Ronald Reagan was America’s most ideological president in his rhetoric, yet pragmatic in his actions. He believed in balanced budgets, but never submitted one, hated nuclear weapons, but built them by the thousands, preached family values, but presided over a dysfunctional family.
His vision of America divided the nation, yet no matter what people thought of him politically, Reagan always won them over personally. “People don’t reckon with the power of charm,” says son Ron Reagan. “When my father turns the high beams on, even somebody like Gorbachev tends to melt.” A seemingly simple man, Ronald Reagan was consistently underestimated by his opponents; one by one, he overcame them all.
Reagan’s anti-communism began in Hollywood where he faced down “communist agitators” in the Screen Actors’ Guild. After his movie career dried up in the 1950s, he became a corporate spokesman for General Electric and began speaking out against high taxes and big government. His political philosophy set, Ronald Reagan burst on the national scene in 1964 as a spokesman for conservative politics.