The bids are lofty for a vial that once held Ronald Reagan's blood, now up for grabs at an online British auction house. At the moment, the leading bid is $5,081 for a 5-inch glass vial with "dried blood residue from President Reagan," drawn from him at George Washington University Hospital after a 1981 assassination attempt by John Hinckley Jr. A separate hospital form is also included in the package from Guernsey-based PFC Auctions, which also is selling celebrity autographed guitars and a slice of royal wedding cake from Prince William and Kate Middleton's nuptials, among many other things.
And the vial? The slender glass tube with green stopper once belonged to a relative of a Maryland-based laboratory technician who actually analyzed the contents more than three decades ago. The mysterious keeper-of-the-vial held onto it, and eventually informed officials at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library of its whereabouts.
After some back and forth, the vial keeper got the green light to sell it, assuring the auctioneer that "everything was OK, National Archives was not interested in what I had, nor was the Secret Service, the FBI and other agencies ... it was simply something that was of no importance at this time, and that I was free to do with whatever I wanted with it."
The vial keeper added, "I was a real fan of Reaganomics and felt that President Reagan himself would rather see me sell it, rather than donating it." It's all part of the "provenance" of the object, the auction house says, noting that bids will be taken on it until Thursday.
ROMNEY IN 30 SECONDS
"What would a Romney presidency be like? Day One, President Romney immediately approves the Keystone Pipeline, creating thousands of jobs that Obama blocked. President Romney introduces tax cuts and reforms that will reward job creators, not punish them. President Romney issues orders to begin replacing Obamacare with commonsense health care reform. That's what a Romney presidency would look like."
- Dialogue from "Day One," Republican presumptive nominee Mitt Romney's newest campaign video, which manages to equate some form of the word "president" and Mr. Romney five times in 30 seconds.
WHITE HOUSE REACTIONARIES
Though media mavens at the White House often micromanage the press, President Obama and his team have gotten "thin-skinned" about news coverage, says Tevi Troy, a Hudson Institute fellow and a contributor to the American Magazine, a publication of the American Enterprise Institute. Mr. Obama could take a hint, perhaps, from Ronald Reagan.
"Mr. Reagan, in contrast to his immediate predecessors, understood that the way to handle the media was to be proactive, not reactive, and to drown them with a message of the day, relentlessly pressed by a disciplined White House communications team," Mr. Troy observes. "This strategy was the brainchild of Reagan aide Michael Deaver, whom the Encyclopedia of Television News described as 'especially good at providing visually attractive, prepackaged news stories and photo opportunities for television.' "
Reactions from the White House are plenty these days, whether officials are sparring with specific reporters or complaining about the Fox News Channel and the persistence of the "birther" issue.
"Governing is harder than campaigning, which has led to some frustrations and some mistakes made by the Obama White House. In some cases, it appears that President Obama may be following the news too closely," Mr. Troy says.
"It is important for political leaders to maintain a sense of equanimity in their dealings with the press. Candidates who soar to popularity on favorable coverage will see the pendulum swing back. Any sign of being temperamental when this happens is a dangerous trait. That is why it is important for presidents to invest in cultivating good relations with the news media in both the good times and the bad. Otherwise, the good times will be less likely to follow the bad ones."
WEATHER OR NOT
Global-warming alarmists may want to take shelter in the next 48 hours. The Heartland Institute has attracted some real bluster for its Seventh International Conference on Climate Change, which begins Monday in Chicago. Among the luminaries to appear: Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who holds a doctorate in economics and has been a vocal critic of climate-change claims, and Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr.. The Wisconsin Republican is vice chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, which holds sway over the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and several other federal agencies.
Former Apollo astronauts Harrison Schmitt and Walter Cunningham will also be on hand to explain to the audience why they signed a letter with dozens of other NASA alumni warning the space agency that its promotion of "unproven and unsupported remarks" on global warming is damaging NASA's reputation. See all the big doings here: http://climateconference.heartland.org
POLL DU JOUR
• 73 percent of Americans think the state of moral values in the U.S. are "getting worse"; 19 percent say they are "getting better."
• 69 percent give the state of U.S. values a negative review; 82 percent of Republicans and 53 percent of Democrats agree.
• When asked what was most important, 18 percent cite a lack of compassion and respect as the most important issue contributing to the nation's moral problems.
• 11 percent had "no opinion," 10 percent cite lack of family structure, 10 percent cite a lack of faith and 7 percent cite a "lack of morals."
• 5 percent cite "sense of entitlement" and government dependency; 5 percent, greed; 4 percent, poor leadership; 4 percent, "TV/media/Internet"; and 4 percent, dishonesty.
• 4 percent cite promiscuity; 3 percent, abortion; 3 percent, homosexuality; 2 percent, poverty; 2 percent, racism; 2 percent, crime; 2 percent, lack of education; and 1 percent, drugs/alcohol.
• 1 percent each cite unemployment, the economy, and "pro-choice/women's rights."
Source: A Gallup Poll of 1,024 U.S. adults conducted May 3-6 and released Friday; respondents were ask to define moral problems "in their own words," not from a predetermined list.
• Curiosities, curmudgeonly commentary, catcalls to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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