Skip to comments.BULLETPROOF: REAGAN AFTER HINCKLEY (Was There a Historic Presidential Epiphany That Day?) TV REVIEW
Posted on 12/07/2001 8:42:00 AM PST by Silly
Who's minding the store?" Ronald Reagan joked to his top aides as they watched the president being wheeled into surgery, a bullet from the gun of a would-be assassin, John W. Hinckley Jr., lodged in his chest. The three men, James A. Baker III, Edwin Meese III and Michael K. Deaver, recall this remarkable bon mot in "Bulletproof: Reagan After Hinckley," a gripping documentary about the attack, which occurred a mere 70 days into his first term.
Did Mr. Reagan, an accomplished actor, become a "real" president in its aftermath? Did this assassination attempt by a deranged individual help bring about the end of the cold war? Using a combination of archival film, simulated re-creations and interviews with eyewitnesses, policy makers and journalists, "Bulletproof," directed and produced by Tom Casciato, takes a sobering look at events tinged with surreality and focuses on the broad dimensions of a single day in history.
Mr. Reagan appears in movie clips from his Hollywood years as a football hero, a cowboy, a Secret Service agent and even the occasional bad guy, taking the fall over cash. But he was most convincing playing himself, as television host or presidential candidate, and that blending of image and reality became a hallmark of his administration.
On March 30, 1981, as he was leaving a meeting hall in Washington, six shots rang out; three men lay bleeding on the sidewalk while the wounded president's limousine raced to the hospital. David Gergen, director of communications during Mr. Reagan's first administration, identifies the crisis as "a naked moment," when the president's grace under pressure revealed the man's essence. But it's also apt to say that he remained in character.
Despite disarray and confusion, Mr. Reagan's staff managed the flow of information about his health so carefully that few knew his life hung in the balance. In that sense, "Bulletproof," produced by The New York Times and presented by Showtime, provides a valuable corrective. The program's few simulated re-creations, so ubiquitous in television docudrama, are only slightly jarring. Its most moving moments occur in interviews with Mr. Brady, Reagan's press secretary, who was shot and permanently disabled by the attack, and with his wife, Sarah, an eloquent advocate of gun control.
Mr. Reagan's popularity soared after of the attack, and his advisers used it to push a series of tax cuts and other legislative victories through Congress. But did his brush with death also produce a "spiritual epiphany," as Mr. Deaver suggests, that led him to negotiate with Mikhail S. Gorbachev for nuclear disarmament? It's a tempting hypothesis, especially in the current climate of renewed presidential prestige and world crisis. Yet in dealing with the Soviet Union, Richard Allen, Mr. Reagan's national security adviser, says, "His theory was, `We win and they lose.' " And in that case, at least, he was right.
Reagan After Hinckley
Showtime, Sunday night at 8
Produced and directed by Tom Casciato; Amanda Benchley and Susan Morrison, associate producers; Jane Bornemeier and Christian Gwinn, executive producers; produced by The New York Times; presented by Showtime.
QUESTIONS TO KEEP IN MIND:
Does it tell us anything new, or give us any new insight?
Is it respectful to Reagan, or hopelessly biased?
No, he WAS a real President before he was shot. The only thing that changed was that he became firmly committed to doing the will of God.
I love to see these liberals squirm because Dubya is acting a lot like Dutch. And the contrast between them and Clinton is SO obvious that anyone with any semblence of a brain has to notice it. So, kids get used to it. The liberals are coming up with their own analyses of The Gipper. It must be very painful for them to admit that he was a decent guy. We must pity them. I just wish they wouldn't act like they are the first to discover Ronald Reagan was not an evil warmonger and that he actually may have done some good.
Well, I'm pretty sure he was a real Prresident before as well.
Did this assassination attempt by a deranged individual help bring about the end of the cold war?
Oh yeah. Ronald Reagan didn't win the cold war....John Hinckley inspired him to do it.
Where's the barf alert?
Must be another Sarah Brady. The one I've seen is an incoherent, asinine drooler who can't articulate a complete sentence without lapsing into a cigarette cough. Eloquent, she ain't.
The documentary preceeding concluded Reagan felt he had been spared for a purpose and he accomplished that purpose when the Cold War ended. They showed the great "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" footage, which brought a tear to my eye. I didn't find anything about the Bradys to be touching. They sat there on camera and argued. The narrator reminded us about ten times that Brady now is a gun control proponent.
Untreated mental illness not a gun caused Hinckley to shoot Reagan & the others.
Thanks to the liberals, people with mental illnesses cannot be hospitalized nor compelled to take medication unless they are proven to be a 'danger to themself or others'; then a Judge can order such treatment.
Hinckley had a history of mental illness but his parents were unable to force compliance. Even today it is a long legal battle for families to get mentally ill adult relatives committed for treatment.
Too bad Sarah Brady wasn't smart enough to recognize the real cause of the shooting......instead of attacking the 2nd Amendment, she should have focused her efforts on mental illness!
How patriotic of him!
Mr. Reagan's popularity soared after of the attack, and his advisers used it to push a series of tax cuts and other legislative victories through Congress.
As usual, everything at the Times is about image and perception. The actual legislation, Reagans direct appeals to the voters that thwarted obstruction in congress, and the positive effects that passage had, are all subordinate to peoples feelings about Reagan. Also, notice how Reagan's "advisers" got the legislation passed. In the world of the NY Times, Reagan was simultaneously a bumbling idiot and an evil genius, depending on the time of day.
His theory was, `We win and they lose.' "
Obviously, Reagan had a far more competent grasp on the real world than the emotional windbags at the Times.
Oh, Jeez. I was never a big fan of Haig, but Dreyfuss isn't worthy to scratch his cajones.
I despise Sarah Brady and everyone associated with her. She should be in a rubber room somewhere.
The ivy league poseur who followed him was a disgrace.
Although Dreyfus overacted (think Captain Kirk), he made you think Haig wasn't a wacko, just somebody who was confused a bit, but still was a good soilder.
It mostly was about how the US was not prepared to handle the situation and nothing was working.
I'll admit, I had very low expectations given who was in it, but they handled it better than I expetected.