June 7, 2004: Headlines: COS - Peru: President Reagan: Legacy: State News: RPCV Peter McPherson recalls years under Reagan

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RPCV Peter McPherson recalls years under Reagan

RPCV Peter McPherson recalls years under Reagan

RPCV Peter McPherson recalls years under Reagan

McPherson recalls years under Reagan


The State News


Caption: President Ronald Reagan and M. Peter McPherson in the Oval Office in 1985 looking over photos from the famine in Ethiopia.

On Sunday, MSU President M. Peter McPherson's words quickened and his voice glided fondly over his memories of former President Ronald Reagan, who died a day earlier.

"He was optimistic without being naive," McPherson said. "It was infectious."

McPherson worked with foreign aid as the administrator of the Agency for International Development during six of the eight Reagan years. Reagan, 93, died Saturday of pneumonia during his lengthy battle with Alzheimer's disease.

"There was a huge drought and pending famine in Africa in the 1980s; one of the countries hardest hit was Ethiopia," McPherson said. "The issue that was of much dispute was if we should feed a communist nation.

"I felt strongly that we should."

Reagan agreed with McPherson.

"He said, 'A hungry child knows no politics,'" McPherson said. Soon after, 2 million tons of food came to Africa during a 12-month period - half a ton to Ethiopia.

"He was very supportive of foreign aid programs," McPherson said, "There's no question he changed the world."

When Reagan first entered the Oval Office, McPherson was there as the general counsel for his transition team. McPherson had a hand in drafting the resolution to deregulate oil, which Reagan signed soon after.

"The transition and the earlier days of the White House were hectic and exciting," McPherson said. "There were a lot of early steps taken by the president.

"Reagan was a practical visionary."

McPherson said many of Reagan's decisions were controversial at the time but they improved the country in the long run. He said, in his mind, the space race between the Russians and the Americans, the Pershing missiles, and building up of the military were really determinative in ending the Cold War.

Reagan had big ideas, McPherson said.

"He worked on them, he fought for them and over time he achieved them," he said.

McPherson's recent work in Iraq to help rebuild its fallen economy was a small form of "practical idealism," learned from his years of work in the Peace Corps and with Reagan, he said.

In the last years of Reagan's presidency, McPherson was the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Treasury.

"The Reagan years, for me personally, were wonderful years," he said. "They were very productive years for the country.

"Reagan had a tremendous affect on me."

McPherson said he has not yet determined if he will be able to attend any memorial services for the former president.

"When I think about Reagan, I think about optimism in the country," McPherson said. "I think about freedom and human dignity."

McPherson's wife, Joanne, met Reagan during the couple's years in Washington and she always told her husband that "Ronald Reagan was the perfect male."

"He always sent two dozen roses to his mother-in-law on Nancy's birthday," she said, explaining it was to thank his wife's mother for having such a wonderful daughter.

"I never heard of anybody who did that in his whole life," she said, "I thought, 'Oh my God, he's perfect.' That's the thing I love about him."

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Story Source: State News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Peru; President Reagan; Legacy



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