Reagan on Rushmore

John McCaslin
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Posted: Dec 06, 2007 10:14 AM
Reagan on Rushmore

While many admirers of Ronald Reagan want to see him join George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt on Mount Rushmore, someone whom the former president used to describe as "a good friend and valuable adviser" is taking a different tack.

"Let's not just talk about putting Ronald Reagan on Rushmore, let's show it," says former ambassador Fred J. Eckert, a staunchly conservative former Republican congressman from New York. Mr. Eckert served two tours of duty as a U.S. ambassador under Mr. Reagan, and National Journal once ranked him as the member of Congress most supportive of the Gipper's agenda.

An award-winning photographer, Mr. Eckert has actually taken one of his images of Mount Rushmore and worked with acclaimed aviation artist Ted Williams, who has incorporated Mr. Reagan into the granite mountain next to Lincoln.

The result, which can be viewed at ReaganRushmore.com, is what former New York Rep. Jack Kemp calls "a classy work that just might ignite a successful movement to put Ronald Reagan up on Mount Rushmore, where he belongs among America's beloved great leaders."

Just this week, former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich urged his readers to check out Mr. Eckert's Web site in his weekly "Winning the Future" newsletter.

And Craig Shirley, author of "Reagan's Revolution," says the former ambassador's Rushmore image "is so realistic that it looks like Reagan is really there."

"In time, he will be," Mr. Eckert replies, "but I want to help hurry the inevitable."

'Well-served'

Speaking of gaining momentum, how about former Reagan Cabinet member-turned-best-selling author, cultural figure and national radio host William J. Bennett becoming the next vice president?

Before we get to that possible scenario, the former education secretary, among other presidential appointments, is set to lecture at noon today at the Family Research Council on "America: The Last Best Hope." The speech deals with what students know, do not know and should know about our country's history.

Along those lines, Mr. Bennett's "The Book of Virtues" sold more than 2.4 million copies and has been translated into 12 languages. His two-volume history of the United States, "America: The Last Best Hope," is a New York Times best-seller.

Meanwhile, Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, is the latest to propose that Mr. Bennett get the vice presidential nod from the Republican presidential nominee. In her syndicated column this week, she cited Mr. Bennett's name recognition, the respect that he's shown, the breadth of his experience, "but also a comforting and practical reality for any president and any American who wants his president well-served — especially a president who may not know the ways of Washington to the extent that someone who has successfully spent decades there in various capacities would."

Indian dreams

That was former Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, a respected American Indian jeweler and artist, presenting "the Creation Pendant" to the National Museum of the American Indian before a VIP crowd of some 200 on Tuesday night.

The one-time Colorado senator, who quit the Democratic Party to join the GOP, was a jewelry artisan of some renown before he entered public office and won several national and international design awards. Even as a congressman and early in his Senate career, he designed several pieces, crafted at the artisan's workbench he installed in his Capitol Hill home to work out frustrations of the day.

Inside the Beltway learned yesterday that the former lawmaker used to awaken in the middle of the night to sketch whatever designs had appeared in his dreams. But those creative juices dried up during his "stressful" last decade on Capitol Hill, to the extent his dreams completely stopped.

Now, since his retirement in 2005, Mr. Campbell is dreaming again. In fact, after the Smithsonian approached him about assisting with this week's museum fundraiser, he says he was inspired during the night to create a pendant evoking the American Indian view of creation. In the morning, he fleshed out the details and set to making it.