Twenty years ago we were engaged in a secret illegal war in Central America, and a secret legal one in Afghanistan.  There are a lot of things that haven’t changed in the intervening years (and a lot more that changed, and then changed back).  So, here’s a trip down memory lane courtesy of the peerless original ‘paper’ blogger: Paul Slansky’s The Clothes Have No Emperor.

March 1985: In Which the President Shows How Much He’s Forgotten About the American Revolution

3/1 Desperate to win Contra aid, President Reagan says the Nicaraguan rebels are “the moral equal of our Founding Fathers.”  Historical novelist Howard Fast calls this “an explosion of such incredible ignorance that…he is not fit for public office of any kind.”

3/6 “Nuclear war would be the greatest tragedy, I think, ever experienced by mankind in the history of mankind.” -President Reagan demonstrating his awareness of just how serious it would be if he pushed the button.

Geraldine Ferraro’s Diet Pepsi ad- for which she is reported to have been paid over $500,000- premieres on The Fall Guy.

More on the flip:

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3/8 A second benign polyp is found in the Presidential colon.  Says Larry Speakes, “There is no clinical evidence that this kind of polyp ever becomes malignant.”

3/13 President Reagan- whose fondness for talking tough is exceeded only by his love of getting laughs- does both as he wraps himself in Clint Eastwood’s aura and declares, “I have only one thing to say to the tax increasers. ‘Go ahead and make my day'”.

George Bush attends the funeral of Soviet leader Konstantin Chernerko.

3/15 Labor Secretary Raymond Donovan resigns after being ordered to stand trial on fraud and larceny charges.

“Molanari, you creep!  Cut out this crap!” – Sen. Alfonse D’Amato refusing to believe that the person on the other end of the phone is actually President Reagan.

3/18 ABC is purchased by Capital Cities Communications for more than $3.5 billion, the largest non-oil acquisition in corporate history and first time a network has been sold.

“More than twice as many people are fighting in the field right now against the Nicaraguan communist regime as fought against Somoza.” -President Reagan trying to garner support for contra aid.

3/19 “Nearly three times as many men are fighting the communists right now as the Sandanistas had fighting Somoza.”- President Reagan trying even harder for Contra aid.

3/20 Rupert Murdoch enters the movie business, buying 50% of the Twentieth-Century-Fox Studio.

3/21 20/20’s Geraldo Rivera attempts to shed some light on the Bernhard Goetz debate by re-enacting the subway shootings, while Barbara Walters shares Chinese take-out with the gunman in his apartment.
    A week later, Goetz- who is being seen, in the wake of reports about his vicious New Hampshire confession, as less a hero than kind of a creep- is indicted for attempted murder, after all.

At his 29th press conference, President Reagan explains that he has no intention of visiting a concentration camp site during his upcoming visit to West Germany.  To do so, he explains, would impose an unpleasant guilt trip on a nation where there are “very few alive that remember even the war, and certainly none of them who were adults and participating in any way.”  Though this stunning ignorance of the actuarial tables is displayed to a roomful of reporters, not one challenges it.

3/25 “You like me!  Right now!  You like me!”- Sally Field accepting her Best Actress Oscar for Places In the Heart.

3/26 General Electric- the corporation that, by hiring Ronald Reagan as its spokesman in the 50’s, is most responsible for him being where he is today- is indicted for 108 counts of fraud for falsely billing the Pentagon for over $500,000.  It pleads guilty.

3/29 NOW PLAYING: Deperately Seeking Susan.  Director Susan Seidelman’s insistence on casting the then-unknown Madonna pays off, as her presence transofrms a slick New Wave farce about amnesia into a cultural event and confirms the singer’s ultra-superstar status as she mounts her first concert tour.  “Into the Groove” becomes the all time best-selling 12″ dance single.

3/31 “I find the ‘drama’ of it all some the hippest and funniest stuff done in America today…Its camp freshness fits perfectly into NBC’s late-night mold.”- Saturday Night Live producer Dick Ebersol announcing plans to start airing monthly wrestling specials.

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