Into the Sunset

updated 12/26/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/26/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

"Hail to the Chief" always seemed to suit him. As President he sat easy in the saddle, as relaxed atop the bucking bureaucracy as any chief executive in our history. No one could doubt his toughness; he took a bullet that nearly killed him, and he was back in the White House in only 12 days. Everyone knew of his graciousness, for he was one of the warmest Presidents we ever had, assuring us that we were doing just fine even when we misbehaved and spent all our money on Japanese cars. And because he was good-natured with us, we were tolerant of him; we chuckled at his gaffes, and when he blundered more seriously, as in the Iran-contra affair, no one really wanted to see him punished for it.

When he won the White House eight years ago, we called him the Actor. Now, as his time in office is coming to an end, we call him the President. He's already waving goodbye, getting ready to head on down the trail. We know he's not done for, though, not a man that tall and that straight, with a head of hair as ungraying as his. He was the oldest man ever to assume the office of President; as he leaves, he looks like one of the youngest. The job seems to have been good for him, and the country isn't looking too bad either.

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