Skip to comments.Helen Thomas: 'Reagan Diaries' Make For Must-Read Fare
Posted on 06/25/2007 12:48:45 PM PDT by seanmerc
Read the newly published "The Reagan Diaries" if you want a true insight into the mind of the nation's 40th president.
The diaries -- written daily from 1981 until President Ronald Reagan left office in 1989 -- reveal him to be much more involved in the nitty gritty of national and world affairs than many White House reporters thought. He had often been portrayed as a detached, "chairman of the board" kind of president.
The diaries show that Reagan had something to say about everything and everybody; his thoughts were often summarized in one handwritten sentence. His notations mixed the profound with the trivial.
Historian Douglas Brinkley, who edited the publication of the diaries, had to toss out chunks to boil the entries down to a 696-page memoir. But no one is shortchanged.
Reagan comes across as deeper, funnier, more religious and more humble than he seemed when he was striding across the world stage. He is true to his public persona -- foe of communism, tax increases, organized labor and, often, the news media.
The diaries are replete with his devotion to his wife, Nancy, and his despair at being lonely when she was not around.
On July 6, 1983, Reagan said: "Nancy's birthday! Life would be miserable if there wasn't a Nancy's birthday. What if she'd never been born? I don't want to think about it."
Also revealing were his tensions with his children -- Ronald Reagan Jr., who he said was anxious to shed his Secret Service protection, and Patti, who Reagan said had a "yo-yo relationship" with the family, whatever that means.
A former Hollywood star, he was an avid movie fan. He chafed at having to wear a bulletproof vest. And he resented as a "d..n gross violation of privacy" the fact that he had to make public every gift, even those from his personal friends.
There were many serious notes about the Middle East, often followed by a reference to watching a movie or "watching the 'Waltons on TV' and so to bed."
Here's how Reagan recalled his thoughts after he was shot in the lung by John Hinckley on March 30, 1981, outside the Washington Hilton Hotel as he walked toward his limousine. He was rushed to George Washington University Hospital and wrote:
"I was getting less and less air. I focused on that tiled ceiling and prayed. But I realized I couldn't ask for God's help while at the same time I felt hatred for the mixed up young man who had shot me. Isn't that the meaning of the lost sheep?"
Unlike President Richard M. Nixon, he did not have an "enemies list" of members of the press, but he was often outraged with the news media.
When Richard Allen, his first national security adviser, was accused of accepting gifts from the Japanese government, Reagan wrote, "The press has really been a lynch mob and I don't think they will stop which is why he can't be back in N.S.C. (National Security Council)."
In another entry, Reagan says: "Press Conference day. I think it was a good one but the 'pack' was blood thirsty."
"The press isn't after news. They want to trap you in a goof," he said at another point.
On June 7, 1981, he wrote: "Got word on Israeli bombing of Iraq nuclear reactor. I swear I believe Armageddon is near."
He recorded his observations about friend and foe.
On Oct. 13, 1981, Reagan said he met with "J.C." -- former President Jimmy Carter -- adding: "I expected the worst, but he was cordial, friendly and just exchanged views on the Middle East, etc."
Reagan had a friendly relationship with House Speaker Thomas "Tip" O'Neill, D-Mass., but that did not stop him from getting angry.
"Just saw a fund-raising letter signed by Tip O'Neill for Dem. Cong. Committee," he said. "It is the most vicious pack of lies I've ever seen. It's aimed at Sr. Citizens & has me out to destroy Medicare & Social Security. We can't let him get away with this."
As a reporter having covered him for eight years in the White House, I am sure the press could have done a better job if we had known the real Ronald Reagan.
(Helen Thomas can be reached at the e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org).
I can only wish she would have played with a bangalore mine.
For those that don’t get the reference watch the D-Day landing in Saving Private Ryan.
One thing: He never did anything about the Marines lost in the Beirut barracks bombing. By his own words, it tends to have just drifted off his radar.
Your reading speed slows down greatly, when you're senile.
Omigod! This HAS to be the scariest thing since the green witch in “Over the Rainbow.”
Has the assertion of a number years back that she is an off spring of Mr. Ed, ever been disproved?
Hey Helen...you are the LAST person I would EVER take a recommendation from. I already know Ronald Reagan and who he was and what kind of man he was. Seems you are just finding out what a good man he was. So, I can think for myself and don’t need you to inform me of anything. Go back to the newsroom and ask some more silly/stupid questions.
8 years and they STILL didn’t know the man? Oh they are such good fodder for jokes aren’t they?
"As a reporter having covered him for eight years in the White House, I am sure the press could have done a better job if we had known the real Ronald Reagan."
Those two sentences are why Hell-un took the time to write. She is trying to excuse the hateful "reporting" of the press hounds (especially herself) by blaming Reagan for their refusing to know the real Ronald Reagan.
I remember during Reagan's funeral Bernie Shaw of CNN was commenting about how they got Reagan wrong while he was in office.
Not that it matters but the Beirut bombing occurred at the same time we invaded Grenada.
Reagan kept us there in Beirut for a while, but he realized a few months later it wasn't going to work. In the end, the Soviet Union crumbled and that's what mattered most for that era.
LOL!! No, really, don't stop... tell us how you really feel.
“Tell it to the Marines.”
I worked with a Marine who served in Beirut and Grenada. I never heard him say a bad word about Reagan or what happened in Beirut.
Ok who kidnapped Helen and replaced her with a clone?
Someone need to go looking for Pods.
Then, more’s the pity. And thus where we are now.