President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime

By Lou Cannon | Go to book overview

1
BACK TO THE FUTURE

One of his magics is looking to the future. GEORGE SHULTZ, FEBRUARY 13, 198911

HE HAD ALWAYS PRIDED himself on knowing how to make an exit, and when the end came, on a day of sun and shadows he called bitter- sweet, Ronald Reagan understood exactly how to leave the stage. An aide, thinking about it later, would say that Reagan had made fifty-three movies and that being on a movie set was like being cooped up in the White House with your crew all those years. Reagan was ready for the freedom of California and a new role. But some members of his staff were not quite ready and Reagan, recognizing this, tried not to seem overly cheerful during the scenes leading up to his exit. He was mindful that he was president until the curtain fell at noon.

It was 9:50 A.M. on January 20, 1989, when Reagan slipped into the Oval Office for a last look at the room that had been his grandest set. The walls were bare. Gone were the resplendent color photos of his presidency and a bronze saddle that had given the Oval Office a western look. Gone, too, was the barrel chair he had brought with him from California for his Oval Office desk. In its place was a worn chair that had been wheeled in from somewhere when the office was swept clean of personal mementos the preceding afternoon after Reagan finished his last appointment with speechwriter Landon Parvin and departed to the White House family quarters. Reagan looked at the chair, cocking his head as he often did when something was out of place. He walked over to the desk, where he had always worked in coat and tie as a gesture of respect for the presidency, and tried out the chair. The desktop was bare except for a telephone. Tucked in a drawer inside the desk was a note of encouragement he had written the day before for George Bush on stationery emblazoned

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President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Also by Lou Cannon ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface to the 1991 Edition ix
  • Preface to the 2000 Edition xi
  • 1 - Back to the Future 1
  • 2 - A Reagan Portrait 16
  • 3 - The Acting Politician 20
  • 4 - The Acting President 31
  • 5 - Offstage Influences 45
  • 6 - Heroic Dreams 66
  • 7 - Halcyon Days 78
  • 8 - Kidding on the Square 95
  • 9 - Hail to the Chief 115
  • 10 - Passive President 141
  • 11 - The Loner 172
  • 12 - Staying the Course 196
  • 13 - Focus of Evil 240
  • 14 - Freedom Fighters 289
  • 15 - Lost in Lebanon 339
  • 16 - An Actor Abroad 402
  • 17 - Morning Again in America 434
  • 18 - Turning Point 488
  • 19 - Darkness at Noon 521
  • 20 - Struggles at Twilight 580
  • 21 - The New Era 663
  • 22 - Visions and Legacies 711
  • Notes 765
  • Bibliography 820
  • Acknowledgments 835
  • Index 843
  • About the Author 885
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