If you never wonder what President Ronald Reagan could have done with Twitter or other social media, you should. Reagan’s brand was to go over the heads of hostile media and speak directly to the American people. That was no small task then before social media.  Reagan had to be in front of a microphone and rely on some media outlet to broadcast what he said, or in front of a group, but again, no social media, so he was at the mercy of at least a modicum of legacy media coverage.

Mercifully, the mainstream media had not not yet perfected the technique of biased reporting by omission, that is, refusing to report favorable news if it made a Republican administration look good.  Then, as now, the media wished to portray Republican presidents as mad men. Here’s what Reagan said about Russia, on National Public Radio, no less, in his reelection year:

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.

Then, as now, the media was aghast. Fast forward 33 years.  Here’s Trump’s tweet about North Korea.

The historical parallels are uncanny.  Reagan was locked in a battle with a communist regime and nuclear superpower, then the USSR, which was escalating its militarism but imposing a miserable standing of living on its own people as a cost.  Likewise, North Korea announced on New Year’s Day it was fully nuclear capable, but, as Trump points out, the cost is the misery of its own people.

Reagan’s brinkmanship payed off.  After he left office, the Soviet Union toppled in 1991.  Donald Trump, too, has embarked on a path of brinkmanship with North Korea, pivoting from decades of appeasement by former U.S. presidents in both parties.  The Soviets stole nuclear secrets from the U.S.  American presidents sold North Korea nuclear technology.  But the media and social environment is identical.  A Conservative U.S. President chooses to confront rather than coddle a repressive regime ostensibly ready, willing, and able to attack the U.S.  Except, unlike Reagan, Trump now has Twitter.

Will the American people recognize something that works when they see it?