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President Ronald Reagan Did Not Make It To My Goal Post Of Leadership

February 5, 2011

As America gets all giddy about the 100th birthday of Ronald Reagan I must be honest.

Ronald Reagan was not my favorite President. 

He was most certainly a nice man, and one that I would have loved to talked with.  He was a showman, an actor.  Perhaps one of the best of that type that ever walked into the Oval Office and stayed a while.  From a purely political point of view, one of a kind.

I loved Reagan’s speech on the night of the horrific Challenger shuttle disaster when he brought tears to my eyes.  I was on-air that night  in 1986 providing coverage from the WDOR radio studios.  It was perhaps the best use of his office to mend a broken-hearted nation.

I loved his appearance in Oshkosh, Wisconsin when I was able to cover his tax reform speech and stand alongside the national press in the risers outside the courthouse.  I will never forget the adrenaline rush when the president took to the stage.  So no one can say I do not respect the office.  I do!

But I was never able to get past President Reagan’s limited range of curiosity about the larger world.  I always sensed his note cards from the 1960’s were never updated, and his world view never expanded beyond his preconceived notions.  I was never able to smile and be gleeful about Reagan in the White House who could nod his head and make nonsense seem like an Oscar-winning moment.  I never could look admiringly like Nancy did and think he was the wisest man in politics.

I always wanted more heft and intellect in my president than Reagan could deliver.

Many in the nation recall the charm and wit of Ronald Reagan.  But I have to say when thinking of Reagan I am more reminded of  Grenada, the tax cuts that ran counter to sound economics, and the bloated military spending which included his dream of a 600-ship navy.

I see more and more myth creation about Reagan today than a real attempt to evaluate his past record.  I guess that is a consequence of Reagan being an affable person.  

After all, and to be honest, I made a very concerted effort to interview President Reagan while working at WDOR.  I wanted the interview to be solely about radio, and his time working as a sports announcer.  I wanted to talk about Reagan’s recollections of the medium while he grew up. 

Needless to say since such an interview has never surfaced on Caffeinated Politics it never took place.  Looking back I know that it would have been a most remarkable aspect about a president caught on audio tape.

So I do understand the human connection that draws so many to admire Ronald Reagan.  As a man.

But as president he  lacked the hard-working drive to match the needs of the office.  To look the part and talk about “morning in America” does not come near to my goal post of what being a leader is all about.

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