“No matter what political disagreements you may have had with President Reagan— and I certainly had my share — there is no denying his leadership in the world, or his gift for communicating his vision for America.
“President Reagan recognized the American people’s hunger for accountability and change — putting our nation on a bold new path toward both. And although he knew that conflicts between parties and political adversaries were inevitable, he also knew that they would never be strong enough to break the ties that bind us together. He understood that while we may see the world differently and hold different opinions about what’s best for our country, the fact remains that we are all patriots who put the welfare of our fellow citizens above all else…
“When the future looked darkest and the way ahead seemed uncertain, President Reagan understood both the hardships we faced and the hopes we held for the future. He understood that it is always ‘Morning in America.’ That was his gift, and we remain forever grateful.”
“In the years that followed, Reagan would come to epitomize all that Obama opposed. Reagan cut social spending in America’s cities, backed what Obama called ‘death squads’ in El Salvador and began to build what Obama regarded as an ‘ill conceived’ missile-defense shield. ‘I personally came of age during the Reagan presidency,’ Obama wrote later, recalling the classroom debates in his courses on international affairs. When he graduated from Columbia in 1983, Obama decided to become a community organizer. ‘I’d pronounce the need for change,’ Obama wrote in his memoir. ‘Change in the White House, where Reagan and his minions were carrying on their dirty deeds.’ A decade later, he was still at it, leading a 1992 Illinois voter-registration effort aimed at breaking the Reagan coalition’s hold on his state’s electoral votes.
“But in Obama’s story line, Reagan has been more than just the antagonist. As the 1980s rolled on and Obama matured, Reagan became a model for leadership. The attraction was less substantive than stylistic and instinctive. Both had strong mothers and dysfunctional fathers. Both prided themselves on bringing people together. Obama even conceded that he sometimes felt the emotional pull of Reagan’s vision. ‘I understood his appeal,’ Obama recalled in his second book, The Audacity of Hope. ‘Reagan spoke to America’s longing for order, our need to believe that we are not simply subject to blind, impersonal forces but that we can shape our individual and collective destinies.’ The Great Communicator, it seems, had struck a chord.
“This admiration stayed with Obama after he rose to the U.S. Senate and as he weighed a run at the White House. In late 2006, his top strategist, David Axelrod, laid out an Obama-as-Reagan theory of the race. ‘I remember talking about the fact that this had the potential to be one of those big-change elections like 1980,’ Axelrod says now. ‘The Republican project seemed to have run out of gas.’ Axelrod believed the political pendulum, which had swung left with the New Deal and had been reversed by Reagan, was once again reaching the end of its arc.”
Via Greg Hengler.