Ed Meese Slams CBS Movie

Wes Vernon
Tuesday, Oct, 28, 2003


WASHINGTON Former Attorney General Edwin Meese III says the "far left" is attacking Ronald Reagan through the upcoming CBS miniseries "The Reagans" only because the former president is not in a position to defend himself.

"If he were well and didn't have this terrible illness, they wouldn't dare publish that because he would come out and deny it," the close Reagan confidant told NewsMax.com in an exclusive interview. "And so they're taking advantage of his condition."

Reagan, 92, is bedridden and suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

"It is typical of the far left that they cannot afford to have Ronald Reagan be seen as successful." That success, Meese added, "refutes all of their lies about politics, economics and about people."

In fact, the former chief of staff for Gov. Reagan, top White House aide and later attorney general sees the CBS miniseries as a frantic and desperate attempt to counteract "a lot of factual material" that has come out about the 40th president, "including his letters, a recent updated biography by Lou Cannon, a book by Peter Robinson, other books that have come out [such as] the Time magazine article on his letters and all this sort of thing, which paints the true picture of Ronald Reagan."

All of this thoroughly documented material, says Meese, shows Reagan "in a light that is anathema to those on the left, and I think that's why this is really a very cynical and very malicious plot, really, to try to darken his reputation."

Meese had seen the video trailer of the miniseries and shot down its "inflammatory" and "vicious" charges point by point. His observations:

1. The "second-rate actor" myth is belied by the fact that he did "very well" in the movies from the late '30s into the '50s, and was well regarded "by his peers and colleagues in the film industry."

2. "Totally untrue in both cases" is the claim that Reagan had to be pushed into running for governor and president by his wife. A group of business leaders in California persuaded him to run for the governorship and he said he "would give it a try" though he was not sure there was "popular support." Once convinced the support was out there, the Gipper was "a very hard-working and energetic candidate."

3. To the best of Meese's knowledge, Nancy was not consulted in any Cabinet selections, including Bill Casey (CIA) and Al Haig (State). Meese was involved in all of the Cabinet appointments. Al Haig was appointed only after Reagan questioned him closely about whether he had any presidential ambitions that would interfere with his job at State.

4. Meese is "sure" Regan never used the "G-- D--n" cuss word around his wife "because he never used it even among men." Haig's resignation was ultimately accepted in 1982 only after Reagan had refused to accept it "two or three times."

5. Meese says of course he was not privy to family conversations, but the "odd" quotes that pop up in the miniseries are totally out of character for the man.

6. The script writer for the CBS hatchet job admits that the depiction of Reagan as having a calloused attitude toward AIDS victims was something she just made up. And Meese adds that the entire issue of AIDS did not come in through Nancy Reagan. It was Surgeon General C. Everett Koop who "brought that issue to the Cabinet" and it was handled "like a whole bunch of other issues in the Cabinet."

7. Contrary to the miniseries' assertion that Nancy Reagan pleaded with the president to support giving condoms and needles to drug addicts to combat the spread of AIDS, Meese "would seriously doubt it because [in fact] she was very much against supplying needles, particularly because of her 'Just Say No' anti-drug activities."

8. Distortion in the extreme fits the description of the assertion that Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev pleaded with Reagan to "stop this arms race." The truth, says Meese, is that "Gorbachev offered all kinds of arms concessions and then at the last moment ... said the condition would be that Reagan would have to give up on the Strategic Defense Initiative" to protect America from a missile attack. Reagan did not fall for it. That's when he walked out of the summit conference in Iceland.

9. Not true, Meese says, is the assertion that Mrs. Reagan told White House aides: "You don't call the president to tell him something. You call me." Again, "totally out of character" for both Reagans, according to Meese.

10. Nor is it true that Reagan did not know the name of his own national security adviser, Robert McFarlane.

11. Reagan never called Oliver North "that lying son of a gun" and "regretted having to return [North] to the Marine Corps," Meese stated.