We recently had a chance to ask Ted Olson of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher about his experiences working with Ronald Reagan, both as his Solicitor General and personal lawyer. As you can see, the Gipper left quite an impression on Olson.
“I was very, very fortunate to work him long before he was President. His legal work was done by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, and I was a participant, along with William French Smith, who became Attorney General, on Ronald Reagan’s legal matters, and then I wrote his blind trust when he became President. I also worked with him as Assistant Attorney General and represented him during the Iran-Contra matter, which lasted several years. I spent time at his home reading his diary and Mrs. Reagan’s diary in connection with that.
“President Reagan was enormously warm and generous in spirit as a human being; he was always trying to put whomever he was with at ease. Humor was his technique for making someone relaxed. He had an immense amount of confidence in himself and his ideas but was still an enormously humble man. He never felt better or greater or more distinguished than the people that he was talking to, no matter who he was talking to. He was once urged during a campaign to be photographed walking on the beach in short-sleeves and he said the people wouldn’t believe that, that’s not me, I am going to be myself.
“It was remarkable to see how steadfast he was in believing that he had to be successful in reducing taxes and dealing with the Soviet Union and bringing about control of nuclear weapons and the end of the Iron Curtain and the Cold War. He believed he could accomplish these things and I believe that his determination and his personality and his character were decisive factors in changing our world. If you grew up in those days, as I did, thinking that any day there could be a thermonuclear war that could end existence on this planet, and now that seems so far in the distant past. It’s a different world because of him.”
Look for more from Olson in an upcoming issue of Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers magazine.