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Posted at 3:03 PM ET, 01/14/2011

President Reagan suffered from Alzheimer's while in office, according to son

By Stephen Lowman

reagan.JPGRonald Reagan was showing signs of Alzheimer’s while still in office, according to his son Ron Reagan.

In his memoir “My Father at 100,” Reagan writes:

“Today we are aware that the psychological and neurological changes associated with Alzheimer’s can be in evidence years, even decades, before identifiable symptoms arise. The question, then, of whether my father suffered from the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s while in office more of less answers itself.”

Ron Reagan recounts having concerns as far back as 1984.

"Watching the first of his two debates with 1984 Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale, I began to experience the nausea of a bad dream coming true. At 73, Ronald Reagan would be the oldest president ever reelected...[M]y father now seemed to be giving them legitimate reason for concern. My heart sank as he floundered his way through his responses, fumbling with notes, uncharacteristically lost for words. He looked tired and bewildered."

Two years later the president expressed his own concern about his failing memory:

“My father might himself have suspected that all was not as it should be. As far back as August 1986 he had been alarmed to discover, while flying over the familiar canyons north of Los Angeles, that he could no longer summon their names.”

Ron Reagan writes that there is “no evidence that my father (or anyone else) was aware of his medical condition while he was in office.”

“Had the diagnosis been made in, say, 1987, would he have stepped down? I believe he would have.”

In 1994, President Reagan revealed to the nation that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. But earlier, in 1989, doctors operating on Reagan expressed their belief he was suffering from the degenerative disease.

Ron Reagan writes that in July 1989, his father was thrown off a horse while visiting friends in Mexico. He received medical attention at a hospital in San Diego. When surgeons opened the president’s skull to relieve pressure they “detected what they took to be probable signs of Alzheimer’s disease.” But no formal diagnosis was given.

Ron Reagan says the doctors gossiped about the likelihood his father was suffering from Alzheimer's.

“I have since learned from a doctor who happened to be interning at the hospital when my father was brought in that surgeons involved in his care, in what my informant characterized as ‘shameful’ behavior, violated my father’s right to medical privacy by subsequently gossiping about his condition.”

President Reagan was taken to the Mayo Clinic the following year, where it was confirmed he was suffering from the disease. He died at the age of 93 in 2004. This year marks the 100th anniversary of his birth.

By Stephen Lowman  | January 14, 2011; 3:03 PM ET
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This is stunning news, and should signal the need for a new conversation about how we handle medical/mental problems encountered by a President. The story doesn't come as a surprise because Reagan was clearly confused and out of his depth for much of his second term. Now we need more honesty about how the decision making was handled by Reagan's staff, and how much they did to hide his mental condition from the public. Thanks to Ron Reagan for having the guts to bring this to our attention.

Posted by: gposner | January 14, 2011 3:28 PM | Report abuse

this isn't news.
it was obvious that he wasn't "there" when ever he spoke of being a bomber in WW2 (he never left the states), when he couldn't separate his movie roles from his life.

He was a puppet who could read his lines

Posted by: newagent99 | January 14, 2011 4:01 PM | Report abuse

We amended the Constitution after the Kennedy assassination to deal with the problem of Presidential incapacity, whether physical or mental.

Whether the provisions of that amendment, or any legislation passed in support of that amendment, is adequate may be the subject of future discussion.

Reagan was not the first disabled President to be covered by staff and family members. Wasn't it Wilson who had a debilitating stroke while in office?

Posted by: OldUncleTom | January 14, 2011 5:04 PM | Report abuse

My question is: Who was governing the United states from 1984 to 1989?

Posted by: jglasgow1 | January 14, 2011 5:28 PM | Report abuse

There always was a "lights on, nobody's home" character to Mr. Reagan, as National Lampoon once inelegantly put it. Perhaps this situation was true as a result of this terrible disease. Ron Reagan has a lot of courage to discuss his own account of what his mother called "the long goodbye." While I'm sure many people will call him a profiteer, I'm sure he's doing as many sons and daughters of leaders have done: Offer an account of their lives in such scrutiny.

Posted by: ldreiling | January 14, 2011 5:29 PM | Report abuse

I knew this back in 1980. When he was the GOP nominee.

I am an Independent and I was vetting the candidates.

I read an interview with one of his Aides when he was Governor.

The Aide said that when they would put Bills on his desk for him to sign that they had to attach 3x5 cards explaining what the Bill was about.

When I read that, and the interview was more detailed, I wondered how a man who can't comprehend a Bill he is signing, could possibly function as a President.

Needless to say I never voted for him and always wondered if he was performing as President since he was formerly an actor.

I was not surprised when it was announced some years ago that he was suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

It only confirmed my gut feeling.

Posted by: janet8 | January 14, 2011 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Maggie Thatcher called him "an amiable dunce". She would not have said that if she knew he just had the Olds. THe Brits are classy that way.

But we all knew, really knew, that there was something wrong with the Gipper, may he rest in peace.

Posted by: roboturkey | January 14, 2011 5:44 PM | Report abuse

My next question is: Who will be governing the United States if Sarah Palin is elected?

Posted by: jglasgow1 | January 14, 2011 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Ron, Jr., for openly discussing this.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | January 14, 2011 5:54 PM | Report abuse

This has been obvious and openly discussed for years, certainly since his diagnosis was announced. I know I've had several conversations about it, going back to when I was still registered as a Republican.

Posted by: Itzajob | January 14, 2011 5:58 PM | Report abuse

I think it was Clark Clifford who pinned the "amiable dunce" sobriquet on Ronald Reagan.

Regardless of whether Reagan was suffering from Alzheimer's during his first term, he was not saint that people like Grover Norquist would make him. Read Lou Cannon's biography of Reagan, and you'll discover that DoD executives had to pitch major decision memoranda to Regan in comic book format. you read that right: Comic book format.

No wonder Reagan so eagerly took hold of the delusions encompassed by the strategic defense initiative. And that is why, even today, his nickname is Ronnie Ray-Gun.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | January 14, 2011 5:59 PM | Report abuse

In 1984-85 I was assigned to a State Department press office. When there was to be a presidential press conference, the White House gave us a list of questions the President might be asked.

While we often already had press guidance on the same issues, prepared for the State spokesman, this had to be reduced from, say, a two-page summary of complicated questions to no more than half a page of simple sentences, triple spaced.

I did not know what might be wrong with the President, but I did know that he could not handle complex ideas.

Posted by: obelix1 | January 14, 2011 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Ron, You could have left this chapter out of you book but then you and your sister Patty never said nice thing about you father. I will not buy or read your book.

Posted by: ltorrence | January 14, 2011 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Many of us deferred to the emperor who had new cloths.

Posted by: ntmcdowell | January 14, 2011 6:01 PM | Report abuse

I knew the idiot didn't what the hell was going on around him when he had to use cue cards to remember to say "hullo, h-o-w a-r-e y-o-u.
That's the reason he had this "kitchen cabinet" to run the country illegally. The poor clown had no idea which end was up.

Posted by: analyst72 | January 14, 2011 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Ronald Reagan was an amazing human being, it amazes me how well the country prospered under his genuine leadership. It's a shame that he and Ron jr had a falling out and jr went to the leftside of the force. If all this story is true, you have to admit, Ronald Reagan even while his memory was failing was better at doing his job as president than the dunce punk soiling the Oval office today. Ronald Reagan will be remembered in history as the man that saved bubba clinton's presidency, if it had'nt been for Ronald Reagan cleaning up the disaster that jimmy the peanut boy carter had made, clinton would'nt have had his prosperous 2 terms, clinton should be on his knees thanking Ronald Reagan and John Casich from Ohio.

Posted by: tymtrvlr1 | January 14, 2011 6:02 PM | Report abuse

THis is really sad news, and it also brings up another consideration - considering that Ronald Reagan is considered the GOP Political Saint - his years being the 'best years' and him being 'such an example' -- then who was actually running the country.

My dad, 88 has Alzheimer's and I would not want him to be in charge of anything, let alone the nation. So he was NOT best served by those in his staff.

Believe me, dealing with this illness, especially when siblings refuse to name it, is anything but easy, and significantly time consuming, just on an every day basis.

Posted by: Figerre1 | January 14, 2011 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Reagan had Alzheimer's when he was Governor of Calif.

Posted by: Leo10 | January 14, 2011 6:19 PM | Report abuse

I knew this. I even commented on it to my parents (my dad stated the idea was absurd). Also, if he was showing some very early signs of Alzheimer's in 1980, the shooting and subsequent surgery to save his life would only have hastened the progression of the disease. It was not news to me when it was announced in 1994 that he had this form of dementia. It is not news to me now that doctors had questions about the possibility of Alzheimer's during his presidency.

As to who governed during the second half of his administration ... that would have to be George H.W. Bush. So he DID get two terms as President; one openly in the office and one serving as the President behind the scenes. This actually fulfills the "transfer of power" that the Constitution sets forth. If the President can not complete his term, the Vice President steps in and becomes the President (as happened when Nixon left office under threat of impeachment). Next comes the Speaker of the House and then the President of the Senate.

Posted by: cymrycat1 | January 14, 2011 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Others have already commented that it was obvious the President was floundering at times. Alzheimer’s is a tragic disease and one weeps at the anguish Nancy must have felt. But questions arise: Who was really running the shop, and who is behind the Republican project to sanctify the President as the author of all that is great about America?

Posted by: schmoepooh | January 14, 2011 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Could it be that we actually are toning down the toxic talk? Only a few nasty postings. Congratuations to Ron for having the courage to tell the true story.

Posted by: seaduck2001 | January 14, 2011 6:27 PM | Report abuse

This is a continuing problem, given the age of most of congress and the senate. I'd bet many of them (at 70-80 yo) are, like Hank Johnson (D. Ga) who worried aloud about Guam "Tipping over", at least slightly less than sharp.

But they keep getting reelected...

Posted by: deadmanwalking | January 14, 2011 6:28 PM | Report abuse

As to who was leading the government at that time I believe it was his wife, cabinet and whoever else stood to lose if the truth came out. Many of us always thought he was performing and he did that well.

Posted by: SpotlessCrab | January 14, 2011 6:30 PM | Report abuse

I've always liked and respected Ron Reagan Jr. but I must say that I find it utterly implausible that NO ONE in the Reagan administration had any inkling that his dad might be in the early stages of Alzheimer's while still in office. Ordinary Americans -- me included -- observed his public behavior and expressed those concerns at the time. I was utterly unsurprised when Reagan himself finally announced his illness.

Americans don't need a whitewashing of history -- we need the truth. And don't go looking for it at the Reagan Library -- I happened to meet (at a business event) the woman who was President Reagan's personal assistant post-presidency (first name Peggy...can't remember her last) and, without my even raising the issue, she very forcefully declared that there was nothing wrong with President Reagan's memory while he was in office, that his Alzheimer's symptoms presented only after he left office. I was trying to be polite at the time, but I found it hard to believe then...and now the younger Ron's statement convinces me that there's a concerted effort to shield the American people from the truth.

Given the fact that the last presidential election presented an equally risky (age- and health-wise) candidate to the American people, this is not a topic that should be treated with anything other than absolute objectivity and honesty.

It's OUR country -- not Reagan's historians'.

Posted by: marcywrite | January 14, 2011 6:31 PM | Report abuse

This is no surprise to anyone with a medical background who lived through the Reagan years. Considering the length of time it takes for an Alzheimer's diagnosis and then progression into the final stage Reagan's presidency had to have been involved. We really do need an age limit especially with the Geritol set in Congress today. It doesn't do the country any good to have people like Strum Thurmond being pushed around in a wheelchair on the job. Maybe this will be the impetus to put a retirement age in place for all three branches.

Posted by: Desertdiva1 | January 14, 2011 6:34 PM | Report abuse

The public certainly feared that Reagan was incapacitated but they had the good grace to not mention it publicly. Rumors persisted that Nancy and an astrologer were running the show for years. Some of the results of his time in office should have given away the fact of his decline, and they were becoming more evident over time. The assassination attempt gave him some cover as he spent time recovering from the attack.

It really makes no difference at this time, so why did the subject even have to be brought up, except to sell a book or two?

Posted by: ronjeske | January 14, 2011 6:35 PM | Report abuse

tymtrvlr1: your vitriol is terribly sad. You need to remember that President Reagan raised taxes more, and by a greater amount, than any contemporary era Democratic president, and that his trickle-down economic theory proved to be a total bust. You must then learn that President Obama (about whom your words are reprehensible and utterly unforgivable) created more jobs in 2010 than the second President Bush did in his entire eight years in office, saved the U.S. auto, banking and financial industries, and has done more to help ordinary Americans in two years than any other president since FDR. Your racist hatred is showing, sir -- and it's not the way a good American should be talking about his president and our military's commander in chief (which military, by the way, is very happy with what he has done on their behalf).

Posted by: marcywrite | January 14, 2011 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Anyone with a smidgen of knowledge about that terrible disease already assumed the obvious the day Reagan announced the diagnosis. What's troubling though is that his son didn't interact on a daily basis yet he could see the changes, while people that did couldn't, or maybe didn't want to.

It's also true that they couldn't actually confirm it until after death with an autopsy, back then, they just went by a check list. So it makes sense that the doctors did see the telltale plaque when they did the surgery.

Posted by: AverageJane | January 14, 2011 6:42 PM | Report abuse

It is now know that the symptoms of most neurological disorders/diseases are present before diagnoses.

How did that affect POTUS Reagan maybe in that he was "directed" by many around him i.e. G H Bush his VP and many others. Ronald Reagan didn't come up with all the "Neo-Con agenda" or the plan to withhold American captives in hour after his inauguration all were released.

Lets face it POTUS Reagan was a pastie for the people that were around him...he was not an evil man...just well used and his mental condition makes more sense!

Posted by: porpie9254 | January 14, 2011 6:50 PM | Report abuse

How quaint and amusing are the comments of the Leftist Washington Post readers about President Reagan! Maybe you should check son Ron's political leanings before you believe everything he says. My view? The son's comments are despicable, and will be challenged by the President's colleagues, who were around him on a daily basis. Oh, by the way, who said there were 57 states in the US, and who once speculated on the meaning of the word "is"?

Posted by: Craigskeet | January 14, 2011 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Those concerned with who was running the country in the 80's go no further than former Ind Governor Jessie Ventura (Minnesota) ...American Conspiracies book.

A patriot and former navy seal.

A must read or on audio book.

Posted by: porpie9254 | January 14, 2011 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Yes and he was used and managed probably, and his CIA dircetor had a brain tumor... wild times around the world spreading pain and suffering...and who know what other numbskulls and wishbones there are hiding in the closets of superpowerdumb...

Posted by: Wildthing1 | January 14, 2011 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Average Jane: autopsy is the "absolute means" of checking for dementia's!

The tests that were available Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) MRI and EEg's were the basic assessment tools. Often all three were not required because of the 'advanced condition".

I worked in a psychiatry practice prior to 2003 and using the above technologies and psych proved 100%. At that time there was was debate over whether it was vascular dementia/frontal temporal/Alzheimer's most seem to have faded into less categories and all "roads lead to Rome". There were and are "databases" that have electroencephalographic statistical comparisons i.e. certain pattern equalling a disorder and many early neurological signs are present. Depression is often an early sign of what lies in the future. Closed head injuries i.e. football/violence etc.
Nancy Reagan did approach Bush Jr on the "stem cell issue" to assist her husband...was turned down...remember?

Posted by: porpie9254 | January 14, 2011 7:25 PM | Report abuse

This DID get talked about while Reagan was president, but not very loudly and not really in the major media.

I remember that Federal Times, the weekly paper for federal employees, ran a column about this -- quoting from a transcript of a White House meeting that Reagan had with somebody, when he got totally off-subject and started going on about "look at the squirrels" or something like that. I was really surprised that no other media seemed to be talking about it at the time.

It really showed that something was wrong with President Reagan.

Posted by: Kathy8 | January 14, 2011 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Taking a bullet early on under suspicious circumstances can't help your health very much either...

Posted by: Wildthing1 | January 14, 2011 7:32 PM | Report abuse

"You further understand that we have the right, but not the obligation, to monitor submissions and we may remove content that we deem inappropriate" Taken directly from the wonderful WaPo, yep tymtrvlr1 we live in democracy with freedom of speech to write the garbage you put out.

With respect to President Reagan, I suspect if a president had that type of illness today, a test would be administered to verify what is wrong. I think there is much more knowledge and understanding of Alzheimer’s then several decades ago.

Posted by: randybud | January 14, 2011 7:39 PM | Report abuse

I did not know that Ron Reagan jr was trained in clinical psychiatry. Or that he was more qualified to diagnose dementia or Alzheimers than all other doctors that may have examined President Reagan while he was in office.

Did anyone ask Ron's brother Michael if he concurs with this diagnosis? He knows as much about psychiatry as Ron jr.

Posted by: JBaustian | January 14, 2011 7:41 PM | Report abuse

I did not know that Ron Reagan jr was trained in clinical psychiatry. Or that he was more qualified to diagnose dementia or Alzheimers than all other doctors that may have examined President Reagan while he was in office.

Did anyone ask Ron's brother Michael if he concurs with this diagnosis? He knows as much about psychiatry as Ron jr.

Posted by: JBaustian | January 14, 2011 7:47 PM | Report abuse

I KNEW it.

Posted by: trt2539 | January 14, 2011 7:51 PM | Report abuse

I can remember watching Reagan, while president, speaking at some kind of a testimonial for Charlton Heston. He kept calling him Moses and he wasn't joking.

Posted by: randysbailin | January 14, 2011 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Can any of us ever forget the many times when President Reagan was asked a question,
with Mrs. Reagan at his side -- she (as quietly as possible) fed him the answers.
His announcement of Alzheimers Disease did not surprise me. It would appear we had a 'female' President (Mrs. Reagan)a good deal of the time, surrounded by RR's staff, of course. Remember also, Mrs. Reagan made many decisions particularly as they pertained to senior staff members.

Posted by: rbsher | January 14, 2011 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Another nut takes the media's podium.

Posted by: logicprevails | January 14, 2011 8:06 PM | Report abuse

Don't all GOP politicians suffer from some sort of dementia? How else could they in a clear conscience deny some 35 million the same health care they enjoy?

Jesus wouldn't vote GOP either....

Posted by: waxtraxs | January 14, 2011 8:08 PM | Report abuse

First let's say that Alzheimers is a horrible disease. My Grandpop died from it and it was aweful.

Let us also say that it is not actually news - this just confirms what most of us already knew. When reagan was questioned about his role in the illegal sales of arms to Iran to finance an illegal war in Central America he could not recall the people in his own cabinet when shown their pictures.

Let it also be said that this mentally incapacitated man is what the right hold up as their ideal. They all want to emulate the man who could not make rational decisions, who was on the verge of complete incoherence,this is what the strive for. Which should explain why the ideology reagan espoused, and which they follow is nonsensical, incohate, irrational, unworkable, and has caused countless problems over the last several decades.

Posted by: John1263 | January 14, 2011 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Little Ron Reagan is a piece of dirt. He never liked his parents and always despised their politics. It's quite a shame to see Reagan's own flesh and blood try and discredit the greatest President of the 20th Century.

Posted by: Jsuf | January 14, 2011 8:38 PM | Report abuse

I'm proud to say that Ronald Reagan was my hero and the most uplifting and proud American president during my lifetime. My pride of being American during his presidency has never been more pronounced. Compared to Carter, Johnson, W, GHWB, Clinton, and Obama, Reagan is miles ahead.

Posted by: rpcv84 | January 14, 2011 8:39 PM | Report abuse

How dare you communists sully the memory of the holy, sainted Ronald Reagan, the man who singlehandedly destroyed the Evil Empire and made our blessed country a capitalist paradise. After Jesus, he was the greatest man that ever lived.

Posted by: schicklegruber | January 14, 2011 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't anybody remember that Pres. Reagan had to admit he didn't remember knowing about Iran-Contra? His diagnosis came as no surprise to me.

As for who was running the show, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that G.H.W. Bush had no knowledge of the president's condition while in office. I suspect that Don Regan (Chief of Staff) was running the show & that's why Nancy wanted him fired. He wasn't running things to her satisfaction. A Chief of Staff can become a gate keeper if their boss isn't paying attention.

Ron Reagan Jr. has done a real service for our country in writing about his father's condition. We should be grateful.

Posted by: LeftCoastOracle | January 14, 2011 8:43 PM | Report abuse

A friend of mine worked in the Ford, Reagan, and H.W. Bush administrations. Though he is reticent about saying anything bad about any of those men, he's made it pretty clear to me that Reagan was not involved in governing by the final two years of his presidency. Instead, the very capable Chief of Staff Howard Baker essentially ran the country.

Frankly, Reagan was never bright enough to run the country. But he (and we) were saved by the fact that he was willing to surround himself with bright and capable people, place responsibility in their hands, and provide what his staff felt was moral leadership within the White House.

Posted by: jeffwacker | January 14, 2011 8:54 PM | Report abuse

I think it was Ron Reagan who mentioned during an NBC Presidential election coverage that it is almost "gay" how all the (republican) candidates fawn over Reagan.

I can't recall if he had been dead already at that time. In any case, I totally agreed with him then, and I agree with him now.

Posted by: kblgca | January 14, 2011 8:55 PM | Report abuse

This is all spoken in retrospect. Yes, there were signs, but Alzheimer's is notoriously difficult to diagnose in the early stages, even today, and the disease was understood much less in the 1980s. Reagan hadn't been diagnosed, and so this really doesn't open any kind of debate on presidential disability.

Besides, even with Iran-Contra, Reagan had a better second term than any president, well, really since Eisenhower. LBJ got us into the mess in Vietnam and didn't run because he was so unpopular. Nixon resigned. Clinton got himself impeached. George W. Bush watched the economy collapse around him in the midst of two unpopular wars. Given the competition, I'll take Reagan's second term any day.

Posted by: blert | January 14, 2011 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Well, we kinda knew that. I read at the time that President Reagan's staff prepared file cards for him to refer to for every meeting and every speech. It's a good thing that he was so good at picking staff and appointing experts to the cabinet and the agencies (and this is not a Republican saying this) or things would have completely come apart.

Posted by: PleinAir | January 14, 2011 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Reagan worship by the Republicans is pretty strange. It's unfortunate though that the man had the disease. He was a good man. I thought that perhaps the "star wars" missile defense burst forth because Reagan was fantasizing about something and aids cobbled it together and then spending millions as a result. Is there something to that?

Posted by: pdurand | January 14, 2011 9:08 PM | Report abuse

I think those around him in his Administration during his Presidency did the country a disservice by leaving him in Office. Under his condition he should not have ran and especially for a second term.

Probably Bush, Sr., and the other neo-cons were running the show. Reagan was a figure-head.

The Office of President is not position that should be held by someone with dementia.

Although, Reagan isn't the only President who shouldn't hold that Office.

Posted by: janet8 | January 14, 2011 9:11 PM | Report abuse

If, in fact, President Reagan suffered from a diminished mental condition, and still performed at a level far above that of any Democrat of his generation... that is pretty damning for the Democrats. If you can narrow down all the possible solutions to a problem to only two -- the smart answer and the dumb one -- and Democrats never fail to reject the smart answer, doesn't that suggest a serious mental deficiency afflicting all Democrats?

Posted by: JBaustian | January 14, 2011 9:15 PM | Report abuse


We knew. Thanks, but we knew.

Posted by: darkglobe5 | January 14, 2011 9:25 PM | Report abuse

My father-in-law the doctor was an ardent Reagan supporter, being conservative. But near the end of the Reagan Years, he had to admit that Reagan not only had Alzheimer's, but had to have been affected by it for an extended period of years.

Posted by: gkam | January 14, 2011 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Ronald Reagan was one of the worst presidents in US history. This is historical fact. That the Republicans rever him shows an ignorance that is staggering. I read some of the posts here of people who still admire this miserable failure and I wonder about the efficacy of our educational system and the ability of some Americans to use even simple logic in assessing one of the most destructive administrations in our history. Iran/Contra, huge deficits, breaking unions, no progressive legislation for 8 years, the decline of the middle class. Only the completely ignorant rever this man.

I used to joke that I kept one adult movie during Reagan's presidency. Whenever he gave a speech I would pop it into my VCR. I figured it was fitting watching people scr*w while Reagan was scr*wing me.

Posted by: nyrunner101 | January 14, 2011 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Contrary to several postings, Ron Reagan Jr. was NOT estranged from his parents, and he has always been a thoughtful and honest person. Our national leaders are not gods; they are ordinary people who human frailities. Ron Reagan has done no dishonor to his father or this Nation by revealing these facts about his father's health. He is to be commended for his courage and compassion he has always shown to his parents.

Even if Ronald Reagan Sr. did not run the government, there was no way he allowed Vice President Bush to do so. Someone or a group of Reagan's trusted inner circle did. Bush Sr. and Reagan did not get along that well.

Posted by: Tennessee2 | January 14, 2011 10:06 PM | Report abuse

The Iran Contra mess did make me think that Ronald Reagan was losing his grip. History may show the truth more fully as time passes.

Posted by: peterroach | January 14, 2011 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Jr. and his sister rarely miss an opportunity to exploit their parents.

Could have waited until after Nancy was gone for this one.

Posted by: Gidgmom | January 14, 2011 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Hidden intel and history by public officials in office , has never been good for the people.

Posted by: dottydo | January 14, 2011 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Ron Reagan has always been extremely close to his mother. It is unfathomable that he would go public without her support.

We are in debt to Howard Baker, Ken Duberstein, Colin Powell and Nancy Reagan for steadying the fort during this scary period.

Posted by: ajlerner1 | January 14, 2011 10:33 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, having dealt with this for the past 11 years with my mother, there is a HUGE difference between an elderly person forgetting the name of a canyon and a person not knowing what a canyon is. The first is a natural aging experience...and not a real cause for concern. The second is a marker. It's the difference between forgetting where you put your car keys and looking at car keys and not knowing what they are.

Posted by: PanhandleWilly | January 14, 2011 10:40 PM | Report abuse

It's likely that Pres. Bush knew of former Pres. Reagan's Alzheimer's, having served as VP. When he became president, he named the 1990's "The Decade of The Brain".

"From 1990 to the end of 1999, the Library of Congress and the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health sponsored a unique interagency initiative to advance the goals set forth in a proclamation by President George Bush designating the 1990s as the Decade of the Brain: "to enhance public awareness of the benefits to be derived from brain research" through "appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities."

Unfortunately, after all of this time, leading doctors at Johns Hopkins and others say that none of the available drugs available for treatment provide any benefit.

Posted by: as554629 | January 14, 2011 10:42 PM | Report abuse

NY Runner wouldn't know an historical fact if it bit him. Ronald Reagan was the best President this country has seen since FDR.

Posted by: PanhandleWilly | January 14, 2011 10:43 PM | Report abuse

kbigca wrote:

I think it was Ron Reagan who mentioned during an NBC Presidential election coverage that it is almost "gay" how all the (republican) candidates fawn over Reagan.


Funny I can't remember any Republicans anywhere who listened to Reagan and "felt a tingle running up my leg." Talk about gay fawning.

Posted by: PanhandleWilly | January 14, 2011 10:48 PM | Report abuse

I went on a high school trip to Washington in 1988 or 89. We visited with the NYTimes Washington bureau chief (as I recall) at the time -- who confided in us that Reagan could not have a simple conversation without cue cards.

Posted by: chabot744 | January 14, 2011 10:55 PM | Report abuse

you didn't have to be a physician to see the obvious. Reagan was clearly not in touch with reality, particularly in his second term. when it was fashionable for Republicans to introduce themselves as Reagan Republicans my response was really, you are suffering from Alzheimer's? so don't act like it took this revelation to confirm it. his staff covered for him as best they could, the only question is whether they should have been held accountable for it.

Posted by: jtacoustic | January 14, 2011 10:56 PM | Report abuse

Ron checked out early in his second term. He would disappear for such long periods of time that the white house was reduced to essentially announcing he was not dead.

This is when Iran/Contra occurred and a whole self sustaining gun and drug running empire started, and many of those guys would continue to be bagmen in the Abramoff and Duke Cunningham scandals. The GOP developed a drug cartel/money laundring subsidiary.

That is also where the wheels fell off the Washington Post, by ignoring what was happening.

By the time of the Iran Contra hearings, Reagan was largely incoherent. Clearly, the US had been without a President for a couple years.

Posted by: BurfordHolly | January 14, 2011 10:59 PM | Report abuse

So what. My dad is the same age as Mr. Reagan was while in office and has
Alzheimers. Both are/ were twice the man the muslim Obama is.

Posted by: carlbatey | January 14, 2011 11:07 PM | Report abuse

Clearly people knew that President Reagan was not himself for the second term; unfortunately many of us have experienced the devastation of Alzheimer's Disease firsthand. And regardless of the ongoing debate about the quality of the Reagan presidency, how sad that his son would choose to dishonor the memory of his own father by airing the family laundry in such a public fashion.

I'm with you Gidgmom, could he not have shown some class and at least waited until his mother was no longer with us?

Tacky and sad.

Posted by: commonsense42 | January 14, 2011 11:23 PM | Report abuse

Its amazing they took this long to come to this conclusion. But because he was president the truth was hidden behind a many vales of secrecy. I am sure in the coming Years we will find out a lot of secrets about the health related to out Presidents.

Posted by: Lcolvin1 | January 14, 2011 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Wasn't he famous for falling asleep in his office? It was obvious all along that he was too old for the office. Where was everyone when it was Nancy running the office?!

Posted by: nadinem | January 14, 2011 11:57 PM | Report abuse


Hard to remember.

President Ronald Reagan.

Easy to forget.

Posted by: OldSalt8 | January 14, 2011 11:58 PM | Report abuse

"We amended the Constitution after the Kennedy assassination to deal with the problem of Presidential incapacity, whether physical or mental."

Actually we amended it to set term limits after FDR. Roosevelt was in the final stages of heart disease and knew he had months to live when he ran for his fourth term, all the while keeping the public in the dark about that fact.

Posted by: jeff20 | January 15, 2011 12:01 AM | Report abuse

My twin sister and I had a mother diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's in 1972 before anyone had ever seen the world in any well known publication, magazine, newspaper, ets. By 1984 after saying to friends in two cities what we thought we were talking about Reagan to each other about how much he seemed to mirror symptoms we saw in Mom and both said we felt he had Alzheimer's. I could not give you exact incidents, but his persona, some occasional verbiage and just the way he looked it was clear to us. I suppose only if you had known a person with it back then could you have that feel. I feel every validated tonight that we were on target for the year we said it. I knew it, I knew it , I knew it. Thank you Ron!

Posted by: Jayhawk89 | January 15, 2011 12:13 AM | Report abuse

In several of my previous posts, I blamed this Iran-Contra President for today's troops being mired down for a decade in Afghanistan.
The U.S. could have left AFghanistan to the Soviets, and they would have been no worse than other muslim satellite states. But the U.S. intervened, financed a war against the Soviets, promised assistance to Afghanistan after the Soviets departed, but Reagan reneged and gave us tax cuts instead.
We know the result. Civil war in Afghanistan by warlords, two million Afghan refugees into Pakistan making it a near-failed state as well. And this month, more Americans killed in Afghanistan.

Posted by: PatMaGroyn | January 15, 2011 12:23 AM | Report abuse

Like, is this news? Anyone could see at after 1984.

Posted by: petesnydero | January 15, 2011 12:26 AM | Report abuse

The Reagan administration gave weapons to Iran. And somehow got away with it.

Posted by: unitcaptain11 | January 15, 2011 12:28 AM | Report abuse

Who was Ron Reagan's mother? Jane Wyman or Nancy? If his mother was Jane, why should he wait for Nancy to fall off her perch?

Posted by: PatMaGroyn | January 15, 2011 12:58 AM | Report abuse

It is amazing how anyone would be surprise by this news. The problem is they are still not telling the whole truth. It was very clear that the President was not aware of what was going during his second term. Maybe some day the whole truth will be told.

Posted by: collegebound1 | January 15, 2011 2:18 AM | Report abuse

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in January 1981 when Reagan took office was 7.5%. It peaked in December 1982 at 10.8%, then steadily dropped to 5.4% when he left office in January 1989.

Posted by: Chippewa | January 15, 2011 5:56 AM | Report abuse

Duh! Like this is news?

Stephen Lowman, this is the best you can come up with? I'm surprised the WaPo Editors even approved this for print

Posted by: asmith1 | January 15, 2011 6:28 AM | Report abuse

Obviously these posters have never been in management.

Executives demand an "executive summary" which boils down the analysis to one or two pages. They make lots of decisions, they don't have time to read the whole report. Obama gets executive summaries.

Unsurprisingly, the LA Times' review is much more useful:,0,3437836.story. (WaPo has REALLY deteriorated; someone else always seems to do it better.) Quoting: "The 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan's birth falls on Feb. 6. His presence still looms large, in part because he seems emblematic of a less compromised and more heroic and honorable America. That perception may or may not be corny and wrongheaded, but it's there. ... Reagan seemed to step off the soundstage and into politics as though it were just another role, A-list this time, and there are those, Gore Vidal for instance, who argue absence was his essence, that he was a nothing, a void of actorly hollowness, an aw-shucks mouthpiece for lines and attitudes that others fed him. Ron Reagan finds something else, something carefully guarded, ice-cold yet unstoppable, fused together with a relentless self-mythologizing tendency: "He was the solitary storyteller whose great opus, religiously tended always, was his own self."

Reagan's Rosebud, as Edmund Morris also suggested in his mad and magnificent official biography/faux memoir "Dutch," was secret yet unstoppable ambition."

Somehow, that review fails to get all atwitter over the Alzheimer's in office line, instead seeing the book as saying that "(o)ne of the lessons here is that no father can be an uncomplicated hero to his own son." But you know, WaPo has never been objective about conservatives.

Posted by: gbooksdc | January 15, 2011 6:29 AM | Report abuse

Ronald Reagan appears to have had a classic case of Alzheimer’s disease, starting with annoying but minor memory issues in the late 80s and early 90s. He was finally diagnosed 1994 and did the whole world an enormous service by going public before retiring from view as his disorientation gradually increased. His son now claims he was showing clear signs while in the White House but specialists say that his memory troubles at that stage were too slight to be considered Alzheimer's. The European bien pensant claim otherwise but since they are the same people who ridiculed Reagan for his supposed lack of intelligence they should be ignored. I think the best Presidents were Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson, Truman, FDR and Teddy Roosevelt with LBJ for his reforms and Reagan for leaving the world a better place.

Posted by: jucameron43 | January 15, 2011 7:14 AM | Report abuse

This is news? It was obvious to anybody who cared to notice. And what's really intriguing is what were staffers saying, regarding keeping him propped up in office, as his mental faculties declined.

Posted by: 44fx2901 | January 15, 2011 7:26 AM | Report abuse

So what. My dad is the same age as Mr. Reagan was while in office and has
Alzheimers. Both are/ were twice the man the muslim Obama is.

Posted by: carlbatey
Carl, your post is proof that you do not require alzheimers to be a moron, so why not keep your ignorant ramblings to yourself. I cannot speak about your father but I lived through the Reagan administration and he was one of the worst presidents in history. Repeat that to yourself and maybe it will penetrate that small brain of yours.

And stop insulting our current president. Obama may have his failings but he is certainly a better president that Ronald Reagan. Again, repeat, Obama is a better president that Reagan. Then repeat to yourself, I am a moron but maybe I do not have to live my whole life as a moron. Maybe.

Posted by: nyrunner101 | January 15, 2011 7:35 AM | Report abuse

This was obvious back in '84' to anyone who was watching Reagan back in the '60s'. he was not the same, he had become a fumbling old guy. It was obvious someone else eas running the show.

Posted by: kevinleigh1 | January 15, 2011 7:48 AM | Report abuse

Look, I didn't vote for Reagan when he ran for president and I wasn't a supporter of his when he was my governor, and I don't worship his memory today.

That said, this "revelation" by his son with whom Reagan did not enjoy a close relationship, is a bunch of B.S. There is not a shred of medical evidence to support his contention. But, there is evidence that this clown wants to sell his book and be relevant.

Posted by: familynet | January 15, 2011 8:01 AM | Report abuse

There were concerns about this before he left office by member of his inner staff -(maybe Jim Baker?). Someone, or member of that circle, was bought in to observe the President at one point to see if he was functioning well. They decided he was doing fine.

O.K.. the reference is page 622-623 of DUTCH by Edmund Morris.

I also think his mother had Alzheimer although they may have not called it that at the time.

He was always a big picture guy not real comfortable with details which he left to his staff and had always depended on a near photographic memory to see him through. Even before he became President his time was well managed to avoid having him become over tired - he was in his 70s after all.

None of that says he was not fully capable of serving as President through his second term but may indicate the wisdom of not allowing third terms.

Posted by: mgferrebee | January 15, 2011 8:04 AM | Report abuse

"Where tomorrow's must read political books are discovered today."

HAH! What a pompous bunch of nonsense!
This book is neither political, or "must read", nor was it a "discovery." It's just more Post foolishness.

And I bet that all of you posting about how you believe this book's story of early alzheimer's were also believing that the Az shooter acted because of right-wing political views. Don't you get tired of not only being wrong, but stupidly wrong?!

Posted by: familynet | January 15, 2011 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Even if it is true, why would you say anytinig about your Father like this? This liberal homosexual is truly a disgrace.



Posted by: COOLCHILLY | January 15, 2011 8:10 AM | Report abuse

In other news, sun rises in east and the Pope is catholic.

This was 100% obvious to ANYONE back then. Find a recording of him in the start of his first term and end of the second. THe decline is amazing and sad.

Posted by: Island_Boy | January 15, 2011 8:26 AM | Report abuse

The man who was affectionately called the Great Commincator failed miserably at humanity in his silence over HIV and AIDS. Let us not forget what an incredible disservice (to put it very kindly) he did by his inaction and silence regarding this disease. Even when it killed Rock Hudson, Reagan's frend, colleague, beloved actor and White House state dinner guest, he remained silent.

Posted by: seaduck2001 | January 15, 2011 8:37 AM | Report abuse

A lot of people don't know about Chief Justice Rehnquist's long-term drug habit (Placidyl) either:

Tony Mauro, who covers the court for American Lawyer Media's Legal Times, says Rehnquist's speech problem manifested itself just as he joined the beat. "I do remember him speaking oddly," he says, but he didn't give it much thought. "In retrospect, I should have. A lot of us [reporters] felt that way."

Posted by: bdunn1 | January 15, 2011 8:37 AM | Report abuse

If Reagan was an “amiable dunce” (stupid), then Palin can be categorized as:
A complete fricking imbecile?
Dumb as a chimp?
A simpleton redneck?
A complete mentally retarded?, or just
a regular Republican?

Posted by: analyst72 | January 15, 2011 8:41 AM | Report abuse

"As far back as August 1986 he had been alarmed to discover, while flying over the familiar canyons north of Los Angeles, that he could no longer summon their names.”
This is far more alarming than poor performance in a national debate.

Posted by: kirtu | January 15, 2011 8:50 AM | Report abuse

The enablers that Reagan surrounded himself with thought nothing of leaving an incompetent person in the role of President. Where was their sense of loyalty to our nation? They retained and protected their power positions by propping up Reagan. His entire administration should be ashamed. There inaction damaged the country.

Posted by: Spec128 | January 15, 2011 9:01 AM | Report abuse

If President Reagan did in fact suffer from Alzheimer’s while in office, would someone please explain what type of mental disorder our current delusional President is suffering from?

Posted by: ridge_road_marco | January 15, 2011 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Thatcher should have met G.W. Bush. Why do the Reps choose these underendowed people? Palin's the next one. There really IS an evil undertone to the Republican Party.

Posted by: beoods | January 15, 2011 9:26 AM | Report abuse

The wingnuts are already in hysteria this morning condemning the story,,it was so easy to see then,including the types who said then he slept thru cabinet meetings,and obvious he couldnt hear either, personally I liked the tale of nixton strolling thru the white house naked at night talking to paintings.

Posted by: schmidt1 | January 15, 2011 9:31 AM | Report abuse

If President Reagan did in fact suffer from Alzheimer’s while in office, would someone please explain what type of mental disorder our current delusional President is suffering from?
Posted by: ridge_road_marco | January 15, 2011 9:20 A

@ Ridge Road – Ronald Regan had Alzheimer’s. What a surprise !!! In other breaking news: Water is wet and snow is white and cold.

Posted by: letsgetreal | January 15, 2011 9:37 AM | Report abuse

I'm afraid that I have to join in with everyone else who has commented that it was becoming clear to almost anyone other than the true believers that "Morning in America" saw the sunset of Ronald Reagan, a man who was never known for his own intellectual ability or critical thinking skills. As just one example, the inconsistency between praising Lech Wolensa and Polish workers for striking while at the same time wrecking our own air traffic control system when U.S. workers struck for better working conditions and improved safety was pretty blatant to even casual observers. And we should be appreciative to Ron for confirming the illness as having existed during the time that his father was serving as president.

As people note that Ronald Reagan was born 100 years ago, we should also note that our country has not recovered from the major damage his minions and handlers started inflicting on us thirty years ago -- three whole decades ago. George H.W. Bush quite accurately described Reaganomics as "voodoo economics," and while President Clinton was able to get us started climbing out of the debts incurred as a result, Bush's son and the GOP leadership decided to embrace it wholeheartedly, leaving us with the greatest national debt in history for our children and grandchildren to repay (not the children and grandchildren of the biggest contributors to the GOP -- they think it's wrong for them to pay anything). And the Reagan Administration's "cut-and-run" approach to the bombing of the Marines barracks in Beirut, followed by the "wag the dog" invasion of Grenada, surely gave inspiration to Osama bin Forgotten and the forerunners of Al-Qaeda that the U.S. would in reality be a "paper tiger." That has proven NOT to be the case -- but at the cost of how many lives on all sides and of how much money? NOT directly or even primarily the result of Ronald Reagan's actions, but a clear relationship nonetheless.

As a nation, we do owe a debt of gratitude to Nancy Reagan for her efforts to protect her husband from some of the worst people around, and certainly it is quite understandable and commendable that she should push for responsible medical research, despite strong opposition from George W. Bush and the individuals who claim to be "pro-life" but don't really mean it.

It is sadly also worth noting that had Ronald Reagan still been alive today, he and Barry Goldwater would have been condemned by the Club for Growth people and the tea totalitarians as being RINOs.

Posted by: edallan | January 15, 2011 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Nothing stunning about this. When my Dad retired from White House service in '86 the family was invited to an Oval Office send-off. It was obvious up close that the president had some form of dementia.

Posted by: therev1 | January 15, 2011 9:42 AM | Report abuse

"Who was Ron Reagan's mother? Jane Wyman or Nancy? If his mother was Jane, why should he wait for Nancy to fall off her perch?"

Ron's mother is Nancy Reagan.

Posted by: Kathy8 | January 15, 2011 9:51 AM | Report abuse

I admit to having never been impressed by Mr. Reagan. He seems to have been living in a world of Readers Digest anecdotes long before signs of Alzheimer disease showed up.

Mental deterioration is vexing. I hope to get around to reading "Carved in Sand: when attention fails and memory fades in midlife" by Cathryn Jakobson Ramin. I suffer from a midlife inability to check details, something that began showing up about 13 years ago and finally caused job problems four years ago. The problem resembles attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but isn't because of the late onset. Depression? Probably.

To judge from Ramin's book, this sort of problem is fairly common. I have no idea of how many high-achieving adults (such as Reagan in his own way) suffer from such deterioration.

Thinking of another political example of apparent disability, President George W. Bush seemed severely tongue-tied during the latter part of his first term, enough so to attract attention (James Fallows may have written about it). He seemed to do better later on. Should he have declined to run for reelection for medical reasons? I dunno. Did the problem even get mentioned in his memoirs?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | January 15, 2011 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Janet8 wrote:

The Aide said that when they would put Bills on his desk for him to sign that they had to attach 3x5 cards explaining what the Bill was about.

When I read that, and the interview was more detailed, I wondered how a man who can't comprehend a Bill he is signing, could possibly function as a President.

That's interesting. I'm wondering: If you applied that same criterion to ALL current elected legislators and current President, would you reach the same conclusion?

Posted by: wearedoomed1 | January 15, 2011 10:04 AM | Report abuse

What Bulls**t. Try reading any of his books. Oh, you'll say he didn't right them. Bulls**t, one of them is just photo copied letters in his handwriting. Reagan is the best president this country has had in my lifetime. It's sad that so many people hated him, and forgot how bad we where after Carter left. He lifted the entire spirit of the nation.

I think the most disgusting comments in this section are ones praising Ron Reagan for coming forward with this bulls**t. What courage did it really take to make money by insulting your dead father that you hated.

Everyone misspeaks occasionally if your are not liked and you are young they say your stupid, if you are old they say you have alzheimer's, while all it really means is that you misspoke and the listener doesn't like you.

Grow up people. The current president isn't stupid because he uses the teleprompter so much, and Reagan wasn't because he used 3x5 cards.

Posted by: anyone1 | January 15, 2011 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Ron Reagan has never been relevant and seems to have flopped at every career that he's attempted. He was a dancer, then he was a talk show host, he tried acting for a while. Now he has a book to sell and no one would buy it unless there's some juicy revelation. Lo and behold, Ron outs his father's illness.

Ron, I wouldn't read your book if it was free. Look for it in the bargain books section within a month after its release.

Posted by: randysbailin | January 15, 2011 10:13 AM | Report abuse

So what. My dad is the same age as Mr. Reagan was while in office and has
Alzheimers. Both are/ were twice the man the muslim Obama is.

Posted by: carlbatey
Perhaps you should have your own brain tested. President Obama isn't a Muslim.

Posted by: MNUSA | January 15, 2011 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Sadly, those of us who lived through the Reagan presidency remember the late night comedians' jokes about the behavior of President Reagan that were indications of Alzheimer's Disease. It's such a terribly debilitating illness that we need to find a cure. Thank you Ron for your honesty about your beloved father. As for those of you who are angry with his son, Alzheimer's isn't something shameful you can avoid - you get it through no fault of your own and it often begins years before people are really aware of its presence.

Posted by: MNUSA | January 15, 2011 10:31 AM | Report abuse

there has been a decade's worth of research that suggests an effective treatment and deterrent for alzheimer's that works by occupying the neural ligand that switches on the production of cholinesterase, a protein that is blamed for all the plaques and tangles. unfortunately, this naturally occurring substance remains on the schedule 1 list, and failed the recent California ballot, and researchers are reticent to chance the wrath of publicizing their findings.

Posted by: rzzzzz | January 15, 2011 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I knew this. Anyone who paid attention knew this as well.

Posted by: jsands2 | January 15, 2011 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Good for Ron Reagan, he isn't afraid of going up against the Faux News "Machine" and letting everyone know the simple truth. Of course his right wing mouth piece step-brother will be resurrected and propped up on Faux News as the counter mouth-piece to this story.

As for the President, as an American who lived thru the time, I can say that it was more show business then reality. Remember "gov't is not the solution its the problem", yeah that's the old Republi-thug mantra. The party of spoils and riches.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | January 15, 2011 11:13 AM | Report abuse

If true, the irony is that he was a more effective president than any since. Ron Reagan has never had anything good to say about his father.

Posted by: IMRight3 | January 15, 2011 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Dr. Stephen Crane Head of Geriatrics at Univerity of Minnesoto wrote about his dept making a study of Reagan and concluded in 1984 he was in Alzi.

The concluding factors were his two debates with Mondale. Ever see them repeated on TV?? Stored where?
He was awful.
I voted twice for him but later my studies revealed a different man.
I loved to hear him speak. Great voice and delivery.
Haynes Johnson in his book "Sleepwalking"
called it the most scurrilous adminisration in history
for review google clarence swinney + Clinton versus Reagan and + Reagan Firsts
comments welcome

Posted by: CSWINNEY2TRIADRRCOM | January 15, 2011 11:14 AM | Report abuse

What's sad is the number of patriotic Americans who were - and still are - taken in by this demented puppet of the neocons.

You know those obscene tax cuts for the rich? Thank him for those. He gave us trickle-down economics.

You know the traitors who want to starve our government until it can be drowned in the bathtub? You can thank him for that, too.

You know how we're stuck fighting Islamic extremists in Afghanistan? His administration funded that movement.

We'll see what historians say, but I wonder if he didn't do even more damage to this country than W did.

Posted by: Vajrakilaya | January 15, 2011 11:15 AM | Report abuse

DUH!! If this is a revelation to anyone who was alive during the Reagan years, they need THEIR heads examined.

Now that Ron has confirmed the obvious, that Reagan's dementia left him too mentally impaired to be President, GHW Bush has some explaining to do1 Continuing to pretend he didn't notice will not serve his legacy well.

I can certainly respect the challenges of this illness. However, Deify a demented ex-President? Think about it!

Posted by: janekelley | January 15, 2011 11:21 AM | Report abuse

I enjoy Eulogies and want them where deserved by facts

Reagan did not have but one Great number on domestic policy.
Dow increase.

He increased spending by 80% and debt by 170%.

From 1930 to 1980 we spent 6066B.
He submitted 8 budgets total over 7000B.
In 1989 dollars it was 2.7 dollars in each of his eight for each dollar in other 32 years.

He cut Carter creation of net new jobs per month by 24%(218,000 to 175,000).

He had highest "real"interest rates since WWII.It averaged 5% and had high of 8%.
We had 10 Billioniares in 1980 and 51 in 1989. Big tax cut helped.

He had more convicted of a crime while working for him than all predecessors since 1900.

He got us involved in five international conflicts in which hundreds of thousands of innocents were killed.

He was nice but not productive.
google clarence swinney + carter vs reagan

comments welcome

Posted by: CSWINNEY2TRIADRRCOM | January 15, 2011 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Reagan ballooned the debt, gave amnesty to illegals, and cut 'n ran from Beirut giving rise to modern islamic terorrism. How was this guy a conservative?

Posted by: sjp879 | January 15, 2011 11:42 AM | Report abuse

The corrupt Reagan Adm. definately started the "DOWN FALL" of America and then the corrupt Bush Adm. finished it off and we will never completely recover. Soon we will see civil disruptions just like we are seeing in other 3rd world countries. The Repub and Dem parties will both be replaced by a third party and we will start over again.

Posted by: SWAMPYPD | January 15, 2011 12:01 PM | Report abuse

"If Reagan was an “amiable dunce” (stupid), then Palin can be categorized as:
A complete fricking imbecile?
Dumb as a chimp?
A simpleton redneck?
A complete mentally retarded?, or just
a regular Republican?"
I hate Palin's hate speech as much as anyone, but I agree wholeheartedly with our leaders on both sides who have called for civilized discourse rather that the toxic, name-calling "discourse" to which we have sadly become accustomed.

Posted by: seaduck2001 | January 15, 2011 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Ron Reagan is a witless ninny. His timelines have already been debunked.

Posted by: ThisIsReality | January 15, 2011 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I watched the first Presidential debate in 1984 and saw a puzzled , confused Reagan attempting to compete with Mondale. That raised questions at the time. His handlers attributed the poor performance to 'over-preparation.' He did better in the second debate and the questions about his competence diminished. I guess he didn't get as much preparation for the second debate so the moral is 'less is more?' Or, the effects of early Alzheimer's are sporadic and just showed up in the first debate?

Then, his testimony in the Iran-Contra deposition in 1990 was rife with "I don't recall; I don't remember that; I had so many meetings every day that I can't recall all of them." It is beyond reasonable belief that having been advised of the tenuous legal grounds of supplying the Contras that he would not remember conversations in which he authorized, or was informed of, violation of the Boland Amendment. He was protecting National secrets? Or, was this a progression of Alzheimer's that was finally officially diagnosed just a couple of years later?

Alzheimer's exists in individuals long before it is definitively diagnosed. Thus, he certainly had it before 1994 and perhaps had it in 1990. That the effects could have begun to appear as early as 1984 is plausible.

Posted by: jdrd58 | January 15, 2011 12:15 PM | Report abuse

How can anyone even doubt he had alzheimer? Didn't anyone see Spitting Image? It's still available on YouTube.

Posted by: Marc12345 | January 15, 2011 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Like so many on here, I knew something was wrong with Ronald Reagan as far back as 1980, when I was still in high school. My parents were diehard Democrats and would never have voted for him under any circumstances, but in my first opportunity to vote, in 1984, I seriously debated whom to vote for, and after watching Reagan's behavior, his verbal gaffes and tics, his hollow persona that the media and Republicans were trying their darnedest to convince the world was exemplary, I had to vote for his opponent, the milquetoast Walter Mondale. I have always thought Reagan--or his handlers--conned the vast majority of people using his skills as an actor and the stagecraft of modern politics. I'm glad that Ron Reagan Jr. has finally pulled the curtain open and revealed what was truly going on, or not going on, in his father's head, as he putatively led the free world. Now when will Laura Bush or one of the twins reveal who was really in charge or what was or wasn't going on in W's head from 2001-2008?

Posted by: angostura1 | January 15, 2011 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Weird Ron was estranged from his Dad at the time and simply doesn't know what he's talking about.

First, after the fall Weird Ron recalls, President Reagan was flown to a hospital in Arizona, where he was treated for scrapes and bruises and released after five hours. There was no surgery in San Diego, and unless Arizona is keeping some special brain surgery technique a deep dark secret from the rest of us, there would be not surgery completed and the patient discharged same day.

Second, the only actual surgical response to the fall was at Mayo Clinic two months later --a small hole to relieve a fluid build-up, not large enough for a proper visual assessment.

Third, at that time, and even today, no such simple visual assessments of Alzheimer's were available, but instead require procedures and tests performed on interior brain tissue available only post mortem.

So, whatever one's view of President Reagan's policies and performance might be, Weird Ron's

Posted by: johnplunket | January 15, 2011 1:16 PM | Report abuse

The one quality I have the utmost respect for the Gipper had was the ability to compromise with Tip. His policies are proven failures, while the GOP enamored with him actually take Newt's my way or the highway philosophy. The job creation from the high 10% unemployment to less than 6% was the direct result of spending. No program created more jobs than the budget busting Reagan investment tax credit in 86. Tip was a great statesman that refused to bring up impeachment hearings over Iran-Contra knowing it would lose and drag out our countries dirty laundry.

Posted by: jameschirico | January 15, 2011 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Among several mental health professionals I worked with, Reagan's Alzheimer's condition was a common observation in the mid-80's.

Posted by: bystander3 | January 15, 2011 1:25 PM | Report abuse

When Nancy had to whisper in his ears answers to simplest questions from the reporters, I assumed that he was just plain ignorant. But this explains his behavior.

Posted by: bluethunder1 | January 15, 2011 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Those commenting here that President Reagam was showing alarming signs of this disease are entirely correct.Those who deny it were just too busy worshiping him to admit it.During the Iran Contra investigations,he would,while being questioned,laugh as though this was a huge joke.He was clearly not there mentally.Who knows how long this had been the case.Our govern ment has become too good at covering up and keeping from the people most affected by the dicisions of government officials,their ability to lead.We do indeed need to pass laws limiting the age at which candidates are eligible for the highest offices of our government,as well as term limits in both houses.For it is quite obvious that the electorate are too ignorant to stop voting the same people into office regardless of their age or ability to do the job.

Posted by: nannieturner | January 15, 2011 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Amazing how an article like this brings out all the haters. Didn't someone give a speech that talked about lowering the level of partisan rhetoric? All this article proved is that Ron Reagan must have been adopted. The media and the left will again be proven wrong just like Tucson. The medical evidence is not there to say he had it during his administration. We all forget things but don't have Alzheimers. Look at how many campaign promises Obama has already forgotten.

Posted by: archie521 | January 15, 2011 2:32 PM | Report abuse

THANK YOU marcywrite!!!

It is really sad and utterly disgusting that people in the Country are so disrespectful to President Obama. We have lost all sense of decency and decorum! If you can't respect the man, for the love of GOD, respect the office... Such vitriol and hatred cheapens us all!!! Shame shame, shame on all you haters! I wonder if you kiss your mothers with those foul thoughts and fouler mouths!!!?

Posted by: May_Twin_Boy | January 15, 2011 2:45 PM | Report abuse

OK, that was Reagan's problem. ... What's Obama's?

Posted by: couwnt | January 15, 2011 2:50 PM | Report abuse

actually -- young son reagan is facinating in hgis concern and approach....however...a little bit of history...may illuminate a different insight into the president of the united states ussing note cards while in conversation on the phone or in person.

according to presidential history -- as far back as the super sharp and young john f. kennedy -- the presidents have received notecards from staffers they refer to when cxonducting almost everything -- including reminders on notecards such important items as:

"extend hand for handshakes when greeting this person or that in the oval office"

"next week is this persons birthday"

"this persons son died in vietnam"

-- indeed every CEO of every major company often receives notes in advance of a meeting. including little notecards that tell them something about the person.

so -- for those of you who think this is somehow a enlightnement on Reagans' ability or accomplishments -- please spare me the diatribe -- you need to grow up and have been there to understand the tasks that are placed in front of every president or CEO.

Posted by: fngVP | January 15, 2011 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Obama's in his 40s and can't find his backside with a map.

Posted by: postfan1 | January 15, 2011 3:35 PM | Report abuse

The deep gossip from the West Wing staff at the end of the Reagan years was how the various surgeries and health issues both Reagans had often kept them resting upstairs in the living quarters of the White House. There were staff who were troubled by Reagan's limited availability and engagement at the end of his administration. I think this was generally known, but not given a public airing until after Reagan had left office. It certainly came up in the context of the Iran-Contra investigations and Reagan's eventual testimony that he had little recollection of what went on with the activities of Oliver North & Company.

Posted by: cassandra9 | January 15, 2011 3:55 PM | Report abuse

This is breaking news? If I remember correctly, Leslie Stahl on CBS 60 Minutes told of an interview she had with Reagan while he was in office where he was confused and almost incoherent for a time. She walked away deeply concerned but never revealed this or commented on it until years after his death.

A member of the mainstream "liberal" media protecting President Reagan?

Well, well, well. Maybe things aren't quite what they seem.

Posted by: RickyGibson | January 15, 2011 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Delusional, forgetful, monotonous repeating of simple statements. Yup, That's the hero of Republican politics. First he planted the seeds for the destruction of California, then his handlers claimed credit for the collapse of the Soviet Union, then they sold drugs to fund an illegal war and finished by planted the seeds for the destruction of the American economy.

A disaster for the free world.

Posted by: thebobbob | January 15, 2011 4:33 PM | Report abuse

This is not news to some of us. We were an Army family, and in the early 80's we had a dinner guest who had been a military officer serving in the Reagan White House. He said then that all was not well with Reagan...that all briefings and reports had to be "dumbed down" for him, whereas Nancy, who was always present, understood everything perfectly.

Posted by: alwood34 | January 15, 2011 5:52 PM | Report abuse

More commonly, we see 90 year old Senators (Strom Thurmond, Robert Byrd) and elderly Congressmen ( like Charlie Rangel). They can't possibly be effective at their jobs.

As for forgetfulness- Clinton forgot to keep his pants zipped up around women he wasn't married to and it costed him a good portion of his second term too.

Posted by: Samael | January 15, 2011 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Ron will finally come out of the closet.

Posted by: randysbailin | January 15, 2011 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Reagan ballooned the debt, gave amnesty to illegals, and cut 'n ran from Beirut giving rise to modern islamic terorrism. How was this guy a conservative?

Posted by: sjp879 | January 15, 2011 11:42 AM

Reagen gave birth to modern terrorism? There had been hijackings and hostage takings well before Reagan entered office.

Clinton added a lot more to the debt and Obama just gave up and put us into hoc for the next thousand years.

Posted by: Samael | January 15, 2011 7:06 PM | Report abuse

"He knows less about the budget than any president in my lifetime. He can't even carry on a conversation about the budget. It's an absolute and utter disgrace."
--House Speaker Tip O'Neill, after a meeting with Reagan, November 23, 1981

Posted by: citizen52 | January 15, 2011 8:10 PM | Report abuse

I guess this would explain how he didn't "recall" anything of the Iran Contra scandal that was transpiring right under his nose for several years?

Now the only outstanding question is what George H. W. Bush's excuse was for allowing that administration to go renegade for so long.

Posted by: B2O2 | January 15, 2011 8:14 PM | Report abuse

randysbailin- you first

Posted by: ajlerner1 | January 15, 2011 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Did The WashPost happen to mention that Ronnie's loving son happens to be selling a book - and needs some free publicity. No one who worked with the President every day ever saw any evidence of dementia. It's BS perpetrated by the haters on the left and an underachieving son attempting to shill a product.

Posted by: mdkelly99 | January 15, 2011 11:16 PM | Report abuse

I do recall when it was announced that Reagan has Alzheimer's in 1994, a college friend with a Republican connected family muttering under his breath that he had it while he was in office. I remember that was a telling comment, especially from a die-hard conservative Republican.

If Reagan did have Alzheimer's in office, I'm not surprised there was a concerted effort to keep it from the American people. Be it national security or political one. And there was a precedence (i.e. Woodrow Wilson).

Also it may explain why there are people trying to put Reagan on a high pedestal... continuing the 'smoke and mirrors' of 20+ years. Or they'll just spin it that Ronald Reagan was the greatest president despite having debilitating disease. They're own personal FDR.

Posted by: angela4 | January 15, 2011 11:28 PM | Report abuse

We do need to know these things of course, so we can learn from history - but it is a little bit queasy making coming from a son who has made a good living out of bashing his famous father (and almost all that his father stood for).

Posted by: Parker1227 | January 15, 2011 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Ronald Reagan lived an incredible life and was one of the greatest presidents we have had. I only wish there was someone like him to take over in 2012.

Posted by: mattmcd0614 | January 16, 2011 12:01 AM | Report abuse

jglasgow1 posts January 14, 2011 5:28 PM

"My question is: Who was governing the United states from 1984 to 1989?"

bush thug Jimmy bob Baker and Nancy.

Posted by: knjincvc | January 16, 2011 12:28 AM | Report abuse

I had press credentials to the WH during the beginning of his second term; I routinely questioned President Reagan. I remember coming home once and telling my husband I was terrified because something was wrong with the president; he could not answer my question (or others) about his signature legislation, something the press conference had been orchestrated to showcase.

He looked great, but just pointed at me -- did not use my name, which he usually did. I was treated to a rambling chat about cutting brush on his ranch in CA. There was dead silence after his reply. I think other reporters were too stunned to ask their questions and see what answer they'd get. It was that bad/bizarre.

I was also concerned about how I was going to write my article the next day. When I got into my office I found had a packet from the WH waiting for me. I opened the packet, found my question and a "correct answer." It had been sent from the WH press office, with a note saying the president had had an off-moment but this was what he'd meant. No signature, WH letterhead.

I took the dilemma to my editor and she bumped it up to our boss; I was told to write the article with the corrected answer, otherwise the organization was afraid our press access would be cut off.

I did so. Then I got another job so I wouldn't be put in that position again.

I heard from colleagues still on the WH beat what I'd experienced became commonplace over the years of the 2nd term

Posted by: MidcenturyModern | January 16, 2011 12:47 AM | Report abuse

ajlerner1 posts January 14, 2011 10:33 PM |
“We are in debt to Howard Baker, Ken Duberstein, Colin Powell and Nancy Reagan for steadying the fort during this scary period.”

Are you nuts! They violated the constitution by not coming forward, they are traitors.
Read dottydo | January 14, 2011 10:21 PM

“Hidden intel and history by public officials in office , has never been good for the people.”

Posted by: knjincvc | January 16, 2011 1:07 AM | Report abuse

It was obvious as early as 1985, to those of us who know what it looks like.

Posted by: Yoki | January 16, 2011 1:16 AM | Report abuse

I won't be buying this book.Glad I don't have a son like RR.

Posted by: keenwhiz | January 16, 2011 6:36 AM | Report abuse

Just as a matter of information since more than one has ask, Ron Reagan is Nancy Reagan's son born in 1956 following her marriage to Ronald Reagan in 1952. I supported Reagan but following his performance in that first debate became aware that he appeared to be suffering from abnormal age related cognitive decline. Those asserting that his son should continue the cover up says far more about their own character than that of the man's son.

After watching McCain in the 2008 campaign who was also exhibiting sumptoms suggestive of age related cognitive decline I had to wonder why a complete neurological and psychological bill of health isn't required for all asking to be given the power of running our government. We have minimum age requirements and there has long been a public call for maximum age requirements. Short of that proving that you are cognitively fit to serve should be requisite.

Posted by: xclntcat | January 16, 2011 6:54 AM | Report abuse

I applaud young Ron for being an upright and honest young man. I think that both Ron, Sr and Nancy would be very proud of his depth and honesty. I did not vote for President Reagan but, in fairness, he and Nancy must have done something right to bring up such a decent son.

Posted by: gilbertpb40 | January 16, 2011 7:30 AM | Report abuse

Ronald Reagan lived an incredible life and was one of the greatest presidents we have had. I only wish there was someone like him to take over in 2012.

Posted by: mattmcd0614
Do you have Alzheimer's or have you always been mentally challenged? Reagan was one of the worst presidents in US history. Got it? There, you have learned something today.

Posted by: nyrunner101 | January 16, 2011 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Ron go away already you loser: your whole life is about saying bullcrap about your dad. Screw off.

Posted by: newsboy3 | January 16, 2011 8:17 AM | Report abuse

It is amusing to read the belligerent/defensive posts of knee-jerk "conservative" commenters. They are angrily trying to deny what was obvious even to those who were Republican at the time and in a position to know the truth. I laughed out loud reading tymtrvlr1's post that attacked Obama's intelligence (no sane person thinks Obama is stupid, regardless of whether one likes his policies) while extravagantly praising Reagan and "John Casich" (sp.). Well, I worked for Kasich at the time; I recall him once in about 1986 returning from a White House meeting shaking his head at Reagan's mental state. That was the time of the Iran-Contra scandal, a serious national security scandal that simply bounces off the consciousness of today's "conservatives" (the same people who want to bomb Iran). Yes, the very same president who has been exalted to divine status by the Grover Norquist crowd presided over the sale of US weapons to the Mullahs. And yet it is people who point this out who are accused of "hating America."

Posted by: Werther | January 16, 2011 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Come on, cut jr. some slack he's just trying to drum up some sales in another act of desperation, you living on daddy's money is really really tough.

Posted by: sam51 | January 16, 2011 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Everyone with any sense knows Ron is correct. I don't think he did anything wrong by calling the shot.

Posted by: didedoodah | January 16, 2011 6:42 PM | Report abuse

newsboy3 posts January 16, 2011 8:17 AM
"Ron go away already you loser: your whole life is about saying bullcrap about your dad. Screw off."

Hey boy,
Stop living in a bubble. Reagan will go down in history just below GHW Bush and just above the worst president GW bush.

Posted by: knjincvc | January 16, 2011 7:01 PM | Report abuse

I would offer kudos to Ron Jr. if there was anything tangible to back up his claims.

Ronald Reagan was an extremely popular president, a gifted individual, and there were many good things that came about as a result of his presidency. I have to wonder whether many of the anti-Reagan remarks are coming from people who weren't even around during those times.

I am frankly skeptical about Ron Reagan's remarks, having read and listened to them pretty extensively this past weekend. He offers scant examples or evidence to back up his claim. He had an "inkling." What the heck is that?

I also find it telling that well known and highly respected people such as David Gergen, who worked closely with the senior Reagan on a daily basis do not agree with Ron Jr.

For years I have thought of Reagan's two youngest children as being nothing more than ticks on their father's back. Sad to say that they never seem to do anything to disprove that theory.

Posted by: mrennie1 | January 17, 2011 2:29 PM | Report abuse

This is not news. Reagan was cast in the role of "President" in part because he was so malleable. He was clearly demented from before the start of his tenure in office, and his dementia was obviously progressing throughout his 8 years (I can still hardly believe it) in office. His subsequent canonization by the right is just another appallingly dishonest ploy to manipulate the electorate. This man who has been lauded as a great president was senile, and in service to the same bloody cabal that is manipulating us today.

Posted by: greeenmtns | January 17, 2011 3:27 PM | Report abuse

When I think of Ronald Reagan's early years as President, I see many of the same things that I know now, in retrospect, were early signs of my mother's Alzheimers. As more an more people in all walks of life, including politicians begin to work longer, Ron's observations about his father are worth keeping in mind.

Posted by: exco | January 17, 2011 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Bad news for Americans living in the Reagan bubble.

Posted by: knjincvc | January 17, 2011 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Ron Reagan's suggestion that President Reagan had Alzheimers while in office is evidence of a desperate attempt to sensationalize his book in hopes of selling it.
Alzheimers is not an illness to be ashamed of -- and the best of minds can be affected. It is offensive that a "son" seems to want to diminish a presidency by "using" his father and insinuating a stigma.
Mission accomplished for him in that regard if he sees some of the comments posted here; but his feelings of inferiority and personal weakness are again magnified by the contrast to his father.
His "guessing" is contrived and offensive.

We can only imagine what he will one day write about his mother.

Posted by: pjcafe | January 18, 2011 1:34 AM | Report abuse

THANK YOU to blert -- I'm "repeating" your post -it is the most accurate-- (and yes, Alzheimers can be an especially difficult "early" diagnosis):

"This is all spoken in retrospect. Yes, there were signs, but Alzheimer's is notoriously difficult to diagnose in the early stages, even today, and the disease was understood much less in the 1980s. Reagan hadn't been diagnosed, and so this really doesn't open any kind of debate on presidential disability.

Besides, even with Iran-Contra, Reagan had a better second term than any president, well, really since Eisenhower. LBJ got us into the mess in Vietnam and didn't run because he was so unpopular. Nixon resigned. Clinton got himself impeached. George W. Bush watched the economy collapse around him in the midst of two unpopular wars. Given the competition, I'll take Reagan's second term any day.

Posted by: blert | January 14, 2011 9:00 PM"

Posted by: pjcafe | January 18, 2011 1:52 AM | Report abuse

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