Matt Towery

 If history is judging Reagan as a bad president, it must be someone else's history and not that of the American people.

 Now for a glimpse behind the scenes.

 Many times, there is more to a controversy than meets the eye. It's not a secret that by the time President Reagan was questioned about the arms-for-hostages controversy, he was showing signs of memory loss.

 Even some top Democrats who would otherwise have called for Reagan's blood held back because they genuinely believed he was confused over some of the facts surrounding Iran-Contra.

 Not long after Reagan left office, I and several others accompanied him as he delivered a speech during which he sometimes wandered off the script, forgot the punch line of a joke, and even said that long-ago presidential candidate Al Smith had actually been president.

 This incident was painful and even more so because it took place years before Reagan's problem had been clinically diagnosed as Alzheimer's.
Our anti-Reagan history teacher probably doesn't know any of this.

 All that aside, the opinionated instructor probably won't teach his students that President Reagan completely turned around an economy that suffered from double-digit interest rates. Or that his tough but artful diplomacy with the old Soviet Union set the stage for the collapse of communism. Such omissions in the classroom would be a shame.

 And just so our trusted classroom instructor will know that history is often made behind the scenes among political players who are supposedly avowed enemies, let me reveal that I personally know of many times when public foes such as Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton privately worked through issues with key phone calls and personal meetings.

 There was even hot internal debate among then-House Speaker Gingrich's political circle about whether the Republican effort to impeach Clinton was politically wise.

 I argued vehemently against it. And just to prove that we rarely hold grudges in politics, the original and biggest advocate for impeachment -- former Congressman Bob Barr -- now works in the office next to mine!

 So allow me a few words of advice to the well-meaning teacher who likes to interject his own opinions during history class: Unless you've been there, stick to the facts in the textbook. Genuine history is rarely a cut-and-dried affair or as unforgiving as harsh personal judgments.

Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a pollster, attorney, businessman and former elected official. He served as campaign strategist for Congressional, Senate, and gubernatorial campaigns. His latest book is Newsvesting: Use News and Opinion to Grow Your Personal Wealth. Follow him on Twitter @MattTowery