Friday, July 20, 2012

Great summary of Ronald Reagan abilities and reasons for success. One being smart like a fox. Smart like a fox.

Here's an interesting article on Ronald Reagan and why he was successful despite being viewed as not so bright, a bit lazy and easily manipulated.  It was written by Fred Barnes for a symposium at Regent University.
Turns out he was smart and a hard worker.  Some speculate he allowed the false impression continue because it allowed others to underestimate him to their own political disadvantage.

A lazy leader could never have gone eyeball-to-eyeball with Gorbachev and forced the Soviet leader to blink. Yet Reagan seemed to encourage people to believe he was passive and inattentive. He specialized in self-deprecatory humor. “It’s true hard work never killed anybody, but I figure, why take the chance?” he said. And this: “I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of a national emergency—even if I’m in a cabinet meeting.”

His diaries, however, reveal a man who labored long and hard. His wife Nancy regarded him as a workaholic. His TV watching was limited to news shows. He spent hours editing speech drafts, occasionally rewriting them. He took paperwork home in the evening. He didn’t have the heart to decline meetings with people with disabilities or leaders of groups representing them. He wrote thousands of letters. In the foreword to Reagan: A Life in Letters, Shultz recalls weekends at Camp David. “I stopped by the president’s cabin at Aspen [Lodge] several times and saw him seated at a table writing,” Shultz says. “He’d nod as I came in and say, ‘Please wait for me while I finish this,’ and he’d continue writing.” In his diaries, Reagan commented, “Presidents don’t have vacations, they just have a change of scenery.”

His reputation for laziness contributed to what Shultz calls “the mystery of Reagan that has baffled so many for so long.” Shultz has his own explanation for how “a man of supposedly limited knowledge and limited intelligence [could] accomplish so much,” get elected and reelected president, and preside over prosperity and the winning of the Cold War. “Well, maybe he was a lot smarter than people thought.”

He was, but Reagan nurtured an image of himself as a common man, neither smarter nor more capable than anyone else. One aide theorizes that during his grade school days Reagan discovered that the smartest kid in the class was not the most popular, the one looked up to. Reagan acted accordingly and became a leader in high school, college, Hollywood, California, and the nation. Ed Meese, his longtime friend and adviser, believes Reagan preferred to be underestimated. And he usually was, as Pat Brown and Jimmy Carter discovered to their regret. Bill Clark, a friend for decades, told me Reagan masked his brainpower. “When your guard was down,” Clark said, “he would come through” and get others to agree with him. “That was his approach to running anything. It wasn’t to trick anybody.”

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