Also in this installment, the President talks repeatedly about his ass.
1/10/83 Complaining about loose-lipped members of his Administration talking to the press, President Reagan declares, “I’ve had it up to my keister with these leaks.” This causes The New York Times to explain that “keister” is a “slang term for rump.”
1/13/83 Responding to Michael Deaver’s literary agent’s announcement that The Deaver Diet – recounting the Reagan PR guru’s 35-pound weight loss – will be published in 1984, columnist William Safire writes, “The Reagan White House has pioneered the New Graft. Instead of selling influence, sell your White House celebrity.” In an editorial, The New York Times notes, “For a White House aide to publish a diet book while jobless totals rise and cheese lines lengthen is a sure setup for Johnny Carson.” The book is never published.
1/20/83 In an interview with Business Week, Interior Secretary James Watt – who has described environmentalists as “a left-wing cult dedicated to bringing down the type of government I believe in” – compares them to Nazis. “Look what happened to Germany in the 1930s,” he says. “The dignity of man was subordinated to the powers of Nazism ... Those are the forces that this can evolve into.” Observes Wilderness Society chairman Gaylord Nelson, “I think the secretary has gone bonkers.”
1/20/83 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.
1/25/83 Unimpressed by President Reagan’s understanding of the underclass, NAACP executive director Benjamin Hooks says, “For the last thirty years he’s been in a dream world ... I think he actually believes that giving more to rich people will make them work harder, whereas the only way to make poor people work is to tax their unemployment benefits.”
2/15/83 The New York Times: REAGAN MISSTATEMENTS GETTING LESS ATTENTION
2/24/83 Three Canadian documentaries, including the Academy Award nominee If You Love This Planet, are classified as “political propaganda” by the Justice Department.
3/8/83 President Reagan tells a national convention of evangelicals that the Soviet Union is “the focus of evil in the modern world ... an evil empire.” Says historian Henry Steele Commager, “It was the worst presidential speech in American history, and I’ve read them all.”
3/22/83 Describing a memorable moment at a GOP leadership meeting, Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS) says, “The President, in one of the rare times I have seen him really disgusted, threw his glasses down and said he’s had it up to his keister with the banking industry.” The New York Times again explains that “keister” is a “slang term for rump.”
3/23/83 In what will become known as his “Star Wars” speech, President Reagan proposes a space‑based defense system to laser-blast incoming missiles out of the sky, just like in the movies. Just like one in particular: the 1940 film Murder In the Air, whose hero, Secret Service Agent Brass Bancroft (played by Ronald Reagan), gets involved with “The Inertia Projector,” a death ray that can shoot down planes.