An incredible career of being one of the greatest ass-kissers in the history of the American military-- a guy who graduated in the bottom third of his West Point class who managed to quickly rise from lieutenant colonel to the rank of four star general in barely five years without even remotely being involved in anything resembling combat-- and parlaying that and other roles into the virtual living embodiment of Gilbert and Sullivan's "Ruler of the Queen's Navee"... comes to an end, as former Secretary of State Alexander Haig has passed away at 85.
Like so many others, Haig's most famous moment is actually the result of a bit of some misreporting arising from something he said after then President Ronald Reagan was shot (by a family friend of the then vice-president) in late March, of 1981 (your talking dog was then on his way to spring training in Tennessee with the rest of Columbia's rowing team; Barack wouldn't arrive on campus until the following September). Haig said "I'm in charge UNTIL THE VICE PRESIDENT GETS HERE." What the media wanted to hear was "I'M IN CHARGE (until the vice-president gets HERE) and then simply reported the statement as "I'm in charge here.") Of course, Haig had a reputation as an asshole, and, since he effectively ran the government in the waning days of the Nixon Administration (where Haig ultimately served as Tricky D's White House Chief of Staff)... everyone certainly thought Haig wanted to be The Guy (and Haig didn't disabuse them of it either!) Of course, when he tried to run for the job in his own right... nobody liked him. But hey...
As it was, perhaps in something the Obama Administration can take to heart, the early days didn't go so well for Reagan, and Haig did not even finish out the first half of Reagan's first term as Secretary of State. Since he "left" government, Haig made a fortune peddling his influence, not in a small way on behalf of our friends in Beijing. Hey, why shouldn't he cash in, like so many others have?
Ordinarily, of course, de mortuis nil nisi bonum dicendum est is not one of the TD house rules, but, once in a while, I'm going to go easy. Former Reagan era officials sometimes catch breaks from me this way... largely because the Reagan Administration included Don "Good Government" Regan, and perhaps because my own career began in Ed Meese's Justice Department in that era. Although I've come to despise Reagan's policies, at the time, at least, the guy was so affable and goofy that I find it difficult not to think fondly of him on a personal level (although I never voted for him... and never would.) Anyway... I'll cut the late Secretary Haig some slack. And let's face it (and people on the Upper West Side of Manhattan can put their fingers in their ears and repeat "nya nya nya")... but compared to either the Bush II or the torture-excusing Obama Administration, the Reagan Administration was "the good old days."
R.I.P., Mr. Haig.