(Or: how a wealthy right-wing astrologist ran the White House.)
For all the bureaucracy of government, a massive institution of checks and balances staffed, at least in theory, by the finest minds of the generation, there’s always a bit of mystery as to how policy is actually decided at the highest echelons of power. And the Reagan years saw a lot of strange policy. Look at Iran/Contra: America basically sold guns to terrorists holding Americans hostage, and gave the profits to Nicaraguan terrorists. On the economic front, Reagan tripled the national debt, made historically drastic cuts to the taxes of the 1%, and simultaneously raised taxes on the working and middle classes.
When not committing war crimes or devastating American prosperity, Reagan was supporting South African apartheid, abetting the start of the AIDS epidemic, and putting the mentally ill on the streets. What the f**k was this guy thinking?
According to Reagan’s Chief of Staff, Donald Regan, nearly all of the president’s decisions had to be approved by his wife’s astrologer, who would “make certain that the planets were in a favorable alignment.” Naturally, the astrologer in question was a Vassar-educated San Francisco Republican. Regan, who eventually resigned over Iran/Contra, resented Quigley’s “occult prognostications”, but nonetheless was forced to keep a color-coded calendar reflecting the astrological outlook of a given day.
According to one reporter, the Reagans’ interest in astrology went back decades, when Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis were aspiring actors in Hollywood. Seeing astrologers was fashionable at the time, and the habit carried on into their political careers. While the Reagans kept their interest discrete as they neared the White House, following John Hinckley’s failed assassination attempt in 1981, Nancy Reagan called on celebrity astrologer Joan Quigley.
Quigley held a de facto advisory position within the Reagan White House, drawing up charts to schedule the bombing of Libya, or determine when the president should meet with foreign dignitaries.Quigley herself wrote, “Not since the days of the Roman emperors—and never in the history of the United States Presidency—has an astrologer played such a significant role in the nation’s affairs of State.”