Sunday is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ronald Reagan, the 40th president, cause for numerous political, memorial and academic observances across the country this weekend.
The Ticket invited one of the nation's top presidential scholars, Prof. Robert Schmuhl of the University of Notre Dame, to examine the political legacy of Reagan as he relates to others of his generation, exclusively for Ticket readers.
(Scroll to bottom for Schmuhl's biography and book information.) We've also included several videos by and about Reagan.
This item is Part II of Schmuhl's writing.
Part I appeared here earlier this morning and can be viewed by clicking here.
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-- Andrew Malcolm
Ronald Reagan, American
Ronald Reagan titled his autobiography “An American Life.”
Unlike other presidential authors who put the focus on themselves—Richard Nixon’s “RN” or Bill Clinton’s “My Life”—or emphasized a theme—Gerald Ford’s “A Time to Heal,” Jimmy Carter’s “Keeping Faith” or George W. Bush’s “Decision Points”—Reagan used an indefinite article and a collective adjective.
To his way of thinking, his life was representative, one chapter in what he saw as the larger story of America.
Beyond his accomplishments as president, particularly efforts to invigorate the economy and hasten the end of the Cold War, Reagan brought to his eight White House years a sense of humor (see video just below here) and an....
....unalloyed Americanness that was always a mystery to people from other countries.
For them, his image and reality merged into the gun-toting cowboy from his Hollywood days, and he was following a script written by figures removed from public view.
At home, however, Reagan fit right in and seemed natural. (Listen to the way he talks on the video here and during his presidential campaign announcement video in Part I of today's Ticket series.)
A modest Midwestern upbringing—“We didn’t live on the wrong side of the....