Meeting with President Reagan, Vice President Bush, Deputy National Security Adviser Frank Carlucci and General Colin Powell in the Oval Office.


In December of 1986, Frank Carlucci pulled me aside in the coffee hour following a worship service and told me President Reagan had asked him to be his National Security Adviser. He was putting together an entirely new Security Council Staff and wanted me to do all the intelligence, covert action, counter terrorism and counter narcotics staff work on his staff. I greatly admired Frank Carlucci and would have followed him anywhere. I reported for duty just after the first of the year. What follows is my personal view of President Reagan whom I would soon meet for the first time.

My motivation for writing this after decades of silence is the similarity between where President Carter and President Obama have led this nation. Neither one of them could ever have led us out of where we were then and now. But I have nothing but praise for President Reagan. I have several unflattering comments I could make about people in his Cabinet but silence is the better choice. I will say that Cabinet government cannot work without a strong, committed presidential staff. In my time, that was the National Security Council Staff. Cabinet members are soon captured by the organization they lead and soon are presenting the organizational viewpoint rather than that of the president. Please don’t believe I was an important person in the White House or that I was close to the president. In this case, admiration flowed one way. I was in his presence several times in the Situation Room and the Oval Office, but less so in the latter. My role was to provide the staff preparation for National Security Council meetings that fell within my area of responsibility. Okay, enough of the establishing of credentials.

In my first meeting with President Reagan in the Oval Office, he immediately made me feel at home and that he wanted to hear what I had to say. After his opening humorous story or joke, he said, “Frank, unless you tell me what is happening, I have no way of finding out.” He wanted us to know we could say what we thought without holding back. Bad news as well as good news is all relevant to the president. He was always gracious and sincerely interested in the well-being of his staff. I never saw him treat anyone with anger or sarcasm. He was extremely loyal to Cabinet members and Pentagon officials even when they deserved being sent to the wood shed. Keeping government organizations on the course the president wants, not what they want, is more than a full-time job.

Foreign officials couldn’t understand that the Reagan Revolution was first and foremost for Americans. His vision of the ‘Shining City on a Hill’ was not for nice-sounding rhetoric read from a teleprompter. It was call to all of us to throw off the cloak of doom and gloom and to remember our heritage, remembering also that government growth diminishes individual freedom. This is the president who destroyed Communism, rebuilt our military power, restored faith in capitalism and the free market, spoke truthfully, practiced transparency, and was respected by both parties. The most powerful man in the world never thought of himself in those terms. He understood those of us from blue collar backgrounds. The last quote I remember from him was, “Barry, I want Americans to be able to walk down any street in the world and be safe.” He cared about all of us. I’m glad he is not here to see Americans slaughtered in Libya while Carter, sorry, I mean Obama, dithers.

http://www.factsandfictions.com            The author of the Jack Brandon Thriller Series.

1 Comment

Filed under Capitalism, Conservative views, Eight Decades of Insights, foreign policy, Intelligence & Politics, political solutions, Politics


  1. John Nugent

    Dear Barry: Thanks for this great insight into one of the best leaders America has ever had – President Ronald Reagan. Please also don’t sell yourself short. One of the things great leaders do best is select exceptional professionals to work with them. I know how modest you are, but I also know your intelligence and character. Professionals like yourself were a big part of President’s Reagan’s greatness.

    And thanks also for the comparison between Carter and Obama. Your insights are exactly on point. The US needs a true leader instilled with an understanding of what America is all about – our credo, our beliefs, and our willing hand to help others. At the same time, we need a leader who knows what being strong means, and how the prudential exercise of power leads people everywhere to treat such a leader with respect. Under Obama, the status of the US has been greatly diminished, and he has led this country astray. Our debt is soaring, critical issues are not being adequately and timely addressed, his behavior is divisive, and worse than Nero who just fiddled in a crisis, Obama takes erroneous actions which have gravely harmed this nation. I for one cannot wait for election day. John

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