The Presidency of Ronald W. Reagan consumed eight years of American history: 1981 – 1989. But its greed-fueled legacies continue to haunt us.
On October 21, the woman responsible for one of those legacies–government by astrologer–passed away at age 87.
Yes, Joan Quigley is dead.
Ronald and Nancy Reagan in the White House
Nancy Reagan met Quigley on “The Merv Griffin Show” in 1973.
Quigley gave Nancy–and through her, Reagan himself–astrological advice during the latter’s campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination in 1976.
That effort failed to unseat President Gerald Ford–who was defeated that November by Jimmy Carter.
Four years later, in 1980, Reagan defeated Carter to become the 40th President of the United States.
On March 30, 1981, a mentally-disturbed loner named John W. Hinckley shot and critically wounded Reagan. Fixiated on actress Jodie Foster, he believed that by shooting the President he could gain her affection.
For Nancy, the assassination attempt proved a watershed.
Shortly after the shooting, Merv Griffin told her that Quigley had told him: If Nancy had called her on that fateful day, she–Quigley–could have warned that the President’s astrological charts had foretold a bad day.
From that moment on, Nancy made sure to regularly consult Quigley on virtually everything that she and the President intended to do.
When Reagan learned of Nancy’s consultations with Quigley, he warned her: Be careful, because it might look odd if it came out.
Many–if not most–of these calls from the White House to Quigley’s office in San Francisco were made on non-secure phone lines.
This meant that foreign powers–most notably the Soviet Union and Communist China–could have been privy to Reagan’s most secret intentions.
Nancy passed on Quigley’s suggestions as commands to Donald Regan, chief of the White House staff.
As a result, Regan kept a color-coded calendar on his desk to remember when the astrological signs were good for the President to speak, travel, or negotiate with foreign leaders.
Green ink highlighted “good” days; red ink “bad” days; yellow ink “iffy” days.
A list provided by Quigley to Nancy made the following recommendations–which Nancy, in turn, made into commands:
Late Dec thru March bad
Jan 16 – 23 very bad
Jan 20 nothing outside WH–possible attempt
Feb 20 – 26 be careful
March 7 – 14 bad period
March 10 – 14 no outside activity!
March 16 very bad
March 21 no
March 27 no
March 12 – 19 no trips exposure
March 19 – 25 no public exposure
April 3 careful
April 11 careful
April 17 careful
April 21 – 28 stay home
Donald Regan, no fan of Nancy’s, chafed under such restrictions: “Obviously, this list of dangerous or forbidden dates left very little lattitude for scheduling,” he later wrote.
Forced out of the White House in 1987 by Nancy, Regan struck back in a 1988 tell-all memoir: For the Record: From Wall Street to Washington.
In 1988, after her secret role in the Reagan White House was revealed, Quigley told the Associated Press that she was a “serious, scientific astrologer.”
The book revealed, for the first time, how Ronald Reagan had actually made his Presidential decisions.
All–including decisions to risk nuclear war with the Soviet Union–were based on a court astrologer’s horoscopes. Rationality and the best military intelligence available played a lesser, secondary role.
The last time major world leader to turn to the supernatural for advice had been Russian Czar Nicholas 11. His advisor had been Grigori Rasputin, a Siberian peasant whom Empress Alexandra believed was the only man who could save her hemophilic son–and heir to the throne.
In 1990, Quigley confirmed the allegations an autobiography, What Does Joan Say?: My Seven Years As White House Astrologer to Nancy and Ronald Reagan.
The title came from the question that Ronald Reagan asked Nancy before making important decisions–including those that could risk the destruction of the United States.
Among the success Quigley took credit for:
- Strategies for winning the Presidential elections of 1980 and 1984;
- Helping Nancy Reagan overhaul her image as a spoiled rich girl;
- Defusing the controversey over Reagan’s visiting a graveyard for SS soldiers in Bitburg, Germany;
- Pursuing “Star Wars” as a major part of his strategy against the Soviet Union;
- The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty;
- Protecting Reagan from would-be assassins through timely warnings to Nancy; and
- Moving Reagan from seeing the Soviet Union as the “Evil Empire” to accepting Mikhail Gorbachev as a peace-seeking leader.
Thirty-three years after he became President, Ronald Reagan remains the most popular figure among Republicans.
His name is constantly invoked by Right-wing candidates, while his deliberately-crafted myth is held up as the example of Presidential greatness.
A number of precedents of the Reagan administration–like government by astrolger–might lend themselves to easy abuse. Thus, voters should consider this carefully before elevating “another Reagan” to the Presidency.