Trying to Measure Up to Big Dog Michael Deaver


I never knew radio great Paul Harvey, but sometimes I can hear his voice.

I always wanted to do great things, which is probably why I started out as a reporter.

I had a good nose for news and was pretty good at finding the truth.

But, as it turns out, I was also blind as a bat at times, blinded by my ego, and nowhere near greatness.

In 1992-1993, I was a new consultant in Dallas with “the largest privately owned P.R. firm in the world.”

My biggest client, a real estate giant, had asked us to find a hotshot speaker for their Annual Meeting.

I wanted General Norman Schwarzkopf, one of the great military giants of the 20th century, and the Ultimate Alpha Male.

I just knew my real estate Big Dog clients would LOVE hanging out with Stormin’ Norman.

But my choice was not astute.

My boss, however, was astute, and recommended former long-time Reagan aide Michael Deaver.

This did not sit well with me.

Deaver left the White House in 1985 and had founded what I considered a slimy lobbying firm that served Big Oil and Big Tobacco.

In 1987, he was convicted on three counts of perjury for lying to a House subcommittee and a federal grand jury.

Five years after that, Deaver was named vice chairman of my global P.R. firm.

So when my boss recommended Deaver for the speech, he scored brownie points with his bosses and really pissed me off.

Singularly Unimpressed

So, from the outset, I had a major attitude about Michael “White-House-Big-Dog-Turned-Uber-Influence-Peddler-Turned-My-Vice-Chairman Deaver.

And it only got worse.

Deaver made it absolutely clear that he was super urgently busy with very important stuff, and the last thing he really wanted to do was give a speech to some Yahoo Texas Real Estate Big Dogs.

Worse still, Deaver was in no way impressed by my suggestions for his speech — e.g., less Beltway crap, more testosterone, and try to be funny.

When his speech bombed it proved, at least in my mind, who the Big P.R. Dog really was.

Except, turns out, not so much.

I was made keenly aware of this recently as I reread When Character Was King, Peggy Noonan’s brilliant “story of Ronald Reagan”.

Perspective, Please

In 1993, my Big Dog credentials — in addition to having been right about the speech — included having worked 11 years for unimportant newspapers in Waco, Singapore, DFW and Washington, D.C., plus a Singapore P.R. firm, before rising to the heady heights of Senior Account Supervisor in Dallas of an international P.R. firm.

Deaver, on the other hand, had done a wee bit better.

He’d worked in one capacity or another for Ronald Reagan from 1967-1985, including two terms in the California Governor’s Mansion and five historic years in the White House.

Which is way more important than being a former police reporter in Waco, Texas.

But what REALLY rang my chimes about Deaver’s importance in the grand scheme of things had to do with the attempted assassination of President Reagan in 1981, just nine weeks into his presidency.

As Reagan and his team were leaving the Washington Hilton, a reporter cried out to the President, trying to ask a question about Lech Walesaa and Poland’s Solidarity movement.

Deaver put his hand on Press Secretary Jim Brady’s broad back and pushed him toward the reporter, like he’d done so many times before.

This time, if he had not done it, John Hinckley would have assassinated Ronald Reagan.

How so?

Weeks after the shooting, Brady’s neurosurgeon explained it this way to Deaver, who stood 5 foot 9.

“Jim Brady is six feet tall. If he’d stayed there where he had been, before you moved him, Ronald Reagan would be dead. Because Brady took the bullet that would have killed Reagan.”

As radio great Paul Harvey used to say, “and that’s the rest of the story.”


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