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Movie's assault on Reagan an indirect jab at Bush
Chicago Sun-Times ^ | December 04 2003 | ROBERT NOVAK

Posted on 12/04/2003 11:32:47 AM PST by knighthawk

To watch the entire commercial-free, three-hour version of the ''The Reagans'' on the Showtime cable television network this week was an ordeal. The cartoon character presented as Ronald Reagan does not resemble the real president. But this assault on a beloved conservative icon does relate to the 2004 presidential campaign now under way.

The events here actually are fictionalized less than is the case with many other made-for-TV movies. The problem is the portrayal of Reagan by actor James Brolin, a liberal Democratic activist as is his wife, Barbra Streisand. Even when he is depicted giving a serious speech in the exact words actually delivered, the character comes over as goofy and confused. To build an entire movie on this distortion reflects the contempt for Reagan by liberal Hollywood, an attitude now transferred to George W. Bush.

In the debut week of ''The Reagans,'' show business celebrities conducted an anti-Bush rally in Los Angeles. This state of mind in the entertainment industry, a major source of funds and energy for Democrats, feeds into the party's overall mood of emotional contempt for President Bush that mirrors the movie's attitude toward President Reagan. In each case, ad hominem attacks against political opponents supplant debate on the issues.

Only this emotional mind-set can explain how ''The Reagans'' was initially approved by CBS for prime time presentation. It was shunted off to Showtime, a pay-for-play sister network of CBS with a vastly smaller audience, only because of an e-mail campaign by thousands of conservatives who had not seen the movie but heard it trashed the former president.

Favorable newspaper reviews this week were written by critics who measured only the film's production values and were insensitive to the personal assault on a political leader revered in this country. Brolin's caricature of Reagan, which hideously distorts the man I covered for 22 years, ''eerily captured'' the former president in the opinion of the Detroit Free Press' Mike Duffy.

Boston Globe reviewer Matthew Gilbert suggested all such docudramas treat their subjects harshly in the interest of dramatic intensity, but that is simply not the case. Harry Truman is treated favorably in ''Truman,'' a 1995 HBO film (that, incidentally, is much more interesting than ''The Reagans''). John F. Kennedy is heroic in ''Thirteen Days,'' a 2000 film about the Cuban missile crisis. Unlike Truman and Kennedy, however, Reagan is detested in Hollywood.

''The Reagans'' does not approach Oliver Stone's ''JFK'' and ''Nixon'' as pure fiction spinning outrageous conspiracy theories. But neither is it close to historical accuracy. Nancy Reagan is mistakenly shown pushing her husband into Republican politics and a race for governor. Reagan biographer Lou Cannon was stunned by all the factual mistakes.

The movie tries to give the impression Reagan did not even know his own national security adviser, Robert C. (Bud) McFarlane, in 1986 -- a harbinger of the Alzheimer's disease that afflicted the president after he left office. Even without this calumny, Reagan is shown drifting from one mishap to another as an addled president advised by rogues.

Longtime Reagan aide Mike Deaver, who fares slightly better than other Reagan associates in this movie, has no doubt about the production's intentions. ''They have to destroy the legacy of Ronald Reagan,'' he told me. Deaver was not consulted in producing this film. Nor was anybody else who worked for or knew Reagan. The principal source was an obscure book called First Ladies written by an obscure writer named Carl Sferrazza Anthony, who became the movie's co-producer.

A better source would have been Reagan: A Life in Letters, a remarkable book published this year containing 834 pages of mostly handwritten letters by Ronald Wilson Reagan. It reveals a literate and intelligent man who bears no resemblance to the fool portrayed in ''The Reagans.''

The book recently fell into the hands of one of the leading operatives in Democrat Howard Dean's campaign for president. ''I had always had a low opinion of Reagan's intelligence,'' he told me, ''until this book changed my mind.'' He would be advised to wonder whether his contempt for George W. Bush is as ill-considered as it formerly was against Reagan.

TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: bush; movie; novak; reagan; suntimes; thereagans

1 posted on 12/04/2003 11:32:51 AM PST by knighthawk
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To: MizSterious; rebdov; Nix 2; green lantern; BeOSUser; Brad's Gramma; dreadme; Turk2; keri; ...
2 posted on 12/04/2003 11:34:05 AM PST by knighthawk (And for the name of peace, we will prevail)
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To: knighthawk
Seemingly, the left has a low opinion of everyone else's intelligence. It's the elitism, they just can't help it.

And in their arrogance they provide insight into their own utter ignorance.

3 posted on 12/04/2003 11:45:56 AM PST by OldFriend (DEMS INHABIT A PARALLEL UNIVERSE)
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To: knighthawk
Now if only Hollywood would make a movie based on "Teddy Bare".
4 posted on 12/04/2003 11:46:12 AM PST by Bringbackthedraft (Hillary 2004 Its in the works for sure, just watch! She is thebest they can do.)
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To: Bringbackthedraft
No, you wouldn't want to see it. In the made for TV movie version, Teddy would almost drown while trying to save Mary Jo Kopeckne after she was thrown into the drink by Barry Goldwater for refusing to participate in a campaign to reinstitute slavery. Teddy happenned by while on the way to take part in a civil rights march.
5 posted on 12/04/2003 12:07:03 PM PST by Still Thinking
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To: Still Thinking
You have a real future as a Slimeywood screen writer, ST (think of the bucks you could make!) :)
6 posted on 12/04/2003 12:13:27 PM PST by Irene Adler
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To: Irene Adler
Yes, but given where those bucks have been, I'd be advised to wash my hands after toughting them! ;-)
7 posted on 12/04/2003 12:20:03 PM PST by Still Thinking
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To: knighthawk
Robert Novak seems like a decent guy, I must say. I heard he was no friend of W but I guess we conservatives are on the same side against enemies foreign and domestic.
8 posted on 12/04/2003 12:38:08 PM PST by NutCrackerBoy
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To: NutCrackerBoy
Robert Novak seems like a decent guy, I must say. I heard he was no friend of W but I guess we conservatives are on the same side against enemies foreign and domestic.

I've always respected Novak as a conservative - he's certainly not anyone's cheerleader. As quick to take the GOP to task for profligate spending and sweetheart deals (he's been hammering Boeing's shennanigans for a while) as he would the Democrats.

9 posted on 12/04/2003 12:56:09 PM PST by Gunslingr3
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To: NutCrackerBoy
I think if you drew a line originating at David Duke, it would progress like this:

David Duke > Joseph Sobran > Pat Buchanan > Robert Novak
10 posted on 12/04/2003 8:04:10 PM PST by gcruse (
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