Crazy little thing called love
La Noonan on Warren Beatty:
Beatty is used to the rhythms of Hollywood, where you can ponder a movie for years. He’s famous for doing so. He was pondering making a movie about John Reed for more than a decade before he made “Reds.” I got this from the just published biography of Beatty by Suzanne Finstad. It’s a good book and almost hilariously touching. Good because it takes a serious, fact-rich look at a serious artist, hilarious because in the writing of it the author obviously fell in love with her subject. At any rate she got spun like a top. She’s probably still spinning; she’s probably in the waters off Malibu causing tidal wives as we speak. But I digress.
Noonan on Ronald Reagan:
What an era his was. What a life he lived. He changed history for the better and was modest about it. He didn’t bray about his accomplishments but saw them as the work of the American people. He did not see himself as entitled, never demanded respect, preferred talking to hotel doormen rather than State Department functionaries because he thought the doormen brighter and more interesting. When I pressed him once, a few years out of the presidency, to say what he thought the meaning of his presidency was, he answered, reluctantly, that it might be fairly said that he “advanced the boundaries of freedom in a world more at peace with itself.” And so he did. And what could be bigger than that?
To be young and working in his White House at that time in human history, was–well, we felt privileged to be there, with him. He made us feel not that we were born in a time of trouble but that we’d been born, luckily, at a time when we could end some trouble. We believed him. I’d think: This is a wonderful time to be alive. And when he died I thought: If I’d walked into the Oval Office 20 years ago to tell him that, he’d look up from whatever he was writing, smile, look away for a second and think, It’s pretty much always a wonderful time. And then he’d go back to his work.
And now he has left us. We will talk the next 10 days about who he was and what he did. It’s not hard to imagine him now in a place where his powers have been returned to him and he’s himself again–sweet-hearted, tough, funny, optimistic and very brave. You imagine him snapping one of those little salutes as he turns to say goodbye. Today I imagine saluting right back. Do you? We should do it the day he’s buried, or when he lies in state in the Capitol Rotunda. We should say, “Good on you, Dutch.” Thanks from a grateful country.