Ronald Reagan06 Jun 2004
I first was aware of politics when I was 5 years old. I knew a few basic facts. The president was Lyndon Johnson, there was a war in Vietnam, and the governor was Ronald Reagan. My dad worked for the state of California, so Ronald Reagan was his boss.
One thing not mentioned in the NYT obituary: Reagan's election as governor in 1966 sparked the first campus protests at UC Berkeley, and thus the entire student protest movement of the 1960s.
As a college freshman in 1980, my first and only experience as a real journalist was covering the state Republican election party for student radio. Carter conceeded before we reached the hotel.
I think I saw him once, as a blurry shadow in a speeding limo. He was in Minneapolis for a fundraiser. I was in demonstration protesting against something or other.
He was a kind and gentle man whose policies made America less kind and less gentle. I do think he helped to end the Cold War, but not through harsh threats and weapons programs, but through his human friendship with a man named Gorbachev.