Regardless of varying opinions about his politics, I believe most American’s considered Ronald Reagan a good man. He did not appear arrogant or mean, and he had a self-deprecating sense of humor.
Two interactions between Reagan and news reporters stand out in my memory.
One time, while he was Governor of California, reporters approached Reagan with a report that he had called State Senator X a SOB. Reagan did not deny the report. Instead, he explained it as follows.
“Well, it was like this. We were having a big committee discussion on the budget. Senator Y took a position and made a statement that surprised me. As the meeting broke up, I moved around the table to talk to Y. As I did so, I happened to pass Senator X. You fellows know that Senator X and I have never hidden the fact that we dislike either intensely, so as I went past him I simply made a brief remark about his antecedents.”
The other incident happened when Reagan was running for office. He loved to use stories to illustrate his points, and the tales were often uncorroborated narratives about foolish Federal programs or bureaucratic blunders. After one speech a reporter spoke to Reagan and said that he had done some checking and that one of his illustrative stories was not true. Instead of arguing with the reporter, Reagan shook his head and expressed deep chagrin.
“Oh, no!” he said. “You say that it’s not true.” He then sighed deeply and added, “I really liked that story.”
How can you not love a man like that?