Saturday, February 20, 2010

Alexander Haig: Photograph by Harry Benson.

from VF Daily: in memoriam

Alexander M. Haig Jr. died today at the age of 85. Harry Benson took this photograph of the former secretary of state and White House chief of staff for “Yes, Mr. President,” a portfolio from the April 2007 issue of Vanity Fair that reunited presidential aides from every administration since Harry S. Truman’s. Here is the caption that ran with it:

Alexander Haig, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, served Presidents Nixon (as a military adviser, deputy assistant for national-security affairs, and chief of staff), Ford (chief of staff), and Reagan (secretary of state), in West Palm Beach, Florida. “I’m in control here in the White House, pending the return of the vice president,” he famously insisted in the hectic aftermath of the assassination attempt against Reagan. Photograph by Harry Benson.

*Vanity Fair's "Yes, Mr. President" portfolio can be seen here.

BBC News is collecting listener/reader comments on Haig's death. (Updated as of 10:35 pm, 2/20/10) What impresses? Beyond his eternal I'm-in-charge moment and the associations with Nixon and Reagan? Is there anything that jumps out, or was he the general refused admission to the top-level meeting because he had no credentials? From these reminiscences, one gets the sense of Haig as being at his best within regimen, blending, in uniform, owing allegiance to those below as leader, as well as obéissance to those above; Outside that comfort, that organizational flow chart that is the military, he always seemed a bit lost.

A gentleman soldier?

I had the pleasure of a 45-minute on-stage interview with Mr Haig in 2001. He was, as would be expected, an extremely interesting and knowledgeable gentleman with enlightening thoughts on Reagan and subsequent Presidents. However having thought about his answers I am not sure he would have made a great President himself.
Colin Parker, Hemel Hempstead

This man had quite an exciting life and I'm sure he died knowing that his life was full of great opportunities. The unfortunate thing is that he will forever be remembered for his role in Nixon's defence and his remarks after Reagan's assassination, but behind that is one of America's greatest soldiers. Rest In Peace General Haig.
Conor Collins, Hampton, VA

I felt better with General Haig's statement during a rather scary time. We met General Haig in SE Asia during Vietnam War and my husband did some work for him in Europe. He was a total professional and gave a lot to his colleagues. He was an elegant fellow.
Claire Bannerman, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, US

Mostly for the infamous "I'm in charge here" quote after Hinckley's assassination attempt against Reagan, but also grateful to him for his diplomatic efforts between the UK and Argentina during the Falklands conflict.
Muhammad Zaman, Oxford, UK

I remember an incident during my military career when, carrying out strict security arrangements and under specific orders from on high, I refused entry to a top level meeting by, as he was then, General Haig, the Supreme Allied Commander, as he had forgotten to bring his ID. His top level meeting was delayed by about 20 minutes while he sorted himself out. I knew who he was anyway. The look on his face and others, priceless!
Mike Diamond, Edinburgh

Former General Haig was my Battalion Commander (26th Infantry) in Vietnam and proved to be a fine leader and heroic soldier, in particular at the Battle of Ap Gu in 1967.
Joe Dirvin, Las Vegas, US

He was our company officer (11th) at the Naval Academy in 1955/56. He was a major and a great leader - we became the Color (#1) Company during his tenure.
Ira Hughey, Bellevue, NE, USA

Hague had a wry, self deprecatory sense of humour and, certainly to a British reporter covering the election in 1988, was fun to listen too, not something that could be said of Bush, who was always very careful what he said in public but had a reputation for malapropisms or the wooden Dukakis.
Stewart Fleming, UK

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