President Obama wants his dear friend Vlad the Russian not to worry about the details of how the American missile defense system in Europe will be designed and implemented.
Once he gets re-elected, the president said, he'll have more "flexibility" to deal with Moscow's concern that the missile system, which is intended to guard Europe from attack by rogue nations like Iran, is a threat to Russia's strategic security.
Obama obviously didn't want the American people or the rest of the world to hear what he said.
He was caught red-handed, as it were, when a private conversation with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Seoul was accidentally picked up by an open microphone.
Vladimir Putin, the president-elect of Russia (and the outoing prime minister), must be relieved and pulling for a big Obama win this fall. He also must be having a good laugh at the KGB's favorite bar.
I hate to think what my father Ronald Reagan would think of Obama's conversion with Medvedev and his Chicago-style negotiating technique, if that's what it is.
In 1976, I asked my father why he wanted to be president of the United States. His answer was that for too long he had watched American presidents sit down with the general secretaries of the Soviet Union and give up something vital to our national interests just to get along with them.
My father said he was tired of it. He told me he wanted to be the first American president to say "nyet!" to a general secretary of the U.S.S.R.
Little did he know that in 1986 he'd be the president of the United States and be traveling to Reykjavik, Iceland, to meet with Mikhail Gorbachev, the last general secretary of the Soviet Union.
At that summit, which included a series of one-on-one meetings between Ronald Reagan and Gorbachev, the major issue was reducing the superpowers' nuclear stockpiles.
When Gorbachev said he would not sign on to my father's Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) unless the United States mothballed the Strategic Defense Initiative missile defense shield, my father had his chance to say "nyet." He said it and abruptly ended the meeting.
Ronald Reagan's decision at Reykjavik initially was seen as a failure by all the experts, but it turned out to be a breakthrough. Gorbachev knew my father would never yield on SDI, which critics derided as "Star Wars."
Three years later the Berlin Wall came down. In 1991 Gorbachev came to Washington and signed Ronald Reagan's START agreement. And soon after, the Soviet Union was history.
Now it's 2012 and we have a president of the United States thinking, once again, that if he gives Russia what its wants, it'll be our friend.