Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Caspar Weinberger, 1917-2006

This is turning out to be a tough week for former Reagan administration officials. Former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger died today from pneumonia.

As a young kid, I was pretty up to date on the news, especially for my age group. I read the newspaper everyday and watched the evening news every night. Because of the TV news's habit of continually piping out stories about how bad the Reagan administration was, I will admit that I was occasionally frightened by President Reagan and his administration (that of course changed as I got older). Still, I can remember liking Caspar Weinberger, if only because his name conjured up memories of a cartoon for me.

Weinberger will be remembered for overseeing the rebuilding of the American military after the ugly 1970's. At this point, I think it is only appropriate to let Lyn Nofziger tell the story of Reagan's decision to appoint Weinberger:

It turned out that Clements, who had served a hitch as Deputy Secretary of Defense, had something specific on his mind. "I think you should name Cap Weinberger secretary of defense," he told Reagan.

Reagan replied noncommittally that he'd consider it and the two went on to other subjects. After Clements left, Reagan said to me (I had sat in on the meeting), "You know, I was lying in bed last night thinking about who should be secretary of defense and all of a sudden it came to me that it should be Cap."

He went on, "But I didn't want to say anything and have Bill think I was upstaging him. If he wants to think it's his idea that's all right with me."

As far as I know no one ever did tell Clements that Reagan had come up with the idea on his own. And in the long run it didn't matter. What mattered was that it was a good idea and that Reagan acted on it.

Rest in peace, Caspar.

No comments: