Presidents who are successful in foreign policy get the big picture right. And they typically have it right before taking office - although journalists and academics often recognize that only long after the fact, if at all. Ronald Reagan is a clear example. Years before he became president, Reagan understood, and said, that the Soviet Union was vulnerable economically and technologically. He argued that, if confronted with vigorous competition from the United States, the Soviet leadership could be forced into making meaningful agreements that benefited the United States and even into introducing change to the Soviet system. In the 1970s and in 1980, before his election as president, Reagan was virtually alone among national political figures in holding those views. Journalists covering Reagan at the time mostly missed the significance of his views and the impact they would have on U.S. foreign policy. They were occupied instead with the ephemera of political campaigns and constrained by their stereotype of Reagan as a foreign-policy novice.