Ronald Reagan - The Bonzo Years


Despite being exonerated of any lawbreaking, Richard Allen is forced to resign. President Reagan hails his integrity, then appoints William Clark to succeed him.

The White House announces President Reagan has signed off on Ed Meese's plan to grant tax-exempt status to South Carolina's Bob Jones University and other schools that, like it, practice racial discrimination. (see 1/15/82)

President Reagan phones The Washington Post to explain that when his new policy toward segregated schools was announced, he "didn't know at the time that there was a legal case pending." CBS quickly obtains a memo in which intervention in the Bob Jones University case was specifically requested, and on which Reagan had written, "I think we should." (see 2/24/82 and 5/10/82)
Press Secretary Sheila Tate says that Nancy Reagan "has derived no personal benefit" from her acceptance of thousands of dollars worth of free clothing from American designers, explaining that the First Lady's sole motive is to help the national fashion industry. It seems getting fabulous clothes for free isn't considered a personal benefit.

At his seventh press conference, President Reagan:
· Claims there are "a million more working than there were in 1980," though statistics show that 100,000 fewer people are employed. (see 2/24/82)
· Contends his attempt to grant tax-exempt status to segregated schools was to correct "a procedure that we thought had no basis in law," though the Supreme Court had clearly upheld a ruling barring such exemptions a decade earlier.
· Claims he has received a letter from Pope John Paul II in which he "approves what we've done so far" regarding U.S. Sanctions against the USSR, though the sanctions were not mentioned in the papal message.
· Responds to a question about the 17% black unemployment rate by pointing out that "in this time of great unemployment," Sunday's paper had "24 full pages of ... employers looking for employees," though most of the jobs available - computer operator, or cellular immunologist - require special training, for which his administration has cut funds by over 30%.
· Misstates facts about California's abortion law and an Arizona program to aid the elderly (see 2/24/82)
· Responds to a question about private charity by observing, "I also happen to be someone who believes in tithing - the giving of a tenth," though his latest tax returns show charitable contributions amounting to 1.4%. (see 2/24/82)

George Bush denies that he ever used the phrase "voodoo economics" and challenges "anybody to find it." NBC's Ken Bode promptly broadcasts the 1980 tape.

"She really just got tired of people misinterpreting what she was doing." - Aide telling the public that Nancy Reagan will no longer accept free clothing "on loan" from top designers.

Addressing the Voice of America's 40th Birthday celebration, President Reagan reminisces about making up exciting details while announcing baseball games from wire copy. "Now, I submit to you that I told the truth," he says of his enhanced version of a routine shortstop-to-first ground out. "i don't know whether he really ran over toward second base and made a one-hand stab or whether he just squatted down and took the ball when it came to him. But the truth got there and, in other words, it can be attractively packages." No one questions his apparent premise that embellishing the truth does not compromise it. (see 3/24/82)

The Congressional Budget Office finds that taxpayers earning under $10,000 lost an average of $240 from last year's tax cuts, while those earning over $80,000 gained an average of $15,130.

Sen Bob Packwood (R-OR) claims President Reagan frequently offers up transparent fictional anecdotes as if they were real. "We've got a $120 billion deficit coming," says Packwood, "and the President says, 'You know, a young man went into a grocery store and he had an orange in one hand and a bottle of vodka in the other, and he paid for the orange with food stamps and he took the change and paid for the vodka. That's what's wrong.' And we just shake our heads." (see 3/24/82)

"Is it news that some fellow out in South Succotash someplace has just been laid off, that he should be interviewed nationwide?" - President Reagan, complaining about coverage of the nation's economic suffering. (see 9/4/82)

Agriculture official Mary C. Jarratt tells Congress her department has been unable to document President Reagan's stories of food stamp abuse, pointing out that the change from a food stamp purchase is limited to 99 cents. "It's not possible to buy a bottle of vodka with 99 cents" she says. Deputy White House press secretary Peter Roussel says Reagan wouldn't tell those stories "unless he thought they were accurate." (see 4/15/92)

2nd Year Slump - Reagan's Popularity Nosedives in a Familiar Presidential Pattern - The Washington Post

"The statisticians in Washington have funny ways of counting" - President Reagan's explanation to Illinois high school students as to why he thinks unemployment has declined in the face of Bureau of Labor statistics.

"In England, if a criminal carried a gun, even though he didn't use it, he was not tried for burglary or theft or whatever he was doing. He was tried for first degree murder and hung if he was found guilty" - President Reagan citing a favorite example of British law. (see 4/16/82)

"Well, it's a good story, though. It made the point, didn't it?" - White House spokesman Larry Speakes on being informed that President Reagan's story about British gun law is "just not true."

President Reagan explains to a Chicago high school why his revised tax exemption policy could not have been intended to benefit segregated schools: "I didn't know there were any. Maybe I should have, but I didn't."

At his 10th press conference, President Reagan states, that while "there is no recall" for missiles fired from silos, "those that are carried in bombers, those that are carried in ships of one kind or another, or submersibles...can be recalled if there has been a miscalculation."

Secretary of State Al Haig: "Do I think US foreign policy is inept?...At times it is. At times it's not. At times it's even brilliant. At times it's rather stupid. It would be very hard for me to label it." (see 6/25/82)

Regarding the 750,000 supporters who showed up for the largest disarmament demonstration in US history in Central Park, President Reagan opines that "the Commies are behind it."

"With great regret, I have accepted the resignation of Secretary of State Al Haig. I am nominating as his successor - and he has accepted - George Shultz to replace him." - President Reagan surprising Al Haig, who had not actually submitted a letter of resignation, but had threatened to quit numerous times.

President Reagan tells The Time's Hugh Sidey that he sometimes feels trapped in the White House. "You glance out the window and the people are walking around Pennsylvania Avenue and you say, 'I could never say I am going to run down to the drugstore and get some magazines,'" he says. "I can't do that anymore." (see 12/9/82)

"South Succotash, with its population of nearly 11 million, must be a considerable place." - AFL-CIO president Lane Kirkland on the unemployment figures.

David L. Reagan (no relation to the President) becomes the first Marine killed in Lebanon, where President Reagan had committed troops for an indefinite stay two days before.

Jobless Rate Is Up To 10.1% In Month. Worst In 42 Years. 11 Million Are Idle - The New York Times

During a White House meeting with Arab leaders, President Reagan turns to the Lebanese foreign minister. "You know", he says, "your nose looks just like Danny Thomas's." The Arabs exchange nervous glances.

The GOP loses a net total of 26 House seats, seven governorships, and six state legislative houses in the mid-term election. "We feel very good about what has happened," says President Reagan incongruously. Observes Ed Meese, "There was nothing to suggest a need to change the basic course.'

"It would be a user fee" - President Reagan explaining why his proposed five-cent-a-gallon gasoline tax would not be a tax at all.

The White House announces it is considering a proposal (conceived by Ed Meese) to tax unemployment benefits. This, says Larry Speakes, would "make unemployment less attractive."

U.S. Jobless Rate Climbs To 10.8%, A Postwar Record. 11.9 Million Out Of Work - The New York Times

"Sometimes I look out there at Pennsylvania Avenue and see people bustling along, and it suddenly dawns on me that probably never again can I just say "Hey, I'm going down to the drugstore to look at the magazines,'" - President Reagan discussing his feelings of confinement with a People reporter (see 12/16/82)

"Sometimes I look out the window at Pennsylvania Avenue and wonder what it would be like to be able to just walk down the street to the corner drugstore and look at the magazines. I can't do that anymore." - President Reagan conveying one of his regrets to The Washington Post (see 12/18/82)

"Sometimes I look out the window at Pennsylvania Avenue and wonder what it would be like to be able to just walk down the street to the corner drugstore and look at the magazines. I can't do that anymore." - President Reagan sharing a sudden thought with a radio interviewer


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