"Some critics see the president as being simple-minded. Rather, a number of his aides suggest, he is simplistic. That is, he reduces complications to simple symbols and images of good and bad, American and un-American. That allows him to cut through the complexities that bewilder and hold no interest for the general public, putting him squarely on the public's wavelength."
When you read the words above, it sounds like an all too recognizable criticism of President Trump. But actually, The New York Times Magazine wrote those words back in 1985 about President Ronald Reagan. I'm not suggesting Donald Trump is Ronald Reagan or vice versa. But what's perfectly clear is that both men have been described in very similar terms when it comes to how they see the world, how they tackle the tasks of being president and how they are viewed from an intellectual perspective. Hence, I give you: President Donald Reagan.
Don't believe me? How about this excerpt from The New York Times Magazine article titled, "The Mind of the President" by Leslie H. Gelb:
"How can one understand the mind of Ronald Reagan? That was the central question posed in dozens of interviews with President Reagan's past and present aides, with his adversaries and during an hour-long interview with the President himself. They were also asked how he goes about making decisions, his sense of history, his system for getting information, the roles played by his wife and his aides.
What emerged was a rich, provocative and sometimes contradictory portrait. Not one of the friends and aides interviewed, for example, suggested that the President was, in any conventional sense, analytical, intellectually curious or well-informed - even though it would have been easy and natural for them to say so. They clearly did not think it necessary. Time and again, they painted a picture of a man who had serious intellectual shortcomings but was a political heavyweight, a leader whose instincts and intuitionwere right more often than their own analyses. His mind, they said, is shaped almost entirely by his own personal history, not by pondering on history books - he thinks anecdotally, not analytically."
Sound familiar? No matter what you think of Trump or Reagan, it's hard to dispute the parallels between the two men outlined above. While the media ridiculed both for "intellectual shortcomings," the truth is intellect comes in many forms (Personally, I'd rather be more "street smart" than "book smart.") But it's more than that. Trump's been criticized for how he approaches the job when it comes to briefings, articles he reads, attention span, etc. Well, get a load of the following New York Times Magazine excerpt concerning Reagan:
"The President's system for getting information is a critical factor in his decision-making. According to his aides, he relies primarily on staff memos, which generally are not detailed analyses. The staff also sends him letters that tend to support his beliefs. He skims the headlines of several daily newspapers, essentially looking for anecdotal material and editorial positions, usually not reading the main news stories. Friends send along magazine articles, mainly from conservative journals such as Human Events and Commentary. (A recent article in Commentary suggesting that discrimination had been essentially eliminated in South Africa was behind his controversial comment to that effect, his aides say.) Members of the President's staff never know just what information the President will remember from his reading or how he may use it.
Reagan has grown up in an intellectual cocoon where he can go from ill-informed articles to reasonably conclusive statements,'' says a former White House aide who is now elsewhere in the Administration. ''Other people would normally ask who wrote the article, what's his reputation, what do others think. Reagan will go with a fact or observation without going through a rigorous process.''
I kid you not when I say that passage is truly talking about Reagan NOT Trump. You could have fooled me! There's more! A senior White House aide is quoted as saying the following about Reagan: ''The President is not terribly interested in the process, and for a long time I wasn't sure he knew what I did. He's comfortable letting advisers come to him and tell him the issues and options, and then he'll use his anecdotes.'' A line like that could have popped up in the recent anonymous anti-Trump New York Times op-ed!
Finally, how about the comparisons about their depth of knowledge? The media elite and establishment crowd LOVE to harp on this supposed lack of depth. More from The New York Times Magazine article on Reagan below:
"Intellectual capability? That's the wrong question,'' a former senior economic adviser replied. ''The right question is, does he get the right answer? In my experience, he fails the essay questions but gets the multiple choices.''
Folks, there will never be another Ronald Reagan and there will CERTAINLY never be another Donald Trump. Media critics, along with elitists in both political parties, underestimated Ronald Reagan back then and are doing the same thing to Donald Trump 30 years later. The detractors were always focused on their supposed lack of complexity and intelligence. What they missed is the common bonds that a hypothetical President Donald Reagan has: an instinctive aptitude to rise above the noise, channel their inner overflowing American spirit, connect with ordinary citizens, communicate a message successfully and not overthink the obvious.
David Brody is chief political analyst for CBN News.