Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Alexander Haig dead at 85, remembered for ‘being in charge’

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Former Secretary of State Alexander Haig passed away at the age of 85. Regardless of his work in the Army and the Nixon and Ford Administrations, Haig will always be remembered for his taking charge after the assassination attempt of Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981.

“As of now, I am in control here in the White House, pending the return of the vice president.”

If a high school student didn’t understand the order of presidential succession, that student might be forgiven. But when someone with as much experience as Haig had, and it was a lot, such power trips can’t be forgiven.

A civilized country has a proper order of succession, so that in times of crisis, everything is taken care of so no one has to worry.

For someone with Army discipline, Haig’s behavior was even more startling. Any good soldier understands the chain of command, something Haig disposed of that fateful day.

Even if Reagan had passed away that day, the Vice President is in charge, wherever the VP may be, not just at the White House. The 25th Amendment was passed in 1967, something Haig should have been aware of that fact.

While successful assassination attempts change the course of history (see JFK, LBJ, 1963), unsuccessful assassination attempts also alter the course of human events. If Reagan had died, Haig might have been more forgiven for his actions. But instead, his power attempts were seen as lame and clown-like.

However, Haig might have had less power than he had with Reagan. If George Herbert Walker Bush had become president in 1981, Bush likely wouldn’t have wanted someone like Haig in as high a position as Secretary of State, smooth transitions aside. Unbelievably, despite the buffoonness of his comments, Haig lasted as Secretary of State until July 5, 1982.

Maybe Haig would have run against Bush in 1984 in the Republican primary against Gary Hart.

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Written by democracysoup

February 21, 2010 at 10:03 am

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