Reagan’s America: Innocents at Home

Wills, Garry

Doubleday, 1987

pp. 192-93

“The performing ego is a delicate one. It takes nerve to keep going out before people, to be funny, heroic, graceful, tuneful, or acrobatic, not afraid of the audience yet not defiant of it, respectful but in charge. Too many rebuffs, too many laughs (or too few), sometimes a single boo, can shatter the needed combination of skills, experience, and egotism—a combination that must be reassembled on schedule and displayed time after time.” Hence performers often resort to booze, drugs, voodoo, hypnotism, astrology, strange religion, amulets, especially flattery. Nancy Reagan kept Ronald Reagan up. (193) “His self-confidence and optimism impressed everyone who knew him. But if he were not sensitive to audience reaction, he could not have played on it so well. If he did not love applause, he would not have courted it so assiduously…And you cannot love applause without fearing its absence.”