The Corner

Reagan@100: Courage and Humor

Who can forget Reagan’s incredible courage and humor immediately following the attempted assassination by John Hinckley on March 30, 1981, the 70th day of his presidency?

When a fearful Nancy arrived at George Washington University Hospital, he greeted her, “Honey, I forgot to duck.” On the operating table, Reagan looked up at the green-gowned surgeons surrounding him and quipped, “Please tell me you’re all Republicans.” Responded the chief surgeon, “Mr. President, today everyone’s a Republican.”

Reagan always preferred to make light of his courage. In late 1981, I visited the White House to present to the president an updated version of my 1967 biography. In order to promote sales and with a fine disregard for good taste, the publisher (over my objections) had put a bright yellow banner across the cover proclaiming, “Complete Through the Assassination Attempt.”

As President Reagan and I stood chatting in the Oval Office while a photographer snapped pictures, he looked down at the cover and then up at me. “Well, Lee,” he said with that familiar smile, “I’m sorry I messed up your ending.”

How can you not love a guy like that?

— Lee Edwards is Distinguished Fellow in Conservative Thought at The Heritage Foundation and author of the first political biography of Ronald Reagan.

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