The Corner

The Substance of The Great Communicator

Jon Adler’s fitting remarks about the priority of the substance over the style of Reagan’s message is right on the money, and at the risk of annoying my publisher, I can’t resist passing along the passage that closes the first chapter of my next book on Reagan, which gilds Jonathan’s point:

Reagan did not mind being called “the Great Communicator,” so long as it was understood that, for him, what he was communicating outweighed how well or badly he did it. Lincoln, too, could have been known also as “the Great Communicator” but for the fact that the aim of his words became the deed of the nation, thereby bestowing on him the higher title, the Great Emancipator. Reagan was too modest to have claimed for himself the title that the substance of his words and deeds point to—the Great Liberator. Yet that is the legacy he ultimately deserves.

Steven F. Hayward — Stephen F. Hayward is a senior resident scholar at the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of a two-volume political history, The Age of Reagan.

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