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ON THIS DAY: Reagan a muppet, student fees up and more in 1980 issue of The Miami Student

On Sept. 16, 1980, The Miami Student ran an editorial speculating that Ronald Reagan was a muppet.
On Sept. 16, 1980, The Miami Student ran an editorial speculating that Ronald Reagan was a muppet.

The following story, “Muppet president garners support” originally ran on the editorials page of the Sept. 16, 1980, edition of The Miami Student. Check out the full issue at the end of the story.

Doctors announced today that President Ronald Reagan is not, as many had speculated, senile. He is, however, a Muppet.

Reagan, fulfilling a campaign promise to have annual examinations to see if he is senile, checked into the Bethesda (Md.) Naval Hospital yesterday.

Presidential physician Dr. William Garland was initially alarmed when he could detect no signs of the president’s pulse or breathing. But upon hearing a faint giggle, Garland looked under the examining table and found master Muppeteer Frank Oz.

When reached for comment, Nancy Reagan said the real Ronald Reagan suffered a stroke in 1978 while watching a rerun of “Bedtime for Bonzo” and has spent the last three years in a private nursing home in Sausalito, Calif.

Muppet creator Jim Henson, a close friend of the Reagan family, went to Mrs. Reagan before information about the stroke could be made public. He proposed creating a Ronald Reagan Muppet and entering it in the 1980 presidential contest. Mrs. Reagan agreed.

“It seemed like a good idea at the time,” Henson said. “I just didn’t think the country could stand another four years of Jimmy Carter, and Reagan seemed to be the only candidate capable of beating him.”

“I guess it was kind of a silly idea,” Henson added.

Henson said Miss Piggy was originally considered for the job but numerous television and motion picture commitments made it impossible for her to run in 1980. He did not rule out the possibility of the pig seeking the 1984 nomination, however.

The only people who knew President Reagan was a Muppet were Mrs. Reagan, the Muppet crew, Reagan’s cabinet and California Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown, who found out by accident and “promised to keep cool about it.”

Vice president George Bush was apparently ignorant of the whole affair. “I guess I wondered why he was always slumped like a spineless blob in his chair in the Oval Office,” he said, “but I thought he was just tired.”

The Supreme Court has called a special session to decide if the Constitution specifies a proper course of action when the president is discovered to be a Muppet.

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Justice Barry Goldwater, one of Reagan’s appointees to the bench, feels nothing needs to be done. “He’s done a whale of a job so far. Who cares if he’s just a Muppet?”

Abroad, the announcement has met with mixed reactions.

In most of Europe, where “The Muppet Show” is extremely popular, the reaction has been quite favorable.

“I think it’s just ducky. Ronnie a Muppet. Marvelous,” said British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. “Maybe they can get that cute little frog in there too.”

The Soviet Union, however, released a statement that read, in part, “We find the establishment of puppet governments to be deplorable and will resist the spread of such at all costs.”

At a hastily called news conference, Muppeteer Henson defended the move. “Reagan’s advisers had been telling him what to d0 for years. We just continued to take all directions from them.

“Besides, it’s not the first time we put a Muppet in a celebrity position.”

Henson went on to say that broadcaster Curt Gowdy, Ohio Gov. James Rhodes, Supreme Court Justice Barry Goldwater, television personality Tom Snyder and singers Donny and Marie Osmond are also Muppets.

Staff |
The Sept. 16, 1980 edition of The Miami Student featured stories about increasing student fees, noise levels in residence halls, student retention and more, including an editorial that claims Ronald Reagan was a muppet.