Tags: Media Bias | Reagan | Biographer | Wrong | Brands

Biographer Gets It Wrong on Me and My Dad

Friday, 15 May 2015 12:25 PM Current | Bio | Archive

If you were writing a biography about a significant president and his son was still alive, wouldn’t contacting the son or reading the son’s book about his family be one of the first places to begin your research?

For the majority of legitimate biographers the answer would be yes. But for H. W. Brands the answer is why bother? Like “hands up, don’t shoot,” the UVA gang rape, and the Duke lacrosse team, for some leftists some stories are too juicy to be subjected to a mere fact check.

If the quality of Brands’ accuracy and research is characterized by his entries on me and my sister, Maureen, then don’t bother buying “Reagan: The Life.”

In writing about my graduation from high school, Brands recycles an old lie and manages to escalate the untruth by embellishing that! As a review in the Tampa Bay Times puts it, “Brands recounts an incident in the life of Michael Reagan, the adopted son of Ronald Reagan and his first wife, actor Jane Wyman. Michael had spent most of his young life bouncing between boarding and prep schools with precious little contact with either his mother or father.

“About to graduate from prep school, Michael Reagan was informed that because of too many demerits he might not be allowed to graduate, a problem the school was willing to solve if he could persuade his father, then the governor of California, to deliver the commencement address.

“But at the ceremony, after delivering his remarks, Ronald Reagan didn't even recognize his own son, who was obliged to introduce himself to his father.”

Where to begin? The left loves the “introduce” part of this tale because it makes my father look out-of-touch and indifferent to his own family. They use the story to attempt to make Ronald Reagan look hypocritical when he talks about the importance of the family.

Here are the facts: I graduated from Judson School in 1964 as a member of the National Honor Society and quarterbacked the football team to its first and only state championship. There were no demerits at the Judson School, because it wasn’t a military academy. And by the way, my father didn’t become governor until two years later in 1966.

I would have graduated if Jane Fonda had been the commencement speaker.

Before the speech all the graduates-to-be went through a line to shake dad’s hand. He would greet each senior with “Hi, I’m Ronald Reagan, what’s your name?” The left has never grasped this, but Ronald Reagan had a great sense of humor, so when I got there he gave me the same treatment he gave everyone else. I’m no slouch at humor either, so I did the same to him.

Brands also contends dad “agreed with his political consultants to ban his children Michael and Maureen from his 1980 presidential campaign because their presence would remind voters he had been married to and divorced from their mother.”

The campaign was concerned with public opinion on the divorce, but that didn’t stop me from resigning my job to campaign. I followed George H. W. Bush around Iowa and called dad to warn him Bush was going to win. He tried to calm me and said his consultants told him he was winning. I replied that the consultants were incompetent or lying and let the matter drop.

He lost Iowa. Then the morning of the New Hampshire primary I got a call from dad at 6:30 a.m. He said I have a press release and I need your approval or disapproval. I said why are you calling me about a press release? Dad said it’s self-explanatory.

He then proceeded to read me the blockbuster news release announcing he’d fired his campaign staff. But he wanted my approval of the decision before he made the announcement. Naturally, I approved. Then I asked if he was going to win.

Maureen was deeply involved, too. Not only was she a delegate to the convention, she did a great deal of campaigning. The problem was while Maureen was campaigning for dad, she was also campaigning for the Equal Rights Amendment. This was a big complication because dad was adamantly opposed.

During a meeting to persuade Maureen to stop, she made an offer. If dad would agree to fill the first Supreme Court vacancy with a female judge, Maureen would not mention ERA again. From the back of the room dad said, “Deal!”

From October 6 until November 2 of 1980 I made 66 plane trips and visited 19 states living out of a suitcase. Maureen had a similar schedule. We not only participated in the campaign, both Maureen and I had an impact on the campaign.

Brands could have learned all this with a simple phone call. The fact he didn’t bother says a great deal about both him and his “biography.”

Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan. He is president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation and chairman of the League of American Voters. Mike is an in-demand speaker with Premiere. Read more reports from Michael Reagan — Go Here Now.

© Mike Reagan

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If you were writing a biography about a significant president and his son was still alive, wouldn’t contacting the son or reading the son’s book about his family be one of the first places to begin your research?
Reagan, Biographer, Wrong, Brands
Friday, 15 May 2015 12:25 PM
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