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Peggy Grande is one of the most humble people you will ever meet. She has probably met more world leaders and talked to more famous people than you or I could imagine, but you would never know it unless you asked her.
Peggy Grande had the pleasure of sitting next to one of the most iconic political figures of all time almost everyday for nearly ten years. That man was my hero and is my son’s namesake. That man was the one and only Ronald Wilson Reagan.
The Email Interview: Peggy Grande
BB: You had the most incredible opportunity to work for President Ronald Reagan in his post presidential office. What are three things you learned working with President Reagan on a daily basis?
PG: Wow. Sharing just 3 from among the amazing ten years I worked for him is a challenge, but I would have to say that everything I witnessed and experienced can probably be summed up by the following three:
1. People always want to know, “Was he everything I thought and hoped he would be? ” and I have to say “No — He was better!” No matter how high the pedestal was that you have put Ronald Reagan on, he was worthy of that high esteem and was even more terrific in person than in image.
Everything you saw on the outside was who he was on the inside. There was no difference between his public persona and his personal persona. He didn’t behave differently when he knew people were watching than he did in private. He was kind and humble, polite and genuine. Always.
2. Ronald Reagan was known as “The Great Communicator” and most of the world remembers him for his written words, his famous speeches and his public statements. I was blessed to know him “behind the scenes” and was constantly amazed at how his actions spoke even louder than his words. The gentlemanly ways in which he treated me as his personal assistant – holding my elbow as we would walk up and down stairs, always waiting for me to walk in front of him into a room or event and always offering to assist if there was a need. Pure class.
3. Ronald Reagan showed me what true leadership looks like. And though he had been a Hollywood actor, his version of leadership is not at all what we generally see portrayed on TV or in the movies. Ronald Reagan’s leadership was characterized by genuine humility, awareness of others and kindness toward them, trust in his staff which inspired their loyalty, and he generously gave respect rather than demanding it.
He also didn’t take himself too seriously and used appropriate humor to defuse tension or make a point. Though not a day went by without my realizing the unique and overwhelming honor of serving such a great man, he always communicated gratitude for my work, which gave me the confidence I needed to serve him with excellence.
BB: While in the post presidential office who was the most interesting/famous person you were able to meet?
PG: Over the course of ten years “anyone who was anyone” in the world of politics, sports, entertainment, business or pop culture came by the office to say hello to Ronald Reagan and welcome him back to California after his years in Washington, D.C.
Of course there were many memorable visits, like Scott O’Grady, the USAF pilot shot down behind enemy lines who survived by eating bugs until his rescue, or the sitting President at the time, George H.W. Bush, who would come in and chat and have lunch with his friend “Ron”, or watching President Reagan interact on a personal level with Brian Mulroney, Margaret Thatcher or Mikhail Gorbachev, or other world leaders in an informal way as two regular people, rather than political allies.
As President Reagan’s personal photographer I got to be the ultimate “fly on the wall” and personally observe these interactions firsthand. Even in “private” meetings, the photographer stays, so I was fortunate to have a front row seat to many memorable and profound moments.
As a Christian I would say that meeting Rev. Billy Graham was very special, as was meeting Mother Teresa. As I looked at Mother Teresa’s weathered hands and feet and pictured the thousands of people she had selflessly served on the streets of Calcutta with the Sisters of Charity, it was a humbling and moving experience.
BB: President Reagan’s centennial anniversary was in 2011 and you were able to serve as a consultant for the Reagan Centennial. While traveling the country and celebrating the life of Ronald Reagan at the different events, did you learn anything new about the President?
PG: My grandmother had 26 grandchildren and every one of us was certain that WE were her favorite! She had an incredible way of making everyone feel special and important. Ronald Reagan was the same way – every aspect of his life that connected with the Centennial felt that they had an extra special place in Ronald Reagan’s life and his legacy – and they did.
Whether it was the sports world, radio broadcasting, political organizations, religious organizations, academic universities or the movie industry – they all celebrated him as “theirs”.
During his life Ronald Reagan connected uniquely with numerous different arenas of life and during the Reagan Centennial we were able to reconnect with each of those groups in meaningful, memorable ways that paid tribute to the impact Ronald Reagan had made on them. It was like a “Victory Lap” of Ronald Reagan’s life, which was an honor to be part of, especially since I had known him personally and worked so closely with him for so many years.
BB: What is your assessment of the Reagan legacy today and in the future?
PG: Of course Ronald Reagan has become an iconic “superhero” for conservatives and the Republican Party. However, as the years have passed I think that his legacy is one of strong leadership and coalition building, not only across the political aisles here domestically, but internationally as well.
Politics aside, Ronald Reagan is recognized as a savvy, intuitive, emotionally intelligent leader who had a knack for connecting in meaningful ways to people from all walks of life and all political persuasions. No matter your politics you couldn’t have met Ronald Reagan and not liked him personally. That is a trait of a truly great leader. I think over time he will continually be recognized as such and esteem of him will continue to grow.
I also believe that the legacy of a President is not something that can be told the moment they leave the White House. The implications of policies and alliances which were built during the years as President cannot fully be measured immediately – they require the perspective of time. Not long after Ronald Reagan left office, the Berlin Wall fell, the Cold War with Russia was defused, and people all across Eastern Europe began to experience increased freedom and opportunity to varying degrees as never before. This was all in direct response to Ronald Reagan’s challenges like “Tear down this wall……” and his commitment to personal relationship building at the highest levels of diplomacy to enact real, and lasting, change.
Ronald Reagan took office with the determination to fix the economy and bring freedom to oppressed people all around the world. While doing so, he also restored America’s pride in itself and the belief that the best days for America were yet ahead.
I think that the conclusion of his farewell address sums it up better than I ever could:
“We’ve done our part. And as I walk off into the city streets, a final word to the men and women of the Reagan revolution, the men and women across America who for eight years did the work that brought America back. My friends: We did it. We weren’t just marking time. We made a difference. We made the city stronger, we made the city freer, and we left her in good hands. All in all, not bad, not bad at all. ”
Now that the touchy feely Valentine’s mushiness is out of the way, we bring you another installment of the Email Interview. Our subject today is Scott McKay, publisher of TheHayride.com.
Scott is a veteran of the media business, having published Purple & Gold Magazine, an LSU sports publication, from 1997-2004. Scott’s writings have appeared in a number of national online publications in recent years, among them Redstate.com and FamilySecurityMatters.org.
The timing of this Email Interview (The day after Valentine’s Day) is perfect. Scott is not mushy or touchy feely. He tells it like it is and he certainly didn’t disappoint in our interview below:
The Email Interview: Scott McKay
BB: Barack Obama. Thoughts?
SM: I can’t decide if Obama is hell-bent on destroying America as a free nation or if he’s just completely incompetent, or both.
Clearly he’s got a major political tin ear – this business with the Catholic Church and contraception is one of the most heavy-handed, idiotic things I’ve ever seen a president do.
And worse, his people are trotting out poll data indicating that the country agrees with them on contraception as though somehow that makes it OK for the federal government to force religious institutions to act against their teachings.
At best he wins a Pyrrhic victory on this issue; at worst he turns virtually every religious American against him. And it’s not like that issue goes away.
The Keystone XL pipeline is another perfect example. You can’t hardly find anybody who doesn’t want that thing built, and it makes zero sense to stop it. But he did it anyway – why? Because Mark Ruffalo and Daryl Hannah said so?
You really can’t make a good argument on either policy or political grounds why Obama would kill that pipeline. That’s another issue which will resurface in a major way this summer when gasoline tops $4 per gallon nationwide and lets the air out of the economy.
There are lots of examples of actions this administration has taken which don’t make sense on either political or policy grounds.
And while the GOP doesn’t seem to have a Reagan on offer for this fall, I look for a confluence of these bad decisions to drown Obama in November. I think a fish sandwich can beat this guy when it’s all said and done, and if you go by the state-by-state polls you can already see how weak he is.
BB: Is Eric Holder corrupt or just liberal and incompetent?
And to that I’d add racist. He’s the most racist Attorney General this country has has since the 19th Century, just not in the way Democrats like to frame that label.
But that said, I like him exactly where he is. He’s an albatross around Obama’s neck. Nothing Holder does is at odds with what Obama or Valerie Jarrett want, and if Holder goes the next guy will be just as bad but not carry the baggage Holder does.
I’d like to see Holder stick around until Election Day and become a campaign issue. Ditto for Ken Salazar, Incompetano, Biden, Sebortionist and the rest of the characters in charge of the country.
BB: If you were Prime Minister of Israel what would be the first thing you would do tomorrow?
SM: Dig underground tunnels all over the country and get ready to hide the folks in them.
I fear Israel might not make it to 2013, and if Obama somehow gets re-elected I don’t see any way for them to make it to 2017.
Between the Egyptians who are coming about to where Iran was in 1979, Iran and all their proxies (including Hizbollah and Hamas) and the coming Islamist revolution in Jordan, which is entirely likely to happen by the end of the year, and even Turkey – which used to be a friend of Israel and is now an enemy – they’re beset on all sides.
That would be bad enough if they didn’t have the most hostile American administration in their history sending mixed messages about whether we even support them.
BB: Is Mettenberger the answer for LSU next year?
SM: I bet he is. LSU fans have been conditioned to believe Les Miles can’t run a decent offense because of the quarterback play over the last four years, but people forget that he threw it all over the place when he first got here.
There’s a big difference between having a Jamarcus Russell or Matt Flynn at quarterback and having Jarrett Lee or Jordan Jefferson in the job; the first group can run a big-time passing game and the second group will get you beat if you try it.
Mettenberger is part of the first group. He has all the tools to be an NFL quarterback and he’s cocky enough to believe he can get it done. Decent quarterback play was what stopped LSU from winning a national championship more than once over the last four years, and the team Miles has this fall might be the best one in school history if Mettenberger is a Russell or a Flynn.
BB: Will LSU beat Alabama next year in Tiger Stadium and why?
SM: Probably. Alabama loses an absolute ton off last year’s team, and nobody in Louisiana has gotten over what happened in the Dome last month. What’s more, nobody will get over it until LSU beats Alabama. The guess here is that’s going to be a comeuppance.
One way or the other, though, that game will have one of the most electric atmospheres of all time.
Wesley Donehue of Donehue Direct, recently did a great video discussing parts of my recent book, “Winning Political Tips.”
The book is packed with over 400 proven political tips, tactics and techniques that will help your campaign raise more money and get more votes.
Click here to get your copy today!
Special thanks to Wesley for the video…enjoy!
1. “I make some tough decisions every day, but I never decided on an onside kick in the second half of the Super Bowl.”
–President Barack Obama to Saints Coach Sean Payton
2. “That little whore wants all the credit.”
–State Sen. Joe McPherson on Governor Bobby Jindal
3. “Let me take him water-skiing out there and see if he comes up black.”
–Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser on BP executive Bob Dudley
4. “Well, in the Asian culture, we do things differently. During the Samurai days, we’d just give you the knife and ask you to commit hara-kiri,”
–Congressman Joseph Cao to a BP executive
5. “I had a colonoscopy two weeks ago at Ochsner Hospital. You know the difference between Ochsner and this Legislature? They give you an anesthetic.”
–State Sen. Joe McPherson
6. “I buy and sell companies like you buy and sell stocks. . . . Wait. Don’t make me sound arrogant.”
– Mayoral Candidate John Georges
7. “There’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I’d like my life back.”
–BP CEO Tony Hayward
8. “I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are greedy companies or don’t care, but that is not the case with BP. We care about the small people.”
–BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg
9. “He’s absolutely ridiculous. It’s a good thing that I didn’t know he was in Venice yesterday, because one of us would have went to jail.”
–Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser on BP CEO Tony Hayward
10. “If the good Lord would to come back tomorrow, I would ask him to stick an enema in that committee, because it stinks to high heavens.”
–State Sen. Buddy Shaw
“Charlie Melancon spent a couple million dollars to find out that talking about H O O K E R S for 10 months will get you about 37 percent of the public interested in you. That might be a good number if you’re a P I M P; it’s not quite so good if you’re a Senate candidate.”
–TheHayride.com Publisher, Scott McKay
“He could have run the whole race and not even mentioned that Melancon is alive.”
–Pollster Bernie Pinsonat on Sen. David Vitter
“I want to see in the Bible where it says you can’t bring a gun into church.”
–State Rep. Ernest Wooton
“It just looks like [Obama] is not involved in this. Man, you got to get down here and take control of this, put somebody in charge of this thing and get this moving. We’re about to die down here.”
“Only a government bureaucrat would say rocks are more harmful to our water than oil.”
–Gov. Bobby Jindal
“We’ve got to be somewhere between ‘Drill, baby, drill,’ and “Spill, baby, spill.’”
–Congressman Charlie Melancon
“Neither I nor the company is perfect.”
–BP CEO Tony Hayward
Sources: LaPolitics.com, Times Picayune, The Baton Rouge Advocate, Washington Post, The Huffington Post, WDSU, ABC News