–Above all else, Ronald Wilson Reagan was genial and mannerly. He treated others with respect and courtesy. He was a gentleman whose personal decency was exceptional. On the occasions where he disagreed with our opinions or points of view, he did so without sharp words or rebuke, often apologetically. Yes, his political rhetoric could be tough and partisan, but it was never vulgar or personal. Donald Trump would benefit from the light-hearted humor that Reagan used to advantage in his communication.
–In the 1980 presidential campaign, Reagan also said it was time to “make America great again.” But he did so while reflecting on what a wonderful country we live in, and that even amid the failure of our institutions, our nation’s promise of hope and opportunity stood out. It would have been unimaginable for Reagan to say, “Our country is going to hell,” as Trump regularly claims. Optimism permeated Reagan’s thinking, and we don’t see any evidence of Trump using the uplifting and aspirational language that was so dominant in Reagan’s communications.
–Ronald Reagan was respectful of all people, but even more so towards women, with whom he was warm and courtly. As a person who believed a soft answer turneth away wrath, his approach to Megyn Kelly on debate night would have been delivered with a wink and a smile. He might have even said, “There you go again.” If Mr. Trump, as he insists on being called, wants to be like Mr. Reagan, he needs to replace churlishness with charm.