Nation: Meet the Real Ronald Reagan

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not like it a bit. While he voted reluctantly for Harry Truman in 1948, he was incensed by the Truman Administration's policy toward the movie industry, in particular an antitrust suit that forced the major studios to give up their ownership of theater chains. Says Reagan now: "I saw the whole economic stability of the industry just simply eliminated, the end of the contract system whereby they had been able to take young people—directors, actors, whatever—and develop them." It was the contract system that had given Reagan his start.

While the industry was under siege, Reagan's own acting career was faltering. In 1954 he landed a job as host of the General Electric Theater on TV and traveling lecturer at GE plants. Inveighing against Government interference in the movie industry, he began collecting evidence of federal intervention in other industries, reading conservative literature and finding examples of the damage done by Washington. His GE tours put him in touch with more traditional, more conservative businessmen outside the film industry, and he was impressed. The point of this personal history is that Reagan's political principles, while sincerely held, derive from his gut reactions to specific events rather than any intellectual process. By 1964, when Reagan burst on the political scene with an impassioned TV appeal for funds for the presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater. his rejection of all things liberal and Democratic had become so intense as to make even Goldwater edgy. The Arizona Senator was at first reluctant to let Reagan speak in his behalf. Only after Neil Reagan, whose ad agency had landed the Goldwater account, read Ronald's proposed text over the phone did Barry give Ronald the go-ahead.

As his own campaign progresses, Reagan seems to be undergoing another conversion. His rhetoric has become more muted, his tone less bellicose. On domestic affairs he has changed his mind about the federal bailout of Chrysler and loan guarantees for New York City (he is now for both) and disavows any thought of asking for repeal of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act. Such moderation of views, aides insist, is consistent with his record as Governor of California from 1967 to 1974. In Sacramento he once went along with a tax change after proclaiming himself embedded "in concrete" against it. He sometimes brings that up voluntarily these days, and says, "Well, my feet aren't in concrete" on this or that issue.

The turnabouts do indicate that Reagan possesses some flexibility, but they have to be put in perspective. The switches in specific positions have been relatively few and have not involved any issues of national consequence, or any that are really still open for discussion. Who, at this stage, would reverse the Chrysler bailout or the New York City loan program? Asked about his basic attitudes last week, Reagan said, "Well, I'm still where I was over the past 20 years."

Industrialist Justin Dart, one of the most conservative members of Reagan's California coterie, seems dead right when he says, "No politician on the face of the earth can function without some compromises. But Ronald Reagan makes fewer than the others. The only compromises he will make as President are those that are forced on him." And Stuart Spencer, a top strategist on Reagan's

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