Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has been arguably the most frank and vocal critic of President Barack Obama's proposal to vastly limit and ultimately eliminate the potential use and supply of nuclear weapons. In an interview withThe National Review on Tuesday, the 2008 Republican presidential candidate called Obama's vision "inept," a liberal fantasia.
"A nuclear-free world has been a 60-year dream of the Left," he said, "just like socialized health-care. This new policy, like Obama's government-run health program, is a big step in that direction."
If only things were so black and white. Of course, one of Giuliani's political heroes, Ronald Reagan, once said that nuclear weapons were "totally irrational, totally inhumane, good for nothing but killing, possibly destructive of life on earth and civilization." Indeed, while he irked his detractors for years over a seemingly endless arms buildup, Reagan was, by his own telling, firmly committed to the abolition of nuclear weapons.
"[F]or the eight years I was president," he wrote in his memoirs, "I never let my dream of a nuclear-free world fade from my mind."
While I was researching our new book, I remembered the TV blockbuster movie that starred JoBeth Williams and which freaked out the entire country, including Ronald Reagan.
In 1983, there was a TV movie broadcast to the world entitled " The Day After," about the ramifications of a nuclear war that changed the way Americans viewed the nuclear bomb. It was the highest rated telecast (100 million views) in the history of television at the time and it changed the way Ronald Reagan perceived nuclear arms:
Mushroom clouds covered our television screens in urban cities, but also suburban homes. Nobody escaped. Whether you lived in a mansion by the sea or a tenement in Brooklyn and the horror of that moment was etched into the minds of all Americans. All anybody talked about for days after the broadcast was what would happen if Russia and the US finally pushed the button and mutual destruction ensued.
The Day After influenced Reagan to the point that he told the directed how much it influenced him. Reagan lived in a time when the right-wing hawks like Newt Gingrich and Jack Abramoff and Grover Norquist were spreading fearmongering lies to scare Americans into voting for Ronald. They even said that Soviet spies had infiltrated our government, so the paranoia around Russia was very, very high.
For someone like Reagan to realize the death and destruction nuclear weapons can cause should have taught people like Rudy a lesson, but everything that comes out from most of the right wing these days has no basis in reality. They speak only for the purpose of scoring cheap political points.