Feature

Today in history: Reagan jokes about bombing Russia

The move alarmed Soviet leaders

August 11, 1923: Calvin Coolidge becomes the first president to appear in a film with sound recording.

August 11, 1984: President Ronald Reagan, while warming up for a radio address, made an off-the-cuff joke about attacking Russia.

Reagan said, "My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes." Although reporters and aides in attendance laughed at the obvious joke, the remark unnerved political opponents and others who worried about Reagan's hard-line stance towards the Soviet Union, a nation the president publicly referred to as an "Evil Empire." The move also alarmed Soviet leaders and gave Reagan's election rival, Walter Mondale, a bump in the polls.

August 11, 1987: In an address to the nation, President Reagan admitted to mistakes in the Iran-Contra affair, in which the U.S. sold arms to a terrorist state — Iran — and used the funds to aid rebels fighting the Nicaraguan government. "I respect you too much to make excuses," the president said. "The fact of the matter is that there's nothing I can say that will make the situation right. I was stubborn in my pursuit of a policy that went astray."

Quote of the Day

“I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." -James Madison

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