The president held a press conference last week. It was his first one in seven months. Now Mr. Reagan can return to his usual way of communicating with the media -- which is yelling.
This is how the commander in chief deals with the fourth estate:
The president steps out of his helicopter onto the White House lawn.
A reporter trying to shout over the din of the copter says, "MR. PRESIDENT, ARE WE AT WAR WITH IRAN?"
The president cups his hand over his ear and shakes his head. When the question is repeated, he yells back, "NO, I'M NOT SORRY I NOMINATED JUDGE BORK."
"MR. PRESIDENT, DO YOU THINK THERE IS GOING TO BE A STOCK MARKET CRASH SIMILAR TO THAT OF 1929?"
The president creases his forehead and then points his finger at the questioner. "IF IT WILL HELP OUR CONTRAS IN CENTRAL AMERICA, THEN I SAY A CRASH PROGRAM IS SOMETHING I WOULD SUPPORT."
Now the dog is getting away from Nancy, so the president grabs the leash. It's hard to control the dog and listen to a question at the same time, but the president manages to do it.
"MR. PRESIDENT," comes a voice that can barely be heard above the sound of the copter, "WHAT ABOUT NEW TAXES?"
"WE'RE GOING TO BRING THAT UP WHEN GORBACHEV COMES TO THE UNITED STATES. IF HE WANTS A MISSILE TREATY WITH US, HE BETTER STOP FIXING UP OUR MARINES WITH RUSSIAN GIRLS IN THE MOSCOW EMBASSY."
The president has made it halfway to the White House. Questions keep being thrown at him from the press pen. He pauses to listen to one from a network correspondent.
"MR. PRESIDENT, IS CONGRESS RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL THE TROUBLE IN THE COUNTRY?"
"YES, AND TO SHOW GOOD FAITH THEY HAVE TO GET OUT OF AFGHANISTAN."
"I MEAN CONGRESS, NOT THE SOVIETS."
"I KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN. IT'S NOT MY FAULT THAT CONGRESS HAS ITS FEET IN CEMENT AND WON'T PUT UP THE MONEY FOR STAR WARS."
All the newspaper people are writing furiously because these freewheeling questions and answers could mean a new turn in White House policy.
Thanks to the dog dragging him, the president is almost to the White House door and Mr. Reagan's aides, who have been biting their nails, sigh with relief.
"MR. PRESIDENT," comes a chilling voice from the back of the press pen, "DO YOU THINK THE DOLLAR SHOULD GO UP OR DOWN?"
"I WILL NOT SAY WHAT I INTEND TO DO ABOUT IT BUT I WILL BE MEETING WITH MY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE TO MAKE SURE WE HAVE ALL THE WEAPONS THAT ARE NECESSARY."
As the dog pulls Mr. Reagan through the door, Helen Thomas yells, "THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT."
By this time the White House staff is congratulating the president on the press conference.
"You really socked it to them, Mr. President," his press secretary tells him.
"They haven't laid a finger on me since we put those extra propellers in," the president mutters.
"Give the dog some credit too," Nancy says.
Mr. Reagan smiles, "What this job is all about is communicating. If I can communicate by yelling and my voice remains strong, I will never have to worry about holding a prepared press conference again."