Taken together, these books torpedo the four elements of the conventional profile of Reagan. One, he had scant knowledge of many of the issues that came before him. Two, he was a “detached” president—that was Newsweek’s description—aloof from the day-to-day business in the White House. Three, he was overly reliant on the advice of his advisers and was often their puppet. Four, he was lazy. When I covered the Reagan presidency, I agreed to some degree with three of these. I was wrong. All four are false.
Three of the Reagan books are conclusive. The radio broadcasts knock down the idea that Reagan was clueless on complex issues. The book on nuclear weapons provides a picture of Reagan in command of his advisers and willing to override their views and those of his foreign allies. And the diaries, which are fun to read, reveal how hard he worked, especially on weeknights in the living quarters of the White House and on weekends at Camp David.http://www.weeklystandard.com/articl...30.html?page=1That Reagan was like a child fortunate enough to have hired adults as his chief handlers—that myth has dogged him since he ran for governor of California in 1966. And it remains embedded in the conventional wisdom of the political community. Not only have his managers and strategists been credited with running efficient campaigns on his behalf—while he was limited to speechmaking—they’ve also been credited with guiding him through a successful governorship and presidency. Reagan’s contribution in this scenario was simply to have been an excellent speaker willing to echo the words of his handlers.
This is nonsensical: No politician has ever had advisers with skills so unfailing. Besides, the big ideas of the Reagan era came from Reagan himself.