It was one of those moments that America thinks is funny – and wonders why the rest of us don’t.
President Ronald Reagan, not realising that the mike he was on was live, joked that he had passed legislation to end the Russian threat forever. The punchline, of course, was “We begin bombing in five minutes.”
Now, there are conspiracy theories aplenty about whether or not he actually knew the microphone was live, but he remained stalwart in his claims that he had not, and that was good enough for most people. It remains an oddity in American politics: a shocking gaffe that probably helped Reagen win re-election later that year.
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The 1980 United States presidential election was among the most bitterly fought of the Twentieth Century. Four years after the electorate had punished them for Watergate and Vietnam, the Republicans roared back into power behind Ronald Reagan, who crushed sitting President Jimmy Carter, winning 44 of the 50 states in the Electoral College. Carter’s defeat set a number of records for a Democratic President – none of them good.
Under Reagan, the United States would spend the 1980s being increasing bellicose and interventionist, just at the time that the USSR was collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions. Domestically, he began the trend of deregulation and globalization that led to such triumphs as the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. His eight years as President are still remembered by Republicans as a golden age, thus disproving the notion that viagra has no psychological side effects.
You see, back in 1968, Ronald Reagan was the Governor of California. And like governors do, he attended a Governors’ conference that year. At this conference, one of the other governors – Lester Maddox of Georgia – bumped against some guy. Just a random accident.
Except that Maddox had bumped against the guy in exactly the right place to find his hidden revolver. The Secret Service arrested the guy, who stated that he was there to kill Reagen…
But what if Lester Maddox had not fortuitously bumped into that would-be assassin? Continue reading →