Richard V. Allen: Ronald Reagan, a Man With a Plan

Roundup: Talking About History

[Richard V. Allen is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and was national security advisor to President Ronald Reagan.]

...Coupled with the basic policy framework, Reagan’s was one of the most carefully planned presidential transitions in modern political history, replete with teams of “Reaganauts” dispatched to each department and agency in the days following the election. Staffing lists were compiled, and presidential and subcabinet appointments were made swiftly, background and vetting checks completed and requisite Senate hearings scheduled....

One other thing stands out: Reagan’s ability to get along with Democrats, something he had shown he could do as governor of California. Although the House of Representatives was controlled by Democrats, the president managed to pass his tax reduction package. He also found a way, through one-on-one sessions with senatorial opponents of both parties, to gain Congressional approval of the sale of Awacs radar planes to Saudi Arabia. By 1991, the deployed aircraft were a decisive military asset in the Persian Gulf war.

As Reagan’s debut year came to a close, I remember thinking how remarkable it was that he had managed to stay the course. Having watched subsequent presidencies lurch in response to political pressure, I find the president’s first-year feat even more remarkable today.

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