Rest in peace: I mentioned my father earlier this week. He and Ronald Reagan were approximately the same age and like Reagan, Alzheimer’s disease accompanied my father’s final years. The disease is a long, sad goodbye.
As hard as it is for those who know me to believe, I never voted for Ronald Reagan. In fact, for three years while he was in office (1982-84), I worked as a press secretary and speechwriter for a (D) U.S. congressman. As one of the “blue dog” Democrats, the southern moderates who served as swing votes during Reagan’s two terms as President, the congressman I worked for was constantly being lobbied by the White House. For that reason, I got to know a few folks who worked for Reagan and on a couple of occasions even attended some functions at which the President spoke.
I think there’s something about working in Washington (at least back then) that helps one get past political disagreements when it comes to personal relationships. During the time I was in Washington, I went from being convinced that Reagan was the anti-Christ to appreciating his stalwart stand for those things in which he believed. The more I witnessed up close the finger-in-the-air approach to policy that most politicians practice, the more I came to appreciate that Reagan actually had some beliefs about which he would not compromise. I also came to appreciate his ability to know when there was no more negotiating room and the exact time to compromise, and then, with artful savvy, declare victory.
I became a fan.
One last thing. Ronald Reagan would have likely been a blogger if he’d been born 50 years later. He, like Churchill and Theodore Roosevelt, actually wrote for a living during parts of his life. His acting career waning and his political career not yet begun, Reagan cranked out reams of essays and columns during the 1960s in part, to pay the bills and put food on the table. If you go back and read those columns, you will begin to hear their distant echo reverberating still today through thousands of blogs.