Watching Nancy Reagan’s funeral last week and the many photos of her famous husband Ronald Reagan, it is interesting to note that a key member of the Reagan Administration currently lives in Reno.
Tyrus Cobb, the son of the legendary northern Nevada newspaper icon the late Ty Cobb, is that person. The career referred to above is the six-year stint, from 1983 to 1989, he had in the White House when President Ronald Reagan was our leader.
As a special assistant in the Oval office, Cobb performed a myriad of duties, including director of Soviet, European, and Canadian Affairs as well as speechwriter and special assistant to Reagan himself. Prior to his lofty position in the federal government, Cobb was a product of local schools graduating from the University of Nevada, before attending Indiana University for his M.A. and Georgetown University for his Ph.D.
Following his school years, he entered the Army and spent 26 years in that career before being tapped for duty in the White House. When called upon to serve the President he was a professor at West Point. A two-tour veteran of Vietnam, he had a special relationship with Secretary of State Colin Powell. In fact, it was Powell who suggested he resign his Army commission and serve in the White House as a civilian.
At the present time, Cobb is a Reno resident and heads up the politically powerful Northern Nevada Network and is a member of the National Security Forum as one of its top dogs.
Cobb recalled that when Ronald Reagan assumed the presidency it was at a very low point in the overall morale in the country. There had been the Watergate scandal and then the “malaise” that marked Jimmy Carter’s time in office. In one respect, the new president actually had only one way to go and that was up. In defining the Reagan character, Cobb said that he was a laid back individual with a great sense of humor.
It was this personality trait that enabled Reagan to step across the aisle and become a great friend of Democrat Tip O’Neal, who controlled the House. The two Irishmen would butt heads many times in public, but then get together after hours for some libations and Irish jokes.
If FDR was the “Radio President,” then Reagan was certainly the “TV President,” even eclipsing the well-regarded JFK in that medium. The fact that Reagan was a quick study and could easily memorize and convincingly deliver his lines was a tribute to his previous career as an actor. In addition to this, Reagan had a boyish charm, which he maintained even into his later years, and his slightly crooked grin was as disarming to political opponents as it had been to the many leading ladies with whom he had appeared.
Despite his down home charm and folksy persona, the president had a backbone of steel when it came to his convictions and that was most apparent in his meetings with the various Soviet leaders he had as commander-in-chief.
Reagan was unequivocal when it came to “trust but verify”, and one of his earliest mandates was to beef up our military and make our international actions come from a position of strength rather than weakness.
Of all the speeches he witnessed Reagan deliver, Cobb said that “tear down this wall” in Berlin was probably the most memorable, but he was equally impressed on one occasion when he (Cobb), and another speechwriter were working, close to TV deadline, on a major talk while Reagan was in the Oval office doing his prep work on a yellow pad. The deadline for putting the effort on the teleprompter came and went and finally the President settled down behind his desk in front of the cameras and ad-libbed one of the finest deliveries of his career.
In addition to his current assignments, Cobb is often interviewed on television as an international policy expert, plus he’s a regular contributor to newspapers, and his insightful comments on current world affairs are well worth reading.