Tuesday 30 March 2021

rawhide and stagecoach

Outside of the Washington Hilton on this day in 1981, Ronald Reagan survived an assassination attempt by John Hinckley Jr., severely injuring the US president, the Press Secretary, a police officer and secret security agent in the attack. Diagnosed with erotomania and later acquitted by reason of insanity, Hinckley was obsessed with actor Jodie Foster and stalked her around the country, going as far as enrolling at Yale University where Foster was a student. His advances rebuffed, Hinckley reasoned that the fame or infamy of killing a public figure of that stature would make Foster interested in him. Nine days prior, Reagan had held a fundraising event in Ford’s Theatre, gesturing towards the presidential box where Abraham Lincoln had been watching My American Cousin the night he was shot and recalling “a curious sensation” that even with the Secret Service protection (his codename and the codename for the limousine above) that it was “probably still possible for someone with enough determination” to get close enough to shoot a president. No formal succession order was invoked as vice president George H. W. Bush was rushing back from Texas and erroneously Secretary of State Alexander Haig announced that he was in control, whereas according to Amendment XXV the next individuals in line were the Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill, and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Strom Thurmond, coming before him.