Where Was Nancy's Astrologer?

Posted: October 22, 1989

Joan Quigley returns my call. Her voice is familiar. Once Nancy Reagan's astrologer, Quigley has been ubiquitous on television recently - taking credit for all sorts of things, not the least of them being the end of the Cold War. That, though, is not the reason for my call. I want to know where she was when the earthquake hit. Joan Quigley, it turns out was at home. In San Francisco.

"I've never been so jolted, so shaken," she says. "We lost some china. We were sort of dazed by it." I felt sympathetic, but Quigley's welfare was not the reason for my call either. What I want to know is why a woman who told the President of the United States the precise moment to sign a treaty couldn't see an earthquake coming.

It turns out that some astrologers can predict earthquakes. Alas, Quigley is not that kind. She specializes in political and economic matters. The prediction of earthquakes is best left to an earthquake astrologer. In an age of specialization, I suppose we should not be surprised. We should not expect house calls, either.

Not that Quigley did not see this earthquake coming.

"I wasn't certain when it would happen," she said. "That it would happen I had no doubt."

No doubt. But the fact remains that the woman who says she told Nancy Reagan what treaties Ronald Reagan should sign, when he should sign them, what to do and when to do it at Bitburg, when Air Force One should take off, when press conferences should be held and - even - that Mikhail Gorbachev was on the level and it was time to drop the "evil empire" nonsense, did not get out of town for an earthquake.

In the case of Nancy Reagan we are not talking about someone who peruses a newspaper horoscope for the fun of it or grabs for the fortune cookie in a Chinese restaurant. And neither are we talking about someone who can, for a mere $100, send the relevant birth data to Quigley and be told, according to the telephone tape, more than anyone could possibly bear to know about herself.

No. We are talking, instead, about a president's wife who admits astrology became "a habit," who - like some junkie - turned over control of her life to something outside of herself. CBS reports that Mrs. Reagan paid Quigley $3,000 a month, which amounts to an incredible $36,000 a year - this from a woman who wrote in her new book, My Turn, that she borrowed designer dresses

because she couldn't afford new ones.

On the same network, Quigley indicated she was a bargain at twice the price. Nancy Reagan could be on the phone several times a day, Quigley said. At one point, Quigley worked up Gorbachev's chart and concluded that the Soviet leader was the Real McCoy - a strong, bold leader whom Reagan could trust. She says she told Nancy who, presumably, told Ron who did not raise his eyebrows but possibly went around the White House looking for the missing $36,000.

Others will draw conclusions from this behavior. They will characterize Nancy Reagan and, by complicity, her husband as silly. The pious may denounce them for proclaiming religious belief and then relying on an astrologer in matters both little and big. The intellectually inclined may conclude that astrological belief was not an aberration for the Reagans, but consistent with their outlook. In other areas, Reagan never let facts interfere with his beliefs.

As for me, I draw no conclusions. An Aquarian who was born at the same time Pluto was "acting out," I am a loosey-goosey sort of guy who says, hey, live and let live. But I did wonder if the former presidential astrologer - knower of so much, seer of nearly all and, really, a delight on the phone - got out of town in advance of the earthquake.

Turns out she didn't and, instead, planned a night at the opera. Wrong Marx Brothers movie. Sounds like Duck Soup to me.

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