New York artist Scott LoBaido created a large mural of President Ronald Reagan wearing a t-shirt reading, "Dear God, Let me go back for just a day." That, in our estimation, would be a baffling 24 hours.
LoBaido's art — which will soon tour New York's five boroughs — probably isn't meant to be taken literally. After all, we don't remember the point at which Reagan was as ruggedly, swooningly buff as LoBaido depicts. But LoBaido went a little way down that path in an interview with DNAInfo:
"Putin and Kim Jung-un would be wearing diapers if Reagan were here for just a day," LoBaido said. "Reagan, like all presidents, had some baggage, but he ended the Cold War without firing a single shot, and we were feared and respected."
And, besides, it's always more fun to take things literally.
So let's say that God grants the painted Reagan's wish, and the Gipper (who in LoBaido's depiction has that word tattooed on his arm) is resurrected at noon on a Monday, given another 24 hours to live. (And, for the sake of argument, let's say this is the Reagan that took the oath at his first inauguration.)
Noon: Reagan walks up to a security guard at his presidential library. The guard calls the police; Reagan is detained and evaluated. For the sake of our story, let's assume that about an hour into this God gives some sort of sign indicating that this is the real Reagan, and so on. He signs some documents and Reagan is released.
1 p.m.: Word spreads quickly, and before he can hail a cab the press is upon him. Remember when all those reporters spent all day chasing that guy who Newsweek said invented Bitcoin? This would be two, maybe three times as bad. To calm them down, Reagan agrees to do a joint interview with the three major television networks.
3 p.m.: Logistics are finalized and the interview begins. Per LoBaido's mandate, Reagan would like to talk about the American Dream and about how America Must Be Tough. But the networks, still enraptured with the box office success of Heaven Is For Real, insist upon asking about Heaven. What's it like? Can Reagan, the Great Communicator, tell us about Jesus? Is there a Jesus? What's it like? Reagan, annoyed, storms out.
8 p.m.: Reagan is flown to the White House, ostensibly for a meeting with President Obama. After his Air Force-chartered plane lands at Andrews, a small motorcade makes its way to downtown Washington. As it approaches, small crowds have formed along the route: It's hundred of Republican elected officials, begging for just one quick photo op. The cars don't stop.
9 p.m.: Reagan and Obama sit down to talk over dinner. Reagan seems dissatisfied with Obama's redecorations; he inquires about the bust of Churchill. Reagan offers advice on dealing with Russia and North Korea. Obama humors him.
11 p.m.: He asks Obama if he can assume the mantle of executive authority for a while. Obama can't let him do this, of course, and, regardless, Congress can't pass any legislation in 13 hours time. Reagan asks if Obama will let him sign an executive order; Obama promises he'll think about it.
12 a.m.: By now, Reagan is frustrated. He asks his driver to take him to a TV studio, where he can prepare a statement to the public and to America's enemies (about whom he was briefed on his flight from California, I guess. I forgot that part). The driver instead heads northeast out of town.
1 a.m.: The car pulls up outside of NSA headquarters in Fort Meade. Reagan is quickly and unceremoniously hustled inside. There, a team of physicians and metaphysicians — an eye on the clock — begin evaluating Reagan, hoping to uncover the secrets of the afterlife and of resurrection that escaped the nation's top news anchors. Reagan is not seen publicly again.
10 a.m.: The nation wakes up to learn that Reagan's trip was cut short. At a press conference, Obama is asked what happened to Reagan. "We are having top men look at him," comes the response. "But who," Jake Tapper asks. Obama, curtly: "Top. Men."
Noon: Putin is informed that a person claiming to be Ronald Reagan reappeared in California. He asks his advisors to keep an eye on it.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.