Thursday, May 03, 2007

May 3, 1988:

Nancy Reagan and the Stars

Nineteen years ago today, in the waning months of the Reagan administration, the White House acknowledged that First Lady Nancy Reagan used astrology to help schedule some of her husband's activities. Don Regan, who had been shown the door as the president's chief of staff the year before, had claimed in his book -- For the Record: From Wall Street to Washington -- that the first lady took the advice of her personal astrologer, Joan Quigley, especially in matters related to her husband's speaking engagements, and the Reagans were admitting that it was true. (Quigley herself later wrote a book about her service to the first family, What Does Joan Say? My Seven Years as White House Astrologer to Nancy and Ronald Reagan.)

The revelation has been called a "scandal," but it hardly rises to that level. Consulting an astrologer might indicate a certain gullibility one doesn't want in high public officials, but it isn't illegal. It was more like a national joke, just the kind of thing Regan was probably trying to inspire by spilling the beans.

Other presidents and first ladies have been said to have consulted the stars, most famously Warren Harding and Mary Tood Lincoln (and a lot of good it did them, too), but the Reagans' admission was the first time the practice was confirmed. It got a lot of attention at the time, and still clings to the former first lady as one of those things people remember about her.

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