For those who are, or even are NOT, fans of the presidency of Ronald Reagan, there may have been some trepidation when it was announced that one of the themes in a new book by Reagan’s son involved the suggestion that the “great communicator” was suffering from Alzheimer’s while he was still president.
Reagan was diagnosed with the disease five years after he left office and in “My Father at 100,” Ron Reagan writes about an incident when they were flying over Californai canyons and the president was concerned that he could not come up with their names. These were well known landmarks, to the elder Reagan.
However, in the book, according to quotations that have been released: “Does this delegitimize his presidency? Only to the extent that President Kennedy’s Addison’s disease or Lincoln’s clinical depression undermine theirs. Better, it seems to me, to judge our presidents by what they actually accomplish than what hidden factors may be weighing on them.”
Now, understand, this is not an endorsement of the book.
That is up to you to determine.
This is not even an endorsement of the Reagan presidency.
But the point is well made by Ron Reagan.
Our successful presidents, legislators, judges, ministers, evangelists, teachers, businessmen — all of our successful leaders — are successful in spite of their limitations.
Reagan, the younger, was correct in bringing up Lincoln, who truly suffered during his presidency, who over came great odds and great difficulties and intense unhappiness and pain to not only lead this nation, but to save it.
Real leaders, in all walks of life, are leaders because of what they have over come, not because of what they have breezed through.
In today’s society, we so often look for those “leaders” who have the fewest scars, when we ought to be looking for the greatest over-comers.
Whether we are filling the presidency, a pulpit, a teaching desk or a CEO seat, we should be looking for the people who have proven they can come back from adversity, whatever form that takes.
If President Reagan did face Alzheimer’s while he was in office, it will be indicative of our current cultural climate for the sharks to taste the blood in the water and to come in for a feeding frenzy.
But what Americans ought to consider is not whether there was any level of deficiency. Rather, what should be considered in the level of character and perseverance required for this man to have carried out his work and still leave his legacy as a leader.
Agree or disagree, Americans of all backgrounds should have more respect for a successful leader who is also a personal over-comer.
— Chuck Smith