Alexander Haig: Go-fer in chief
Alexander Haig died today at 85. He may be best remembered during his tenure as Secretary of State for his “in charge” moment in 1981 after Ronald Reagan was shot.
If a movie is ever made of his life, it’s too bad Tony Curtis won’t be around to play him. Haig was a poor student whose way was opened by connections- first by his uncle, later by his father-in-law. His early military career in Korea was spent as part of headquarters staff where he made himself useful supplying bath house rendezvous and other perks to the brass. He missed the initial invasion by detouring with his father-in-law to Taiwan, on a liaison mission to Chiang Kai-shek.
During Korea, and later during his brief time in Vietnam, Haig was awarded important medals- always with serious questions about the circumstances and doubts of any meritorious behavior. He was awarded a Bronze Star for bravery during a crossing of the Han River in Korea even though the later official history of the crossing said there had been “no enemy resistance.”
He was a strong supporter of Kissinger and covert efforts to overthrow the elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile; he was involved when the White House moved illegally against Daniel Ellsberg; and there is no telling how he aided Richard Nixon while White House Chief of Staff during the Watergate scandal, which he never discussed.
According to Wikipedia,”His speeches … led to the coining of the neologism “Haigspeak”, described in a dictionary of neologisms as “Language characterized by pompous obscurity resulting from redundancy, the semantically strained use of words, and verbosity” ”
Haig was loyal and ambitious. He was also an enemy of democracy, and a willing henchman to predatory policies.
For a more traditional obituary of Alexander Haig, see:
Most of the incidents I’ve written about above are also mentioned there, but as so often happens, “history” will remember a man that never existed. He’ll be expurgated and cleaned up for popular consumption.