Roundup: Media's Take
This is where we excerpt articles from the media that take a historical approach to events in the news.
Elisabeth Bumiller, in the NYT (June 14, 2004):
...This past weekend, the White House Web site prominently featured a collection of Reagan remembrances and a photo essay of Mr. Bush at the funeral for the former president. The Bush campaign Web site went one better, offering a video of Mr. Reagan uttering his most famous lines -"These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc" - interspersed with Mr. Bush's own words -"He had the confidence that comes with conviction, the strength that comes with character."
It was difficult to tell where the 40th president ended and the 43rd began, a blurring further promoted by Ken Mehlman, the president's campaign manager, who told an Iowa Republican Party convention on Saturday that Mr. Reagan's spirit lived on."Every time an American soldier, sailor, airman or marine risks his or her life to ensure our security and peace, Ronald Reagan will be there," Mr. Mehlman said.
Of course, Mr. Bush's effort to wrap himself in the Reagan legacy drew plenty of skeptics, including a number of top Reagan officials, who said, all anonymously, that the presidencies could not have been more different. Mr. Reagan was pragmatic, they said, but Mr. Bush is ideological. Mr. Reagan was a unifier, they argued, while Mr. Bush has polarized.
"Bush wants to defeat his opponents, Reagan wanted his to join him," one former official of the Reagan White House said.
Leaving aside what many historians call a nostalgic rewriting of the Reagan era - plenty of Democrats despised and derided Ronald Reagan in a highly partisan time -there are still striking and significant contrasts in the politics, artifice and style of the two presidencies.
The first that leaps out is Mr. Reagan's ease with the camera and the way it captured his personality and seemed to enhance who he was. Americans felt they knew Mr. Reagan, who was little different off television than on.
"He had so much experience - he knew the expressions, the posture, the lighting, the angles," said Michael Evans, Mr. Reagan's White House photographer, who recalled that Mr. Reagan, so used to Hollywood sets, had no problems letting him into the Oval Office on historic occasions to shoot through the day.
"I'd say hello in the morning, and then he'd just totally ignore me," Mr. Evans said.
Mr. Bush, in contrast, is stiffer and often more tongue-tied on television than in person. He finds the camera so distracting that his staff quickly shoos photographers away."He just likes to get it over with," said David Hume Kennerly, who has photographed every president since he was Gerald R. Ford's White House photographer."If he had his choice, he wouldn't do it."
The second difference is in the business of politics. Mr. Bush, who is his own de facto campaign manager, loves the combat and gossip. His advisers say he knows his exact standing in recent polls, the names of his chairmen in the battleground states and probably the names of important county chairmen.
Mr. Reagan, in contrast, did not."Are you kidding me?" said Kenneth M. Duberstein, who was Mr. Reagan's last White House chief of staff."He didn't want to hear about the political ups and downs." Mr. Reagan's detachment meant that his operatives handled the dirty work, while Mr. Bush's immersion has helped drive one of the most politically aggressive White Houses in decades....