Even before Time magazine ran a cover story comparing the incumbent Democratic president to the greatest Republican president of the last century, pundits have rushed to compared Barack Obama to Ronald Reagan. Both men won their first elections by comfortable margins. Both were regarded as silver-tongued orators with a charismatic presence.
And both seemed to capture the imagination of the youth of their particular political era.
But, here’s a difference — or is it just in my imagination? My generation warmed to the Gipper not as much when he was a candidate as when he was president. We loved him more in 1984 than we did in 1980. Once in office, he gave us hope that we would find jobs and have a better future. Obama, by contrast, gave us hope that his administration would be different from that of his predecessor, but once in office, the enthusiasm of his young followers began to wane.
The elder won us over by his leadership in the office. The other rallied this generation to his cause by his charisma and promise of change. Reagan appealed to us through his deeds, Obama with his words.