How thin the thread by which we hang

Michael Beschloss, presidential historian, spoke of how Ronald Reagan was brought to his senses concerning the Evil Empire not by seasoned advisors or erudite academics, but by his wife, Nancy, who said to him, “Ronnie, this showdown of yours with the Russians is getting ridiculous and dangerous.” Apparently he said, “OK.” So Nancy brought in a friend of hers, Susan Massie, a Russian expert whose name I recognized when I heard it, she’s that famous.

What Massie told Reagan was so complex and so recondite it’s a wonder she was able to communicate it: “Mr. President, while the Soviet Union is dangerous, the Russians are people, just like us.”

Wow!!! Is that deep or what? But apparently Ronald Reagan had never thought of that subtle, even devious line of reasoning. The Russians are people. Hmmmmm.

BTW, it helped that Massie reminded Reagan of his mother. Who-o-o-a-a-a, dude.

Do I sound sarcastic? Do I not have a right to be sarcastic when I find out that the person we trusted to lead us in dealing with the Soviets was so limited in his thinking? Or is this what Americans want, a leader who is as ignorant of other people as they are? A leader who thinks of other nations, ethnic groups, populations, cultures, countries, religions, as an undifferentiated ’them’? We sure have a choice this time, a choice between a candidate who talks blithely about foreign peoples and even his fellow Americans in terms that do not differentiate between forces hostile to each other or friendly to each other, just a broad ’those people’, versus a man whose very own person embodies an international perspective.

One other thing before I leave this diatribe: experience is valuable and in some things essential, but in many areas of presidential purview a good mind with a strong background and an ability to read and absorb information is not only essential but often sufficient. In fact, there are times when experience can cloud judgment whereas learning about something once removed through reading and conferring can lend a degree of objectivity.

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