"My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes."
—Ronald Reagan, during a soundcheck prior to his weekly Saturday address, August 11, 1984; this actually put the Soviet Union's military on high alert for roughly half an hour once it leaked
"Honey, I forgot to duck."
—Ronald Reagan, to a likely very unamused Nancy, after being shot in 1981
"I hope you're all Republicans."
—Ronald Reagan, to his surgeons after being shot
"Mr. President, today we're all Republicans."
—Joseph Giordano, the chief surgeon and liberal Democrat, in response to the above quote
"Trust, but verify." Note
—Ronald Reagan, on foreign policy
"If you will forgive me, you know someone has likened government to a baby. It is an alimentary canal with an appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other." "You can tell a lot about a fella's character by whether he picks out all of one color or just grabs a handful."
—On why he liked to have a jar of jellybeans on hand for meetings
"Aw, shut up!"
—Ronald Reagan, to a very persistent heckler.
"General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
—Ronald Reagan, speech at the Brandenburg Gate, 1987
"Where's the rest of me?" "The ten most dangerous words in the English language are 'Hi, I'm from the government, and I'm here to help.'"
—Ronald Reagan, Remarks to Future Farmers of America, 1988
"We can't help everyone, but everyone can help someone."
"When you can't make them see the light, make them feel the heat."
"A tree's a tree. How many more do you need to look at?"
—Ronald Reagan, opposing expansion of Redwood National Park, when he was California Governor
"There you go again. When I opposed Medicare, there was another piece of legislation meeting the same problem before the Congress. I happened to favor the other piece of legislation and thought that it would be better for the senior citizens to provide better care than the one that was finally passed."
—Ronald Reagan, in response to criticism by Carter about Reagan's position on Medicare during a debate, 1980
"Government's first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives."
—Ronald Reagan, at the National Conference of the Building and Construction Trades Department, 1981
"The problem is not that people are taxed too little, the problem is that government spends too much."
"I call upon the scientific community in our country, those who gave us nuclear weapons, to turn their great talents now to the cause of mankind and world peace: to give us the means of rendering these nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete."
"To sit back hoping that someday, some way, someone will make things right is to go on feeding the crocodile, hoping he will eat you last - but eat you he will."
"It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first."
"My philosophy of life is that if we make up our mind what we are going to make of our lives, then work hard toward that goal, we never lose - somehow we win out."
Lt. Gov. John Harmer: What do you got these on the wall for?
Oh, I love them. Whenever I see one I write the editorial cartoonist and ask for it. Every time I walk down this hall, I remember I'm human and I make mistakes and people can be very angry with me.
—Conversation between Harmer and Reagan as they were walking down the hall from Reagan's office after Harmer saw a series of very, very bitter political cartoons against Reagan on the wall.
"In my eighty years, I prefer to call that the forty-first anniversary of my thirty ninth birthday, I've seen what men can do for each other and do to each other, I've seen war and peace, feast and famine, depression and prosperity, sickness and health. I've seen the depth of suffering and the peaks of triumph and I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always eventually triumph and that there is purpose and worth to each and every life."
—Ronald Reagan, speech at the dedication of his Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. Part of it is also inscribed on his tomb.
"Life is one grand, sweet song, so start the music."
"I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead."
—Ronald Reagan, from his letter announcing his Alzheimer's disease to the American public, 1994
"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"
—Ronald Reagan, after being questioned about his advanced age during the 1984 presidential debate.
Quotes about Reagan
I am the most popular President the world has ever known! Even Reagan in his heydey couldn't have gotten away with this
. (pushes bodyguard out a window)
If you are on the right, Reagan is God.
If you are on the left, Reagan is Satan.
You expect to see Jim Henson
behind a curtain going, 'You moved him too far! Move his arms!'
The common wisdom holds that he single-footedly kicked down the Berlin Wall and went on to personally destroy the Soviet Union, leaving it a rubble of squabbling statelets with ludicrous names, and without Reagan we'd be either a dismal Russian satellite eating turnips or a smoking nuclear wasteland at this very minute. He did this without firing a shot, simply by spending so much money on the military that the Evil Empire went broke trying to keep up with us. It was a master stroke. (He tripled the budget deficit and quadrupled the trade deficit, but it was worth every cent.)
— Barbara Holland
What do I "think" of President Reagan? The best answer to give would be: I don't
think of him. And the more I see, the less I think.
While Mrs. Reagan darted angry looks about the hall (displeased at the press?) the star of Death Valley Days
was staring intently at the speaker on the platform
. Thus an actor prepares, I thought, and I suspected even then that Reagan would some day find himself up there on the platform. In any case, as the age of television progresses, the Reagans will be the rule, not the exception.
I predict that one day a redheaded actor will become President of the United States! And his name is Ronald... McDonald
Even at age twelve I could tell that Jimmy Carter was an honest man trying to address complicated issues and Ronald Reagan was a brilcreemed salesman telling people what they wanted to hear. I secretly wept on the stairs the night he was elected President because I understood that the kind of shitheads I had to listen to in the cafeteria grew up to become voters, and won. I spent the eight years he was in office living in one of those science-fiction movies where everyone is taken over by aliensI was appalled by how stupid and mean-spirited and repulsive the world was becoming while everyone else in America seemed to agree that things were finally exactly as they should be. The Washington Press corps was so enamored of his down-to-earth charm that they never checked his facts, but if you watched his face when it was at rest, when he wasnt performing for anyone, you could see him for what he really wasa black-eyed, slit-mouthed, lizard-faced old son-of-a-bitch. He was a bad actor, an informer for McCarthy, and a hired front man for a gang of Texas oilmen, fundamentalist dingbats, and right-wing psychotics out of Dr. Strangelove. He put a genial face on chauvinism, callousness, and greed, and made people feel good about being bigots again. He likened Central American death squads to our founding fathers and called the Taliban freedom fighters. His legacy includes the dismantling of Franklin Roosevelts New Deal, the final dirty win of Management over Labor, the outsourcing of Americas manufacturing base, the embezzlement of almost all the country's wealth by 1% of its citizens, the scapegoating of the poor and black, the War on Drugs, the eviction of schizophrenics into the streets, AIDS, acid rain, Iran-Contra, and, lets not forget, the corpses of two hundred forty United States Marines. He moved the center of political discourse in this country to somewhere in between Richard Nixon and Augusto Pinochet. He believed in astrology and Armageddon and didn't know the difference between history and movies; his stories were lies and his jokes were scripted. He was the triumph of image over truth, paving the way for even more vapid spokesmodels like George W. Bush. He was, as everyone agrees, exactly what he appeared to benothing. He made me ashamed to be an American. If there was any justice in this world his Presidential Library would contain nothing but boys' adventure books and bad cowboy movies, and the only things named after him would be shopping malls and Potter's Fields. Let the earth where he is buried be seeded with salt.
— Tim Kreider
Its become popular in certain circles of late to imagine Reagan as a master poker player who bluffed the Soviet Union into bankrupting itself, but thats a crock of shit. Reagan was a Cold Warrior of the old school the pre-H-Bomb, pre-Sputnik school who believed that if a showdown between NATO and the Warsaw Pact was inevitable one of these days, then wed better make sure the good guys won it. He sought conflict, not conciliation, and approached the delicate matters of geopolitics with the macho swagger of a true ignoramus, secure in the knowledge that God wasnt going to let anything bad happen to his new Chosen People. It was merely the worlds good fortune that his counterparts in the Kremlin were at first a pair of doddering old fossils who couldnt find their asses with a GPS uplink, and later a man with the wisdom to recognize that answering Reagans bellicosity in kind would accomplish nothing but to get every human being on this planet killed. Dont misunderstand me here. The Soviet Union was
an evil empire, and the world is a better place without it for a thousand reasons. But the Cold War had turned the United States into one of those, too, as the mass graves all over Nicaragua and El Salvador will attest, and it was no doing of Reagans that the long struggle ended in a big sledgehammer party at the Berlin Wall instead of atomic holocaust the world over. Had somebody like Vladimir Putin - or Reagan himself, for that matter - been calling the shots in Moscow at the time, youd almost certainly be dead now. Or if you were born after about 1983, your parents would be dead, and you would most likely never have existed in the first place.