required visits with his treatment team and reporting back to the court.” Court filings have showed that Hinckley had been spending “time volunteering at a local psychiatric hospital, was offered a job at a church, and had taken his mother to dine out and for scenic drives.” 50 Hinckley looks to be doing better mentally than he was back in 1981. Questions About Who is in Charge Who is in Charge? Considering that Vice President George H. W. Bush had just taken off from Fort Worth, Texas and headed to Austin, many people were unsure as who oversaw any decision making in the White House at that time. Bush had made the decision to cute his schedule short and head back to Washington after refueling in Austin. 51 It would take him some time before returning to Washington to take over watchman at the White House. Holding a press briefing approximately at 4:00 p.m. 52 , Secretary of State Alexander Haig complicated the situation, to who was holding the power. In his answers to the questions from reporters, he states, “Constitutionally, gentlemen, you have the President, the Vice President, and the Secretary of State in that order and should the President decide [sic] he wants to transfer the helm to the Vice President, he will do so. He has not done that. As of now, I am in control here, in the White House, pending the return of the Vice President, and in close touch with him. If something came up, I would check with him, of 48 Hsu, Spencer S. “U.S. Judge Eases Release Conditions” 2018. 49 Ibid. 50 Ibid. 51 Bush, George. Looking Forward . 1987, 221. 52 Documents. Folder: Assassination Attempt – 03/30/81 [1 of 2].
9 course.” 53 This caused many to question, who was really in charge of the government at that moment. Succession of Presidency With many questionings about presidential succession and some immediate uncertainty in the White House and since Vice President George H. W. Bush was on a quick speaking trip in Texas, he cut his trip short and headed back to Washington, D.C. With the vice president not in Washington, Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig, Jr. put his foot in his mouth. “Haig’s statements caused some controversy. According to the Constitution, the order of presidential succession does not go directly from the vice president to the secretary of state as Haig implied. The chain of command goes first to the Speaker of the House and then to the president pro tempore of the Senate. The secretary of state, then other Cabinet members follow.” 54 With the uncertainty about who oversaw the United States while the President was in the emergency room and during surgery, caused a lot of uncertainty about the succession of the presidency. Even though Haig had misspoken about the line of succession, many were still wondering if the President would survive this assassination attempt. Reagan’s Character and Optimism Ronald Reagan and his administration did not want to tell the United States the severity of his condition because they did not want to give anyone cause to believe that Reagan was weak. This was covered up by those around him as well as Reagan being Reagan. His personality and mannerism helped conceal how close the nation came to another tragedy. Being that Reagan
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