I’m not masochistic by nature, but sometimes fate dictates that we must voluntarily experience pain for the sake of a greater cause.
American history is replete with such instances of pain and suffering before liberation.
So too is Biblical history.
Such has been my fate the last few weeks as I’ve voluntarily, albeit reluctantly, committed myself to watch Showtime’s "The Reagans" in all of its biased, liberal oblivious glory.
This four-part documentary, directed by a left-leaning, former Vanity Fair editor turned self-appointed historian, Matt Tyrnauer, is supposed to give us the inside, untold story of Ronald Reagan.
If only Tyrnauer had taken the time to read my books.
I, at least, would have appreciated the royalties.
"The Reagans" is many things, none of them good, but it's certainly not boring.
Tyrnauer would have to be a truly talented filmmaker to make such a huge load of vacuous content boring; alas, his abilities don’t quite make the cut in that department.
Tyrnauer’s work is narrated by a stacked-deck of journalists and liberal commentators with axes to grind mixed with a few token conservatives who are supposed to give the appearance of a balanced work of research.
One of these conservatives told me in confidence that Tyrnauer misled him about the documentary and that he would not have participated had he known what he was getting into.
This didn’t inspire confidence after the abysmal first episode.
The three subsequent installments are no better.
At times it seems "The Reagans" can’t decide if it wants to be a documentary about its titular family or a narration of the Democratic National Committee’s platform.
During the third episode for example, there’s a segment spent gushing over FDR's New Deal. Never mind the fact Roosevelt likely never intended them to last 50 or 60 years.
While the focus is on Reagan’s budget cuts to many of those programs during his first term, underneath there’s a repeated subliminal messaging about how government is good.
Government is good, government takes care of you, and if you disagree then you’re a bigot like Reagan who hates poor people and minorities.
It’s so much like the DNC playbook I confess I was taken out of the episode at one point.
Similarly, Tyrnauer can’t make up his mind about how exactly he wants to vilify Reagan.
On one hand, much of the documentary is spent on the likes of Jonathan Alter, Derek Shearer, Maya Wiley, and prodigal son Ron Reagan telling us that Reagan was a fantasy-obsessed, dullard ex-movie star who was convinced he was fighting to save an America that doesn’t exist.
Thus, Ronald Wilson Reagan is made out to be an ignorant pawn of corporate America and his wife Nancy with little of his own agency.
Imagine, "Skipper," as his great father used to call him, excoriating his father for wanting to be a hero! I feel sorry for the pitiful sorts, like Matt Tyrnauer, Karen Tumulty, and Jonathan Alter — as well as others, who associated themsleves with this documentary and joined the notion that being a hero is something to condemn.
Championing the loser and denigrating the hero in our society is in fact un-American.
Wasn’t Washington a hero? JFK was certainly a hero.
As the writer Junius (a pseudonym) said, "It is the coward who fawns upon those above him — It is the coward who is insolent whenever he dares to be."
That is the essence of the documentary.
The losers liberals can’t stand it when American conservatives win and champion winning.
Which is why they chanted pro-North Vietnamese slogans in the 1960’s, which is why they praised the Soviet Union in the 1970’s and 1980’s, which is also why they celebrated the various enemies of America in the 1990’s, all the way up to today.
In all the years of conflict between Reagan and Moscow, almost never in eight years did The Washington Post (for example) take the side of our American president.
Contrarily, Tyrnauer also tries to portray Reagan as a Machiavellian master manipulator whose career was built on his ability to sell horrible ideas to the American people that really weren’t in their self-interest.
And here I was thinking it was a fluke that America elected Reagan twice.
A good example of this is how the show attacks Reagan on race and civil rights.
Through cleverly edited footage of Reagan followed by footage of George Wallace, Tyrnauer tries to imply Reagan left the Democratic Party because of its support of civil rights in the 1960’s (hint: it was not).
It uses Reagan’s attendance of the 1980 Neshoba County Fair, which has long been a favorite attack angle of the left, to say that Reagan used coded language to white southerners to show them he would not change the status quo on racism.
It fails to mention that Jimmy Carter held a rally that same year in Tuscumbia, Alabama, which at the time was the headquarters of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
So who was at that rally? The very same George Wallace. So much for coded language.
What about Tyrnauer’s mentor, Michael Dukakis, who spoke at Neshoba in 1988?
Of course, he too must a racist because he spoke at Neshoba and so is Tyrnauer, who didn’t have the guts to resign from the campaign, further proof that American liberalism is dominated by the less-than-courageous.
Every word Reagan speaks about states’ rights and individualism are dog whistles proving he was one giant racist.
All of Reagan’s talk about deregulation and small government is now suddenly harmful, evil rhetoric in spite of the fact millions of Americans agree.
His attack on Linda Taylor, the infamous "welfare queen," is now a dog whistle proving Reagan hated people on welfare. Never mind that at the time Taylor caused such a huge scandal that even The New York Times and and The Washington Post reported on prior to Reagan himself ever raising the matter.
Reagan is also shown to be willfully ignorant towards the AIDs crisis, not mentioning that he increased spending toward AIDs research funding between 1982 and 1983, from $8 million to $26.5 million.
Leslie Stahl, another "talent" in this documentary, also bemoans how Reagan "manipulated" the media, seemingly forgetting that plenty of Democratic presidents have done just that to their press corps. Franklin Roosevelt’s wheelchair and the lack of reporting on John Kennedy’s womanizing come to mind.
Of course, it's easy to imagine someone like Stahl being easily manipulated.
The bottom line is that Reagan, and by extent all conservatives and conservative values, are portrayed as cartoon characters.
Tyrnauer doesn’t miss a beat; the nuclear family, religious values, small government, and individualism all come under fire in "The Reagans."
Reagan is Tyrnauer’s prime target, but he also is a conduit for Tyrnauer to display his personal feelings toward the conservative movement.
"The Reagans" stands as a giant insult to conservatives everywhere.
Having put myself through watching it I can safely tell them not to waste their time.
Craig Shirley is a Ronald Reagan biographer and presidential historian. His books include ''Reagan’s Revolution, The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started it All,'' ''Rendezvous with Destiny, Ronald Reagan and the Campaign That Changed America,'' "Reagan Rising: The Decisive Years," and ''Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan." He is also the author of The New York Times bestseller, ''December 1941,'' and his new 2019 book, ''Mary Ball Washington,'' a definitive biography of George Washington’s mother. Shirley lectures frequently at the Reagan Library and the Reagan Ranch. He has been named the First Reagan Scholar at Eureka College, Ronald Reagan’s alma mater, and will teach a class this fall at the University of Virginia on Reagan. He appears regularly on Newsmax TV, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN. Read Craig Shirley's Reports — More Here.
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