Excerpt: 'Reagan Diaries'

Ronald Reagan, the United States' 40th president, died on June 5, 2004, at the age of 93 of pneumonia, a complication of Alzheimer's disease. He was at his home in Los Angeles. "The Reagan Diaries," which chronicle his day-to-day life during his two terms of office in the 1980s, will be released on May 22. This is the first time a U.S. president's diaries have been released. The following is an excerpt.


Tuesday, June 17

[Met with President Julio María Sanguinetti of Uruguay.]

This afternoon we astonished the press with a news break of a perfectly kept secret. I took Chf. Justice Burger, Justice Rehnquist & Judge Scalia into the press room to announce Burger's resignation, Rehnquist's nomination to succeed him & Scalia's nomination to take Rehnquist's place on the court.

A meeting with John P. & Don R. on my proposal for a proposed treaty with the Soviets to share the S.D.I. if & when it is a reality & to then do away with I.C.B.M.'s. John seems to want to sneak up on it in phases, etc. I'm holding out for a simple plan — yes or no.

[State dinner with entertainment by Dave Brubeck.]

Wednesday, June 18

Our U.H.O. friends Salero, Rebolo & Cruz (Nicaragua) were in for a meeting. They are here to lobby Cong. on aid to the freedom fighters.

Then a meeting with Bishop Dario Castillon of Colombia. He's supportive of what we are trying to do in Central Am. I think he was relieved to hear though that we have no plans for armed intervention. He believes that at least 840 of the 900 bishops in Latin America are supportive of what we are trying to do.

[Gathering for flag awards.]

A photo with officers of the Nat. Homebuilders Assn. Then a meeting with Sec. Shultz. Two subjects — Soviet's & S. Africa. He believes it is one turn to move with a proposal to Gorbachev. On S.A. the problem is once again harsh language in the Cong. which may force me to veto something.

[Videotapings. Thursday, June 19: morning briefings; report from Mrs. Reagan that Director of Drug Abuse Policy Office Carlton Turner was feeling ignored by Department of Justice and was ready to quit, the president asked Regan to intervene with Meese; congressional meeting on Contra aid obviated by vote call; lunch with Vice President Bush; photo sessions with staff and candidates; flew to New Jersey for speech to high school students and parents; commented, "I came away feeling ten ft. tall. I like people"; returned to W.H.; drank liquids in anticipation of following day's medical checkup.]

Friday, June 20

The check up after a couple of hours in the office & then off to Camp D. It was a long spell in the hospital, winding up with the Cat scan. Everything was A-OK & the Dr. on the Cat scan said my insides were 25 yrs. younger than my age.

[Saturday, June 21–Sunday, June 22: walks and swimming; returned to W.H.]

Monday, June 23

A half hour interview with 3 members of L.A. Times. It was wide ranging & I hope I didn't give them any possible distortion material. Then the issues briefing lunch. We made a decision that I would ask to appear at noon tomorrow before the House of Reps. to make a speech in support of aid to the Contras. Don called Tip & reached him on a golf course. Tip refused to let me speak to the House. I'm going to rub his nose in this one. We are sending a copy of the speech to every rep.

[Interviewed by Time magazine; presentation of awards to high school students; photographed for French magazine; report from Senator Paul Laxalt (R-NV) that Ferdinand Marcos wanted the president to know that he did not instigate demonstrations in Philippines.]

A meeting with Clarence Thomas my man on the Equal Opp. board. I've nominated him for another term. He's done a h--l of a good job. The Lynch gang on the hill is after him. Then received 9 Ambas's. The 9th was Dobrynin of the Soviet U. He brought a letter from Gorbachev. We had quite a conversation I'm not going to form a quick opinion but he sure is different from the old timers I've met. Nancy is in Calif. This place feels empty.

Tuesday, June 24

I'm supposed to be writing this at the ranch but here I am in the lonely old W.H. without Nancy.

When I got to the office Don R. told me I just couldn't go with the Contra vote hanging over us & Tip's refusal to let me address the House. Well I knew he was right but I was d--n mad. There was the matter of my appearance tonite in Las Vegas -- a fundraiser for our cand. for Senate Cong. man Santini. Well we got them to postpone it until tomorrow night. At 12 noon I went on TV with the speech I would have given to the House. I spent the day phoning & meeting with House members trying to line up votes -- with some success. Oh, I met the new champ Ray Floyd & his wife. He just won the U.S. Open. He gave me a new putter. I did a photo for Time mag. & Here I am upstairs with the trip scheduled for tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 25

Dick Wirthlin's poll -- all things considered the figures are good. My overall approval dropped from 73 to 70 though.

[Made calls to members of Congress on behalf of Contra aid; flew to Las Vegas for fund-raiser; received news that Contra aid bill passed; went to ranch.]

Thursday, June 26-Monday, June 30

For the 1st time this year the weather was beautiful each & every day. We rode every morning, then Barney, Dennis & I cut up some downed trees. On Sun. we learned of Sen. East's suicide -- a sad time for all of us. Now it is Mon. night & we are back at the White House.

[Tuesday, July 1: received briefing on good progress with SDI, commented that "Our stumbling block is the d--n Congress who keep cutting the funding which pushes delays of one or two yrs. every time they have their way"; photographed for Life magazine; desk work; ambassadorial formalities; haircut; attended reception for diplomatic corps.]

Wednesday, July 2

Bill Casey & his team briefed us on plans for Contra aid including training of Contra officers etc. They have really worked out a fine operation which if it succeeds will or can bring about Sandinista troop defections.

Had an interview with 2 gals from "U.S.A. Today." I think it went well. Q's. were on S. Africa, Soviets etc. George B. & I had our usual lunch then I met with Geo. S. just back from the Philippines & several other countries. He had quite an agenda for us on stepping up pressure on S. Africa. I agreed with much of it but told him I thought we should offer a plan to Pres. Botha that could offer something other than just turning the 5 mil. Whites over to a govt. by 26 mil. Blacks. I suggested something like Switzerland's "Canton" type of govt. He agreed. Then a taping session which included a toast to Lew & Edie's 50th wedding anniversary (July 14) at Universal Studios in Calif.

[Thursday, July 3: briefing for visit with President François Mitterrand of France; taped radiocast; joined Nancy's brother and his family to helicopter to Tarrytown, New York, staying at Rockefeller mansion at Pocantico Hills; joined President Mitterrand in New York for unveiling of refurbished Statue of Liberty, commented, "Upon finishing my remarks I pushed the button that lighted up Miss Liberty. It was spectacular"; returned to Pocantico.]

Friday, July 4

Left Pocantico at 8 A.M. Landed Marine 1 on Stern of battleship Iowa. We sailed slowly down the river & bay passing warships of 30 odd countries & several of our own warships who fired 21 gun salutes & of course on all sides were the 40,000 private boats loaded with people. Then we landed on Governors Island for the parade of Tall ships in company of Pres. M. & Madame M. Shortly after noon Nancy & Mrs. M. went to a luncheon at one of the Admiral's home on the island. Pres. M. & I joined Cabinet members of mine & several of his ministers at a working lunch. Pres. M. is going back to a meeting with Gen. Sec. Gorbachev. Our meeting had to do with East-West relations. I tried to give the Pres. all the info I could about our dealings with the Gen. Sec. on arms reductions so that he would know our side if he was subjected to any propaganda. It was a good meeting although Pres. M. can be very unpredictable.

[Dinner at Pocantico; celebrated evening on USS John F. Kennedy. Saturday, July 5: toured Rockefeller mansion; returned to W.H.]

Sunday, July 6

Happy Birthday Nancy! A morning phone call from John P. The V.P. candidate on the Marcos election is holed up in a Manila hotel surrounded by several thousand of his demonstrators. Had himself sworn in as acting Pres. of Philippines per orders of Marcos. Acquino is on Mindano -- 500 miles away. Don't feel civil war will result. Army remains loyal to Acquino. Nothing for us to get involved in.

Quiet day -- then to the Wicks for dinner. Just the 4 of us I think. Still waiting for news on Nakasone & the Japanese election. Dinner turned out to be at the Jockey Club. We slipped out of the W.H. -- no flags or police escort or press. It was nice for a change.

Monday, July 7

A waiter leaked the word about last night & the press is horrified that I went someplace without them knowing. They are now threatening to stake out all the gates to the W.H.

[Desk work; photo session with Antonin Scalia; short staff and NSC meetings.]

Tonite a dinner at John & Ann McLaughlin's with the Charlton Hestons & the Jack Welch's -- he's the new & sensationally successful head of G.E. It was a lot of fun. We did something unusual -- we slipped out of the W.H. -- no we didn't. This time we went in the usual procession.

Tuesday, July 8

[Noted Congress in recess, commented, "It's so nice with Cong. gone"; economic briefing with Baker and Treasury Undersecretary Beryl Sprinkle and staff, report that economy is sluggish, projections have been revised to the downside; interviewed by John Casserly for biography of Barry Goldwater (later published as Goldwater); lunch with Vice President Bush; interviewed by New York Daily News.]

A meeting with Strom Thurmond who feels it's time to have a Sup. Ct. Justice from the South. His name is Wilkins & he's a good man. I think maybe it's time. Strom also thinks Justice Powell is soon going to resign.

[Cocktail hour with W.H. press.]

Back home & lonesome -- Nancy is in N.Y. tonite.

Wednesday, July 9

Another short day -- upstairs by 2:30 to await Nancy's return. A lengthy meeting re the appt. of Bob Brown as Ambas. to S. Africa. I had some doubts. He's Black. My 2 concerns were would S.A. be receptive & would run into the Uncle Tom syndrome among their Blacks & our own Black community. Bob is a remarkable person, extremely well qualified to be a middleman in S. Africa's situation. Now all that remains is for us to quietly probe Pres. Botha's attitude.