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Why must we pretend the 40th president was alert and engaged?
Slate ^ | Timothy Noah

Posted on 11/07/2003 6:23:36 AM PST by CC Bonnocco

Thunderous protest has persuaded CBS to cancel The Reagans, its miniseries about America's 40th president and his second wife. (The series will air instead on Showtime, which shares a corporate parent with CBS.) It isn't especially troubling that CBS would bow to angry protesters in canceling The Reagans, given that the miniseries itself, if at all typical of the genre, is likely a piece of hackwork. (Those who live by popular tastes, die by popular tastes.) But it is troubling that the public, or at least a highly influential segment of it, has apparently ruled any criticism of President Reagan out of bounds. When did the Gipper become St. Ronald?

Among the miniseries's themes that drew particular complaint, Jim Rutenberg reported in the Oct. 20 New York Times, was that Reagan "suffered moments of forgetfulness" and took a "laissez-faire" stance in handling the White House staff. Ed Morrow, who organized a boycott to pressure CBS into dropping the miniseries, complained in National Review Online:

[I]t is a portrait of Reagan that is unrecognizable outside of an old, lame Saturday Night Live skit. It is a caricature. Indeed, Brolin's heavily rouged, orange-haired Reagan is a caricature of the standard liberal caricature of Reagan. He is a doddering fool, stumbling around using his acting talents to pass for a statesman.

Reagan was no doddering fool, but his rather extreme mental and emotional detachment were at the time noted not only by his critics but by many of his political allies. Liberals like Chatterbox who struggled to persuade themselves that Reagan had more on the ball than he seemed saw their worst suspicions confirmed in the memoirs of former Reagan aides. Here's former chief of staff Donald Regan in For the Record:

In the four years that I served as Secretary of the Treasury I never saw President Reagan alone and never discussed economic philosophy or fiscal and monetary policy with him one-on-one. From first day to last at Treasury, I was flying by the seat of my pants. The President never told me what he believed or what he wanted to accomplish in the field of economics.

Here's speechwriter Peggy Noonan, describing her first encounter with President Reagan in the White House in What I Saw at the Revolution:

I was surprised how big his hearing aid is, or rather how aware of it you are when you're with him. There was a quizzical look on his face as he listened to what was going on around him, and I thought, He doesn't really hear very much, and his appearance of constant good humor is connected to his deafness. He misses much of what is not said directly to him, but he assumes it is good.

Here's communications director David Gergen, in Eyewitness to Power:

Reagan could be remarkably unaware of (and indifferent to) developments around him. If I were still working for him, I would probably pass it off as being "intellectually selective." But it's hard for anyone to argue that he knew as much as a president should about the state of the world.

His inattention to details and hands-off stance could be dangerous for his leadership. His Republican allies in the Senate believed that because he did not pay close enough heed, he turned down a budget deal in 1985 that they had carefully crafted to cut the deficits. By their account, he didn't seem to understand the terms of the deal. … Majority Leader Bob Dole was furious at the time.

All these former aides went on to say, in one way or another, that in the end things somehow managed to work out for the best. That's a topic for legitimate debate. But none seemed to disagree with the proposition that President Reagan was not all there.

Today, however, etiquette demands that we pretend never to have noticed. Why? Reagan's Alzheimer's, which reportedly has reduced him to a near-vegetative state, is one reason. It's thought in poor taste to speak ill of the very faculty that his disease has wiped out. Another factor is Reagan's symbolic role as the ideological wellspring of today's conservative movement. In the 1980s, he was merely president, but by now Reagan has been so identified with conservatism that any criticism of the man is taken to be an attack on the ideology. And of course, the passage of time usually renders any public figure more admired than he was during his own era.

Ironically, conservatives like Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie, who called on CBS to cancel The Reagans, were probably acting against their own interest. Airing a miniseries about Ronald Reagan on network TV would likely have enhanced the aura of glamour that already surrounds him. According to Rutenberg in the Times, the miniseries "does give Mr. Reagan most of the credit for ending the cold war and paints him as an exceptionally gifted politician and a moral man who stuck to his beliefs, often against his advisers' urgings." So what if it fails to credit President Reagan with creating a lengthy economic expansion (though not as lengthy as the one overseen by Bill Clinton) or with "delivering the nation from the malaise of the Jimmy Carter years" (achieved mainly by a drop in oil prices)? Even its clearly false notes could easily burnish rather than harm Reagan's image. 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. Biographies and TV dramas about the Kennedys have grown steadily more critical and salacious over the years, but they don't seem to have diminished the nation's Camelot obsession. By rendering criticism of Ronald Reagan taboo, conservatives act against their long-term interest in maintaining his status as a culture hero. It's very difficult to sustain passion, over time, for a plaster saint.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: antireagan; barfalert; boycottviacom; cbs; cbsnews; dusrupter; kittenchow; lyingliars; propaganda; ratherbiased; reaganbashing; revisionists; seebs; showtime; strikeupthebanned; thisaccountisbanned; zot
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1 posted on 11/07/2003 6:23:36 AM PST by CC Bonnocco
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To: CC Bonnocco; Admin Moderator
5...4...3...
2 posted on 11/07/2003 6:24:47 AM PST by Judith Anne (Send a message to the Democrat traitors--ROCKEFELLER MUST RESIGN!)
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To: CC Bonnocco
Mr. Noah should be SO alert &engaged. We all know...that ALL Presidents have AIRCRAFT CARRIERS NAMED AFTER THEM
3 posted on 11/07/2003 6:26:00 AM PST by Puppage (You may disagree with what I have to say, but I will defend to your death my right to say it)
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To: Judith Anne
Why do you want this article removed?

If you disagree with it, defend your position (assuming you can).
4 posted on 11/07/2003 6:26:39 AM PST by CC Bonnocco
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To: Puppage
We have a USS Carter?
5 posted on 11/07/2003 6:27:07 AM PST by DeuceTraveler
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To: CC Bonnocco
Thunderous protest has persuaded CBS to cancel The Reagans, its miniseries about America's 40th president and his second wife.>>

It's telling that this is the same rag that thinks that anal sodomists are committing an act of marriage.
6 posted on 11/07/2003 6:28:06 AM PST by Ronly Bonly Jones
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To: CC Bonnocco
Any Bio info on this guy?
7 posted on 11/07/2003 6:28:29 AM PST by The South Texan (The Democrat Party and the leftist (ABCCBSNBCCNN NYLATIMES)media are a criminal enterprise!)
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To: CC Bonnocco
Here's the deal Timmy boy - there are too many people still alive who remember RR's stirring speech at the 1988 Rep Convention and even the 1992. This was not a man who according to the Streisand revisionists/character assassins was losing his faculties by the mid eighties. That's just to take one example.
8 posted on 11/07/2003 6:28:35 AM PST by Let's Roll (And those that cried Appease! Appease! are hanged by those they tried to please!")
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To: CC Bonnocco
Why must whiny DUmbass leftists always INSIST that Reagan was not alert or engaged?
9 posted on 11/07/2003 6:28:36 AM PST by Petronski (Living life in a minor key.)
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To: CC Bonnocco
Not a chance, disruptor. Not a frikken chance, troll.

I hate seeing bleep like this on FR. Hate it, I tell you!

BEGONE!
10 posted on 11/07/2003 6:28:48 AM PST by Judith Anne (Send a message to the Democrat traitors--ROCKEFELLER MUST RESIGN!)
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To: Judith Anne

I love the smell of Zot in the morning. Smells like victory.
11 posted on 11/07/2003 6:29:52 AM PST by Malsua
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To: CC Bonnocco; Constitution Day; VRWCmember; Zavien Doombringer; 4mycountry; Poohbah; dighton; ...
Signs up today, just post this slanderous tripe?

Yeah. Right.

The Mighty Thor has been notified.

12 posted on 11/07/2003 6:30:05 AM PST by mhking
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To: DeuceTraveler
Check your gear . . . I think your sarcasmeter might be jammed.
13 posted on 11/07/2003 6:30:19 AM PST by Petronski (Living life in a minor key.)
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To: Petronski
Whiny DU dumba$$es? Would you put Don Regan in that category?
14 posted on 11/07/2003 6:30:40 AM PST by CC Bonnocco
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To: CC Bonnocco
Reagan was a great President
Clintoon was a lousy one.

Get over it!
Stop trying to bring a good man down to prop legacy of your guy up!

15 posted on 11/07/2003 6:30:52 AM PST by right way right
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To: Malsua
Egg-Zachary (punch line to an old joke).
16 posted on 11/07/2003 6:31:07 AM PST by Judith Anne (Send a message to the Democrat traitors--ROCKEFELLER MUST RESIGN!)
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To: CC Bonnocco
Ah, because he was!
17 posted on 11/07/2003 6:31:30 AM PST by carton253 (To win the War on Terror, raise at once the black flag!)
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To: CC Bonnocco
Reagan was so out of touch that he was a failure?

The economy, the Berlin wall, etc. prove otherwise.

Welcome to FR.
18 posted on 11/07/2003 6:31:36 AM PST by Pan_Yans Wife (You may forget the one with whom you have laughed, but never the one with whom you have wept.)
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To: CC Bonnocco

Begone.....
19 posted on 11/07/2003 6:31:37 AM PST by Tijeras_Slim (SSDD - Same S#it Different Democrat)
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To: CC Bonnocco
We put YOU in that category, Bleep.
20 posted on 11/07/2003 6:31:51 AM PST by Judith Anne (Send a message to the Democrat traitors--ROCKEFELLER MUST RESIGN!)
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To: CC Bonnocco
MuuuhoooHAAHAAA

Zot!
Did you feel that?


21 posted on 11/07/2003 6:32:04 AM PST by Zavien Doombringer (If a Democrat falls from office and nobody is around will they make a sound?)
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To: CC Bonnocco
Welcome to Free Republic.
22 posted on 11/07/2003 6:32:32 AM PST by humblegunner
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To: CC Bonnocco
No, you put Regan in that category when you twisted his words.
23 posted on 11/07/2003 6:32:40 AM PST by Petronski (Living life in a minor key.)
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To: CC Bonnocco
This article attempts to tie his goal oriented hands off approach of management with his current Alzheimer's. The author mines statements from Regan and Noonan that contradict numerous statements they've made conflicting with the author's overall point.
 
Reagan stated his goals and surrounded himself with largely capable people and let them do their jobs.  He didn't try to be an expert in economics/agriculture/defense/foreign policy/education/etc.  He surrounded himself with those who were and let them do their jobs.

That's a detachment from day to day operations, overseeing things at a high level.  That's not indicative of an "intellectual detachment" as his critics claim.

Owl_Eagle

" WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
DIVERSITY IS STRENGTH"


24 posted on 11/07/2003 6:32:55 AM PST by South Hawthorne ("If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace;" –Thomas Paine)
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To: CC Bonnocco
If you disagree with it, defend your position (assuming you can).

Fine.But none seemed to disagree with the proposition that President Reagan was not all there.This statement is the core of the writer's position - which is conjecture and opinion at best.

Let's go the other way. Let's see you prove the writer's conjecture...if you can.

25 posted on 11/07/2003 6:33:28 AM PST by mhking
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To: CC Bonnocco
These liberals hated Reagan then and hate him even more now. They hate the fact that thier angry little hit piece on him won't rewrite history in the minds of the people who aren't old enough to recall how he changed history for the better.
26 posted on 11/07/2003 6:33:52 AM PST by 1Old Pro (ESPN now has 4 little wimpy sissies left. I'm switching back to FOX.)
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To: CC Bonnocco
If you disagree with it, defend your position (assuming you can).

Fine.

But none seemed to disagree with the proposition that President Reagan was not all there.

This statement is the core of the writer's position - which is conjecture and opinion at best.

Let's go the other way. Let's see you prove the writer's conjecture...if you can.

27 posted on 11/07/2003 6:33:58 AM PST by mhking
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To: CC Bonnocco; meowmeow; Constitution Day; 4mycountry; Poohbah; Grampa Dave; an amused spectator; ...
Say hello to my leeetle friends;


28 posted on 11/07/2003 6:33:59 AM PST by Zavien Doombringer (If a Democrat falls from office and nobody is around will they make a sound?)
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To: Petronski
I haven't twisted anybody's words.
29 posted on 11/07/2003 6:34:22 AM PST by CC Bonnocco
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To: CC Bonnocco

30 posted on 11/07/2003 6:34:41 AM PST by Corin Stormhands (www.wardsmythe.com)
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To: CC Bonnocco
Here comes the slam from the left.Blow by blow they will try and chip away at a great leagcy so the people/sheeple can be dumbed down.It ain't gonna work....the left are dumb already....
31 posted on 11/07/2003 6:35:31 AM PST by oust the louse
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To: CC Bonnocco
When did the Gipper become St. Ronald?

That's Ronaldus Maximus to you!

Donald Regan in For the Record: "... The President never told me what he believed or what he wanted to accomplish in the field of economics..."

Don should have read what the President had written, then he wouldn't have been so clueless. (Hey, didn't he get fired?) Reagan never called it Reaganomics, he called it common sense.

32 posted on 11/07/2003 6:35:40 AM PST by NicknamedBob (I wouldn't be judgmental, if people weren't so STUPID!)
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To: CC Bonnocco
Hate to say it (flame retardant ready), but I have always believed that the affects of Reagan's Alzheimer's was evident in his last year or two in office. The most striking example being the time when you could see/hear Nancy telling Ron how to answer questions thrown at him by reporters. Also, Alzheimer's disease is not something that jumps you overnight, but you go progressively downhill. Just because his disease started during his presidency doesn't mean that he was incapacitated (like those s.o.b.'s at CBS are trying to portray).

But there's no shame in admitting this, and I fail to see why it's such a huge deal - it's not like he was smoking crack or engaging in extra-marital affairs. He develop a debilitating illness. Yeah, and? There is absolutely nothing to show that the onset of this illness hurt the country or that someone else other than him was in charge. Of course, I'd rather have Reagan with Alzheimer's than Clinton any old day.

But we shouldn't get so defensive about this issue. It in no way takes away from Reagan's legacy or somehow makes him a lesser man.

33 posted on 11/07/2003 6:35:45 AM PST by GreatOne (You will bow down before me, Son of Jor-el!)
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To: CC Bonnocco
How about a little voidire? Can you list the books you have read on the subject of Ronald Reagan's presidency?
34 posted on 11/07/2003 6:36:02 AM PST by Huck
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To: mhking
Let's see you prove the writer's conjecture...if you can.

The writer gave several examples of Reagan allies verifying his "detachment."

35 posted on 11/07/2003 6:36:13 AM PST by CC Bonnocco
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To: Owl_Eagle
He didn't try to be an expert in economics/agriculture/defense/foreign policy/education/etc.

He didn't try to be CARTER. That in itself guaranteed success.

36 posted on 11/07/2003 6:36:30 AM PST by Pan_Yans Wife (You may forget the one with whom you have laughed, but never the one with whom you have wept.)
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To: CC Bonnocco
Why must we pretend the 40th president was alert and engaged?

Because he was. My boss, a former State Dept. official, had to brief Reagan once a week over several years. He says Reagan was always very engaged and on top of all the issues. Just because people who hate Reagan say he was out to lunch, doesn't make it so.

37 posted on 11/07/2003 6:36:37 AM PST by kevao (Fuques France!)
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To: CC Bonnocco
Oh SHIT! The Troll speaks!!!!

Take this!

38 posted on 11/07/2003 6:36:51 AM PST by Zavien Doombringer (If a Democrat falls from office and nobody is around will they make a sound?)
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To: CC Bonnocco
Have you read Gergen's book? I have. Have you read Noonan's book? I have. Have you read Lou Cannon's book? I have. Have you read Reagan's own book? I have. Have you read Reagan's letters? I have.
39 posted on 11/07/2003 6:37:00 AM PST by Huck
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To: CC Bonnocco
Clinton had a very "hands on" approach to his work.

HANDS ON HIS WEINER THAT IS!

40 posted on 11/07/2003 6:37:46 AM PST by right way right (Hey, you insult our guy you get it back!)
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To: CC Bonnocco
Oh, well, I'm convinced.
41 posted on 11/07/2003 6:39:01 AM PST by Petronski (Living life in a minor key.)
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To: CC Bonnocco
You're not long for this world, newbie.
42 posted on 11/07/2003 6:39:05 AM PST by Sloth ("I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!" -- Jacobim Mugatu, 'Zoolander')
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To: GreatOne
The most striking example being the time when you could see/hear Nancy telling Ron how to answer questions thrown at him by reporters.

How long were they married, when that instance occurred? My husband does that, too... we think alike, and can finish each other's thoughts. Answering questions comes naturally. A wild phenomenon, comes when two people become one.

43 posted on 11/07/2003 6:39:07 AM PST by Pan_Yans Wife (You may forget the one with whom you have laughed, but never the one with whom you have wept.)
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To: CC Bonnocco
Slate is electronic toiletpaper.
44 posted on 11/07/2003 6:39:28 AM PST by right way right (Go ahead insult Free Republic now)
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To: Owl_Eagle
Of course you are correct. Libs don't get this because they usually aren't managers, directors, executives. They are workers. Even the highly intelligent libs tend towards professions where they are hands on task oriented people, like lawyers. They don't understand or appreciate management and leadership. They don't get it. That's why they were impressed by Clinton, who in reality was an incessant micromanager and a bore. And a boor.
45 posted on 11/07/2003 6:40:40 AM PST by Huck
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To: CC Bonnocco
The Reagan expansion was not caused by a fall in oil prices. Supply side economics works. Even Brookings economists grudgingly admit that much. Nobody else had the guts to try it. Certaintly not X42. Sadly, W doesn't either. Most of what we've seen lately has been the same old Keynesian demand side stuff.

I wonder if Slick was "alert and engaged" while getting serviced by an employee half his age in the Oval Office on company time? If I tried something like that with one of my co-eds, I'd be gone in a heartbeat, and rightfully so.

Reagan, even with Alzheimers, would be a better president than Bill Clinton. Rest assured he wouldn't sell us out to China, let Osama get away, or invade churches.

Are you siding with the sickos at Slate, who want to try to make the short man taller by cutting the tall man's legs off?
46 posted on 11/07/2003 6:40:55 AM PST by mywholebodyisaweapon
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To: CC Bonnocco
Just the same old spin, lie, spin, doctrine from the looney left.....The liberals have to put down anyone and anything that is moral and right in order to live with themselves and their immoral ways.
47 posted on 11/07/2003 6:41:10 AM PST by maeng
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To: GreatOne
The most striking example being the time when you could see/hear Nancy telling Ron how to answer questions thrown at him by reporters.

It is much more likely that, due to his hearing loss, she was repeating the question.

48 posted on 11/07/2003 6:41:55 AM PST by Corin Stormhands (www.wardsmythe.com)
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To: right way right; CC Bonnocco
I wouldn't wipe my electronic a$$ with it, who knows what I'd catch.


Hey CC! Its tough when Moonves even admits it was biased. What did he say? If it was even 50-50 they would have run it?

Ahhh, help me, the bullies in the vast right wing conspiracy are getting us. Bwaaa-ha-ha-a-ha-ha.

Be seeing ya around. Or not.
49 posted on 11/07/2003 6:42:28 AM PST by eyespysomething (As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17))
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To: CC Bonnocco
Please tell me you don't agree with this article from Slate. What is it about Ronald Reagan you disagree with...tax cuts?...the end of the evil empire?...Honor?

I suggest some de-caf for you next time.
50 posted on 11/07/2003 6:43:08 AM PST by Liberty Valance (Keep a simple manner for a happy life :o)
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