“In prosperity, it is very easy to find a friend, but in adversity. it is the most difficult of all things.”
That ancient proverb could well apply to modern-day politics because friends surely have a way of disappearing in times of political adversity.
Consider President Reagan’s declining job performance ratings in polls since the Iran arms sales story began to unfold. The ABC News survey after his most recent address to the nation is an example.
Over-all, Reagan has been a popular president. You may recall that he swept President Jimmy Carter out of office with 489 electoral votes to 49 in 1980 and amassed 525 electoral votes to 13 for Walter Mondale in his reelection of 1984.
His popularity still soared in mid-1936. At that time a fund-raising arm of the Republican Party proposed a drive to repeal the mid Amendment (which basically limits presidential tenure to two terms), to open the door for Reagan to seek a third term.
Rep. Guy Vander Jagt, R-Mich., introduced the legislation, joined by 66 co-sponsors. But with the pruident’s age (then 75) and other practicalities. he declined to reverse a position already taken that he would not run again even if the law were changed to make this possible.
The repeal idea may not have been well thought out, but it illustrated the high esteem in which Reagan was held.
The president’s personal popularity still seems reasonably high despite the Iran-Contra issue, but the polls have indicated his credibility has suffered markedly.
In his latest address oo the nation, Reagan had hoped, in a significant measure, to put the scandal behind him. He admitted he erred in selling arms to Iran despite good intentions, conceding: ‘ I was stubborn in my pursuit of a policy that went astray.” And he asked the American public to help him make the remaining 17 months of his term productive and meaningful.
The ABC News poll didn’t contribute much by way of confidence. Fiftyfive percent of the 177 persons reached in a telephone survey who had heard the address. believed Reagan was not telling the truth about the Iran situation.
I personally wonder about the fairness of pollsters’ expecting lay citizens reached on the phone to pass instant judgment on the truthfulness of presidential utterances.
I don’t imagine determining truth has always been easy even for experts in investigations who have devoted hours hearing testimony and mulling facts.
By the way, just the previous week (Aug. 5) ABC News also had phrased its survey question on whether Reagan was telling the truth.
The president apparently remains optimistic despite negative polls and currently is pursuing a vigorous vacation regimen at his California ranch. In a Time Magazine interview. he scoffed at suggestions his 76 years are beginning to show. ”I feel fine and haven’t slowed down any.”
The president’s resilience often has amazed me. Remember how quickly he “bounced back” from the giuishot wound in the diest by a would-be assassin very early in his first term? Reagan has asked the coiuitry to cooperate in helping put the Iran arms issue behind him. I presume he will have been duly chastened by the various investigation reports, and personally I believe it would be the better part of the American spirit for Congress and the nation to work fully and harmoniously with him for the most possible progress in his remaining months in office.
He is still our president everybody’s, not just the Republican Party’s.
We still look to him for some truly major accomplishments like concluding some key nuclear arms reductions with the Soviets and pinning down with Congress needed understandings on budget deficits which have plagued the government for many years and worsened during his administration.