Yesterday would have been Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday. He was the 40th President of the United States and the first I remember; I have vivid memories as a child of seeing on television President Reagan meeting Mikhail Gorbachev and our very own Margaret Thatcher. He had a kind, folksy demeanour about him and was a natural on television.
So I viewed with interest BBC 4's profile of Reagan shown last night at 9pm and available here on i player. On the whole it was a neutral assessment of the man and his career, hearing from those in America campaigning for Reagan's legacy, as well as some who question his impact on the U.S. If you know little about him or his life I recommend it.
I recently came across an anecdote about Reagan that, to me, epitomises his public persona and allows us to remember him with a smile. The news broke that Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart was having an affair with Donna Rice, as Reagan was returning to the White House from an evening event. One of his secret service detail was with him travelling in the lift to the residence on the second floor of the White House when, as the doors to the elevator were about to close, one of Reagan's staff blocked it and told Reagan the news about Gary Hart.
Reagan nodded and looked toward the agent, "Boys will be boys," he said. Then, when the door of the lift shut and the lift began rumbling upwards, Reagan continued, "But boys will not be president."