It is with great regret, and a deep sense of personal gratitude for your four years' of service in the White House, that I accept your resignation as Assistant to the President, effective February 3, 1985.
Your abilities, your intelligence, and your willingness to work long hours are well-known in Washington because they have been your trademark for many years. With such an extraordinary combination of talents, there is no question in my mind that you could have been a success in any career you chose. But, while you have been successful in both the business and academic worlds, you have chosen to devote yourself instead to a career that has chiefly been oriented toward public service. Knowing you as I do, I know that it is your deep love of America, and your strong belief in its future greatness, that has impelled you to make this choice.
Like you, I can remember well the period in the late fifties and early sixties when America's self-confidence and optimism were almost palpable. We thought then that we could do anything we set our minds to. The years that followed brought pain, national division, and an uncharacteristic pessimism. They also brought a corrosive cynicism and despair in many quarters.
But I believe that we have made great progress during the past four years in bringing America back to its traditional optimism. And one of the reasons for our progress is the success we have had in reinvigorating the Presidency and once again offering a clear banner of leadership. Yet I'm not taking credit for this because I know how many of our policy decisions and legislative victories were crafted by groups of people working long hours—groups so many of which benefitted from your extraordinary personal contributions.
You designed and implemented the internal management systems which have helped to restore the efficiency and professionalism of the White House. That was an impressive accomplishment but you are probably better known for initiating and coordinating the White House Legislative Strategy Group, which helped achieve some of the most remarkable legislative victories of the first term. You contributed to virtually every central White House activity from communications planning and scheduling to preparing for Economic Summits; from overseeing Speechwriting and Research to coordinating the work of the Budget Review Board; from negotiating with the Congress to accompanying me on every major foreign and campaign trip of the first term. Last, but not least, you managed the seemingly endless flow of paper (alas) in and out of my office.
For these and many, many other contributions, I want to say a very warm "Thanks!" I'd like to tell you also that as you assume the position of Deputy Secretary of the Treasury—serving in what will be your sixth Cabinet Department—you can lay off the 80-hour weeks you've been working for four years (without vacations). But I gave you that advice four years ago (when Jonathan was born), and you did not follow it—so I have no reason to believe you would follow it this time!
Instead, I'll just say that Nancy and I send you, Kath, Willy and Jonathan our very best wishes for every future success and happiness.
/ S / RONALD REAGAN
January 31, 1985
Dear Mr. President,
The Senate has just voted to confirm your nomination of me to serve as Deputy Secretary of the Treasury. I am, of course, extremely pleased. I look forward to continued service in your Administration—and to the opportunity to try to help meet such exciting challenges as: improving the domestic tax system; strengthening the international economic system; and, in these and other ways, advancing the technological and economic growth that can contribute to creative human development. Please accept my thanks for affording me this outstanding opportunity.
But while I am grateful to have exciting new challenges, it is with an inescapable sense of at least partial regret that I resign from my current position. Like most Americans, I have a special respect for both you and the office of the Presidency. Unlike most, I have had, for the past four years, the privilege and opportunity to try to serve both you and the office directly. For that special privilege and rare opportunity I shall always be deeply grateful.
After countless hours and countless issues and countless wonderful moments, there is what seems an almost infinite range of points I might reflect upon. Trying to step back from it all—and sparing you the burden of my reflections!—I take the liberty of sharing but one general line of personal thought:
I was a seventeen year old freshman at Harvard when John F. Kennedy assumed the Presidency. For those of us who were the first of the "baby-boom" generation, it was a time of hope—and enormous confidence in both America's and humanity's potential. Yes, there was some of the naivety of youth. But even adjusting for that, it seemed entirely reasonable to think that America should reach for the stars—indeed, that America and Americans were specially destined to do so.
At the start of my senior year, President Kennedy was shot. We did not realize it quite then, but the shots that cracked the fall air shattered more than a young President's life. They halted the flow toward America's special destiny. Vietnam and Watergate followed. Confidence plummeted. America's sense of itself—and of the possible—contracted. And the Carter Presidency compounded the problems of eroding confidence and shrinking dreams.
Yet now, the words you made resonant ring true: "America is back." And the sense of America is no small thing. You are right to talk again of a "revolution of hope." And as important: you are believed. America is back. There is a renewed sense of her special mission—as a beacon of hope, a land of opportunity, a protector of freedom, a pioneer of new frontiers. Millions and millions of people feel again that wonderful sense of hope and promise that I felt years ago as a seventeen year old freshman.
You have given America back the best of her youthfulness—which in some sense we hope may be eternal. You have renewed America on the path toward her special destiny—giving all our lives the possibility of an extra dimension of meaning.
It is inconceivable to me how we could thank you enough for your historic contribution. And yet I must find a way not only to do that, but also to thank you for your having permitted me to play a small part in this process. I do not have words which seem adequate. I can only promise to serve with renewed dedication—and to hope that, by my actions, I may repay the debt I feel I owe, and prove to merit the trust you have reposed in me.
Yours, with deepest appreciation and respect,