Armen Chakmakjian

Posts Tagged ‘Reagan’

RIP Al Haig…

In politics, Random on February 21, 2010 at 1:15 am

So this morning I was reading the WSJ online and saw the update that Al Haig had died.  Haig was a staple in the news of the 70’s and the 80’s, coincident with my own growing awareness that the world had a lot of moving parts.

I remember at 16 watching the news in horror when Reagan was elected (in my youth I was an unabashed liberal…later I then went zealous conservative after Reagan…now it is more muddled, so leave me alone). Anyway, I found out about Al Haig on the news of the senate hearing confirming him as the new Secretary of State.  I heard he had something to do with Nixon.  That was bad.

I remember about a year later or so when I was walking through the Rec Complex at my high school, Fairfield Prep, I heard that President Reagan had been shot.  People were watching it on little motorola TV’s.  Then at the nightly news I saw the infamous Al Haig statement. “I’m in charge in at the White House until the Vice-President gets back” or whatever he said.

We were all of course mortified that someone shot the president, but more mystified by his statement.  It became a joke.  Any time the leader of some event or the captain of team was late, someone would shout out, “I’m in charge, I’m in control”

In later years, I’d use the same comment in emails whenever I was the only manager in the building for whatever reason.  “Being that this is my Al Haig moment…”  A few people got the joke…

A few years ago, I was listening to NPR and they played the tapes of the conversation between Cap Weinberger and Al Haig about what should be said to the press to reassure them that the wheels of government were ok.  In the end they did both think that what he was about to say rang true and would not be controversial:  That the White House was all set, that someone was taking care of things and that they were in contact with the Vice President…with that context it didn’t sound like the power-grab that the press played it up as.

Anyway, I guess I’ll hang up that joke for now.  It might spill out some day again.  And even less people will get it.

RIP General

A turn of a word…

In Literature, politics on October 3, 2008 at 1:01 pm

Sometimes Peggy Noonan can draw a picture that is so pillowy and soft about the Reagan years I feel like I’m moving lightly amongst the clouds when I am reading it.  I don’t remember the time with those same ethereal feelings, but somehow her words float by like billowing cumulus clouds with wispy cirrus tails…

On the other hand, she can be brutal with that same skill.  I really enjoy writing that has irony and a wry descriptions of things.  A good simile or metaphor just captures the essence of the problem being studied.  Here’s an example of that in a recent editorial she wrote about the VP debate:

We saw this week, too, a turn in the McCain campaign’s response to criticisms of Mrs. Palin. I find obnoxious the political game in which if you expressed doubts about the vice presidential nominee, or criticized her, you were treated as if you were knocking the real America—small towns, sound values. “It’s time that normal Joe Six-Pack American is finally represented in the position of vice presidency,” Mrs. Palin told talk-show host Hugh Hewitt. This left me trying to imagine Abe Lincoln saying he represents “backwoods types,” or FDR announcing that the fading New York aristocracy deserves another moment in the sun.

Forget which side you are on.  It’s the writing and placement of the words and ideas.  I’ve been laughing for 10 minutes now.  I wish I could write like this.  Placing “Six-Pack”, “Backwoods types” and “Fading Aristocracy” in one distilled concept…beautiful…