About More Than Appearances

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Jan 02, 2011 10:51 PM
The Australian reports that President Obama used some of his vacation time to read a biography of Ronald Reagan:

Mr Obama's approval ratings, at 47 per cent according to last week's Gallup poll, are nowhere near as low as Reagan's, which fell to just 35 per cent at the beginning of 1983.

Mr Obama, a former law professor who is regarded as distant even by his own staff, is studying how the Hollywood actor achieved his remarkable comeback.

It's not clear whether the spin on the story is from the paper or The White House,  but it sounds like Obama is falling victim to the same fallacy that has ensnared a generation or more of Democrats:  Thinking that Reagan's success stemmed from his personality.

Sure, people loved his sunny, upbeat outlook.  But President Reagan's "remarkable comeback" centered around the fact that he restored America's economy, reasserted its place in the world, and embraced American exceptionalism unapologetically.  The one-liners were just the icing on the cake.

The linked piece highlights the fact that neither President could be characterized as "naturally gregarious."  That's the most irrelevant fact ever.  Otherwise, Ronald Reagan -- with his belief in the United States, and the goodness and greatness of its people, and his love of freedom, and his skepticism about government, and his large-spirited graciousness toward his political adversaries -- stands as the most marked contrast to President Obama that one could possibly imagine.