Ronald Reagan was born in Tampico, Illinois, in 1911. He died of Alzhiemer’s Disease in 2004. Between those two dates, few men were as loved and hated, laughed at and lauded, listened to and lambasted, as Ronald Reagan.
He began as an actor, became a politician. And despite of his career choices, power couldn’t change the fundamentally good man behind the perfect teeth, the enviable hair, and the witty comebacks.
He went to a 3rd-rate Illinois college that was nevertheless the third institute in the country to educate both men and women. In 1961, he foreshadowed William Shatner by releasing a spoken-word album. Its title? “Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine.”
He was elected governor of California in 1966, and stayed till 1975. He was elected president in 1980. He was reelected in 1984, winning every state but Minnesota (and D.C.).
I can’t say enough about his two terms as President. The high point was probably the biggest tax cut in American history, while the high point was the Iran-Contra scandal, in which the Administration (with or without Reagan’s knowledge) sold arms to Iran (despite an embargo) and used the money to feed the Contra rebels in Nicaragua. But how can we forget his radical idea that, instead of building more missiles, we should build missile defenses. Forsooth! This bankrupted the Soviet Union and ended the Cold War.
I’m simplifying because I don’t have the time or inclination to unpack his life in great detail. Reagan was not a regular churchgoer, but he was a man of God and incredibly committed to his wife, Nancy. After he became the only sitting President to survive assassination in 1981, he believed that God had saved his life for a great purpose: the rest of his presidency.
Ronald Reagan was not an introspective or especially philosophical man. He was a man of simple virtue. What you saw was what you got. Is there a more manly trait than honesty?