Was John Lennon secretly a Ronald Reagan fan? The very idea must suggest “the end of times” to peacenik idolaters of the late musician, but according to Mr. Lennon’s last personal assistant John Seaman (in the new documentary “Beatles Stories”), the former Beatle “made it very clear that if he were an American he would vote for Reagan because he was really sour on Jimmy Carter.” Mr. Lennon met the Gipper in L.A. at the December 9, 1974 Monday Night Football matchup between the Washington Redskins and Los Angeles Rams. Both were scheduled for halftime interviews. “I’ll take the Beatle,” Howard Cosell told co-host Frank Gifford, “and you take the Governor,” Mr. Gifford later recalled that their two guests really hit it off. “Ronald Reagan with his arm around John Lennon’s shoulder explaining American football,” he wrote, “that’s something special.” In a 1993 TV Guide article Mr. Gifford noted that Mr. Lennon was captivated by the Gipper’s charm and “looked absolutely enthralled” talking to Mr. Reagan. Ironically six years later during another Monday Night Football broadcast Mr. Cosell broke in to report Mr. Lennon’s murder by obsessed fan Mark David Chapman. President-elect Reagan, in New York the next day, called the shooting “a great tragedy.” And in March 1981 Mr. Reagan was shot and wounded by John Hinckley, another Lennon-obsessed fanatic who specifically used the same type of handgun Chapman had used outside The Dakota the previous December.
Some crackpots theorized that Reagan was somehow connected to Lennon’s death, that the singer and social activist had to be “gotten out of the way” so the Reagan era could commence. But maybe by the late 1970s Mr. Lennon had put away his childish things from the days of “bed-ins for peace.” Maybe he realized, as said by 19th century French statesman Francois Guisot (and later attributed to Winston Churchill among others) that “not to be a [radical] at twenty is proof of want of heart; to be one at thirty is proof of want of head.” Mr. Lennon said shortly before his death, “the attitude is that when you change when you get older there’s something wrong with that, but the world is stupid enough as it is; if the young were running it, it would be really dumb. Whatever changes I’m going through because I’m 40 I’m thankful for, because they give me some insight into the madness I’ve been living all my life.” Imagine John Lennon a Reaganite. It’s easy if you try.