Fast Facts: Key Reagan-Era Figures
WASHINGTON – The Reagan administration brought us the "Star Wars" missile defense, Ollie-mania, the "Evil Empire," Iran-Contra and Reaganomics. A look at where many of the key players from those years are now.
Alexander M. Haig. A retired Army general and former chief of staff under President Nixon, Haig was Reagan's first secretary of state. When Reagan was shot in a 1981 assassination attempt, Haig appeared in the White House press room and uttered his now famous line, "I am in control here in the White House." Haig now heads an international corporate consulting firm.
George H.W. Bush. Reagan's main opponent for the 1980 GOP presidential nomination, Bush signed on as vice president and succeeded Reagan as president in 1989. He lost his re-election bid. Bush pardoned former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and five other figures in the Iran-Contra (search) arms and money scandal that tarnished Reagan's second term. Now living in Houston, Bush celebrates his 80th birthday Saturday and is planning a parachute jump Sunday over College Station, Texas.
Caspar Weinberger. Defense Secretary from 1981 to 1987, Weinberger was the highest-ranking figure indicted in the Iran-Contra affair. He was charged with lying and concealing nearly 2,000 pages of notes detailing key White House discussions of the affair. Weinberger rejected a deal that would have allowed him to plead guilty to a misdemeanor in exchange for information about longtime colleagues, including Reagan. He was pardoned by former President Bush on Christmas Eve 1992, two weeks before his case was scheduled for trial. He is now chairman of Forbes magazine.
Oliver North. A National Security Council aide in the Reagan White House, North stole the spotlight at congressional hearings into the Iran-Contra affair when he outlined the scheme to sell arms to Iran to free American hostages in Lebanon and use some of the proceeds to aid the Nicaraguan rebels, despite congressional prohibitions at the time on such aid. North's convictions for misleading Congress and other violations were overturned on appeal. He is now a commentator for Fox News, currently reporting on the war from Baghdad.
John M. Poindexter. As Reagan's national security adviser, Poindexter approved the financing scheme that led to the Iran-Contra affair. He was convicted of obstructing Congress and other charges, but his convictions were overturned on appeal. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Poindexter designed a research project at a Pentagon agency to foretell assassinations and terrorist strikes by allowing traders in a futures market to profit by correctly predicting such strikes. It was canceled quickly after congressional protests, and Poindexter resigned.
James S. Brady. Reagan's first press secretary was shot in the head by John Hinckley during his attempted assassination of Reagan outside a Washington hotel on March 30, 1981. Although he remained press secretary until the end of Reagan's term, Brady's injuries were too serious for him to continue as the chief spokesman. He and his wife led a crusade against handguns that resulted in enactment of the Brady bill (search) in 1993. It requires background checks and a waiting period for handgun purchases. Brady, who still uses a wheelchair, lives in Delaware and serves on the board of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
John W. Hinckley Jr. Hinckley has been a patient at St. Elizabeth's psychiatric hospital in Washington since he was acquitted by reason of insanity in the shooting of Reagan and three others outside a Washington hotel in March 1981. Late last year, Hinckley was granted six unsupervised visits in the Washington area with his elderly parents.
Mikhail Gorbachev. The former leader of the Soviet Union formed a partnership with Reagan that steered the two superpowers away from the brink of nuclear war. One of Reagan's most famous lines was directed at the Soviet leader, when he stood near the Berlin wall and declared: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Gorbachev founded one of the first independent think tanks in post-Soviet Russia, the Gorbachev Foundation. He continues to serve as the foundation's president.
Margaret Thatcher. Reagan was president for eight of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's 11 years in office. She was the first foreign leader to visit him after his inauguration in 1981. Reagan called her "the best man in England," and she once referred to him as "the second most important man in my life." Now 78, Thatcher is frail and has suffered a series of small strokes. She rarely appears in public.
Michael K. Deaver. A longtime member of the Reagan inner circle, Deaver worked for Reagan when he was governor of California. He was communications strategist and deputy chief of staff during Reagan's first presidential term, with final say over most aspects of Reagan's public appearances. After leaving the administration, he was convicted of perjury in a lobbying scandal involving his communications firm. He now heads the Washington office of Edelman, a public relations company.
Edwin Meese III. Another longtime Reagan confidant, Meese was Reagan's chief of staff when he was California governor and came with him to Washington as White House counselor. He became attorney general in Reagan's second term, but resigned in 1988 during an investigation of illegal lobbying by a defense contractor. He was never charged. Meese is now a public policy scholar with the Heritage Foundation (search) in Washington and the Hoover Institution (search) at Stanford University.
James A. Baker III. Baker was White House chief of staff during Reagan's first term and treasury secretary during his second. He also served as secretary of state under former President Bush, and headed the legal team for the current President Bush during the 2000 presidential election recount. Baker now is a senior partner at a Texas-based international law firm. Last year, President Bush named him to head an Iraqi debt relief mission.
Donald Regan. Head of a Wall Street brokerage firm, Regan was Reagan's first treasury secretary, but switched jobs with White House Chief of Staff James A. Baker III in 1985. Regan drew the ire of first lady Nancy Reagan in that job and was forced to resign in 1987 during the Iran-Contra affair. In his 1988 tell-all biography, he revealed that Mrs. Reagan frequently consulted with an astrologer while her husband was president. Regan died last year.
Howard Baker. As Senate majority leader, Baker played a key role in enactment of Reagan's defense buildup and economic policies. When the Iran-Contra affair broke, Reagan summoned Baker to replace Donald Regan as White House chief of staff. Baker now is U.S. ambassador to Japan.
Elizabeth Dole. Appointed by Reagan in 1983 as transportation secretary, Dole was the first woman ever to hold that job. She was secretary while the air traffic control system was rebuilt following Reagan's 1981 mass firings of controllers who went on strike. Dole became labor secretary under former President Bush in 1989. She was elected to the Senate from North Carolina in 2002.
George P. Shultz. Shultz replaced Alexander Haig as secretary of state in 1982 and held the job until Reagan left office in 1989. He is now a senior scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He was an adviser to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger during the recall campaign last year.
David Stockman. As White House budget director during Reagan's first term, Stockman led the charge for the supply-side economic policy that came to be known as Reaganomics. But Stockman left office a vocal critic of that policy, calling it "the Reagan era's fabulous free lunch." Stockman is chairman and chief executive officer of Collins & Aikman Corp., an automotive parts manufacturer in Troy, Mich.