Legacies

Was Alexander Haig Right?

The obituaries yesterday for Alexander Haig, the former secretary of State, all focused on his most infamous moment: when he declared, inaccurately, after Ronald Reagan had been shot that “I am in control here, in the White House.” In the Los Angeles Times, Michael McGough notes that while Haig was a “legal illiterate,” he had a point. Consider this thought experiment: “[I]f President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were to die simultaneously, the president would be a former Ku Klux Klansman, West Virginia Sen. Robert C. Byrd.” Byrd is president pro tem of the Senate, the next in line. Haig himself would have preceded in succession by the South Carolina agitator Strom Thurmond.