Reagan at 100

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on January 29, 2011

Michael Barone remembers the Gipper, and reminds us of something Reagan’s detractors would have us forget:

. . . since he left office it has become apparent that the portrait of Reagan as an airheaded actor manipulated by sinister aides is very far from accurate. It was always in Reagan’s interest to portray himself as an ordinary guy, unaffected by intellectual influences — the actor who called himself “Mr. Norm,” the candidate for governor who insisted he was only a citizen-politician, the president who said, “They say that hard work never killed anybody, but I say why take the chance?”

On the contrary, the picture we get from his 1970s radio scripts, written out in his legible handwriting and retrieved from the wastebasket by a history-conscious secretary, show a man who was widely read and well-informed on all manner of issues, with a clear philosophic compass and a gift for phrasemaking.

The amusing thing is that all of the people who continue to believe that Reagan was–as Clark Clifford put it–”an amiable dunce” wonder in the next breath how it was possible that he was able to win elections with such seeming ease. They usually try to reconcile matters by concluding that the American people were/are stupid, a conclusion that they forget about when the American people elect Democrats.

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