Ronald Reagan - The Bonzo Years

1983


1/16/83
Rating On Reagan Lags At Midterm - Gallup Poll Says Public Finds Job Performance Is Poorer Than 4 Predecessors - The New York Times

1/19/83
President Reagan tells reporters about "the ten commandments of Nikolai Lenin...the guiding principles of communism," among them "that promises are like pie crust, made to be broken." Soviet scholars claim that no such commandments exist, and point out that Lenin's name was Vladimir.

4/18/83
Seventeen Americans and 46 Lebanese are killed when a truck bomb plows into the US embassy in Beirut.

6/9/83
In his book, "Gambling With History", time correspondent Laurence Barret reveals that Reagan campaign aides had "filched" the Carter camp's briefing papers to help prepare him for the 1980 debate. David Stockman turns out to have been Barret's source.

6/16/83
Ariela Gross, a 17-year old New Jersey student, meets with President Reagan to present him with a petition supporting a nuclear freeze. She reports that the President "expressed the belief that there must be something wrong with the freeze if the Soviets want it."

6/24/83
Dismissing the whole Carter briefing book affair as "much ado about nothing", President Reagan expresses doubt that "there ever was a briefing book as such." As to how his aides could have no memory of receiving the book - if it did exist - he says, "Look, ask me what paper came to my desk last week and I couldn't tell you."

6/29/83
President Reagan suggests that one cause of the decline in public education is the schools' efforts to comply with court-ordered desegregation.

7/8/83
"It would be totally uncharacteristic and quite incredible that I would hand anybody a book I knew to be from the Carter campaign and say this might be helpful to the debate" - William Casey denying James Baker's accusation that he was the source of the Carter briefing book.

7/26/83
In response to a question at his 19th press conference as to why there are no women on his 12-man commission on Central America, President Reagan says "Maybe it's because we're doing so much and appointing so many that we're no longer seeking a token or something."

8/2/83
Poverty Rate Rose To 15% In '82, Highest Level Since Mid-1960's - The New York Times

9/6/83
Two more US Marines are killed in Lebanon.

10/4/83
At a meeting with congressmen to discuss arms reduction, President Reagan (now in office for almost three years) says he has only recently learned that most of the USSR's nuclear arsenal is land-based.

10/19/83
At his 20th press conference, President Reagan is asked about the safety of US Marines in Beirut. "We're looking at everything that can be done to try and make their position safer," he says. "We're not sitting idly by."

10/23/83
A truck bomb at the US barracks in Beirut kills 241 Marines.

10/24/83
Larry Speakes calls speculation about a US invasion in politically torn Grenada "preposterous".

10/25/83
Claiming that US medical students are in grave danger, President Reagan launches an invasion of Grenada. Photos are released to the press showing President Reagan, clad in pajamas at 5:15 am, being briefed on the situation. Reporters are not allowed to cover the actual invasion.

11/7/83
For the second time in four months, George Bush breaks a Senate tie by voting to resume the production of nerve gas.

11/22/83
Navy Secretary John Lehman announces changes in procurement techniques designed to eliminate expenditures like $780 for a screwdriver, $640 for a toilet seat, and $9,606 for an Allen wrench.

12/3/83
Concrete barricades are erected in front of the White House to prevent truck bombers from repeating the massacre in Beirut.

12/8/83
In response to accusations that the administration's policies toward the poor are unnecessarily cruel, Ed Meese says "I don't know of any authoritative figures that there are hungry children. I've heard a lot of anecdotal stuff, but I haven't heard any authoritative figures...I think some people are going to soup kitchens voluntarily. I know we've had considerable information that people go to soup kitchens because the food is free and that that's easier than paying for it...I think that they have money."

12/12/83
President Reagan, addressing the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, tells of the captain of a B-17 who went down with his plane voluntarily when he and the crew were unable to rescue the trapped and wounded ball-turret gunner. "The last man to leave" said the President, "saw the commander sit down on the floor. He took the boy's hand and said 'Never mind, son, we'll ride it down together.' Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously awarded." (See 12/16/83)

12/15/83
Ed Meese, to the National Press Club: "Ebenezer Scrooge suffered from bad press in his time. If you really look at the facts, he didn't exploit Bob Cratchit." Explains Meese, "Bob Cratchit was paid 10 shillings a week, which was a very good wage at the time... Bob, in fact, had good cause to be happy with his situation. His wife didn't have to work...He was able to afford the traditional Christmas dinner of roast goose and plum pudding...So let's be fair to Scrooge. He had his faults, but he wasn't unfair to anyone."

12/16/83
"...Dickens is saying that the poor deserve to live not on the margins, but with comfort and love and with freedom and medical attention. I mean, isn't that the very point about Tiny Tim? He desperately needs a doctor and can't get to one because his family is so poor...He's dying because he can't get medical care..." University of Pennsylvania Victorian literature scholar Nina Auerbach on the Meese interpretation of A Christmas Carol.

Columnist Lars-Erik Nelson-after checking the citations on all 434 Congressional Medals of Honor awarded during WWII-reveals that none of them match President Reagans' story. "It didn't happen," writes Nelson. "The President of the United States went before and audience of 300 real Congessional Medal of Honor winners and told them about a make-believe Medal of Honor Winner." Responds Larry Speakes, "If you tell the same story five times, it's true." (See 12/28/83)

12/20/83
At his 21st press conference, President Reagan claims El Salvador has "a 400 year history of military dictatorships." The first military regime didn't take power until 1931.

12/21/83
The Washington Post reports the White House is searching the Medal of Honor files in an effort to verify President Reagan's story. Says a researcher, "We will find it." They never do.

12/28/83
Lars-Erik Nelson reports that a reader saw a scene very similar to President Reagan's Medal of Honor story in the 1944 movie "Wing And a Prayer."


   

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