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May 5, 2011

Rawhide Down (The Near Assassination Of Ronald Reagan) Del Quentin Wilber

Rawhide Down is a gripping, comprehensive account of the March 30, 1981 assassination attempt of Ronald Reagan. Del Quentin Wilber, a reporter for the Washington Post definitely has a reporter's eye when it comes to detail and meticulous research. Just the facts. yes but Wilber delivers a spell binding, humanizing tale of those involved in that eventful day. From secret service agents to hospital staff, everyone kept their cool and professionalism for the most part. Wilber relates a story about one of the operating room nurses who after Reagan's surgery was complete, extended a middle finger to one of the secret service agents who doggedly watched her every move during the ordeal. The agent laughed, which certainly help to break the tension. Even John Hinckley comes across as one of the most calm, composed suspects seasoned FBI agents and DC police ever came across. The one person who came away from this ordeal with a tarnished reputation was then Secretary of State "I'm in charge here" Al Haig. A man who should know better erroneously put himself ahead in the constitutionally designated pecking order. Of course Reagan never transferred authority to the one who would be in charge if he ever were capacitated - George Bush. Bush was travelling back from a trip to Texas when he received news of the assassination attempt. The full extent of Reagan's injuries weren't revealed at the time. Wilber surmises that if a quick decision wasn't made to go to the George Washington Hospital instaed of the White House, Reagan wouldn't have survived. There was some hand wringing by doctors on whether to even take the bullet out. But leaving it in would produce unintenional political consequences. It was taken out. The title of the book refers to Reagan's secret service code name Rawhide. His presidential limousine named Stagecoach. In his account of that day, Wilber confirms some long held beliefs about the former president. His days were heavily scripted as he wanted it. He left day to day details about running the govenment to underlings. But Reagan had a superior memory and wit. When he needed to, Reagan could trot out old movie lines at just the right moment. His famous line about hoping the hospital staff were "all Republicans" was actually said twice before it caught on. The staff marvelled at how physically fit he was and also fascinated by his "unnatuarally dark hair". One must remember that two others were shot that day as well - agent Tim Mccarthy and press secretary Jim Brady. McCarthy recovered quickly from his wounds but Brady was shot in the head and at first was pronounced dead. Brady of course would go on to live but suffer a catastophic brain injury. It is he whose name appears on the gun control legislation known as The Brady Bill.

About May 2011

This page contains all entries posted to DR. BYNUM'S SHOW in May 2011. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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