Growing up in the late seventies and early eighties, my opinion of Ronald Reagan was largely informed on the basis of the media portrayal of him: a cowboy too ready to call draw to be safe with the nuclear trigger, a B Movie Actor who said his lines well and was able to surround himself with capable people. It turned out the informed opinion was utterly mis-informed.
'Dutch' had been an all American kind of boy, growing up in a poor rural household, playing sports and life-guarding in summers. He grew into an All-American kind of man, making his living as a radio sports announcer before his boyishly handsome good looks landed him in the movie picture industry. During the late fifties he took on a position doing a promotional program for GE, giving speeches and hosting the traveling program. It was here that he honed his natural ability to connect with an audience. On October 27th, 1964 he gave his "A Time For Choosing" speech in support of the Goldwater presidential bid. It was a bold, compelling, persuasive address, and launched Ronald Reagan's political career on the national stage.
The confusion that the media types foisted upon this country was nicely unmasked by Mark Steyn in his piece Dutch Courage.
"Edmund Morris has described his subject as an “airhead” and concluded that it’s “like dropping a pebble in a well and hearing no splash.” Morris may not have heard the splash, but he’s still all wet: the elites were stupid about Reagan in a way that only clever people can be."
Happy Fourth, everyone!