For almost two years now, the Russians haven't been aggressive. If they have been aggressive, they haven't been successfully aggressive.
It is extremely hard to tell whether this is good news or bad news. Probably it is bad news, as seen by the Reagan administration, because when it came up at a recent news conference it made President Reagan knock on wood. That doesn't necessarily mean that this is the President's only method of dealing with the Russians.
Up until now, the Russians have done their part by being thoroughly anti-Republican. Whatever President Reagan couldn't blame on the Democrats he could always blame on the Russians. If the Russians are now going to start acting like good guys where does that leave the United States foreign policy?
This unpleasant turn of events may mean difficult decisions ahead, but the picture is not all black. Even though Russians might reform enough to push the US foreign policy out of gear, there is always a good issue with national policy. The Democrats are not going to reform. Whoever heard of a good Democrat? At least in the last couple of years?
As bad as Democrats might be in the politics of today, they are often quite lovable compared to right-wing Republicans. This issue came up during a White House meeting of 65 hopeful, Republican candidates who got together with the President for a pep talk. The President had just accused the Democrats of being out of step with the times, when right-wing Gary Arnold of California jumped to his feet and accused President Reagan of being too soft on the Russians. One can see the dilemma. How can you be tough with the Russians when they are being so docile and unsuccessful?
It wasn't only the Russians. What was even worse, Mr. Arnold pointed out, Ronald Reagan supported a tax hike. There is no wrath like a Reagan scorned on budget policies, so he told the right-wing Republican gentleman to shut up. He didn't even knock on wood. Or if he did, it was more like pounding on wood.
President Reagan has two wings to fly with, but they are both on the same side. A right wing and a very right wing. If this condition were built onto a bird, it would keep flying in circles.
Flying in circles with US national policy can make everyone awfully dizzy, and might get administration officials snapping at one another. For the sake of better harmony in Washington and a resurgence of Republican election chances, is it wrong to hope the Russians will stop acting like Miss Goody Two Shoes?