This is not common knowledge because most people during the time he was in office thought he was an amicable man, not too bright and the captive of his aides. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the past few years, a completely unbiased person who never knew Ronald Reagan and was never involved in his administration or any of his activities has made a remarkable discovery.
What I’m going to share will cast President Reagan in a completely different light, and millions of Americans will come to appreciate the contributions this great man made to our nation.
Dr. Kiron K. Skinner, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution on the campus of Stanford University, made this discovery while doing research on the end of the Cold War, from an American perspective. In the process of conducting her research, President Reagan’s wife, Nancy, gave Kiron access to some of the president’s private papers at the Reagan Library.
What she discovered was hundreds of audiotapes and thousands of radio transcripts written by the president on yellow legal pads, in his own handwriting. As she began to read through these handwritten transcripts, she was amazed to see the amount of reading, research and knowledge that had gone into them.
Near the end of his second term as governor of California, he had instructed his aides to put together a plan for his activities after he left office. A man by the name of Harry O’Connor, who was a radio producer, had suggested to one of the governor’s friends that a conservative voice was needed on radio and he thought Ronald Reagan was the right person for the job.
Reagan liked the idea, and along with speaking engagements all across the nation and writing a syndicated newspaper column, he launched his three-minute radio commentary, titled “Viewpoints” in January 1975. In the coming months it grew to over 350 stations and was heard by approximately 20 million people each week. His wife was one of the few people who knew that he wrote practically all of these commentaries himself. She said he liked to take long showers because this is when he got some of his best thoughts.
After he got out of the shower, he would sit down at his desk in the bedroom and write them down. Something else she said that I thought was interesting is that she could never remember him watching television. In most cases, we would all be better off if we took this approach in how we use our time. Over the next four years he would write over 1,000 of these commentaries where he had researched and thought through practically every topic and issue that he would face as president of the United States.
As a side note, I was privileged to meet Reagan in 1976 when he came to Little Rock to speak to the Arkansas Chapter of the International Society of Professional Engineers. A friend of mine, the late Ed Riddick, an engineer and also a pilot, flew up to Illinois to pick up Reagan for this speaking engagement. A private reception for him was held before the meeting at the Little Rock Country Club and Ed Riddick invited me to be his guest. That same year Reagan would lose his party’s nomination to Gerald Ford, but that did not dampen his spirits, as he continued to make speeches, write his column and produce his radio commentaries.
If you have wondered where I am getting this information, it has been gleaned from a series of compact discs produced by Simon & Schuster Audio titled, “Reagan In His Own Voice.” It features a number of prominent people in his administration who confirmed this man’s remarkable ability and also his love for the American people.
In my mind, I can still hear him giving those inspiring speeches and how glad he made me feel to be an American. One speech in particular is when he said to Mikhail Gorbachev, “Mr.Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
One of those who gave affirmation was George P. Shultz, longtime advisor to President Reagan and his secretary of state for almost seven years. Shultz told of countless times when he would be with the president for meetings with other world leaders and discuss critical major issues.
He said, “The president, without the benefit of notes or someone whispering in his ear, would speak extemporaneously with deep passion and spell out our national policy in very clear and vivid detail.”
Many people have wondered how Ronald Reagan could have been twice elected governor of our most populous state and twice elected president of the United States of America. Here the truth is simple and clear. He was a much smarter man than many people gave him credit for being.
(Editor’s Note: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. He may be contacted at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway AR 72034.)