Steven Hayward is one of my favorite authors. The first volume of "The Age of Reagan" was superb, and so was his stinging book, "The Real Jimmy Carter."
In this second volume of "The Age of Reagan," a book I suspected might be boring, the insights and the memories start flowing fast. Does anyone remember Jimmy's LAST press conference, where he blamed his own ineptitude and failure on the office of the Presidency itself? Nooooo. But that was the common wisdom in the Beltway those days: that the office of President had simply grown too large for any one man to fill. Government was too complex. Let's dump the Constitution, that rickety old-fashioned thing, and start anew.
One of Ronald Wilson Reagan's many accomplishments was to stop that sort of mindless chatter.
Another thing to warm the cockles of your heart is good old Reagan Derangement Syndrome (RDS). We have all been focused on BDS for so long that we tend to forget how much Reagan was hated. One memory returns to me...around 1986 I realized something, and told friends about it: even if Reagan discovered the cure for the common cold, the Democrats would continue hating him, and begin creating stories about how some unknown stooge had done it all while the REAL Ronald Reagan was sleeping.
Don't we all remember the over-arching theory, that Reagan was merely a marionette --- a simple-minded movie star who had been thrust into power by evil Fascists --- whose only duty was to carry out their orders? It is vastly amusing --- and reassuring --- to discover that this theory was totally wrong. Reagan was a charming, personally affable man, with a will of steel --- and a large, well-read personal library. He not only read books, he wrote them himself. It is an historical fact that Reagan had to DEFEAT those entrenched Republican interests in order to gain the Presidency, and another fact that he told his Cabinet: "I hate taxes, and Communism, and inflation. Now, get to work, and remember that the person who makes decisions around here is ME."
Steven Hayward recalls other facts that some journalists and historians would rather forget. Reagan's FIRST victory, over Peanut Jimmy, was a landslide! We all know that his second election campaign was a landslide, but how many remember his first? What makes Hayward's book even more enjoyable: he gives us copious citations from the Beltway Pundits before and after this Unexpected Event. These citations are, in retrospect, absolutely hilarious. Washington was TERRIFIED when Reagan came to town.
Well, I won't go on too long. Get this book and read it. You'll enjoy it immensely.