The Corner

Reagan@100, Horowitz Edition

A small personal descant in the chorus of hosannas re the Great Ronnie.

In April 1986, I was privileged to accompany Vladimir Horowitz to Moscow on the occasion of his one and only return to his Russian homeland, for concerts in Moscow and Leningrad. We arrived from Paris to discover that Reagan had just bombed Libya; two weeks later, while we were still in the country, Chernobyl blew up. Fun for the whole family.

But that’s not my Reagan story. A few months later, I got an invitation to the White House and was present in the East Room as the president welcomed Horowitz and his wife, Wanda, who sat next to Nancy on the small stage. I was flattered that some of the president’s info had come directly from my Time Magazine cover story but was alarmed at the way Toscanini’s daughter kept scooching the chairs sideways, forcing the First Lady to move, ever more perilously, closer to the edge. To make matters worse, there was an impassive Marine guard standing behind the potted plants — but he wasn’t noticing the impending disaster.

(You can see a picture of the scene, in happier times, here.)

Well, it happened. Nancy shifted her chair once too often and over the side she went. A real trouper, she recovered nicely and bounced right back up with the assistance of the poor Marine. Reagan flashed that famous grin and quipped: “Honey, I told you only to do that if my speech didn’t go well.”

Afterward, at the reception, I saw the president standing alone for a moment, and said to my wife, “Hey, let’s go say hi.” We walked over, I introduced myself and Kate, we shook hands and made some small talk.  Affable, intelligent, with that Irish twinkle in his eye — exactly as advertised, and never to be forgotten. 

A couple of weeks later, a package arrived from the White House.  It was a photograph, taken at the moment Ronald Reagan and I shook hands, inscribed, “To Kathleen and Michael Walsh, with best wishes, Ronald Reagan.”


Most Popular

White House

The Trump Steamroller

As we settle into high summer and the period of maximum difficulty in finding anything to fill in hours of television news, especially 24/7 news television, two well-established political trends are emerging in this pre-electoral period: The president’s opponents continue to dig themselves into foxholes that ... Read More
White House

Trump and the ‘Racist Tweets’

What does “racist” even mean anymore? Racism is the headline on President Trump’s Sunday tweets -- the media-Democrat complex assiduously describes them as “racist tweets” as if that were a fact rather than a trope. I don’t think they were racist; I think they were abjectly stupid. Like many ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Ilhan Omar Is Completely Assimilated

Beto O’Rourke, the losing Texas Senate candidate who bootstrapped his way into becoming a losing presidential candidate, had a message for refugees who had come to America: Your new country is a hellhole. The former congressman told a roundtable of refugees and immigrants in Nashville, Tenn., last week: ... Read More

We All Wanted to Love the Women’s Soccer Team

For the first time in my life, I did not root for an American team. Whatever the sport, I have always rooted American. And if those who called in to my radio show were representative of my audience, many millions of Americans made the same sad choice. It takes a lot for people like me not to root for an ... Read More

How Beto Made Himself into White-Privilege Guy

Robert Francis O’Rourke is white. If it’s any consolation, he’s very sorry about that. “Beto” has been running from his Irish ancestry for some time now. Long before the Left fell headlong into the logical termini of its triune fascination with race, power, and privilege, O’Rourke sensed that there ... Read More