In an article published in USA Today, President Obama praises President Ronald Reagan as a man with a "unique ability to inspire others to greatness." Obama also says of Reagan that "there is no denying his leadership in the world, or his gift for communicating his vision for America." The late president, Obama continues, "understood that it is always 'Morning in America.' That was his gift, and we remain forever grateful."
Obama's view of Reagan today is far different from the discussion of Reagan in Obama's 1995 autobiography Dreams From My Father. In that book, Obama says his strong feelings about the Republican president were part of the reason he decided to become a community organizer. "When classmates in college asked me just what it was that a community organizer did, I couldn't answer them directly," Obama wrote. "Instead, I'd pronounce on the need for change. Change in the White House, where Reagan and his minions were carrying on their dirty deeds…"
In another part of the book, Obama criticized Reagan for "verbal legerdemain." By that, he was accusing Reagan of intentionally maintaining a gap between his sunny rhetoric and the actions of his administration. Now, President Obama praises Reagan's "faith in the American promise."
Obama's op-ed, published on the eve of the state of the union address and also in recognition of Reagan's upcoming 100th birthday, is written with today's politics in mind. Without specifically mentioning the new Republican majority in the House and strengthened GOP contingent in the Senate, the president urges today's politicians to remember Reagan's ability to compromise and forgo angry words. What Obama doesn't mention is he once had some angry words for Reagan himself.