Ronald Reagan - The Bonzo Years

1988


1/7/88
Bush Regularly Attended Meetings On Iran Sales - Records Indicate Knowledge Understated - The Washington Post

3/1/88
George Bush attacks Congress for cutting off aid to the contras, claiming it "pulls the plug out from under the President of the United States."

3/16/88
President Reagan claims Nicaragua has invaded Honduras - just as he claimed two years earlier - and send 3,200 US troops as a show of support. Even so, Congress pass no aid to the contras.
Oliver North, John Poindexter, Richard Secord and Albert Hakim plead not guilty to charges of conspiracy, theft and fraud in connection with the Iran-contra scandal. North, who calls the indictment a "badge of honor", retires from the Marines to defend himself more freely. Says President Reagan of the indictments, "I have no knowledge of anything that was broken."

4/11/88
The media discovers a confession in Larry Speakes book, "Speaking Out", released four days earlier: during the Geneva summit, he twice made up quotes and attributed them to President Reagan, whose utterances had in fact been "very tentative and stilted." He also admits having assigned words actually spoken by George Shultz during the Korean air liner crises to Reagan, "since the President had had almost nothing to say." Speakes, who notes that his creativity "played well", explains that fabricating quotes "is not lying" because "I knew those quotes were the way he felt." In another part of the book, he stated that preparing President Reagan for a press conference was "like re-inventing the wheel."

4/19/88
The Senate Labor Committee is told George Bush recently pressed for easing requirements for toxic gas ventilation in the workplace. The Bush plan, which had the advantage of being cheaper, was to make the workers wear personal respirators, an unquestionably less effective method of protection.

4/27/88
President Reagan is asked if he could imagine any circumstances that would prompt him to demand Ed Meese's resignation. Almost all of Meese's staff have recently resigned, he has been under numerous investigations over the last two years, and even right wing Senator Strom Thurmond had said "That boy's got to go." President Reagan responds, "Well, maybe if he had a complete change of character."

5/5/88
After it's most famous teacher, Jamie Escalante, is immortalized in a Hollywood film, East L.A.'s Garfield High School gets a visit from George Bush.
"You don't have to go to college to be a success," says Bush, apparently unaware that the school sends 70% of its mainly Hispanic students to college. "We need the people who run the offices, the people who do the hard physical work of our society" continues the man who will claim to be "the Education President". The speech becomes referred to by aides as the "You, too, can be a janitor" speech.

5/30/88
At a state dinner at the Kremlin, the President falls asleep during Gorbachev's toast.

5/31/88
In a speech to students at Moscow State University, President Reagan explains the American Indian situation: the US has "provided millions of acres" for "preservations - or the reservations, I should say" so the Indians could "maintain their way of life," though he now wonders, "Maybe we should not have humored them in that, wanting to stay in that kind of primitive lifestyle. Maybe we should have said, 'No, come join us. Be citizens along with the rest of us.'" For the record, Indians have been citizens since 1924.

6/8/88
"You know, if I listened to him long enough, I would be convinced that we're in an economic downturn, and that people are homeless, and people are going without food and medical attention, and that we've got to do something about the unemployed." - President Reagan accusing Michael Dukakis of misleading campaign rhetoric.

6/19/88
"I didn't know anything about it." - Former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger responding as a huge Pentagon bribery scandal begins to unfold.

6/21/88
At a press conference following his last economic summit in Toronto, President Reagan says that neither he nor Caspar Weinberger could have been expected to have known about the burgeoning Pentagon scandal. "It should be understandable how such things can happen in something as big as our government is," says the President by way of explanation.

6/29/88
With three White House guards suspended for suspected off-duty cocaine use, a random drug-testing policy is announced for all executive office employees.

7/3/88
When the U.S. battleship Vincennes mistakes Iran Air Flight 655 for a fighter plane and blasts it out of the sky, killing 290, President Reagan calls the incident an "understandable accident." Vincennes is one of the Navy's ultra-sophisticated computer-supported Aegis cruisers. Though reliable reports say the Soviet downing of KAL 007 was also inadvertent, he insists there is "no comparison" between the events. Says George Bush, "I will never apologize for the United States of America! I don't care what the facts are!"

7/18/88
Independent counsel James McKay reports that though he thinks prosecution is unwarranted, he has concluded that Ed Meese "probably violated the criminal law" four times since becoming America's chief law enforcement officer. McKay says Meese filed a false income tax return, failed to pay capital gains taxes on time, and participated in decisions about matter in which he had a financial interest. A furious Meese responds, "McKay doesn't know beans about criminal law, let alone taxes. I've had a reputation all my life for scrupulous honesty and integrity, and frankly I'm outraged by this sort of report. The only person who says there is a criminal violation is Mr. McKay and he's wrong."

7/19/88
The Justice Department opens an investigation into Ed Meese's possible violation of federal ethics laws.

8/12/88
Ed Meese serves his last day as Attorney General. He is replaced by former Pennsylvania governor Richard Thornburgh.

8/21/88
"This was a PR outfit that became President and took over the country." - former Reagan press aide Leslie Janka, as quoted by Mark Hertsgaard in "On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency."

8/25/88
Vice Presidential candidate Dan Quayle cites, among his qualifications to be President, eight years on the Senate Armed Services Committee, where his work on cruise missiles involved "getting them more accurate so that we can have precise precision." Asked by a farmer about a local pork issue, Quayle says, "Whatever you guys want, I'm for," explaining that he knows "quite a bit about farm policies" because "I come from Indiana, a farm state." And what, then, is his message to farmers? "My message?" says Quayle, looking confused. He smiles and says nothing.

8/28/88
Asked what qualifications he would bring to the role of anti-drug czar, should he be so assigned, Dan Quayle claims to be familiar with the National Narcotics Border Interdiction System "in a general sense." He is asked who runs it. "Who is the head of it? I don't know who the head of it is," says Quayle. The correct answer is "George Bush".

8/31/88
Sen. Orrin Hatch calls the Democrats "the party of homosexuals," then denies he said it. A radio station produces the comment on tape.

9/4/88
"Perestroika is nothing more than refined Stalinism." - Dan Quayle

9/7/88
"Today, you remember - I wonder how many Americans remember - today is Pearl Harbor Day. Forty-seven years ago to this very day we were hit and hit hard at Pearl Harbor...Did I say September 7th? Sorry about that. December 7th. - George Bush

9/8/88
Marilyn Quayle defends her spouse's much-maligned intellect, claiming that he "really is the studious sort" and points out that "Franklin Roosevelt was a lousy student. He failed the bar exam seven times." In fact, FDR took the test once, as a second-year law student, and passed.

9/11/88
Bush campaign aide Fred Malek resigns after the resurfacing of a previously reported revelation that, in 1971, he followed President Nixon's orders and compiled a list of Jews at a government bureau.

9/12/88
Six more Bush campaign advisers quit amid charges of anti-Semitism.

9/14/88
"Landslide: The Unmaking of the President: 1884 - 88", by White House correspondents Jane Mayer and Doyle McManus, reveals that Reagan was so detached during the Iran-contra scandal that aides signed his initials to documents without his knowledge. Says an aide to Howard Baker of Reagan's underlings, "They told stories about how inattentive and inept the President was...They said he wouldn't come to work - all he wanted to do was to watch movies and television at the residence."

9/15/88
Asked about the Holocaust during a rare news conference, Dan Quayle calls it "an obscene period in our nation's history." Reminded that the Holocaust did not take place in America, he explains that "in this century's history" is what he meant to say. "We all lived in this century," he says, adding "I didn't live in this century."

9/16/88
Defending his campaign against charges of ethnic prejudice, George Bush says, "I hope I stand for anti-bigotry, anti-Semitism, anti-racism." He goes on to misquote the Pledge of Allegiance: "And to the liberty for which it stands, on nation under God with freedom and justice for all." Bush has made a campaign issue out of the Pledge of Allegiance (Dukakis vetoed a bill that would have required teachers to recite it).

10/17/88
Elaine Crispen confirms that, despite her February 16, 1982 announcement that she would not do it anymore, Nancy Reagan has continued to receive free designer clothing over the past six years. "She made a promise not to do this again and she broke her little promise," says Crispen, who points out that no actual laws were broken.

10/21/88
"If I'm elected President, if I'm remembered for anything, it would be this: a complete and total ban on chemical weapons. Their destruction forever. That's my solemn mission." - George Bush, who cast several tie-breaking votes in the Senate to resume production of nerve gas.

10/27/88
"I would guess that there's adequate low-income housing in the country." - Dan Quayle's view on the homeless situation.

11/8/88
George Bush and Dan Quayle are elected by a 54% - 46% margin, with polls showing that Quayle cost the ticket at least 2% of the vote. Democrats win 10 states and 112 electoral votes, their best showing since 1976. Voter turnout - 50.16% - is the lowest since 1924.

11/9/88
George Bush names campaign chief James Baker Secretary of State.

11/17/88
George Bush names New Hampshire governor John Sununu as White House chief of staff and campaign manager Lee Atwater as the new Republican party head.

11/24/88
Reagan Pocket-Vetoes Stricter Ethics Rules - The Washington Post

12/2/88
"The thing is if you control the Senate meetings, you control the gavel. And the gavel is a very important instrument...and instrument of power. An instrument that establishes the agenda." - Dan Quayle suggesting that he's considering presiding over the Senate. He has not discussed this with Majority Leader George Mitchell or Minority Leader Bob Dole.

12/8/88
President Reagan holds his 44th and final news conference, for an average of one every 66.4 days. As he has at almost every previous one, he blames the Congress and previous Democratic Presidents for his budget deficits.

12/13/88
President Reagan delivers his farewell address on domestic policy, in which he continues to deny that his defense spending increases and tax cuts were in any way responsible for the $155 billion deficit, blaming instead an "iron triangle" of congressmen, lobbyists and journalists.

12/16/88
George Bush names John Tower to run the Pentagon.

12/22/88
President Reagan - whose tenure has coincided with a huge increase in the homeless population - uses his last interview with David Brinkley to again claim that many of these unfortunates are homeless by "their own choice," as must be many of the jobless, since he again points out that the Sunday papers are full of want ads.


   

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