Like a lot of others, I’ve been listening and watching the mainstream media coverage of Ronald Reagan’s life and funeral. The more I learn about the man, the more impressed I become with him.
You hear these great lists of his accomplishments: successful actor, Governor of California, President of the United States, the man who won the Cold War and a lot more besides. The very impressive achievements of a self-made man. Men like Ronald Reagan are indeed few and far between.
But I think that we’re missing his greatest achievement–he gave America the gift of renewed self-confidence. During the Carter Administration (gag) pessimism was the order of the day. We had a “crisis of confidence” and incessant talk of America’s “limits”.
Ronald Reagan came along and was the exact opposite of Carter. Full of optimism for the future and a “can do” spirit, he made us belief in ourselves and in him as our leader. Confidence? The man had it in spades. Limits? What limits? He didn’t recognize “limits” on anything, especially the potential of America. “Limits” was not in his vocabulary.
Then there was “The Smile”. He always smiled–and he joked! I can’t remember Jimmy Carter ever having a sense of humor about anything. Unless you were one of those humorless liberal types, I couldn’t see how you could help but like the guy. He might be the President, but you could picture him as you older next-door neighbor.
Americans responded to this positive image and message and elected him not once but twice to our highest office. And while he may have made a few gaffes, I’ll put him on my list as the greatest US President of the 20th century. Because of Ronald Reagan, we “suffered” through a 16 year economic boom unprecedented in our history. The boom was so strong it was even able to withstand Bill Clinton’s (spit) first term as President.
I wonder when we will see his like again.