Ronald Reagan Wins: Greatest American
It’s nice to be pleasantly surprised for a change. The Discovery Channel has chosen Ronald Reagan as its “Greatest American.” I blogged earlier about my skepticism about a list that included Michael Moore and Madonna. But the final list is not so bad.
I could hardly breathe!
I have a few quibbles: Bill Clinton, Elvis Presley and Oprah Winfrey win numbers 7, 8 and 9 respectively — but it could have been worse. And it’s good to see W. winning number 6, though I’d argue he is head and shoulders above Bill Clinton. An impeached President doesn’t belong on the list at all.
Obviously, I’m happy about the top choice. Forgive me for including this picture, but this was a big moment for a young girl. I worked in the Reagan White House as both a college intern, and as my first job out of college. This picture was taken on a day when our whole department, Presidential Personnel, headed by Bob Tuttle (just-named Ambassador to England), got to meet the President.
I remember standing in the hallway outside the Oval Office barely able to breathe. Actually standing in the office, next to the great man was awe-inspiring. However, as many have noted, Ronald Reagan was unfailingly gracious. And he set us all at ease by standing around and telling jokes after the individual pictures were finished.
One wonders: are there any Clinton-era female interns, or young female staffers, who are still proud to be pictured in the same frame with Bill Clinton?
One gets the impression from the story of the Lewinsky scandals that people within the White House have easy access to the President. Not true. Even within the gates, the President doesn’t just stroll around. Everywhere he moves, Secret Service men surround him. In the Reagan White House, if POTUS was on the move in the Old Executive Office Building, a buzz would start, and people would come out of their offices to line the hallways and applaud him.
One of my favorite memories is from a time when I almost got in trouble with the Secret Service. I was working on a weekend, and had to get some document to someone quickly, so I flew down the stairs of the West Wing . . . as I rounded a corner, President Reagan stepped into the stairwell just behind his lead Secret Service man, with another man right behind him . . . and I ran headlong into him!
“Oh! Mr. President!” I said, aghast.
He just chuckled.
But the Secret Service were not quite so amused.
God bless President Reagan. It is an enduring honor to have served him. He brought down the Berlin Wall and won the Cold War. . . with a warm heart.
1) George Washington
2) Abe Lincoln
3) Thomas Jefferson
4) Ben Franklin
5) James Madison
6) Ronald Reagan
7) Andrew Jackson
8) Tom Paine
9) Teddy Roosevelt
10) Alexander Hamilton