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Ronald Reagan and the Sound of Music

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David Gergen Reminiscing about Ronald Reagan:

…the G-7 summit conference in Williamsburg that he was hosting, and he had on a Wednesday he had a massive day of meetings ? one-on-one meetings with world leaders, plus a couple of plenary sessions he had to be the host for. So there was this great big thick briefing book that was prepared by the White House staff and the State Department, and Jim Baker went to him very gingerly, chief of staff, and said Mr. President, you know, you tend to really like to read slowly at night, because you want to memorize things, but tonight can you, we’re really worried you won’t get enough sleep and frankly back of that we’d be worried Nancy would be on the war path the next day.

Could you just skim over this tonight and sort of come in the next day. And so he came in the next morning, looked like he came in for breakfast around 7:30 ? look like he had been hit by a Mack truck, his eyes were all gray and everything like that and he sat down and he got about 10 or 15 minutes into the eggs and he and looked up and see, fellows, I’ve got a confession to make, last night I sat down with your briefing book around 9 and you’ve done a great job, and I want to thank you for it, but about 9:15 I turned on the TV, and you know the Sound of Music was on last night.

You know the Sound of Music is one of my favorite movies, so I never had a chance to read a briefing book, but I didn’t get a lot of sleep.

We thought oh, wow, he didn’t read all these things we put together. And then he taught me something about leaders.You know, he was better that day in the meetings than we’d ever seen him, and that’s because he wasn’t bogged down with all those facts that we on the staff in our arrogance thought we had to stuff him with.

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