from Presidential Courage 1 Brave Leaders and How They Changed America 1789-1989
by Michael Beschloss
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summarized from Presidential Courage 1
Brave Leaders and How They
Changed America 1789-1989

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The Politics California Governor Reagan was always pushing President Richard Nixon to be tougher on Communism and when the UN expelled Taiwan for Communist China Reagan was so angry that he implored  Nixon to ' "get the hell out of that Kangaroo court." ' Nixon thought of himself as middleman for President elects Reagan's activities with the Soviets and Nixon pushed for a Secretary of State who would not cut him off from foreign policy decisions. Nixon was pleased with Alexander Haig who he describes as ' " the meanest, toughest, most ambitious son of a bitch I ever knew." ' Enlarge for better view.
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The summer of 1979 had unemployment and inflation soaring giving candidate Ronald Reagan a thirty point lead in the polls. As the election approached the lead dissipated as President Jimmy Carter claimed Reagan would ' "push the nuclear button." ' A poor debate by the President and his inability to free fifty-two hostages held by Iran caused undecided voters to stampede to Reagan. See 1980 election.
Asked about detente
at his first press conference, Regan stated "Well, so far detent has been a one way street that the Soviet Union has used to pursue its own aims..." He would negotiate but they sought a ' "one- world Communist state," ' with ' "the right to commit any crime, to lie, to cheat." ' " No presidency since at least Kennedy had talked so tough about the Kremlin in public."
President Reagan survived an early assassination attempt. While he didn't attend church he took the Bible literally. He believed in the Messiah's second coming  and the imminence of Armageddon. From our summary Don't Know Much About History
Read horizontally.  l See From Evil Empire to The Axis of Evil
Reagan dismissed  Soviet talks about negotiation and Russia knew he would go to the limit. Reagan use the hot line created by Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev to warn Russia of the dire consequences that could result  if they got  too aggressive during Polish martial law caused by Solidarity union activities. Their maverick leader  Lech Walesa had been arrested. during a 1980 Gdansk Shipyard strike. Editors Note: Upon taking office RR cut taxes, let Volker at the FED continue to fight inflation, began building up the military, and ignored the Federal Deficit.  See Understanding Twin Deficits. Higher economic growth returned and the annual deficit returned to more normal levels. See  Reagonomics Growth Rates. Trump plans the same replacing defense spending with infrastructure spending. He will also try to help US business and workers by forcing China to revalue her Renminbi just as Nixon successfully did in the early 1970's with currencies of Germany and Japan. Nixon plus US military power succeeded as the devalued dollar did not affect US interest rates. Why?  Fear of Russia caused Europe and Japan to buy US treasuries. US consumers and businesses would continue to benefit by 1945 created Dollar Privilege. Strong growth also helped RR keep interest rates down. Today fear of China, Russia and immigrant turmoil may help Trump who may threaten Tariffs to force Chinese agreement See  Currency War 2009- 11
By midterm elections Reagan faced a severe recession and a public that would rather have a nuclear arms freeze than a arms build up that might be followed by a negotiated verifiable arms reduction. In a surprise to most people around him Reagan announced the idea of a $17 billion missile defense system to protect U.S. cities from Russian attack. Called
Star Wars, critics [who proved correct] called it a harebrained no work system. America had picked up covert activities against the Soviets on every continent plus they planned a big military exercise in the Pacific Northwest. Pershing missiles soon to be deployed in Europe had made the Soviets vulnerable to a sneak attack from the U.S.  

The Soviets shot down a Korean airliner near Japan causing Regan to announce it was them against the world. Tensions were high on both sides. The President depressed after an advanced showing of the TV movie The Day After which depicted Lawrence, Kansas the day after a nuclear war with the Soviets.

Having set the stage, Reagan very quietly had Secretary of State George Shultz set up a White House meeting with the Soviet ambassador  to make sure he knew that Regan's hard line didn't mean he would not negotiate. As a token of good faith Reagan asked for and received the freedom of some religious people who had taken refuge in the U.S. Moscow embassy. This did not stop Reagan from referring to the Soviet Union as the ' "evil empire. " 'Wife and confidant Nancy agreed the President should quite public fears with an address to the nation. President Reagan told the world that it was now a much safer place now that the Kremlin could not ' "underestimate our strength or question our resolve." Reagan really felt good because of his reelection and because the Joint Chiefs of Staff assured him America had never better able to protect herself. President Reagan delivering the March 23, 1983 speech initiating SDI. 

35) DON'T WORRY THAT I'VE LOST MY BEARINGS The 1986 Soviets Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster was the only category 7 disaster until the 2011 Fukushima, Japan disaster. President Reagan believed that the book of Revelations predicted that  " '...a star from heaven fell on the water" and 'men died of the water..'. " and he told aids that the Bible had predicted the disaster. This view of the damaged core and roof of the turbine hall at the photo center at Fukushima.

Pictured is the November 19, 1985 Iceland meeting between President Reagan and new Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Reagan told him straight out that Americans detested Soviet world empire ambitions and they could either reduce their nuclear arms or get ready for a new arms race. Shocked and offended by Reagan's threat, Gorbachev told his staff, "I have met a caveman! A dinosaur" ' As the meeting wore on, the arguments became more friendly. Reagan suggest they cut nuclear arms 50% and then talked about the U.S. deploring Star Wars. Eventually Gorbachev agree to Reagan's proposed cut in nuclear arms and the site verification allowed elimination of U.S. based European intermediate-range missiles. Star Wars would be the clincher. Reagan new the Soviets couldn't afford it so rather than let them off the hook and drop the program to get a treaty, he let the talks brake down. Star Wars cost 200 billion dollars and never produced an actual missile test.

36) A MIRACLE HAS TAKEN PLACE In late November of 1986 the world learned that that money from secret U.S. arms sales to Iran had been used to finance the Nicaraguan Contras. Congress had cut off funding to those fighting the country's Marxist government. At 76 Reagan was showing the signs of age. The last thing he needed was the Contra Affair scandal that could cost his  Presidency. Impeachment talk began and the controversy ended when President GHW Bush pardon participants.

During a 1987 speech near the  West Berlin Brandenburg Gate  Reagan dramatically yelled  " Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."  With Democratic control of the Senate funding of Star Wars was unlikely, Still Gorbachev agreed to a ban intermediate rang missiles. Reagan was asked during his 1986 Moscow  visit if he still thought of Russia as an evil empire. He said ' " No I was talking about another time, another era." ' See Presidential Elections of 1976-2012 for President Reagan history. Images for Berlin wall






1986 graffiti art from the West side of the wall's infamous  "death strip"

Presidential Election History

1. Political Eras 1788 to 1892   pdf
2. Political Eras 1896 to 2016   pdf

1. Presidential Elections 1778-1824  pdf
2. Presidential Elections 1828-1852   
3. Presidential Elections 1856-1892       

4. Presidential Elections 1896-1928  pdf
5. Presidential Elections 1932-72  pdf  
6. Presidential Elections 1976-2012  

U.S. History
U.S. Terror Episodes Since 1900

Turning Points in American History
Don't Know Much History

Return to Political Economy Historical Summaries

Other Presidential Courage Presidents

J. Adams avoided a Quasi-War with France which cost him reelection.

Current Issues

1) Economic

Federal Deficit


Income Stagnates


Lack of Good Jobs

Economic Wellbeing

Will Stagnate Income Hurt Children?


A. Jackson took on eastern bankers to lessen excessive power over farmers.
A. Lincoln required freeing the slaves as a condition of saving the Union.
T. Roosevelt took on corporate RR trusts for consumers and farmers.
FDR took an unpopular stance by planning for war but still reelected.
HT made tough decisions like quickly in the face of pressure from all sides.
JFK continued to push school integration despite potential political opposition.
RR hastened the end of the Cold War with massive deficit spending.
2) Education
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Ten Commandments pdf

Plan to Educate the Class of 2034   pdf

Is College Economically Worthwhile?

Is Financial Aid Welfare?      

3) Political Controversies
Income Inequality Analysis and Cures
Why is Poverty Controversial?
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Criticism of Modern Capitalism
Is Politics About the Money? Capitalism/Political Economy Video    
How Severe was the Great Recession?
Do People Vote Their Pocketbook?   

Should Tea Party Share Its Tea?

4) Fun Political Stuff
10 Best and Worst Presidents Rant Political
One-page U.S. History

20th Century U.S. Decade Ranking

Which Decade Was Best, Worst?
Capitalistic Democracy government at a profit

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