When he was at full ideological and political strength, liberals couldn't lay a glove on Ronald Wilson Reagan. Now that he is in "the sunset of my life," as he poignantly wrote in his final letter to the American people on Nov. 5, 1994, the left is unleashing a distorted and inaccurate attack on Reagan in an attempt to rewrite history and smear a good man.
CBS will air a miniseries, "The Reagans," Nov. 16 and 18. If a script obtained by the New York Times correctly depicts the final product, the show will bear as much resemblance to the real Ronald Reagan as Santa Claus reflects the real meaning of Christmas.
The miniseries is produced by Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, two gay activists who will be honored with an award in Hollywood next March at a Building Equity dinner sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, a gay liberal lobby. That has some relevance because of one scene in the script obtained by the New York Times and other sources. James Brolin, who plays Reagan and is married to Reagan-basher Barbra Streisand, depicts the former president as believing people with AIDS get what they deserve, because "they that live in sin shall die in sin."
Columnist Jim Pinkerton, who worked as an aide in the Reagan White House from 1981 to 1983, said on Fox News Watch (where I also appear) last weekend: "Reagan was the opposite of a gay-basher. (There was) a stink when Nancy Reagan invited her interior decorator and his boyfriend to stay overnight at the White House. Some of the social right was upset when he (allowed that). That's how opposite he was of the tyrannical, judgmental figure he is portrayed in this movie. He was a guy from Hollywood. He dealt with gays all his life. He was not a homophobe and a bigot."
Further evidence that Reagan had a more compassionate view of people with AIDS came in a 1988 letter to AIDS sufferer Elizabeth Glaser, whose daughter had just died from the disease, which her mother contracted from a blood transfusion. Reagan wrote, "Nancy and I want you to know you are very much in our thoughts and prayers. We know there are no words that can lessen your sorrow - how we wish there were - but please know you have our deepest sympathy. We can only trust in God's infinite wisdom and mercy knowing he has received your daughter in that other world where there is no pain or sorrow and where one day we shall all be joined with those we love forevermore."
Reagan assured Glaser that his administration was moving "in every way we can and as fast as we can to find answers to the terrible scourge that brought such sorrow to you and to so many others. You will continue to be in our prayers. God bless you."
Does this sound like an insensitive, judgmental man, or the opposite?
The film script depicts Reagan cursing his staff during one Oval Office meeting. No staff member I know recalls him using such language in anger. While the script, as reported in the New York Times, does give Reagan credit for ending the Cold War and depicts him as an exceptionally good politician and moral man, it fails to credit him with igniting the biggest economic recovery since World War II. Nor is Reagan credited with converting the nation from the malaise days of Jimmy Carter to an optimistic outlook. Nancy Reagan (played by Judy Davis) is portrayed as a Joan Crawford "Mommy Dearest" shrew who slaps her daughter, Patti.
On page 16 of the script, as printed on the Drudge Report Web page, there is this exchange among Nancy Reagan, her stepfather and her mother, Edith:
"Stepfather: 'Nancy, I don't know what you see in Hollywood. As far as I can tell, it's nothing but Communists and drug addicts.'
"Nancy: 'It didn't used to be this bad - did it, Mother?'
"Edith: 'Hell, no. When I was here, it was just wall-to-wall Jews and queers.'"
People interested in the real Reagan should read "Reagan: A Life in Letters," edited by Kiron K. Skinner and Annelise and Martin Anderson (Free Press). There you'll find Ronald Reagan in his own words, not the way the left twists the words of one of our most successful and beloved presidents.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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