Historian Brinkley: Reagan Was Rock Star President

Thursday, 03 Feb 2011 05:31 PM

By Mike Tighe and Kathleen Walter

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Television set the stage for Ronald Reagan’s ultimate billing as The Great Communicator and, in retrospect, a transformational presidency, says presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. In addition, people who typecast the 40th president as a superficial, politician-turned-actor have miscast Reagan in their own minds.

Brinkley’s observations are hard-earned, based on the tough research that vaulted his book “The Reagan Diaries” to the top of best-seller lists. And his in-depth knowledge of Reagan made him the natural choice as the scribe for Newsmax magazine’s special February commemorative issue marking Reagan’s 100th birthday Feb. 6.

Brinkley also sat down for an interview with Newsmax TV in which he insisted that those who considered California’s 33rd governor as shallow actually missed the depth of the man who now receives a great deal of the credit for ending the Cold War.

Story continues below video.



“We now are seeing that Reagan was much more of an intellectual than people thought,” Brinkley tells Newsmax.

As for the late president’s rep as The Great Communicator, Brinkley observes: “Reagan became The Great Communicator on television — whether it was ‘GE Theatre’ or ‘Death Valley Days’ — when he was able to project himself into people’s homes like nobody before. He understood brevity. He understood the sound bite. He understood looks and how to be perceived by the viewing audience and nobody since the advent of TV has been as fine of a communicator as he was.”

One of Reagan’s secrets was calling upon his lifetime of experiences to help evaluate the issues and interact with the people at hand at any given moment. For example, he employed the skills he developed as president of the Screen Actors Guild in the 1940s and ’50s when he negotiated with the Soviets in the 1980s.

“Reagan wasn't kidding when he said dealing with the Kremlin is easy compared to Hollywood agents,” Brinkley says. “He brought that frame of mind to the table with the Soviet Union. He also personalized relations. Mikhail Gorbachev became Mike.”

Similarly, Reagan and President Barack Obama would have gotten along famously, Brinkley suggests, telling Newsmax: “I think President Obama admires Ronald Reagan quite a bit, and I think he sees some similarities. When Reagan came in, the economy was in terrible shape. Obama inherited an economy in similar tatters. Both are seen as ideologically polarizing figures. I know that President Reagan really would have liked Barack Obama personally. Reagan separated politics from personal relations, and there is so much to like about President Obama as a human being, his family values, that they would have formed a friendship.”

Editor’s Note: To get Newsmax’s special commemorative issue marking Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday, and choose a FREE gift — Click Here Now.

To read previous parts of special Newsmax.com commemorative series, click below:

Reagan at 100: A Newsmax Tour of Rancho del Cielo

Reagan Recollections: Meese Recalls Clarity, Directness

Gorbachev: Reagan Was Great President, Peace Partner

Michael Reagan: My Dad's Principles Can Restore US Greatness

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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