"In a hush-hush experiment that succeeded...

NEWS ITEM:

October 21, 1993|By THEO LIPPMAN JR.

NEWS ITEM: "In a hush-hush experiment that succeeded beyond scientists' wildest dreams, doctors administered an amazing new drug to the corpse of Abraham Lincoln -- and brought the former President back to life."

This experiment, reported the Weekly World News, took place a few weeks ago at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.

Doctors were testing an experimental drug Revivitol. "The doctors were expecting to start up the heart and perhaps see some brain waves -- but they weren't expecting Lincoln to revive to complete consciousness," the newspaper reported. But he did. He began to squirm, said, "Gentlemen, where am I?", started having breathing difficulties and died -- after about 95 seconds of reincarnation.

Well, when I read that, I immediately called Walter Reed. I'd love to interview Abe the next time they bring him back to life.

But Bill Swisher of Walter Reed's public affairs department told me, "To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of Abraham Lincoln's resurrection are greatly exaggerated."

Interesting way to put it. Greatly exaggerated. Not a flat denial. So maybe he only lived 30 seconds? Pinned down, Swisher insisted that Lincoln's body is not at Walter Reed and the story is flatly false.

Yeah, right. Who are you going to believe? The media or a government flack? Swisher would probably tell you that Oswald killed Kennedy.

* * *

Just kidding. There's no reason to believe Weekly World News. It is a supermarket tabloid published in Florida. The news philosophy of these journals was summed up this week by the lawyer for one -- the Sun (also of Florida). The Supreme Court let stand a lower court ruling that the paper libeled a 98-year-old Arkansas woman for falsely reporting that she was pregnant. The paper's lawyer, Theodore Olsen, said, "This stuff is strictly baloney."

The paper's editor had testified earlier that its stories are often created "T.O.H." That stands for "top of head." He said writers are given a headline and photo and told to make up a story to go with them.

* * *

But there really is a Lincoln presence at Walter Reed. Honest. The National Museum of Health and Medicine, which is located on the hospital's campus, has some of Lincoln's blood, some of his hair, fragments of his skull and fragments of the bullet that killed him. These they have because the autopsy on Lincoln was performed by Walter Reed doctors in 1865.

Plus the museum has an exhibit in which Lincoln is taken step by step through the modern medical procedures that would be performed if his assassination took place today.

He gets the modern treatment, from Ford's Theater to hospital operating room and beyond. High tech all the way. The best specialists in emergency and trauma medicine work on his wound. He fully recovers. Then he gets his bill and drops dead of a heart attack.

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