Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from the LA Times

« Previous Post | Top of the Ticket Home | Next Post »

Ronald Reagan and singer/dancer/zoo zealot Michael Jackson

June 25, 2010 | 12:22 am


You may hear a little something today about somebody named Michael Jackson, who could sing and dance at the same time.

Unlike most presidents -- except, of course, for James Buchanan. But that's another story.

You know how every August 16 they do Elvis shows and musical recollections on the anniversary of his still being dead? Well, Friday is the anniversary of the death of Sophie Maslow. Also Johnny Mercer. And Farrah Fawcett.

[For the record: An earlier version of this post misspelled Farrah Fawcett's first name as Farah.]

And, of course, Friday is the first of what promises to be a forever never-ending series of summer anniversaries of the death of pop phenom Michael Jackson. So, look forward to....

...a steady stream of June-time song-sharing and re-releases and movies etc. Too bad for sales' sakes there's no Presley family connection between the two. Oh, wait.

Our pals Christie and Gang over at the Ministry of Gossip have created an immense inventory of stories about MJ for anyone to stroll through.

A year ago, Mr. Jackson passed away in L.A. under strange circumstances that are still being adjudicated. But with so much attention focused on Jackson's music and often bizarre pop persona, many forget that during the earlier days of his celebritydom, the world-famous entertainer had strong political connections.

Especially with another celebrity with Midwestern roots and deep Hollywood/L.A. ties, President Ronald Reagan (shown above on the right, of course, the one without the glove). Reagan had a profound appreciation for show business stars.

And, in fact, the 40th president also died in June, exactly five years and 20 days before Jackson. Both were buried in the L.A. area after nationally-televised services.

Now since we're on the subject of burials, just briefly back to James Buchanan, the 15th president. He too died in June, 142 years ago. Like Reagan, Buchanan started out as a Democrat. But unlike Reagan, he ended up that way too.

Buchanan was a Northern Democrat with Southern sympathies, believing that although state secession was illegal, so too was going to war to stop it. So, naturally, both happened anyway.

Buchanan's inept and ineffective handling of the growing social and political divisions over slavery within the country and his own party help explain why no other Pennsylvanian has ever won the White House.

Buchanan's single term set the stage for his successor, Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, to look really good in comparison.

Buchanan was the last U.S. president born in the 1700s and another of those presidents raised in a log cabin. He also has the distinction of being the only American president to be a lifelong bachelor. So, long before Hef, one can only imagine the wild music and thrilling parties that went on in the presidential mansion lo those many nights long ago before CDs and hot tubs.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Tingle your own leg by clicking here to receive Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Follow us @latimestot  or Like our Facebook page. We're also available on Kindle.

Photo: Reuters (the Reagans and a half-gloved friend during one of his White House visits).