It's enough to make a secular humanist cry. The right wing in the United States has turned on the Gipper, the man who led them out of the Carter political desert into the land of deficits and "Star Wars."
The wrath of the conservatives was caused by Reagan saying they do not understand the arms pact and have accepted the idea that war is inevitable.
Archie Sovereign, a right- winger of impeccable credentials, was frothing at the mouth. "He has joined the Evil Empire."
I said, "Not necessarily, but there is some truth to the idea that your people believe war between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. has to be."
"Maybe we do and maybe we don't," Sovereign said. "Peace hasn't worked that well anyway. But that's not the point. How would the flaming liberals like it if Reagan stabbed them in the back?"
"They wouldn't like it, but it's hard to imagine any occasion when he would stab us. Ronald Reagan started his political life as a liberal and it's obvious he wants to end his career as one. If it makes his day to sign a nuclear peace treaty with the Russians I don't see any reason for the neoconservatives to get all excited about it."
"There is more to this than a lousy arms deal," Sovereign said. "What if I told you the Soviets turned the president around and he now works for them?"
"How could they have done it?" I asked. "He goes to bed so early."
"They put something in Reagan's Ovaltine."
"You ultraconservatives are really loony. Who would do that?"
"Gorbachev. Since the days of the czar it has always been the dream of the Russians to have an American president in their pocket. Suppose after putting something in the Ovaltine he persuaded Reagan to sign the paper?"
"Reagan would never sign anything he doesn't believe. He has said many times that the treaty is good for both sides. By reducing nuclear weapons, and stressing verification, the world will be a safer place to live in."
"It sounds like something the Soviets would instruct Reagan to say. You have to be blind not to see the president gets his orders from the Kremlin."
"Shame on you. Is redbaiting the only thing the right-wing fringe knows how to do? Just because you're mad is no reason to question the loyalty of those who support arms reduction. It may interest you to hear that there are quite a few patriotic Republicans who have urged Reagan to put his signature on the treaty. For heaven's sakes, Archie, you people aren't losing a missile system -- you're gaining the Star Wars initiative."
"Where in the treaty does it say that the Soviets will cry uncle?"
"If we start down that road the Cold War will begin anew and we'll all be in the freezer."
"It's better than Gorbachev walking off with everything in the Oval Office. You know, from the beginning we fringe people never did trust Ronald Reagan. He talked tough, but he had disarmament written all over his face."
"Okay, so you don't agree that he should sit down with Gorbachev. What are you going to do about it?"
"We're going to start impeachment proceedings."
"You can't impeach Reagan."
"Maybe not, but it's a great way to raise new money for old right-wing causes."