When Reagan said that, he was making a joke. A callous, thoughtless joke about the incineration of millions of Soviet civilians with nuclear weapons.
But scary as that was, I am far more frightened today. Because today, ladies and gentlemen, Dick Cheney is the President of the United States.
(Okay, tomorrow. I'm writing late on Friday night, so let's just pretend it's Saturday).
The more-or-less elected President is going to be knocked unconscious and have a camera stuck up his butt. This is an image I would normally cherish, except for the fact that, under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, it makes Dick Cheney the acting president.
First, stop to think about the irony. Cheney has the official reins of power because of a late addition to a document which he has used his apparently vast unofficial power to undermine.
Now, think about the damage this crazy man could do in one day of ultimate power. "Callous" and "thoughtless" don't even begin to describe Cheney's evil. Hell, I'm not even sure "incineration of millions" hits a sufficiently frightening note. A man who considers himself above the law, above the Constitution, answerable neither to the President nor the Congress (nor, so far as there is any evidence, to God), now commands the armed forces. The man who lied and cheated to start an unneccessary war that would line his own pockets, and who may well have committed treason (in the Plame case) to make sure that war started on time; a man who has called the continued practice of torture by American troops "a no-brainer" -- this man now holds the nuclear codes.