President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime

By Lou Cannon | Go to book overview

11
THE LONER

A great inner migration has occurred in that man.

GEORGE WILL, JANUARY 31, 19891

THE AL HAIG AFFAIR AROUSED Reagan from his habitual passivity and engaged him in the conduct of the presidency. He was not easily so aroused. While physically courageous, Reagan was apt to retreat within himself when confronted by situations that demanded emotional engagement. Haig did not recognize it, but he had evoked an unusual response from Reagan, who rarely asked for anyone's resignation, whether it was submitted to him or not. Reagan was an inner-directed man whose experience had taught him the perils of personal confrontation. He brimmed with optimism but did not readily confide in others, except for his mother and his second wife. Reagan had learned hard boyhood lessons of emotional survival and built on this knowledge to gain the secrets of success in the outside world. Though life and Hollywood had cast him as best friend, Reagan remained a loner. He depended upon others for management and stage direction, but kept the managers outside the boundaries of his personal world. Ronald Wilson Reagan believed in God, his luck, his mother, Nancy Reagan, and the United States of America. His trust was in himself.

In his autobiography Where's the Rest of Me?, Reagan both confronts and romanticizes his nomadic boyhood in small-town Illinois, where he was born in Tampico on February 6, 1911. His father, John Edward (Jack) Reagan, an Irish-American shoe salesman who moved from town to town in Illinois before settling in Dixon, was an alcoholic. When he was eleven years old, Reagan came home to find his father lying on his back on the front porch "drunk, dead to the world." 2 More than a half century later, Reagan could vividly recall recoiling at the sight. Jack Reagan's arms were spread out "as if he were crucified--as indeed he was, his hair soaked with melting snow, snoring as he breathed." No one else was there to help the

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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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