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On Character Assassination
Hinckley's motivation[ edit ] Hinckley was suffering from erotomania and his motivation for the attack was born of his obsession with actress Jodie Foster. While living in Hollywood in the late s, he saw the film Taxi Driver at least 15 times, apparently identifying strongly with Travis Bickle, the lead character portrayed by Robert De Niro. Toward the end of the film, Bickle attempts to assassinate a United States Senator who is running for president. Over the following years, Hinckley trailed Foster around the country, going so far as to enroll in a writing course at Yale University in after reading in People magazine that she was a student there. He decided to emulate Bickle and began stalking President Jimmy Carter. He was surprised at how easy it was to get close to the president—he was only a foot away at one event—but was arrested in October at Nashville International Airport for illegal possession of firearms. Hinckley subsequently turned his attention to Ronald Reagan whose election, he told his parents, would be good for the country. Foster gave these notes to her dean , who gave them to the Yale police department, who sought but failed to track Hinckley down. Reagan recalled, I looked up at the presidential box above the stage where Abe Lincoln had been sitting the night he was shot and felt a curious sensation I thought that even with all the Secret Service protection we now had, it was probably still possible for someone who had enough determination to get close enough to the president to shoot him. In the letter, he said that he hoped to impress her with the magnitude of his action and that he would "abandon the idea of getting Reagan in a second if I could only win your heart and live out the rest of my life with you. The hotel was considered the safest venue in Washington because of its secure, enclosed passageway called "President's Walk", which was built after the assassination of John F. Reagan entered the building through the passageway  around 1: The Secret Service had required him to wear a bulletproof vest for some events, but Reagan was not wearing one for the speech, because his only public exposure would be the 30 feet 9 m between the hotel and his limousine ,  and the agency did not require vests for its agents that day. The Secret Service had extensively screened those attending the president's speech. Believing he would never get a better chance, : He was struck in the abdomen by the fourth bullet. In just 16 minutes, agents found that the gun had been purchased at Rocky's Pawn Shop in Dallas , Texas. On April 2, after learning that the others could explode at any time, volunteer doctors wearing bulletproof vests removed the bullet from Delahanty's neck. Reagan— codename "Rawhide"—was taken away by the agents in the limousine "Stagecoach". When the agent checked him for gunshot wounds, however, Reagan coughed up bright, frothy blood. Reagan exited the limousine and insisted on walking. Reagan acted casual and smiled at onlookers as he walked in. While he entered the hospital unassisted, once inside the president complained of difficulty breathing, his knees buckled, and he went down on one knee; Parr and others assisted him into the emergency department. Brady and the wounded agent McCarthy were operated on near the president;  when his wife arrived in the emergency department, Reagan remarked to her, "Honey, I forgot to duck", borrowing boxer Jack Dempsey 's line to his wife the night he was beaten by Gene Tunney. Aaron, decided to perform a thoracotomy lasting minutes  because the bleeding persisted. Ultimately, Reagan lost over half of his blood volume in the emergency department and during surgery,  which removed the bullet. President, we are all Republicans. Bush received the assignment of running crisis management in case of emergency despite Secretary of State Alexander Haig 's objection. After learning that the president was wounded, Air Force Two refueled in Austin before returning to Washington at what its pilot described as the fastest speed in the plane's history. Baker and Counselor to the President Edwin Meese went to Reagan's hospital  still believing that the president was unharmed. Within five minutes of the shooting, members of the Cabinet began gathering in the White House Situation Room. Although normally no tape recorders are allowed in the Situation Room these meetings were recorded with the participants' knowledge by Allen, and the tapes have since been made public. Reagan's football was still with the officer at the hospital, and Bush also had a card and football. And that means right in this chair for now, constitutionally, until the vice president gets here. Although others in the room knew that Haig's statement was constitutionally incorrect, they did not object at the time to avoid a confrontation. At the same time, a press conference was underway in the White House. CBS reporter Lesley Stahl asked deputy press secretary Larry Speakes who was running the government, to which Speakes responded, "I cannot answer that question at this time. Constitutionally, gentlemen, you have the president, the vice president and the secretary of state, in that order, and should the president decide he wants to transfer the helm to the vice president, he will do so. 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 course. I was talking about the executive branch, who is running the government. That was the question asked. It was not "Who is in line should the President die? The congressional leadership was kept informed, and governments around the world were notified and reassured. The vice president arrived at the White House at 7: We've had full and complete communications throughout the day. All three networks erroneously reported that Brady had died. While the Cable News Network CNN did not have a camera of its own at the shooting it was able to use NBC 's pool feed ,  and by staying on the story for 48 hours, the network, less than a year old, built a reputation for thoroughness. Reagan wore a bullet-resistant vest under his red sweater. The members of his staff were anxious for the president to appear to be recovering quickly,  and the morning after his operation he saw visitors and signed a piece of legislation. Initially, he worked two hours a day in the White House's residential quarters, with meetings held there instead of the Oval Office. Ruge, the Physician to the President, thought recovery was not complete until October. Vice President Bush instead called the orbiting astronauts during their mission. He referred to their teamwork in his absence and insisted, "I should be applauding you. In the speech, he introduced his planned spending cuts, which had been a campaign promise. He received "two thunderous standing ovations", which The New York Times deemed "a salute to his good health" as well as his programs, which the president introduced using a medical recovery theme. The shooting caused Nancy Reagan to fear for her husband's safety, however. She asked him to not run for reelection in , and, because of her concerns, began consulting astrologer Joan Quigley. Officer Delahanty moved from suburban Washington, D. James Brady was the most seriously wounded victim, having sustained a serious head wound and became permanently disabled. Brady remained as press secretary for the remainder of Reagan's administration, but this was primarily a titular role. Later, Brady and his wife Sarah became leading advocates of gun control and other actions to reduce the amount of gun violence in the United States. They also became active in the lobbying organization Handgun Control, Inc. His death was ruled a homicide, a consequence of this shooting. This ruling raised the possibility that Hinckley could face additional future murder charges. First, a jury had already declared Hinckley insane at the time of the shooting and the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy would preclude overturning this ruling on account of Brady's death. Second, in Washington, D. Although the year and a day rule had been abolished in the district prior to , the constitutional prohibition against ex post facto law would preclude the upgrading of charges for deaths resulting today from acts committed while the rule was in effect and, for that matter, would also prohibit the government from challenging Hinckley's successful insanity defense based on the current federal law. Reagan expressed opposition to increased handgun control following Lennon's death and re-iterated his opposition after his own shooting. However, in a speech at an event marking the assassination attempt's 10th anniversary,  Reagan endorsed the Brady Act: March 30, however, marks an anniversary I would just as soon forget, but cannot And there would be a lot fewer families facing anniversaries such as the Bradys, Delahantys, McCarthys and Reagans face every March The defense psychiatric reports had found him to be insane  while the prosecution reports declared him legally sane. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D. Congress and a number of states rewrote laws regarding the insanity defense. Three states have abolished the defense altogether. Since then, Foster has only commented on Hinckley on three occasions: The open canopy above the door was removed and a brick drive-through enclosure was constructed to allow the president to move directly from the door of his car into the hotel without public access. During the — renovation done in preparation for the celebration of the th anniversary of his birth, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California , installed a sound and photo diorama depicting the assassination attempt, and visitors are warned of startling gunshot effects. Jerry Parr, who was inspired to become a Secret Service agent in childhood after seeing the film Code of the Secret Service starring Ronald Reagan, received Congressional commendations for his actions, and was named one of four "Top Cops" in the U. The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan by Del Quentin Wilber Television[ edit ] The following is the list of the movies dealing with the assassination attempt or portraying a portion of it: The made-for-television film Without Warning: When the time travelers realize this, they go to stop him.
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