As a four star general, Secretary of State under President Reagan, and Chief of Staff for Nixon and Ford, Haig was a war hero and once wrongly assumed control of the Presidency. “Gen. Alexander Haig never officially became president, but his influence at key moments of post-Vietnam US history assured his reputation as a controversial but often effective power-broker who held the country’s reins twice – once by proxy, once by sheer will. The Philadelphia-born Haig, a Vietnam War hero, came off as both political pro and power-hungry at two key junctures: the Watergate scandal and the assassination attempt on then-president Ronald Reagan. Known for ‘haigravations’ such as ‘saddle myself with a statistical fence,’ Haig correctly predicted that his decision, as secretary of state, to supersede constitutional succession after the shooting of Mr. Reagan to wrongly declare to the press, ‘I am in control here,’ would become the third paragraph of his obituary. His intercession in the waning months of the Richard Nixon presidency as chief of staff earned Haig higher plaudits. He is credited with keeping the White House afloat as Nixon’s despondency grew under the 1974 impeachment threat that drove him from office. “[Haig] was the president toward the end,” wrote William Saxbe, a Nixon biographer.
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