Let Reagan Be Reagan

W.J. Astore

The first presidential election in which I voted was 1984 and Ronald Reagan got my nod. Back then, I was a Cold War officer-to-be and I wasn’t convinced that Walter Mondale and the Democrats had a handle on anything. Today, I’d be more likely to vote for Mondale, I think, but I still have some affection for Reagan, who dreamed big.

Reagan’s biggest dream was eliminating nuclear weapons, which he came close to doing with Mikhail Gorbachev. Apparently, the sticking point was Reagan’s enthusiasm for the Strategic Defense Initiative, or “Star Wars,” his misbegotten scheme to defend America against nuclear attack. It’s truly a shame that these two leaders didn’t fulfill a shared dream of making the world safer through nuclear disarmament.

Still, Reagan and Gorbachev did eliminate an entire class of nuclear weapons via the intermediate range nuclear forces (INF) treaty, as represented by the American Pershing II and Soviet SS-20 missiles as well as ground-launched nuclear cruise missiles. Sadly, I recall talking to a senior colleague in the early 1990s who relayed an anecdote that he (or someone he knew, I can’t quite recall) had talked to Reagan and praised the ex-president for that achievement, only to be met with a vague look because Reagan apparently couldn’t remember by that point. It appears Reagan did start to suffer from memory loss in his second term in office, and by the early 1990s it wouldn’t surprise me if he couldn’t recall details of nuclear treaties.

Reagan and Gorbachev sign the INF Treaty, which eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons

Even so, Reagan, despite all his flaws, had a bold vision motivated by human decency. He was something more than a bumbler, and indeed his energy and eloquence were leagues ahead of what Joe Biden exhibits today.

Which put me to mind of this classic “Saturday Night Live” of Reagan in action. Of course, it’s a spoof, but it’s well done and funny while capturing something of Reagan’s own sense of humor:

Please, dear readers, don’t tell me all the crimes of Reagan in the comments section. Nor do I want anyone to whitewash the man. Today, I just wanted to capture Reagan’s abhorrence of nuclear war, which got him to dream of SDI (“Star Wars”) and which almost produced a major breakthrough in total nuclear disarmament.

How shameful is it that Reagan could dream big with Gorbachev but that Biden can’t speak at all to Vladimir Putin?

15 thoughts on “Let Reagan Be Reagan

  1. “Saturday Night Live” was brilliant back in the day Bill. If only we had TV shows as honest as that, and a President as wise as Reagan today. I agree with you that The Gipper had a bold vision motivated by human decency.

    Joe Bidens slamming Russian president Vladimir Putin as a “murderous dictator” and a “pure thug” when he spoke before a St Patrick’s Day lunch on Capitol Hill was the height stupidity. Reagan and Gorbachev eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons by working together. Biden has no hope of working with Putin to achieve anything with this debilitating mindset.

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  2. Biden isn’t interested in “talking” with any foreign leader except maybe to chew them out about something. His academic historian friends told him the way to go down in history as a great President was to spend lots of money on big programs so that’s what he’s doing. Fund government agencies to the max and let them do whatever they want to. Reagan was different of course. He was a leader who could actually think.

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  3. SNL used to be funny and then they just became selectively political. It’s not difficult to do political humor. Just make out the other side to be dumb, klutzy, two-faced, hypocritical, etc. Unfortunately it’s just boring. Chevy Chase used to say that his imitations of Gerald Ford were designed to make voters less likely to vote for Ford. I understand it. It’s easy to do political humor. Much more difficult to write good comedy. And the pay is the same.

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    1. Alex, I agree completely. This past season was one of the worst, if not the worst, in terms of comedy. Frequent song and dance numbers on SNL? Only politically correct SJW humor. Nothing directed at either Biden or Harris…c’mon, the Harris speeches alone were made for mocking.

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  4. Alex, those old Saturday Night Live skits were brilliant.
    Some how over the years the show lost its ways.
    Where is Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd when we we need them?
    I don’t even watch it anymore. Is it still on?

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  5. Off topic today I know Bill, but a topic we come back to again and again on Bracing Views – on Friday the crown jewel of the Air Force fighter fleet was grounded for an indeterminate amount of time as the service inspects all of its F-35 ejection seats for faulty launch cartridges.

    As an old Air Force guy Bill you know that the old Douglas A-3D Skywarrior–was nicknamed the “All Three Dead.” And the motto for A-3D crews was “real men ride ’em down”. Wonder what nickname and motto the boondoggle F35 has with its intrepid jockeys today.

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  6. Speaking of SDI, Star Wars, our Seattle based Marine Construction Company was involved in a Star Wars project in 2008! Some 25-years after President Ronald Reagan proposed the development of the technology to intercept enemy nuclear missiles! ( I could be wrong, but I don’t think any missile has ever been successfully intercepted to this day.)

    Our task was to install (8) huge anchors and their chains in the Gulf of Alaska to anchor a massive floating radar. We successfully installed the anchors and lowered the chains in 300′ of water – ready to the receive the platform. The cost of this venture was classified. Sadly the radar, which was installed on the platform in Corpus Christi TX, only made it to Honolulu before being declared unseaworthy. And I have lost track of what happened to that boondoggle.

    “Though scaled back, development on weapons envisaged in Star Wars continued throughout the 1990s. Its legacy can be seen in today’s Missile Defense Agency. The MDA has cost more than $100 billion since 2002, and the test results of its missile interceptors have been decidedly mixed.”

    https://www.wearethemighty.com/mighty-history/star-wars-program-33-years-later/

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      1. “The evil that men do lives after them,
        The good is oft interred with their bones.” — Marc Antony, Julius Caesar

        or,

        “If I’m not me, who am I? And if I’m somebody else, then why do I look like me?” — Popeye the Sailor

        or,

        Let Nancy be Ronald
        (in the Japanese haiku style)

        To damn with faint praise,
        or praise with faint damnation:
        “Star Wars.” George Lucas?

        Pat Brown beat Nixon.
        Morning in America!
        Jimmy Carter gone.

        Once a Democrat
        when he worked for a living.
        Republican now.

        Feeding the pigeons
        out on the White House back porch.
        Been there quite some time.

        Sailors on shore leave
        spending like drunken Reagans.
        Six hundred new ships.

        War on Poverty.
        “Poverty won!” (yuk, yuk, yuk).
        Republican joke.

        Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2022

        … (sorry for the whitewash) …

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Caitlin Johnstone is in a mood Today with this scream, ‘Trapped In The Slaughterhouse.’

    Western civilization is a story of full bellies and starving hearts. Of a feast of information and a famine of truth. Of conveyor belts churning out processed food, conformity-enforcing media and power-serving culture. Enough food to stay alive but not enough sustenance to live.

    They keep us alive but they don’t let us live. They give us enough carbohydrate to turn the gears of industry, but they keep us too busy, poor, propagandized, confused and crazy to actually drink from the waters of life. To actually experience the beauty of this world. To let the crackling potentiality of advanced terrestrial life blossom to fruition within us.

    The modern empire rules us by filling our markets with Wonder Bread and our schools and media with lies. By filling our bellies and starving our souls. By churning out mountains of useless landfill without ever producing anything of real value. By making more while providing less……………………………………….

    Reading it, she uses the 1000 words to essentially describe this picture posted to this site long ago.

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  8. More things to think about and question?

    ‘Would You Go to War So Nancy Pelosi Can Visit Taiwan?’
    In his 2004 film, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” Michael Moore toured the Capitol asking members of Congress to enlist their children to fight in Iraq. It was a stunt, and critics accused Moore of editing members’ responses to make them look bad. Still, the scene rattled me, perhaps because I had a close relative then serving in that war. She was risking her life in a conflict I had wrongly supported yet wasn’t fighting in myself. I shuddered when I considered what I might say if Moore questioned me.

    I don’t know what Michael Moore is doing now. But I’d be pleased if he returned to Congress and asked the politicians who want Nancy Pelosi to visit Taiwan a version of that same question. If her visit sparks a Chinese military response, and brings Washington and Beijing to the brink of war, will they enlist their kids to fight? It’s the kind of question foreign policy commentators rarely ask. It’s too impolite. And when it comes to the China debate in Washington, it’s this politeness—the failure to talk in blunt, human terms about the consequences of war—that terrifies me………………………………………………………………

    https://peterbeinart.substack.com/p/would-you-go-to-war-so-nancy-pelosi

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