David Gergen on Ronald Reagan’s Character

Portrait

Our 40th President

Working for him, I saw he was no dullard, as his critics claimed.  From his eight years as governor and his many other years of writing and speaking out, he had thought his way through most domestic issues and knew how to make a complex governmental structure work in his favor.  In the first year of his presidency, I also saw him dive into the details of the federal revenue code and become an authority as he negotiated with Congress.  When he wanted to focus, he had keen powers of concentration and could digest large bodies of information.  He was also one of the most disciplined men I have seen in the presidency (much more so than Clinton, for example), sot that he worked straight through the day, reading papers and checking off meetings on his list.  At day’s end, headed off for a workout and would plow through more papers in the evening in the upstairs residence.  He made the presidency look easy in part by keeping a strict regimen.  He also had a retentive mind.  After years of memorizing scripts in Hollywood, he would recall verbatim a lot of what he had read.  He recited Robert Service poems as well as he did jokes. [David Gergen, Eyewitness to Power, 197]

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