Thursday, February 15, 2007

Nancy Reagan's Astrologer

If you do a little research, you'll find that the most dangerous profession in the United States is "timber cutter," aka "lumberjack." (Short pause for Monty Python nostalgia). Look at the stats a little more closely, and you see that, while the timber cutters, with 118 deaths per 100,000 per year die more often than fishermen generally (71 d/100000/y), Alaskan crab fishers are at greater risk: a shocking 400/100K/y.

Even so, Alaskan fishing is not the most dangerous job in the U.S. Being President is much more dangerous.

We've had 1 assassinated President since Eisenhower (the first President I remember), and 4 since the office was created. Both of those stats work out to be 1 death every 54 years, about 1850/100K/y, more than 4 times as dangerous as fishing for crab in Alaska. And it doesn't stop there. Of the 10 presidents in my lifetime, 8 had people sent to jail (or worse) for plotting/trying to kill them (the lucky 2 were Eisenhower and Johnson). One (Reagan) was seriously injured and could easily have died. One (Ford) had two separate incidents where members of the Manson Family (oh good grief) tried to kill him; in one case the shots went wild, and in the other, the dingbat apparently didn't know how to take the safety off. When I say "dingbat," incidentally, I am not implying that I wish she'd been more competent. I liked Ford, and I'm glad he lived a nice long life.

Still, looking at the stats over the past half century, if you become President you've got a near certainty that people are plotting to kill you, a 30% change you'll be fired upon, a 20% chance of being hit, and 10% chance of being killed. During the Lewinsky nonsense, a lot of people got very incensed about Clinton's "recklessness." Man, if there was ever a job that selected for reckless, it's being President, and hanky panky with an intern doesn't even make the charts, in my view.

Of course, Presidents get plenty to offset the risks, power, fame, money, all the alpha male perks. But what about their wives? Did those two attempts on her husband's life help put Betty Ford into the rehab business? She's the obvious one, but I daresay that other First Ladies have had to battle the demons without the opiate of power to help balance the scales.

Now maybe my memory is faulty, but I don't remember much reporting about Nancy Reagan's astrology kink before the incident that almost killed Ronnie. I do remember hearing the shaking heads complaining about how she was jerking his schedule around, based on her astrologer's advice; I'm pretty sure that was after Hinkley. Ah, silly superstitious bitch, how dare she inconvenience people, make the President's schedule unpredictable. How dare she, in fact, do the very thing that security experts say is one of the best things to do if there are death threats against "the target." Which is to say that, whoever was complaining about Nancy's interference, I'll bet it wasn't the Secret Service.

Now realize, I've never liked Nancy Reagan and I still don't. There's nothing special about my opinion in that respect; a lot of people don't like her, and I'm one of them. And I don't like astrology, either. Pseudoscientific crap is the short version. But, given the circumstances, I'd have to say that NR's response to the situation was more productive than alcohol or prayer. She might even have known that at the time.

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