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Nunn of the Above: The Gipper’s Take on the "Highly Overrated Senator"

With the speculation that Obama might choose former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn as his running mate to shore up his national defense credentials, it might be worth taking a look back to when Nunn got his undeserved reputation as a "tough" Democrat on foreign policy. Back in the 1980s, he moved noticeably to the left when he pondered a possible run for president in 1988, especially on the issue of the ABM Treaty interpretation, where he wanted us to concede to the Soviets’ (late) narrow interpretation (after years during which the Soviets wanted the broad interpretation when it favored their missile defense research). Then Nunn rigged to the right (sort of) in opposing the INF Treaty in early 1988.

Reagan took note of Nunn several times in his diary. March 23, 1988: "On INF, San Nunn, a highly overrated senator, is kicking a tantrum which could cause trouble getting it ratified."

Sept. 14, 1988: "Sen. Nunn has become a real pain. He’s acting as if he’s the supreme authority on defense matters."

On still another occasion, Reagan wrote of congressional Democrats (without mentioning Nunn by name): "They are actually sitting on the Soviet side of the negotiating table."

Discussions - 2 Comments

If it was in Reagan's diary, it must be true. For he was the true messiah and Obama the false.

On the other hand, the perception of Georgians was that Sam brought rare class and various kinds of competence to the office. He had, for example, probably the best and certainly a highly meritocratic internship program. I agree that on policy he's overrated, and with class usually comes vanity. It's not surprising that he annoyed President Reagan, but that fact probably wouldn't dissuade Obama. My understanding is that what now seem to many to have been his reactionary views on gays in the military is the much bigger issue with the Democrats, one big enough to have eliminated Sam from serious consideration.

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