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Saint Ronnie?

 
 
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Nov, 2003 05:37 pm
The story behind the Reagan story
November 5, 2003
FDR: Franklin Delano Reagan
BY RICHARD REEVES | Universal Press Syndicate

LOS ANGELES -- This is the story behind the story as they like to say out here: Ronald Reagan is more than a man. He is an idea. He is a movement. He is a party. He is a secular religion. He is, for all practical purposes, still President of the United States. He is not to be trifled with, as CBS television has learned.

Characterizing the 40th President as a mean old dolt, which is apparently what CBS had in mind when they shot the docudrama "The Reagans," is an astonishingly foolish piece of business. It is historically stupid, politically incorrect and commercially insane. The powers that be in television might as well have produced a comedy in 1960 making fun of the way Franklin Delano Roosevelt walked.

FDR is the only valid comparison now to the standing of Ronald Reagan in the American heart and mind. For more than twenty years after his Presidency (and death) Roosevelt was the Democratic Party and the face of liberalism. Reagan, fifteen years after coming home is the Republican Party and the face of conservatism. In fact, he is still running the White House, a repository for his men and his ideas.

"Reaganism." The word itself validates the man's impact. How many presidents could claim such a legacy? Even Roosevelt had to settle for the "New Deal." It was Reaganism, the force of the man himself, that united the babbling brooks of American conservatism into a mighty river at the end of the 1970s. The Baptists of the New South, the Episcopals of the Northeast, the Catholic workingmen of the great middle and the Jewish Neoconservatives all found what they needed in Reaganism -- what they needed was a way to stop talking and start governing. That was the gift of Reagan.

And they are still together, moving back into the White House after waiting out the Clinton years in Congress and think tanks, hiding behind the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. They are still united by the thrilling lines of Reaganism: less government, lower taxes, more military and self-righteous patriotism. They are grateful to Reagan and his "ism" and well they should be, because for them without him there is only the old wilderness. That gratitude helped drive their hatred of Bill Clinton, that Bible-carrying interloper -- and their rage at CBS. Slapping down the network was child's play for them, at least compared to cornering the wily boy from Hope.

So, any attack on Reagan is an attack on all and each of them. They are ever ready for a crusade against non-believers -- even if this latest episode shows they wildly overestimate the resistance of what they promote as "liberal elites." The liberal media? CBS? Those artifacts of other times and technologies are dominating only in the imagination of Reagan's followers. But such adversaries are essential to maintaining the rage of the Right and righteous.

My own politics are quite different from Reaganism, but I have always admired the awesome skills and tenacity of the old charmer himself. A truly great politician, he was always underestimated and often derided as just a guy who used to be an actor. Yeah, so was Shakespeare. I was surprised to read a letter he wrote to me in the book "Reagan: A Life in Letters," the latest in a long line of spinners generated and subsidized by the Hoover Institution and other think tanks and foundations trying to have the name of Mount Rushmore changed to...Well, you know. The reason for my surprise was that I don't remember ever receiving the 1975 note inviting me to stop by and chat about an article I wrote in New York Magazine predicting that the next president would be Reagan or Jimmy Carter. I thought then that those two outsiders were the candidates who best understood that Washington, disgust with Washington, would be the great issue of 1976 and beyond. Carter, of course, made it first, but Reagan toppled him with a much purer message in 1980. The difference was that Carter came to blame the people, while Reagan celebrated America and Americans.

The reason I don't think I ever got the letter was that I would have accepted the invitation from Reagan, whom I first met in 1967. I might have been able to change his mind about a few things. Right! Fat chance. I disagreed with him then and now about many things. But I am only one among the many, and tens of millions agreed with him and some worshipped him then and now.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2003 09:45 pm
Bump.

I didn't want this thread to fall off the bottom of the page without giving McG one more chance to answer my questions.
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2003 09:59 pm
Joe,

The factual inaccuracies were widely reported in the media, the creators of the series admitted to taking some liberties.

For example, they admitted to having invented some comments by Regan and they were not trivial ones.

The final script had included (dunno if it has been changed) Regan saying of AIDS patients that "They that live in sin shall die in sin."

I don't much care about the fuss of this series being cancelled. But I mention this because while I have not seen the series or the script I believe the admission of those involved in it's making and believe the news reports about it.

Here's one from a quick search:

http://news.findlaw.com/entertainment/s/20031105/leisurereagansdc.html

From what I hear it did make an attempt to base itself in fact, but did take some controversial liberties. What one makes of it is not of much concern to me (I think cancelled TV shows almost always create a tempest in a tea cup) but I don't think it's necessary to have seen the series to have an opinion on the reported elements of contention any more than opne has to be an eye-witness to the war in Iraq to have an opinion on that.

I've rambled now without meaning to, but I did want to mention that on the basis of the reports about this series I believe there is enough to start forming an opinion on.
0 Replies
 
rabel22
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2003 10:24 pm
The only good thing I can say about President Regan is that he was elected. But he was every bit the lier that Bush is.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2003 10:00 am
Craven de Kere wrote:
The factual inaccuracies were widely reported in the media, the creators of the series admitted to taking some liberties.

The "factual inaccuracies" widely reported in the media were all based on a promotional tape (about ten minutes long) sent out by the network. So anyone who says that the miniseries had "little basis in fact" is judging the whole from an insubstantial part. Perhaps that type of criticism would satisfy you, Craven, but I would want quite a bit more evidence before making a conclusion.

As for the fact that the creators took liberties with their subject matter: of course they did. How else can anyone make a movie that purports to be based on fact without taking some liberties?

Craven de Kere wrote:
The final script had included (dunno if it has been changed) Regan saying of AIDS patients that "They that live in sin shall die in sin."

Here's what Timothy Noah had to say about that in Slate: "For instance, its apparent picture of Reagan as a homophobe ("They that live in sin shall die in sin," he says by way of justifying inaction on AIDS) is much more flattering than the truth, which is that Reagan was (in Hendrik Hertzberg's exquisite formulation) a "closet tolerant" who back-burnered the AIDS issue out of political expediency." (emphasis mine)

Craven de Kere wrote:
I don't much care about the fuss of this series being cancelled. But I mention this because while I have not seen the series or the script I believe the admission of those involved in it's making and believe the news reports about it.

Sadly, I can do little to mitigate your credulity.
0 Replies
 
 

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