When President Reagan told the country that the buck stops in his office, he wasn't kidding.
"Mr. President, the five countries in Central America have just signed a peace plan to make the Nicaraguans and the contras stop fighting."
"Did I know anything about it?"
"No, sir, you didn't."
"Well, that's where you are wrong. Everything that happens winds up here on this desk."
"Yes, sir. I almost forgot."
"Can we still supply the contras under the plan?"
"No, sir, and the Soviets and Cubans can't supply the Sandinistas. The five countries want everybody out of Central America."
"What kind of peace treaty is that?"
"It's a terrible one. That's why I brought it to you -- because the buck on this one stops with you."
"Of course it does. This is a presidential decision that only the elected leader of all the people can deal with."
"You're right as rain, sir. What do you want to do now?"
"Think it through. When the buck stops on my desk I don't just throw it back without thinking about it. I want to know how we can abide by the terms of the treaty and also supply the contras with weapons and nonmilitary support."
"We can always sell snowmobiles to Iran."
"We did that once and it didn't work. Do you know why? Because the buck stopped with Admiral Poindexter instead of with me. Had I been in charge of the buck I would have never let Colonel North do so many good, bad and ugly things. I didn't know what was going on, but I should have because that's what presidents are for."
"Yes, sir, Mr. President. Do you want to send our people to Central America to find out what is going on there?"
"I do if it's clearly understood that it is my decision to do so. If there is anything I hate it's people thinking I don't know what is going on. What's this buck doing on my desk?"
"It's the trillion-dollar budget you're offering the country."
"That isn't my budget. I won't take the blame for it."
"You're going to have to, sir. You've insisted that the buck halts here and that includes the finances of the country."
"The free-spending Democrats are responsible for this budget. How many times have I said fiscal matters don't stop with me?"
"If you insist, sir, you can say that, but it looks bad after announcing that you make all the decisions in the White House."
"Couldn't we arrange to have the budget presented as a covert operation through a bank in Switzerland with a presidential finding?"
"I don't think so, sir. There are too many people who know about it."
"How much of the buck will have to stop with me?"
"The whole thing, Mr. President."
"That's an awful lot to get stuck with. Doesn't the CIA have a solution to this problem?"
"The only answer they came up with, sir, is to put the budget in your wife's name."
1987, Los Angeles Times Syndicate