

Top 10 weirdest moments of the 2010 election campaign

-- Andrew Malcolm

To get your daily dose of late-night jokes before broadcast, click here to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or follow us @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle now. Use the ReTweet buttons below to share this item with friends.

Photo: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times (White); Larry Downing / Reuters (Obama enjoys a pre-election laugh).

Barack and Michelle Obama roil Washington's social elites with their own eliteness

Democrats Barack Obama and Michelle Obama at a White house reception in October

While many Americans have been paying attention to all this election silliness and prognostications about which political philosophy will control which house of the country's Congress for the next two years, it seems major turmoil is building within Washington's self-proclaimed social elite crowd.

The elites are the elites because they give money to cultural and political things which, as everyone knows by now, buys them access to the powerful, who deny this.

In this case, the access is to the White House and its reputedly elegant social affairs, which is a....

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David Zucker's video satire of Barbara Boxer's 'Ma'am' demand: 'It's just a thing'

One of the sadnesses of American politics is that so much of the satire is aimed at only one side of the political spectrum, costing us nearly half the possible laughs.

There are conservatives in Hollywood. They just don't run the place. One of the comedic luminaries of modern time, however, is David Zucker of "Naked Gun," "Airplane," "Police Squad" and "Kentucky Fried Movie" fame.

Now, just in time for the Nov. 2 midterm elections involving California's own career pol, Democrat Sen. Barbara Boxer, Zucker has produced a satirical video currently making the Internet rounds. (See bottom video below)

It's based on the actual news video of Boxer from the summer of 2009 upbraiding a testifying general for calling her "Ma'am," as the military is trained. Boxer prefers senator, as she explains, because she worked so hard to get that title. (See top video below.)

Now, she's working to keep that title in a close race against Republican Carly Fiorina. Michelle Obama will be on the left coast later this week to help Boxer. Her husband was out there last week, no doubt sneaking some more junk food on the same trip.

Watch both videos. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Now, Zucker's new video.

-- Andrew Malcolm

General. Ma'am. Call us whatever you like. Just click here now to follow The Naked Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or follow us @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle now. Use the ReTweet buttons below to share this item with friends.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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