August 11: Presidential Joke Day

Ronald Reagan 1976On August 11, 1984, while Cold War tensions were still high, President Ronald Reagan announced to the world the following:

“My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.”

The statement was actually just intended as a private joke among his staff and some radio  technicians from NPR. Reagan simply made the remark as a mike test before recording his weekly NPR address, but somehow, someway, the recording was leaked to the public . . . during an election year!

Reportedly, the USSR military was put on high alert for a short while after the quote became public. The Soviet Union officially condemned this “irresponsible” behavior. (See this for more info.)

Ronald and Nancy Reagan 1981 inaugral paradeApparently the joke didn’t ruin Reagan’s political career though. He won the vote that November by a landslide, with a record 525 electoral votes.

Presidential Joke Day is supposed to be a day for presidents to make jokes, but, honestly, I find that rather frightening! Maybe I’m just not good with jokes. I’d be much more comfortable if we just celebrated today by all making jokes about the president instead. How’s that sound?

“May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.”

Psalm 20:1

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