Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Trashing the Reagans, targeting Bush
Houston Chronicle ^ | 12/5/03 | Robert D. Novak

Posted on 12/06/2003 1:32:53 PM PST by bdeaner

Trashing the Reagans, targeting Bush

By ROBERT D. NOVAK

To watch the entire commercial-free, three-hour version of 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 Wednesday 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 mindset 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's 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 hand-written 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.

Novak is a nationally syndicated columnist based in Washington.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: bush; hollywood; novak; reagan; thereagans
I would love to see a genuine portrayal of Reagan set to film -- Reagan: A Life in Letters would be a fantastic basis for a script. But who is going to write, produce and direct it when all of Hollywood is a cesspool of Leftist whackos? Anyone, anyone?
1 posted on 12/06/2003 1:32:54 PM PST by bdeaner
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: bdeaner
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.

What is ironic about this, is that anyone reading books written by former Clinton insiders would see that He is the President who didn't really make the decisions. George Steffawhatshisface unknowingly I am sure, reveals that in his book.

2 posted on 12/06/2003 1:42:39 PM PST by ladyinred (The Left have blood on their hands!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: bdeaner
I think Novak should recieve some sort of civilian "Purple Heart" award for even having the guts to sit through such a film from beginning to end. I cancelled "Showtime" after their hit piece on Clarence Thomas some years back.
3 posted on 12/06/2003 1:43:02 PM PST by Burkeman1
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: bdeaner
NO conservative, Republican, or American citizen with any love of country will ever be portrayed favorably by Hollywood. Those days are gone forever. Get used to it.
4 posted on 12/06/2003 1:44:01 PM PST by Old Sarge (Go Army!! Beat Navy!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: bdeaner
SeeBS has invented a whole new film genre: the mockumentally. Great editorial.
5 posted on 12/06/2003 1:48:49 PM PST by cake_crumb (UN Resolutions = Very Expensive, Very SCRATCHY Toilet Paper)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Old Sarge
Yes, but there is a film industry outside of Hollywood -- the independent film industry. It could be done. What it takes is $$$, motivation and persistence.
6 posted on 12/06/2003 1:50:02 PM PST by bdeaner
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Old Sarge
Those days are gone forever. Get used to it.

Don't be so pessimistic. "Gods and Generals" was a rather conservative movie IMHO. I just saw "The Last Samuri" and even though it knocked America it's basic underlying message was conservative if not reactionary (though overall the film is a rental- not a must see). But for the most part Hollywood is a wasteland. Clancey's excellant novel- "The Sum of all Fears"- about Islamic terrorists detonating a low yield nuke in America was transformed by Hollyweird types into the bad guys being "Neo Nazis" with German accents. How pathetic!

7 posted on 12/06/2003 1:54:00 PM PST by Burkeman1
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: bdeaner
Yes, but there is a film industry outside of Hollywood -- the independent film industry. It could be done. What it takes is $$$, motivation and persistence.

Yes! I have dreamed of that. Conservatives need to be much more engaged on the cultural front. How many heroic and conservative stories have yet to be told on the Silver screen? Thousands!

8 posted on 12/06/2003 1:55:55 PM PST by Burkeman1
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: bdeaner
I wonder how Babs Streisand would feel if someone produced a derogatory movie about her son who is suffering from AIDS. How uncompassionate that would be...
9 posted on 12/06/2003 1:56:39 PM PST by LoudRepublicangirl (loudrepublicangirl)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Burkeman1
I have dreamed of that. Conservatives need to be much more engaged on the cultural front.

I completely agree. Conservatives have the numbers and resources to make it happen; it's only a matter of getting it done.
10 posted on 12/06/2003 2:09:44 PM PST by bdeaner
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: bdeaner
Have you ever seen the films "Metropolitan", "Barcelona", and "The last days of Disco"? All "indy" films by the same director and writer and all with very underlying conservative messages that fly over the head of most liberals (as most liberals are stupid.)
11 posted on 12/06/2003 2:15:22 PM PST by Burkeman1
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Burkeman1
Clancey's excellant novel- "The Sum of all Fears"- about Islamic terrorists detonating a low yield nuke in America was transformed by Hollyweird types into the bad guys being "Neo Nazis" with German accents. How pathetic!

This is an old Hollywood tradition. In the same way, all the James Bond movies changed the original villains from Ian Fleming's KGB and USSR to SMERSH, whatever the hell that is. They just couldn't STAND the idea of portraying those nice folks in the KGB as villains.

12 posted on 12/06/2003 2:18:09 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Burkeman1
Some of my young friends are in those movies. Or at least some of my friends' children or my children's friends. I agree, they are excellent movies.
13 posted on 12/06/2003 2:19:29 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Cicero
SMERSH was actually a real group. It was the Russian abbreviation of "Death to Spies". It was set up during WWII and though De jure under Red Army Control was a De Facto creature of Beria and the KGB. These were the bastards who machine gunned their own troops if they turned back on human wave assaults against German postions that could never be taken by just infantry. SMERSH were the "blocking" units in that they killed all Russians who retreated after futile attacks. They also were the ones who tortured all German POWS before executing them out right.

It doesn't surprise me that Hollywood would make this change and blame it all on "SMERSH" as if they actually existed outside of the KGB or operated as an independant force that their "leader" didn't know about. What a joke- Stalin and Beria and the KGB had complete control over SMERSH.

14 posted on 12/06/2003 2:28:02 PM PST by Burkeman1
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: bdeaner
The Reagans provides a great example of the next movie to be made. How about if Ann Coulter writes 'The Clintons'. Laura Ingraham can play Hilary, and Rush can play Bill. Think that'd be any less biased or agenda driven?

Dan
15 posted on 12/06/2003 2:28:22 PM PST by Scannall (Just another dumb hick without a brain in his head.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Burkeman1
No, I hadn't have seen those films, although I've heard of a couple of them. I will have to rent them!

Any other recommendations?
16 posted on 12/06/2003 2:29:26 PM PST by bdeaner
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Scannall
How about if Ann Coulter writes 'The Clintons'. Laura Ingraham can play Hilary, and Rush can play Bill. Think that'd be any less biased or agenda driven?

LOL. Oh man, I would pay good money to see that.
17 posted on 12/06/2003 2:31:23 PM PST by bdeaner
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: bdeaner
Now who would play Monica?

Dan
18 posted on 12/06/2003 2:33:31 PM PST by Scannall (When in doubt read the directions.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: LoudRepublicangirl
But that's just it, their thoughts and ideas never apply to THEM.
19 posted on 12/06/2003 2:35:10 PM PST by somemoreequalthanothers
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: bdeaner
Conservative films? It is a rather short list. "Cheaper by the Dozen" - the first one from the 30's- not the upcoming remake with Steve Martin. "Angels with Dirty Faces"- also another 30's movie with James Cagney as a Irish hood in Hell's Kitchen. Very Christian message (and if you don't cry at the end you are not human!). I would also say that "Henry the V" - the Kennenth Branaugh version is extremely well done and conservative if you let it soak in enough. "Das Boot" or "The Boat"- about a German Sub in WWII has very subversive conservative messages. I would also recommend "Burnt by the Sun"- a Russian film about a high ranking military commander who finds himself the victim of a random terror purge.

Conservatism is not easy to capture on film as it is a way of life and disposition that does not easily lend itself to cheap propaganda as does the Left.

There are more- but that is what I came up with now.
20 posted on 12/06/2003 2:42:16 PM PST by Burkeman1
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: Burkeman1
I thought "The Hunt For Red October" was a conservative themed movie, made ironic by starring Alec Baldwin.
21 posted on 12/06/2003 2:48:22 PM PST by somemoreequalthanothers
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: somemoreequalthanothers
Yes- Alec Baldwin is a Jackass. But God save me- he is a good actor. Same with Sean Penn. I enjoy their performances. I think we should take the Roman point of view when it comes to Actors. We applaud their performances but hold them in low regard when it comes to society and their rank. Actors in Rome were considered scum even if rich and no well born person would want to be seen with them.
22 posted on 12/06/2003 2:53:54 PM PST by Burkeman1
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: Burkeman1
my south carolina and lousiana roots aside, depicting the confederacy in a positive light isn't conservative

it's traitorous propganda -- this is FREE Republic
23 posted on 12/06/2003 2:55:46 PM PST by dwills
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: dwills; billbears; JohnGalt; sheltonmac
This Is Free Republic. I am from Massachusetts. My ancestors on my father's side came from County Mayo during the post famine years in the late 1840's. My Mother's side came in the early 20th century. We never cared about the South or about "Blacks" (does that make us rascists?)

But yet many Irish were taken from the boat they sailed into America on and then put on the front line in a war that had nothing to do with them. Traitorous?

1814- the first state to seriously consider Secession was? Massachusetts! Half my heart hopes we do again.

24 posted on 12/06/2003 3:09:29 PM PST by Burkeman1
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: dwills
depicting the confederacy in a positive light isn't conservative

I beg to differ. The Confederate States of America wanted to maintain the Federal Republic of states and limit the federal government. However those in the north did not harbor the same view

The establishment of national banks, building loss leader railroads, internal improvements, and printing money at the federal level. Those were conservative for the time? Illegal suspension of habeas corpus, no congressional declaration of war, high taxation of one region of your own nation of states through a outrageously high protectionist tariff. That's conservative?

25 posted on 12/06/2003 4:14:13 PM PST by billbears (Deo Vindice)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: Scannall
Who would play Monica?

Hmmm... I can't think of anybody fat enough to play the part.
26 posted on 12/06/2003 4:17:17 PM PST by bdeaner
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: Scannall
Now who would play Monica?

Dan

NAH!

Dan would never fit into the blue dress!

27 posted on 12/06/2003 4:24:00 PM PST by Swordmaker
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: Burkeman1
I haven't seen most of those -- they're before my time.

I tried to think of more recent stuff, within the past ten years, and not many films come to mind. A few might be considered to have "conservative" perspective:

--The Crime of Father Amaro
--We Were Soldiers
--Black Hawk Down
--The Apostle
--Braveheart
--Unforgiven
28 posted on 12/06/2003 4:38:46 PM PST by bdeaner
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: bdeaner
I would love to see a genuine portrayal of Reagan set to film -- Reagan: A Life in Letters would be a fantastic basis for a script. But who is going to write, produce and direct it when all of Hollywood is a cesspool of Leftist whackos? Anyone, anyone?

"Tis a consumation devoutly to be wished."

If I was directing that film the major moment would be this:

"Mr. Gorbachev, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL!"

That was the beginning of the end for the old evil empire.

29 posted on 12/06/2003 4:47:20 PM PST by LibKill (You are not sheeple. Refuse to be clipped.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: bdeaner
I agree with "The Apostle" and "Unforgiven". Both extremely touching and Christian movies at their core. I don't think of films that Glorify war as being conservative, thus I don't think "We were soldiers", "Black Hawk Down", or "Braveheart" are really conservative. They may serve nationalistic or militeristic ends but no real conservative end.

My two cents.
30 posted on 12/06/2003 4:48:47 PM PST by Burkeman1
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: Burkeman1
Good point, but I don't see "Black Hawk Down" or "We Were Soldiers" as glorying war. I think they very explicitly detail the brutality of war, and in that light, call us to respect and pay tribute to those who have faught and died for our freedoms. "Saving Private Ryan," on the other hand, is a movie that glorifies war, and that's why I didn't include it. "Braveheart" on the other hand is a film, not about war so much as it is about freedom and the price we have to pay for that freedom, which does not come easily. My two cents.
31 posted on 12/06/2003 4:54:48 PM PST by bdeaner
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: bdeaner
Considering that I own every film from "Black Hawk Down" to "Saving Private Ryan" that you mentioned I am not one to talk! I don't think they are "conservative" but they are great pieces of film work and they honor those who served in such similiar engagements.
32 posted on 12/06/2003 4:58:38 PM PST by Burkeman1
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: Burkeman1
I agree with "The Apostle" and "Unforgiven"

Have to admit 'The Apostle' had me going for a bit there. Was wondering what the heck Robert Duvall was doing in it and where it was going. But it turned out as you said and it really spoke to me. As for 'Unforgiven', I can see that looking back on it. Can't say as I've ever looked at it that way before

33 posted on 12/06/2003 6:12:59 PM PST by billbears (Deo Vindice)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: bdeaner
Mel Gibson might be willing to do an accurate portrayal.
34 posted on 12/06/2003 7:49:01 PM PST by CyberAnt (America .. the LIGHT of the World)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ladyinred
Not only that .. I'm reading LEGACY, and the whole first chapter is about Clinton's character .. STUNNING insight from the author.
35 posted on 12/06/2003 7:51:14 PM PST by CyberAnt (America .. the LIGHT of the World)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: LoudRepublicangirl
You do know Babs blames Reagan for her son having AIDS. Why .. I have no idea .. Reagan was just handy I guess.
36 posted on 12/06/2003 7:53:42 PM PST by CyberAnt (America .. the LIGHT of the World)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Scannall
"The Reagans provides a great example of the next movie to be made. How about if Ann Coulter writes 'The Clintons'. Laura Ingraham can play Hilary, and Rush can play Bill. Think that'd be any less biased or agenda driven? "

ROFL!
37 posted on 12/06/2003 8:52:37 PM PST by Chu Gary
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: bdeaner
"Who would play Monica?

Hmmm... I can't think of anybody fat enough to play the part."

How about Rosie O'Donuts
38 posted on 12/06/2003 8:56:04 PM PST by Chu Gary
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: CyberAnt
Gibson would be the only Hollywood person I can think of to do it, though he's not exactly "Hollywood," per se. He IS a huge box office draw. Notice I included Braveheart and We Were Soldiers in my list -- both Icon Productions, Mel's production company, the same one making The Passion.

Come to think of it, I think Signs belongs in that list, too. Another Gibson role, though not his production company.
39 posted on 12/06/2003 10:38:27 PM PST by bdeaner
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: CyberAnt
It's pretty common for people to blame others in these kinds of situations, because it is easier to feel anger than to feel despair -- and this type of undifferentiated rage is common among liberals, I think, as is evident all over the place.
40 posted on 12/06/2003 10:41:25 PM PST by bdeaner
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 36 | View Replies]

To: Chu Gary
How about Rosie O'Donuts

Actually, the thought did cross my mind. Might be the perfect match, though she'd be a little old for the part. She has the girth, though, that's for sure.
41 posted on 12/06/2003 10:43:28 PM PST by bdeaner
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

To: bdeaner
"pretty common to blame others"

For the liberals it's not just "common" it's their usual tactic. It's a psychological condition called "projection". What the person does by using projection is accuse others of what they are doing themselves.

Everything the dems accuse Bush of doing is really a confession of what the dems are actually doing. If you just go back and look at all the things the dems accused Bush of during the 2000 campaign, you will see an amazing display of projection.
42 posted on 12/06/2003 11:41:20 PM PST by CyberAnt (America .. the LIGHT of the World)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]

To: CyberAnt
Yes, exactly, as a psychologist, I know quite a bit about projection, and you're exactly right. In fact, earlier today, there was a post pointing out how the the Democratic candidates, as of late, have been moaning about Bush accusing them of being unpatriotic, when he never has said this. On the other hand, just about every Democrat candidate has explicitly accused Bush of a lack of patriotism! Blatant projection. Nice article, too, but I can't remember the title.
43 posted on 12/07/2003 12:06:56 AM PST by bdeaner
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 42 | View Replies]

To: bdeaner
A better source would have been Reagan: A Life in Letters, a remarkable book published this year containing 834 pages of mostly hand-written letters by Ronald Wilson Reagan.

Bravo. I'm getting this for Christmas. Is it o.k. to say, "Christmas", or is it "Sparkle Season"? ;)

44 posted on 12/07/2003 12:11:33 AM PST by thesummerwind (like painted kites, those days and nights, they went flyin' by)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: bdeaner
I learned this projection thing first hand; former spouse.
45 posted on 12/07/2003 10:47:21 AM PST by CyberAnt (America .. the LIGHT of the World)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 43 | View Replies]

To: bdeaner

bump for the time at hand


46 posted on 06/15/2004 9:30:25 AM PDT by Sybeck1 (Kerry: how can we trust him with our money, if Teresa won't trust him with hers!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson