The Presidency: Sizing Up the Opposition

Sizing Up the Opposition

Ronald Reagan has this fantasy in which he and Mikhail Gorbachev go into a White House room alone, the Soviet boss stripped of Kremlin apparatchiks. Accompanied by only an American interpreter, they talk about the world, their countries and themselves. Reagan would bet a cautious buck or two that they would reach a remarkable human understanding on how to ease tension around this overarmed and overheated globe. It will not happen, of course, but . . .

Gorbachev intrigues Reagan. Is he a steely Marxist-Leninist dressed and mannered for the moment, or is he really orchestrating one of the world's most...