Full disclosure: I (Michele Hickford) have been a huge Prince fan for many years, and I was very sorry to hear of his death today. His passing reminds me of my own mortality as his music framed the soundtrack of my formative years.
At the height of his fame in the 1980’s, Prince was known for his controversial, overtly sexual music and performances. But he was also deeply spiritual with a strong Christian faith.
For the most part, he stayed away from political issues, but on his 1981 album “Controversy,” Prince had a particularly direct message for the newly-elected President Ronald Reagan, in the song, “Ronnie Talk to Russia.”
Ronnie talk to Russia before it’s too lateBefore it’s too late
Before it’s too late
Ronnie talk to Russia before it’s too lateBefore they blow up the world
Whether he knew it or not, Reagan did indeed take the advice of Prince and met with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985.
We think of Reagan as strong and steadfast in the face of the Evil Empire, but at the time, many hawks in his own party decried his decision to sit down with Gorby.
As Jack Hunter, editor of Rare writes, Neoconservative Norman Podhoretz (who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush in 2004) said that by meeting with Gorbachev, Reagan had “shamed himself and the country.”
Conservative Caucus Chairman Howard Phillips said Reagan had become “a useful idiot for Kremlin propaganda.”
Newt Gingrich called Reagan’s 1985 summit with Gorbachev “the most dangerous summit for the West since Adolf Hitler met with Chamberlain in 1938 at Munich.”
When Pat Robertson was campaigning for president in 1988, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Robertson “suggested that President Ronald Reagan could be compared to Neville Chamberlain . . . by agreeing to a medium-range nuclear arms agreement with Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev.”
Indeed, a conservative consensus in some quarters began to emerge that Reagan had become an “appeaser” in his dealings with the communists and that his insistence on diplomacy with the Russians simply would not work.
Diplomacy alone didn’t work. Economics brought down the Soviet Union, but the world also knew behind Reagan’s velvet glove was an iron fist.
RIP Prince. Perhaps you’ll get a chance now to talk with Ronnie after all.
[This article was written while doves cry by Michele Hickford]