by Paul Westman
Part of a series.
The Kitchen Cabinet
Lyn Nofziger noted of the 1966 California gubernatorial election, “Ronald Reagan materialized out of thin air with no political background, no political cronies, and no political machine . . . He didn’t even run his own campaign.”
An enigmatic facet of Reagan’s rise to power is the role played by a small group of wealthy conservatives known as his “Kitchen Cabinet.” This handful of men initiated, financed and guided Reagan’s political career. Many Gentiles in the group subsequently bankrolled prominent think tanks and nonprofit organizations promoting anti-Communist, libertarian, and conservative social causes.
The Kitchen Cabinet coalesced after Reagan delivered a Republican fundraising speech at the Coconut Grove nightclub in Los Angeles in 1964. Five or six men from the audience asked Reagan if he’d deliver the same speech on nationwide TV in support of Barry Goldwater’s presidential bid if they purchased the airtime. He agreed. The result was the famous “A Time for Choosing” speech broadcast over the NBC television network on October 27, 1964. Biographer Bill Boyarsky has compared the effect of this speech on rank-and-file conservatives and anti-Communists with the impact William Jennings Bryan's 1896 "Cross of Gold" speech had on farmers and laborers.
Goldwater (an Episcopalian half Jew) did not invite Reagan to deliver the speech. The two men, rivals for the leadership of the conservative movement, were not close. In 1976 Goldwater even endorsed Gerald Ford—regarded by Reagan with contempt—for President over the Californian. Rather, Reagan’s wealthy backers made Goldwater an offer he couldn’t refuse: a free half hour of prime time television (Reagan’s filmed speech) right before the November election.
Nevertheless, Goldwater balked, unsuccessfully attempting to dump Reagan and use the time slot to broadcast a film of himself with ex-President Eisenhower instead.
After Reagan’s speech had aired, Goldwater’s campaign switchboard lit up. Thousands of people called to pledge support. “During the next few days, my speech was played and replayed at fund-raising events and on local television stations around the country and it ultimately raised eight million dollars for Goldwater and the party.” (Reagan, 143)
“A Time for Choosing,” coupled with Goldwater’s crushing defeat, instantly elevated Ronald Reagan to the undisputed leadership of the conservative Republican movement. The Los Angeles Times summarized: “Reagan's political fortunes rose from the ashes of Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater's spectacular defeat in 1964. Reagan offered a friendly antidote to Goldwater's strident rhetoric. Reagan's tone suggested patriotic concern and continuity with the past. Unlike Goldwater, he could sell conservatism with a smile.”
The founder of the Kitchen Cabinet was wealthy Los Angeles Ford dealer Holmes P. Tuttle (d. 1989), an Eisenhower Republican “who Reagan owed more than anyone,” according to Michael Deaver.
Reagan named the following individuals as being those who initially persuaded him to run for Governor of California: “Holmes Tuttle, Henry Salvatori, Justin Dart, Leonard Firestone, Cy Rubel, and a handful of others who became known collectively as my ‘Kitchen Cabinet.’” (Reagan, 156)
Tuttle, Salvatori, and Rubel established “The Friends of Ronald Reagan” to raise funds and prepare Reagan for the governorship. J. Neil Reagan, the candidate’s brother (a vice president of McCann-Erickson, the advertising agency), was brought aboard to handle marketing.
The Cabinet hired California consulting firm Spencer-Roberts & Associates to oversee the campaign. Stuart Spencer remained a trusted advisor thereafter. Donald Regan observed of him: “Spencer is a ruthless pragmatist, and although he has never held any official role in the Administration, he is one of the few people who is licensed to speak his mind to the President and his wife on all subjects and has the audacity to do so. The Reagans have formed the habit, over many years, of listening very carefully to what he says.” (Regan, 57)
Spencer-Roberts subcontracted with Behavior Sciences Corporation, staffed by behavioral psychologists, to tutor Reagan and shape his public image. The corporation provided “an ongoing crash course in California issues, position papers arguing both sides of every question, constant company on the trail, and frank analyses of his faults, such as a tendency to ‘overanswer’ reporters and blow up when goaded. [Reagan lost his temper while speaking before a Negro businessmen’s group and stormed out of the meeting; Henry Salvatori was so infuriated by this that he threatened to drop his support over the incident. The Gentile members of the Kitchen Cabinet, like Reagan himself, were, to a man, pro-colored philo-Semites.] One or another of the corporation’s officers was with Reagan every day to coach him. . . . Their counsel was necessary because he had ‘zero’ knowledge of what went on in Sacramento. . . . His mind turned to national and ideological subjects, rather than” arcane local issues. (Morris, 342)
Behavioral psychologist Stanley Plog observed: “When we first met him, he knew practically nothing about California. He was clipping articles from newspapers himself. He did not have a secretary. He was organizing all of his speeches. He had no background information of his own.” (Kelley, 140)
“Dr. Plog found Reagan to be a conscientious crammer, open-minded on policy suggestions that were new to him but inflexible on those he had formulated himself. ‘I have worked in a variety of campaigns, and Reagan, unquestionably, has the most integrated political philosophy that I’ve seen in anyone. . . . Everything, for him, flows from the Constitution.’” (Morris, 342)
“As funny as it might seem now,” Reagan commented, “when I gave in to the appeals to run for governor, I had never given much thought to the possibility I might win. All the emphasis had been on deciding whether to run and bringing the party back together.” After the election, “I had less than two months to prepare for putting my ideas about government into practice. . . . I knew I had to do some quick homework about my new job before arriving in Sacramento. . . . Friends [i.e., Spencer-Roberts or the Kitchen Cabinet] arranged for a veteran Republican legislator who’d spent years in Sacramento to brief me on the fine points of state government. I knew the basics regarding how laws were enacted in the capitol, but during a period of several days at our home, he told me about political life in Sacramento. We went over the rules and procedures and key players in the legislature, he outlined the budgetary processes and the statutory powers of the governor, and told me some of the things that would be expected of me as governor.” (Reagan, 155-156)
“‘The amazing thing,’ said Henry Salvatori (interviewed September 18 and October 30, 1990 [by Kitty Kelley]), ‘is that right after Ronnie won the election [in 1966], he asked us to choose his cabinet. He did not have one man or woman that he had met during his campaign that he said, “Hey, I think you ought to come aboard.” So we [kitchen cabinet] had to make all his appointments for Sacramento. . . . We did the same thing when he became President, too.’” (Kelley, 547)
It is difficult to get a fix on just how formal Kitchen Cabinet membership was. Different sources mention different people as members, and some joined later than others. Later-joining members included corporate attorney and Reagan personal lawyer William French Smith (U.S. Attorney General under Reagan) and beer magnate Joseph Coors (Adolph Coors Co.). Coors was a major donor to the Heritage Foundation, the U.S. Council for World Freedom, and Citizens for America, among other conservative organizations.
Michael Deaver mentions a late-night meeting in Reagan’s hotel room during the 1976 Republican Convention that began when three Kitchen Cabinet members roused Reagan from sleep and remained with him till dawn. The three were Holmes Tuttle, Justin Dart, and William French Smith, “dressed in identical blue blazers and gray flannel slacks.” (Deaver, 71-72)
Here are the primary individuals mentioned in various sources as belonging to the Kitchen Cabinet. Corporate/occupational affiliations are given in parentheses; ideological organizations to which individuals philanthropically contributed significant sums or otherwise supported are enumerated within square brackets.
Italian-born Henry Salvatori (1901-1997) (Western Geophysical). [The Claremont Institute; financial assistance to William F. Buckley to enable the startup of National Review in the 1950s; the Henry Salvatori Foundation (“established to help preserve and revitalize America's founding principles”); “the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, which among its many other activities oversees The Salvatori Center for American Founding Studies at Boston University”; Henry Salvatori Center for the Study of Individual Freedom in the Modern World at Claremont-McKenna College; the Heritage Foundation; longtime friend and supporter of Harry V. Jaffa, professor emeritus at Claremont McKenna College and Distinguished Fellow at the Claremont Institute.]
Powerful Jewish members of the Kitchen Cabinet included:
The Claremont Institute’s Larry P. Arnn has written an extensive (unpublished) biography of Salvatori. More: James L. Doti, “Henry Salvatori—A Man of Integrity,” The Freeman (October 1995).
A. C. “Cy” Rubel (Union Oil of California). [American Security Council.]
Danish-American Earle M. Jorgensen (1898-1999) (Earle M. Jorgensen Company, independent steel distributor with plants and offices throughout the U.S.). Jorgensen’s AP obituary, August 12, 1999.
Justin Dart, Sr. (Walgreens, Rexall Drugs, Dart Industries). Dart is discussed briefly in this article about his obnoxious crippled son, Justin Dart, Jr., a Reagan appointee who later supported Bill Clinton. Dart Sr. once said, “Talking to politicians is fine, but with a little money they hear you better.” Dart’s first wife, Ruth Walgreen, was the daughter of Charles Walgreen, the Swedish-American founder of Walgreens. Charles Walgreen owned an estate, Hazelwood, constructed in 1928 on the Rock River outside Dixon, Illinois, Reagan’s hometown. (Walgreen’s wife Myrtle was a Dixon native.) When Reagan visited Dixon with Hollywood columnist Louella Parsons, he was a guest at Hazelwood. Biographer Anne Edwards wrote that nothing before had made him "feel such a grand success."
Leonard K. Firestone (1907-1996) (Firestone Tire and Rubber; Nixon's U.S. ambassador to Belgium). [World Affairs Council of Los Angeles.] Son of tire mogul Harvey Firestone. (The Firestone family.)
Note: There is a discrepancy here. As mentioned, Reagan in 1990 listed Firestone among the earliest members of his Kitchen Cabinet, and the Reagans were frequent guests of the Firestones when they visited Palm Springs during Reagan’s years as Governor. However, other sources state that Firestone was active in the Left wing of the Republican Party, supported Nelson Rockefeller over Barry Goldwater in 1964, and opposed Reagan’s Republican primary bid in 1966 as “extremist.”
Irish-American Patrick J. Frawley, Jr. (1923-1998 ) (Paper Mate—manufacturer of the first commercially successful ball point pen; Schick Safety Razor Co.; Technicolor, Inc.). [Christian Anti-Communist Crusade—headed by Fred Schwartz, a half Jew; American Security Council; Twin Circles (conservative Catholic) magazine; National Catholic Register.]
William A. Wilson (1914- ) (Reagan's Roman Catholic Ambassador to the Vatican; Web Wilson Oil Tools, Inc.; Earle M. Jorgensen Company). [Campaign for America; National Association of Christians and Jews; University of California Board of Regents.] Wilson’s wife, Betty, was heiress to the Pennzoil fortune.
Alfred S. Bloomingdale, whose wife, Betsy Bloomingdale, was Nancy Reagan’s mentor and close friend.
The importance of wealthy, low profile, hard-right Gentile businessmen to Reagan’s political career cannot be disputed. To the Jewish mind, such a fact automatically takes on sinister connotations, as illustrated by CNN correspondent Charles Feldman’s question to Edwin Meese during that network’s coverage of Reagan’s funeral: “Is that the origin of this notion that Reagan was the product of a group of basically [White] right-wing, wealthy Orange County Republicans who told him what to do—is that where that came from then?”
Taft Schreiber of MCA.
Armand S. Deutsch (1913- ), independent movie producer, grandson of Julius Rosenwald and heir to the Sears Roebuck retailing fortune. As a boy in Chicago in 1924, Deutsch was reportedly the initial, intended victim of Jewish homosexual thrill killers Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, who ended up killing another Jewish child, Bobby Franks, instead—beating him with an iron chisel, disrobing him, disfiguring his face and genitals with hydrochloric acid, and finally concealing his body inside a drainpipe. Loeb’s father was a Sears Roebuck vice president; Bobby Franks was Loeb’s distant cousin.
Los Angeles businessman Ted Cummings.
The anti-White conspiracy theory runs roughshod over some important facts, as usual.
Clearly, Reagan would never have treated Lew Wasserman, Walter Annenberg, or Alfred Bloomingdale as shabbily as he treated Gentile members of his Kitchen Cabinet. For example, Kitty Kelley notes (403-404):
Surprisingly, few among the kitchen cabinet were invited to White House state dinners, the most coveted invitation in America. Of the eighty dinners held by the Reagans in their eight years, the William French Smiths attended three, the Justin Darts two, and the Henry Salvatoris only one. . . . When the guest lists were submitted, the First Lady regularly crossed off the Holmes Tuttles. . . .
Edmund Morris recounts (638 ) a revealing conversation with Holmes Tuttle (described as “A proud man, tall, hard, austere, incorruptible”) which also confirms Reagan’s aloof attitude toward the man he “owed more than anyone.”
“The Tuttles had not been invited to the White House, except for one state dinner, and they only got that invitation because Lee Annenberg [Jewish wife of billionaire Walter Annenberg] called and demanded it at the last minute,” said a Tuttle relative. “They were invited to the President’s seventy-fifth birthday party, but that was it, and they probably contributed more money to Ronald Reagan’s political career than anyone else. They helped buy the Reagans three houses—the house in Sacramento, the house in Bel Air, and the White House, but Nancy never once said thank you.” (Emphasis added.)
Henry Salvatori “wanted to be ambassador to Italy,” a former Deaver aide said, but “didn’t have a chance because Nancy couldn’t stand him, and so, of course, Deaver couldn’t stand him either, despite the millions he had contributed to Reagan’s political career over the years.” (Kelley, 402)
Finally, not all of Reagan’s wealthy backers were Gentiles or formal members of the Kitchen Cabinet. For example, Lew Wasserman (MCA) [pictured] and billionaire Walter Annenberg (Triangle Publications) played key roles in Reagan’s rise to power. That there is a social taboo against speaking—or even thinking—about Jewish power does not make it disappear. Cartoon fantasies of “right-wing, wealthy [Gentile] Orange County Republicans who tell the President what to do” are adequate mind fillers for Jewish mythologists, Establishment intellectuals, and pundits, but will not suffice for the handful of sentients who move ghostlike and unseen through our forlorn world.
Part of a series. Upon completion, the individual entries will be republished in their entirety on this site, possibly with emendations and additional text, as a single unit. Abbreviated citations in parentheses refer to selected sources, a list of which will be posted later. Many parenthetical citations, however, are self-explanatory or, when referring to sources available online, are hyperlinked upon first appearance.
More in this series:
Ronald Reagan 1911-2004 (2004-08-20 01:15:14)
Ronald Reagan 1911-2004 (2004-08-13 22:34:04)
Ronald Reagan 1911-2004 (2004-08-09 21:27:41)
Ronald Reagan 1911-2004 (2004-07-25 22:13:09)
Ronald Reagan 1911-2004 (2004-07-17 19:21:37)
Ronald Reagan 1911-2004 (2004-07-11 22:05:03)
Ronald Reagan 1911-2004 (2004-07-08 23:59:05)
Ronald Reagan 1911-2004 (2004-07-04 02:43:18)
© 2004 Paul Westman