Another KT Gaffe

The New York Times reports that key parts of Kathleen "K.T." McFarland’s resume might be a bit disingenuous.

Her campaign evidently has been bragging about her being the highest-ranking woman at President Reagan Pentagon, where she allegedly wrote the Gipper’s famous "Star Wars" speech. But the Times argues that these claims are "not entirely accurate," based on interviews with several former Reagan administration officials and a review of key documents.

For example, there were two women with higher ranking than K.T. in the Pentagon during virtually her entire time there, according to information provided by the Pentagon and, surprisingly, the McFarland campaign.

While K.T. started working at the Pentagon in March 1982 as speechwriter and assistant to the secretary of defense, she was followed by Edith Martin, who was named deputy undersecretary of defense for research and advanced technology in April 1982, and Mary Ann Gilleece, who was appointed deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition and management in April 1983. So technically, K.T. was the highest ranking woman at the Pentagon — for maybe one month (March to April 1982).  

And although she helped write the "Star Wars" speech, she did not compose the most famous part, which announced the anti-ballistic missile program. This was, according to two senior advisors and a Nexis search, actually written by the president himself and his top national security advisers.

Now, McFarland says she had never claimed authorship for that particular language, a passage known among Reagan advisers as "the insert." Instead, she clarified that she had written other sections of the speech just repeating the administration’s defense policy.

"I don’t think I ever claimed I authored the insert," she said.  

Earlier in the campaign, John Spencer — a Vietnam veteran — also took issue with McFarland describing her position at the Pentagon as the equivalent civilian rank of a three-star general (McFarland’s campaign subsequently said that she had claimed only to be the civilian equivalent of "a two-and-a-half-star general," but what’s the difference really?).

In response to the Times story, McFarland campaign spokesman William O’Reilly agreed that "This degree of scrutiny is entirely appropriate for a Senate candidate, especially one that has been out of the public eye for some time. That said, I will be hard pressed to change more than a handful of words in Ms. McFarland’s resume, and in fact will add to it a telephone call from President Reagan following his ‘Star Wars’ speech to personally thank her for her work on it."

Meanwhile, Democrats are loving the latest campaign misstep by McFarland: "In all fairness, when Ms. McFarland said she wrote Star Wars, perhaps she meant the George Lucas film," said Blake Zeff, a state Democratic Party spokesman.


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