The memoir quotes excerpts from Ron Reagan’s book “My Father at 100,” published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA).
Reagan’s son writes that he believes his father would have left office before his second term ended in 1989 had the disease been diagnosed then. U.S. News & World Report was the first to break the publishing embargo.
“I’ve seen no evidence that my father (or anyone else) was aware of his medical condition while he was in office,” Reagan writes. “Had the diagnosis been made in, say 1987, would he have stepped down? I believe he would have.”
Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1994, five years after leaving office. The popular Republican president died in 2004 at age 93 from complications of the disease.
The younger Reagan recalls how his father became uncharacteristically lost for words and looked “lost and bewildered” during the 1984 presidential debates with Democratic rival Walter Mondale. He says his father may have suspected the onset of Alzheimer’s in 1986 when he was flying over familiar canyons north of Los Angeles and became alarmed that he could no longer remember their names.
But Reagan says the issue of his father’s health should not tarnish his legacy as the nation’s 40th president, for which I agree.
“Does this delegitimize his presidency? Only to the extent that President Kennedy and his Addison’s disease or Lincoln’s clinical depression undermine theirs,” Reagan writes. “Better, it seems to me, to judge our presidents by what they actually accomplish than what hidden factors may be weighing on them.” He goes on and continues with “That likely condition, though, serves as a reminder that when we elect presidents, we elect human beings with all their foibles and weaknesses, psychological and physiological.”
Which makes for a good point here, and that is our leaders should undergo full medical workups before running for office and during their terms, and that we, the public should have the right to know of any potential detrimental diseases or ailments our potential future or current leaders have and be able to do something about it, like elect some one who is better prepared. Not saying that someone with Addison’s Disease should be dismissed, but Alzheimer’s, that could be a real issue. And what if the President falls ill during his or her term due to an illness that they had before being elected to office. I do not think we should discriminate, but I think someone that may not be capable of fulfilling their entire term due to an illness, or be able to give 100% to their job, that is not fair to us either. The least we should be able to do is to make up our own minds as to whether or not they are capable of filling their office adequately with an illness or disease which may directly affect not only their performance, but our government as well.