Free Markets, Free People

Which Reagan has Alzheimer’s?

What’s up with Ron Reagan Jr’s claim that his father was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in the White House (except as a hook to sell his book)?

What has he to back this claim up?

Apparently, not much. As an aside, if Ronald Reagan had Alzheimer’s during his presidency he still outperformed the vast majority of presidents I’ve seen in my life time.

Paul Bedard of US News takes on Ron Jr’s claims:

Let’s start with the Alzheimer’s diagnosis. It was announced in 1994. While it prompted some to suggest they knew Reagan had the disease as president, his four White House doctors said they saw no evidence of it. But Ron, who became a liberal and atheist, disappointing his dad, suggests he saw hints of confusion and "an out-of-touch president" during the 1984 campaign and again in 1986, when his father couldn’t recall the names of California canyons he was flying over. Arguing his case in the book, Ron adds that doctors today know that the disease can be in evidence before being recognized. "The question, then, of whether my father suffered from the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s while in office more or less answers itself," he writes.

Hmmm … believe 4 White House docs or Ron Jr.?  Yeah, not a toughie at all, is it?  In fact, in the article cited by Bedard, the physicians say:

But even with the hindsight of Mr. Reagan’s diagnosis, his four main White House doctors say they never detected any evidence that his forgetfulness was more than just that. His mental competence in office, they said in a series of recent interviews, was never in doubt. Indeed, they pointed out, tests of his mental status did not begin to show evidence of the disease until the summer of 1993, more than four years after he left the White House.

So the first indication of the disease didn’t show up until ‘93.  Forgetfulness, as anyone who is over the age of 60 will tell you, does not equal Alzheimer’s – which is apparently what amateur doctor Ron Jr. is attempting to conflate.  And, you know, it’s not like Presidents aren’t constantly checked and rechecked and monitored and checked again by medical personnel – often among the best.  4 doctors say, “no signs”.  Ron Jr. says, “signs”.   I go with the docs.

Not content with playing amateur doctor, Jr. decides to try to rewrite a little history.  I.e. an operation that no one else remembers or can find any record of:

Besides playing amateur doctor, Ron Reagan reveals, if true, brain surgery on his dad never before reported. He accurately reports that Reagan, after leaving the presidency, was bucked from a horse on July 4, 1989, while in Mexico. Ron tells of how his dad, after initially refusing medical help, was transported to a San Diego hospital. "Surgeons opening his skull to relieve pressure on the brain emerged from the operating room with the news that they had detected what they took to be probable signs of Alzheimer’s disease."

So when you open the skull, “probable signs of Alzheimer’s disease” are evident, eh?  Yeah, I don’t think so.  Not that it matters because everyone else says the operation never happened:

Several Reagan associates, however, say there was no surgery in San Diego.

What’s more there is no reporting about any San Diego operation on Reagan. News reports at the time of his fall say Reagan was flown to a hospital in Arizona, where he was treated for scrapes and bruises and released after five hours.

There were no reports of Reagan with a shaved head or skull stitches later that month when he served as a guest TV announcer at the July 11 baseball All-Star Game in Anaheim, Calif., or when he was inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City on July 21.

So 7 days later, a man who was supposed to have had brain surgery, or at least had his skull opened, was serving as a guest TV announcer and 17 days later was being inducted into a hall of fame.  

Reagan did actually have a procedure done at the Mayo Clinic  to drain fluid buildup on his brain as a result of the fall in September, two months after the fall.  Not mentioned by Jr.  However, Jr. does claim that Reagan went to the Mayo Clinic in 1990 for tests that “confirmed the initial suspicion of Alzheimer’s”.  Now note, this is important for Jr’s White House timeline.  The date of the ‘93 diagnosis just don’t serve his purpose.  Way too late in the game.

As for his ‘90 Mayo Clinic claim?  No record of such a visit. None. 

And his doctor from ‘84 through Reagan’s retirement told the NY Times that the former president showed no “tell-tale” signs of Alzheimer’s until ‘93.

Who to believe … who to believe. 

Look, Reagan stood up in ‘94 and did a tremendous thing – he announced he had the disease and gave it a visibility that it sorely needed.  It is another positive in an already outstanding legacy.  The topic of his Alzheimer’s and when it was evident enough to be diagnosed has been a topic for years and years.  We’ve been all over this ground.  People much more intimately informed about his medical condition (with the bona fides to reach such diagnostic conclusions) have said over and over again that the disease didn’t manifest itself until 1993.   Those that worked intimately with the man said they observed nothing that would validate Jr’s claims.   And we have the apparent made up nonsense about brain surgery in San Diego (when in fact he was treated and released in Arizona) to boot.

You have to wonder, given the seemingly incorrect facts and fiction of Jr’s account, who in the hell really has Alzheimer’s.  OK, I’m just kidding and Alzheimer’s isn’t anything to really kid about, but I personally find it disgusting that a son would do what appears to be a hatchet job on his father’s legacy.  Why?

Just as importantly, if in fact none of the events happened as he claims, how in the freakin’ world did he think he’d get away with claiming they did in his book? 

Questions which will most likely never be answered by the weasel we all know as Ron Reagan Jr. It’s also a good reason not to buy the book.

~McQ

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28 Responses to Which Reagan has Alzheimer’s?

  • Ron “Tiny Dancer” is a blot on Reagan’s legacy.  What a puke!

  • when his father couldn’t recall the names of California canyons he was flying over

    You know, the more stuff I have to think about the more I forget other things.
    While Ron, Jr. just had to remember the proper ballet moves, his father was busy dealing with dozens of countries, each of which have multiple heads of state and lessors, that like to be considered important by the President of the United States.
    Frankly, I’d be more worried if President Reagan hadn’t forgotten a few things.
    The election of anyone as President hasn’t made any of the mere mortals, elected President in my lifetime anyway, anything more than mere mortals.

  • Shorter version:

    “I hated my dad, but at least I can still profit off of him”

  • Between 1981 and 1990, the US government debt went from 30% of GDP to 60% of GDP.  This even though the GOP had the Senate much of the time, and with southern Democrats, Reagan had a majority in the House for his agenda.   The economic problems we now face have their roots in the poor decisions made after the last recession.  By running huge deficits during a boom (the time you should keep a surplus to pay for stimulating the economy in the next boom), we started to live beyond our means, and kept the party going almost thirty years.   Not only that, but private debt started growing dramatically as well — the private sector has been as bad as government in running up debt.   Also the early eighties is when our slide into every growing current account deficits started.
    When history is written about the American economic decline, it will start with the “borrow and spend” 80s.  Yes, Obama’s deficits can be criticized, but at least he isn’t running up massive debt during a boom!    As I noted a few days ago, Jerry Brown, who now has to fix Schwarzenegger’s mess in California, had to clean up California’s financial mess when he became governor in 1975.   He was far more fiscally conservative than his predecessor, Governor Reagan.

    • Aren’t you guys glad I’m back to blame everything on Reagan and the Republicans? Between 1981 and 1990, the US government debt went from 30% of GDP to 60% of GDP. This even though the GOP had the Senate much of the time, and with southern Democrats, Reagan had a majority in the House for his agenda. I decree it – a majority. I mean, those Ds after their names just didn’t mean a thing. Plus, not having a filibuster-proof Senate doesn’t mean anything either. That old silver-tongued devil could have gotten the Congress to do anything he wanted, through sheer hypnosis. I was there in DC in the eighties, I know. But instead of solving our problems, he just told Congress to spend like there was no tomorrow. I guess because he’s a mean, sterile, inbred, Nazi-like rightie, just like the regulars around here. Anyway, that’s what really happened, I was there, and so you guys just stop disputing my version of events.

      And the fact that Obama had a filibuster-proof Congress, started with much milder inflation and interest rates than Reagan, hiked up debt way more than Reagan, and still didn’t make any headway on economic improvement is just coincidence and sabotage by dense rightie Tea Party influenced Republicans. Who are immune to his hypnosis, I guess, or maybe Obama just didn’t study hypnosis as much as Reagan. I haven’t studied it, and Obama thinks like me, so there you have it.

      And please, please don’t start up about how I’m talking out of my a– just like I did with those election predictions that came out so wrong. I’ve already apologized for that. And not because you guys kept pointing out that I looked like a coward for not coming back and taking my medicine after the election. Stop saying that. It was a sincere apology. Stop laughing!

      Anyway, the economic problems we now face have their roots in the poor decisions made after the last recession. By running huge deficits during a boom (the time you should keep a surplus to pay for stimulating the economy in the next boom), we started to live beyond our means, and kept the party going almost thirty years. Not only that, but private debt started growing dramatically as well. So you see, since by my decree it started with the Republicans, and then got really, really bad under Bush, it’s really the Republican’s fault. See? So pay absolutely no attention to the years and years of high growth and low inflation that persisted from the second half of Reagan’s term to the end of the nineties. Just coincidence. And don’t you dare start up about the debt mess because the Democrats made it as easy to buy a house as it was to buy a six-pack of beer at the 7-11. They had really, really good intentions, and the Republicans are somehow at fault with that too, though I’m not sure how. Give me a while, I’m sure I’ll come up with some reason.

      When history is written about the American economic decline, it will start with the “borrow and spend” 80s. I decree it, and people who think like me will write the history books, and the fact that we’re all leftist has nothing to do with it. Neither is the fact that we loathe Reagan and Bush. Just coincidence.

      Yes, Obama’s deficits can be criticized, but at least he isn’t running up massive debt during a boom! Even if it’s more massive than any non-wartime debt runup in American history. Republicans are worse. I decree it.

      As I noted a few days ago, Jerry Brown, who now has to fix Schwarzenegger’s mess in California, had to clean up California’s financial mess when he became governor in 1975. He was far more fiscally conservative than his predecessor, Governor Reagan. Stop laughing, I said! And don’t you dare bring up how California’s economy started going south much earlier than the rest of the country even they they had all those Democratic governors starting with Brown. Just coincidence. As I said earlier, everything is Reagan’s fault. I decree it.

    • So are you gonna be around here more often again?

      • Don’t know…I’m working on a project and again teaching an overload, so I’ll likely force myself away from blogs (in part so I can have time to keep up my own).    You’ll be happy to know that if I am around, I’ll probably not be around as much.

    • I’ll keep it simple for you
      1) Revenue under Reagan outgrew any program of spending (mostly the military) that Reagan ever proposed.
      2) Reagan always tendered a balanced budget to Congress before they messed it up.
      3) Reagan himself did not have control the Congress and Neither did the Republicans own Congress either.
       
      Fold your revisionist history and stick it.

      • Up front: blame is bi-partisan, Republicans and Democrats did this together.
        Look, I worked for a Republican Senator in Washington from 1983 to 1985.  I remember Reagan’s people saying budget deficits don’t matter, I remember Stockman quitting in frustration with how the Reagan people treated the budget, I remember that we (the GOP) were a majority party in the Senate, and the House had so many conservative southern Democrats that Reagan had a working majority.   Anyway you cut it, he signed budgets and accepted a massive increase in debt (doubled, as a percentage of GDP), and benefited from the perceived “good times” you get when as a country you live beyond your means.
        Don’t get me wrong, Reagan was a good President and a unifying figure.  I met him once (well, a quick handshake and greeting along with dozens of others) and think a lot of criticism of him from the left is unfair.  But he also had an immigration amnesty, he did not stare down Congress over budgets, and Iran-Contra hurt him immensely in his second  term.  He is not as bad as the left often makes him out to be, or as great as the right does.   And the economic trends that led to this crisis started after the 1979-83 recession.   The President doesn’t get all the blame, but he can’t duck some responsibility.   I don’t think Reagan would deny that.

        • Budget deficits…like a healthy debt load on a business…DO NOT matter, provided they are kept at levels that are tenable.
          I could counsel a businessman that they SHOULD incur debt, PROVIDED that they are assured (by risk assessment) that they will make more than the debt service.
          With either business or government, you CAN incur a debt load that becomes lethal.
          I have never seen anything you’ve said that indicates you know your ass from a cypress stump respecting economics, although you arrogate expertise.

          • So increasing debt from 30% of GDP to 60% of GDP, having the current account start going deep into deficit, having private debt start increasing, all during an economic boom…is OK?  Yes, credit and debt is the engine of capitalism, without it businesses couldn’t innovate and thrive.  But for GOVERNMENT to go from 30% of GDP debt to 60% during a boom…do you really say that’s OK?

          • A great deal depends on “OK”.  Can you point to periods where it was not just OK, but a matter of national imperative?
            If memory serves, Reagan was rebuilding a blue-water navy, among other things that led to the winning of the Cold War.  Pricey pursuits…
             

          • “do you really say that’s OK?”

            You should probably actually read the comments before commenting. The actual words, not what you *think* he wrote.

        • “Up front: blame is bi-partisan, Republicans and Democrats did this together.”

          Which is why you keep blaming Reagan exclusively.

          • Since I explictly state Reagan is not to be blamed exclusively and say the Democrats are just as much to blame, the fact you claim I say the opposite is a very telling indicator of your style of discussion: you lie shamelessly.

    • Geeze 8 years of the magic man from Arkansas,  you’d have thought the two of them would have fixed all that huh?

    • And this relates to the topic because…..?

      Jeepers what a toad. You just can’t resist , can you? 

  • If Reagan did have Alzheimers as president, it reminds me of Rush’s schick about operating with “half my brain behind my back, just to make it fair.”

  • Just the fact Ron Jr. would even discuss something like this for some coin speaks volumes to his integrity.

  • “but I personally find it disgusting that a son would do what appears to be a hatchet job on his father’s legacy.  Why?

    Could be because he’s measuring himself against his father and there’s only one way to get himself to the same heights.   Rather than take great pride in his father’s accomplishments.

    He may not always be a little man, but he will be if he continues to follow THIS particular course.

  • As a man desperately seeking relevance, Jr has nothing to pedal except his name.  Had he not the name of his father the Left would have never paid him any notice. But with the name they find it useful to keep him around as a pet. One of those yapping rat sized dogs. Not an insider, favored and pampered, but one that you feed scraps and keep outside just to annoy the neighbor.

  • Ron Reagan and Rachel Maddow, if you watch closely, are turning into each other.

    The Old Man might very well have shown some early signals of what developed later into clinical Alzheimer’s. No one will ever know, not even specialists from the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact countries (Whoops!). But if you’ve watched young Ron during any of his recent appearances (I know, that’s asking a lot) the wages of whatever he became are most definitely coming due.

  • Like your article!