Letter Accepting the Resignation of David R. Gergen as Assistant to the President for Communications
It is with great reluctance that I accept your resignation as Assistant to the President for Communications, effective January 15, 1984.
For the past three years, you have served me with exceptional creativity, skill and dedication. As two of my predecessors learned, you also bring with you to the White House an unswerving commitment to open, honest and decent government. Over a period stretching back to the early 1970s, you have achieved a remarkable record of service to the country and to the Presidency.
During these first three years of my term, I have especially appreciated the assistance that you and members of your staff have given me in the field of communications. The steady stream of ideas that you have contributed and your energetic execution of those ideas have helped greatly in conveying to millions of people, both here and abroad, the policies and philosophy of this Administration. Your understanding of the modern media, your skills as a writer, and your sensitivity to the needs of the disadvantaged, minorities and women—all these have been an important part of your contribution to my Presidency.
Since the early days of the Administration, you have also been one of the leading advocates within the staff for open, accountable government and for good relations with the national press corps. Your hope has been that we might leave behind a much higher level of civility and professional respect between the White House and journalists who covered it. I share that goal, and with the help of you and others on the staff, I believe we have made progress toward its fulfillment.
Nancy and I know how much of a personal sacrifice these past three years have been for you, Anne and your children, Christopher and Katherine, and we join in wishing you all the best in the years ahead. Thank you and God bless you. Sincerely,
[The Honorable David R. Gergen, Assistant to the President for Communications, The White House, Washington, D.C. 20500]
January 12, 1984
Dear Mr. President:
I herewith submit my formal resignation as Assistant to the President for Communications, effective January 15, 1984.
It is with a mixture of pride and sadness that I leave your ranks. Three years ago, you came to the White House when both the country and the Presidency were in decline. For more than a decade, the American economy had been on a roller coaster of higher and higher inflation and deeper and deeper recessions. Overseas, the experience of Vietnam left us in retreat as a world power and we were no longer certain of either purpose or will. As a people, we seemed to be abandoning one set of values and were unable to find new ones.
Moreover, the tides of history were running against the Presidency itself. No one since Dwight Eisenhower had successfully served two full terms, and a series of men had left the office with their hopes and dreams shattered. Serious students of the Presidency were becoming pessimistic about our ability to govern ourselves and were asking whether we should restructure our democratic institutions.
You have shown that what was needed was not a change of Constitution but a change of leadership. In just three years, you have begun to re-energize the American spirit. Our economy is climbing out of recession and with wise policies, inflation can remain under better control than anyone dared imagine a short time ago. The values that once served us so well as a people are undergoing fresh examination and are again being embraced. Our nation has ended its withdrawal from responsibilities overseas. We are better prepared to defend ourselves and others are again looking to the United States for world leadership. In short, largely because of your leadership, we have hope that the decade of the 80s can begin a new era of resurgence for the country and the Presidency. I feel proud to have been a part of all this.
There are many reasons, if I may suggest, for the progress you have made in these past three years. Your devotion to principle and to putting the nation on a fresh course has been critical. So, too, has been your commitment to bipartisanship and to open government. And certainly, your ability to rally the nation behind your leadership has been indispensable. All these and more have been at the core of your success.
It has been my special privilege to work with you and learn from you as you have earned your reputation as "The Great Communicator." Your speeches, both in quality and quantity, are setting a higher standard for your office. Through the television screen, you have reached out to the American people more frequently and effectively than any of your predecessors. You have understood as well the power of radio, and you have broken important new ground in teleconferencing, electronic graphics, and filmed tapings. In your travel overseas and in your use of communication satellites, you have also shown that vigorous public diplomacy can be an important asset for the American government in the international competition of ideas. Indeed, no President since Franklin Roosevelt has mastered the arts of modern communication as well as you, and I count myself very fortunate to have had a supporting role.
As you know from many years in public life, staff members come and go. Now it is my turn to go. Over the past thirteen years, I have had eight years of service to an institution that I greatly love, the Presidency. As I have in two previous White Houses-those of Presidents Nixon and Ford—I have tried to serve you as completely, loyally and honorably as I know how. There have been mistakes along the way, battles lost and hopes dashed, but there have been triumphs, too, and I shall always savor the good moments. I leave with the memories of many, many fine people who have served you so well during these years.
Mr. President, you are making an extraordinary contribution to our national life. My family and I wish both you and Nancy all the best in the years ahead. You certainly deserve it.
With warmest best wishes, Sincerely,
DAVID R. GERGEN
Assistant to the President for Communications
[The President, The White House, Washington, D.C. 20500]
Note: The text of the letters was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on January 17.
Ronald Reagan, Letter Accepting the Resignation of David R. Gergen as Assistant to the President for Communications Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/260746