The assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in March 1981 served as a powerful reminder of the fragility of the elected president. Had he been standing a few feet away, in the shoes of James Brady, he would have suffered permanent brain damage. As it was, for two and a half months—from March 30 to June 16—he was unable to hold a press conference. The eighty-day period after John Hinckley shot the president was longer than Reagan's tenure in office before the attack. In later years, when his contacts with the press were few and far between, it became apparent that Reagan's success with prepared comments was great and that the risk of fumbling in a free exchange with reporters was high. But in the early moments of his administration, communicating fully with the public should have been high on his agenda. His failure to do so reflected his post-attack, post-operative condition.