HAIL TO THE CHIEF
I've seen all those photographs that have been printed in various articles of someone slouched looking out the Oval Office windows and then beside it the quote about [the presidency being] the loneliest [job] and so forth. I have to tell you, I enjoyed it. I didn't feel that way about it.
RONALD REAGAN, MAY 5, 19891
THE PRESIDENCY PROVED BOTH the best and worst of offices for Ronald Reagan. His amiable temperament and passive fatalism spared him the private terrors that beset presidents in the nuclear age and inoculated him against the maladies provoked by the exercise of unaccustomed power. "Power is poison," wrote Henry Adams three quarters of a century ago, in words that echoed through the age of Vietnam and Watergate. "Its effect on Presidents [has] been always tragic, chiefly as an almost insane excitement at first, and a worse reaction afterwards; but also because no mind is so well balanced as to bear the strain of seizing unlimited force without habit or knowledge of it."2* Reagan was not afflicted with such excitement, as he had learned to his own surprise on inauguration day. His perspectives were unaltered by the presidency, perhaps because he did not need high office to impart a sense of self-esteem. If anything, Reagan's sense of well-being was excessive, and it was enhanced by the congenial schedule devised for him by Deaver and Nancy Reagan. As the first lady well knew, Reagan was a creature of habit who required at least eight hours of sleep and rest breaks during the day to perform effectively. He was capable at any age of productive bursts of energy, as he had shown in critical stretches of his political campaigns, but he could become irritable and snappish____________________