By Daniel Hannan
At the weekend, I fulfilled a long-standing ambition and visited Ronald Reagan’s ranch, now held in trust by the wonderful Young America's Foundation. It was here that the Gipper would withdraw whenever he could, to ride
around the estate with Nancy. “The best thing for the inside of a man is
the outside of a horse”, he used to say.
In other politicians’ homes, you find constant reminders of status:
photographs with popes and monarchs, gifts from visiting statesmen,
piles of books by famous contemporaries, cases of trophies and awards.
But Reagan’s one-bedroom bolt-hole couldn’t be simpler. He painted and
furnished it with his own hands, and enclosed it with a fence which he
sawed from old telegraph poles.
The casual visitor wouldn’t guess that this had been the home of the
leader of the free world, this the table where the greatest tax cut in
America’s history was signed into law, this the telephone used to call
the families of fallen American soldiers. Other than one or two
historical works among the cowboy novels, the only political touch is
the shower-head, which is in the shape of the Liberty Bell. Here,
plainly, lived a man who was bien dans sa peau; a man who, unlike so many politicians, had nothing to prove. Mikhail Gorbachev, visiting the ranch, was
distressed by how basic it was; Margaret Thatcher, by contrast, loved
it, intuiting that it reflected the character of its inhabitant.
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