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Greatest hits of Ronald Reagan, celebrating 101

Levine is a sophomore politics major and can be contacted at benjamin.levine@drake.edu

Ronald Reagan’s 101st birthday would have been on Monday. Reagan will always be a controversial president in American history, but he will also likely continue to be one of the most popular. In a recent Gallup poll, when asked who is the greatest president in American history, 19 percent of respondents answered Reagan. The Reagan votes were five percentage points higher than the next most common answer — Abraham Lincoln.

Putting aside the controversy over whether or not Reagan was a great president, which I certainly have an opinion on, I think it is appropriate to remember the undoubted charisma that he had.  Whether you love him or not, one thing is certain — Reagan had wit.  That’s what scored him the nickname, “The Great Communicator.”  Here are his greatest moments:

• After being shot in 1981 in an attempted assassination attempt, as he was rushed into an emergency room, Reagan looked at the surgeons and quipped, “I hope you’re all Republicans.”

• Describing in a humorous manner the impact of President Jimmy Carter and the 1980 election, Reagan announced, “Recession is when your neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours. And recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his.”

• During a 1984 debate, when questioned on how his age will affect his presidency, Reagan simply replied, “I want you to know that…I will not make age an issue of this campaign.  I am not going to exploit — for political purposes — my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”

• When a debate moderator asked during the 1984 election if any of the blame for the recession rested on his shoulders, Reagan stated, “Yes, because for many years I was a Democrat.”

• As he walked out to a press conference, Reagan cleverly asserted, “Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement.”

• Reagan was known for his jokes about communism and the USSR’s economic inefficiencies: “The fella in charge (of the automobile industry in the Soviet Union) said to (a buyer), ‘OK, come back in 10 years and get your car.’ And he asked, ‘Morning or afternoon?’ The fella behind the counter said, ‘Well, 10 years from now, what difference does it make?’ The other man replied, ‘Well, the plumber is coming in the morning.”

• Another communist country, Cuba, ended up as the subject of many of his jokes as well: “It is said that (Fidel) Castro was making a speech to a large assembly, and he was going on at great length, and then a voice out in the crowd said, ‘Peanuts, popcorn, crackerjack!’ And he went on speaking.  Again the voice said, ‘Peanuts, popcorn, crackerjack!’ About the fourth time this happened, he stopped in his regular speech and said, ‘The next time he says that I’m going to find out who it is and kick him all the way to Miami.’ And everybody in the crowd said, “’PEANUTS! POPCORN! CRACKERJACK!’”

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