Ronald Prescott Reagan is the youngest child of President Ronald Reagan. Over the weekend, excerpts of his memoir about his dad, My Father at 100, generated a firestorm because in it he speculates that the fortieth president, who passed away in 2004, may have had Alzheimer's Disease while he was in office.
As Ron Reagan admits, he's not a physician. (He's actually a former ballet dancer and now a political commentator who is defiantly opposed to his dad's conservative political philosophy.) And according to news reports, President Reagan's physicians say evidence of Alzheimer's didn't emerge until more than four years after he left the White House, when mental tests revealed it. Also, President Reagan's oldest son, Michael, vehemently disputes Ron's claim, which has set off yet another Reagan family quarrel. "There's absolutely no evidence," Michael Reagan said last night on a cable news program. "There are people on the left who have said Ronald Reagan must have had Alzheimer's when he was president and tried to use that to disparage what he did. Here one of his sons writes a book that says, 'Here's the fodder you need.'"
My Father at 100, however, is about more than a president's health. It's an unusual chronicle that Ron says is the story of a son's journey to know and understand his father.
I talked to Ron Reagan, now 52, on Friday and again this morning.
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Are you surprised that your speculation about your father having Alzheimer's while president has been the take away on your book by the news media?