The standard image of President Ronald Reagan as a game but fuddled movie actor is an image so stale as to be rebarbative. It is the standby of the weary cartoonist, the flagging gag-writer and the composer of hackneyed captions. It’s been a boast of mine, during some years of writing from Washington, that I have never lampooned the old boy as a Wild West ham, an All-American kid, a granite-jawed GI, or any other of the stock repertoire. To fall for such instant ‘takes’ is to be a hack oneself – like those who go to Republican conventions in Texas and dwell endlessly on the rhinestones and ten-gallon hats.
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