February 2, 2011

Learning From Reagan

What today’s leaders can learn from Reagan (in view of the approaching 100th anniversary of the birth of President Ronald Reagan). Mortimer Zuckerman, in U.S. News & World Report:

He had an instantaneous grasp of the main issue or the true problems, and he was decisive in his responses.
Reagan provided what Americans wanted most: a strong leader who could and would lead in a principled way. To refresh a phrase once used about former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, this man was "not for turning." He made that clear early on, to the gratified astonishment of the nation, when he fired the striking air traffic controllers—who quickly learned that this commander in chief was not to be taken casually.
As if born with the instinct to be a transformational president, Reagan knew how to instill confidence in a nation that felt it had lost its way. Add to that his transparent likability, and you can understand why Americans felt so good about him and better about themselves when they listened to him. In the process, he earned an enormous presumption of credibility, affection, and support from the American public, even among those, like myself, who hadn't voted for him.
So today we remember fondly "the great communicator" who loved to frame his public policies in such pithy metaphors. "A recession," he explained, "is when your neighbor loses his job; a depression is when you lose yours." And he could be bitingly direct, too. He uttered the most memorable line of the Cold War in Berlin in 1987: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." Yet he was ready to form a friendship with the same Mikhail Gorbachev, negotiating agreements, and again bringing forth another pointed slogan: "Trust but verify."

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