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That mandate is specific: to control inflation, to reduce unnecessary governmental interference in private lives and in business, to reassert America's prominence in the world. That is all there is to it, and that is plenty. The mandate does not necessarily include far-right hit lists, censorship, the absence of gun control, prayer in schools and a constitutional amendment banning abortion. These things are significant if problematical, but they do not represent majority wishes. Nor does the Reagan mandate suggest approval of a national pulpit for Jerry Falwell's lethal sweet talk or of the National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC), whose liberal-hunting leaders have been jumping up and down like Froggie the Gremlin since Nov. 4. The majority voted for Reagan because he appeared to be a reasonable man, and a reasonable presidency is what the country expects.
Still, it is not only the anticipation of Reagan's reasonableness that has hopes high at the moment. Pennsylvania's Republican Governor Richard Thornburgh explains the Reagan election in terms of ideas: "The status of the individual in society, fiscal integrity, the idea of true federalism, the idea of Government closer to the people, the idea of the toughness of the American fiber, which means a firm line with criminals at home and with our adversaries abroad. With Reagan's election, Republican principles hold the high ground, the principles which put together the real genesis of the Reagan victory. Those principles are now a majority view."
That is true enough, but Republicanism is also changing. During all the years the Democrats were in power, their party developed a kind of character, one that reached a pinnacle of form in John Kennedy—that is, the character of the interesting party, the party of real intellectual movement, the party of the mind. Conversely, the G.O.P. was the party of the pocketbook, the pinstripe and the snort. Goodbye to all that. The G.O.P. is now by far the more interesting of the two parties. And much of the anticipation of the Reagan presidency has to do with the fact that people recognize that an idea is taking shape.
The man at the center of this idea appears smaller than he is. At 6 ft. 1 in., 185 Ibs., his body is tight, as tight as it can be on a large frame, though there is no sign of pulling or strain. It is the body of an actor, of someone used to being scrutinized from all angles, so it has all but willed as tidy and organized an appearance as possible. His size also seems an emblem of his modesty. Lyndon Johnson used to enter a room and rape it. Reagan seems to be in a continual state of receding, a posture that makes strangers lean toward him. In a contest for the same audience, he would draw better than Johnson.
The voice goes perfectly with the body. No President since Kennedy has had a