Did President Ronald Reagan show signs of Alzheimer’s disease when he was still in the White House?
That’s the charge that his youngest son, Ron Reagan, makes in his new book, a memoir called “My Father At 100,” which was excerpted in Parade magazine Sunday.
“Three years into his first term as president, I felt the first shivers of concern that something beyond mellowing was affecting my father,” Ron Reagan wrote.
He later writes that he also became worried when President Reagan “floundered his way” through an election debate with Democratic candidate Walter Mondale in 1984. Ron Reagan qualified his remarks in his book by writing, “I don’t want to give the impression that my father was mumbling incoherently during this or any period.”
Nonetheless, Ron Reagan’s comments in his book sparked an angry response from his older brother Michael Reagan,
“Ron was an embarrassment to his father when he was alive and today he became an embarrassment to his mother,” Michael Reagan tweeted, later adding, “My brother seems to want (to) sell out his father to sell books.”
President Reagan went public in 1994 that he was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and his physicians have said that he developed this type of dementia after he left the presidency.
In his book Ron Reagan defended his father, despite his allegation that the man appeared to have Alzheimer’s while in office.
“Does this delegitimize his presidency?” Ron Reagan wrote. “Only to the extent that President Kennedy’s Addison’s disease or Lincoln’s clinical depression undermine their’s. Better, it seems to me, to judge our presidents by what they actually accomplish that what hidden factors may be weighing in.”