Category Archives: Article

Trump on the Path of Reagan


The former president was considered a joke candidate — until he wasn’t; Trump is following the Gipper stride for stride

by Craig Shirley

The liberal intelligentsia has never understood him.

On the other hand, the liberal intelligentsia has never understood American conservatism, either. Both have been rudely attacked over the years by the Left, unwilling to engage in straightforward debate.

They called him a wild man and irresponsible and a lightweight. They called him a racist. They questioned his understanding of Washington and of domestic policy. They mocked him when he had the courage to call out the enemies of America. Didn’t he know our enemies just wanted jobs and a better environment, and they’d give up their evil ways?

They even mocked his hair. He had a beautiful wife, but the liberal elites loathed her as just some fashion maven, and not a true feminist.

He challenged the status quo, and they hated him for it. He spoke of the future, and they despised him for it. The commentariat must control all things including the bureaucracy and the story line. To take it away is a threat and any threat must be eliminated.

Of the harsh and personal attacks, one could be referring to Donald Trump, but in fact it is former President Ronald Reagan of which I speak (although it hardly matters). Even in death, a neocon with the American Enterprise Institute said harshly that Reagan was “caught in a sort of amber.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

The New York Times wrote in 1980 that the Republican Party’s platform of the era looked as if it has “been written by a Klansman.” This is the way liberals often work. It is right out of Saul Alinsky’s playbook. Don’t engage. Instead, attack and mock. Don’t ever grant legitimacy to the opposing viewpoint. The Post’s token Republican, Michael Gerson, who never met a Tea Party member he liked, has written that conservatives should stop being so negative. Huh?

If you constantly point out the need for ever more government to fix the imagined ills of society, then is not the Establishment Chicken Littles’ who are negative? To celebrate freedom and reject collectivism is positive. One might even say “enlightened.”

Reagan, of course, was not alone. Other conservatives were also derided and scorned. During the 1964 campaign, a group of psychiatrists signed full-page newspaper ads claiming Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater was mentally unstable. In the 1950s, liberal writer Lionel Trilling mocked the conservative philosophy as just a “rash of irritable metal gestures.”

Even in death, the Left brutally attacked Reagan. The Washington Post set the tone and others followed. During the week of his funeral, everything from his economic policy, to his college football career to his marriage were questioned and criticized. Even the day he left office in January 1989, the Post editorially admitted they were “emphatically among” his worst critics.

They brutally attacked his movie career, and Post columnist Harold Meyerson said Reagan had “revived” class warfare, but it was Reagan himself who went out of his way to oppose the notion of class or economic warfare. He said, “Since when do we in America accept this alien and discredited theory of social and class warfare. Since when do we in America endorse the politics of envy and division?”

Still, the Post and the Times had to sometimes take a backseat to the three television networks’ ceaseless pounding of Reagan.

“Another favorite NBC theme in reporting on Reagan relies on his actor’s past. Thus Chris Wallace reported of Reagan’s campaigning, ‘It was a day filled with stagecraft,’ as if Reagan were the first candidate to practice that particular art. A month later, Wallace reported that Reagan ‘put on a Hollywood production today,’ and, near the end of his report, took a shot at the candidate’s age by saying he ‘finally got a friendly reception — at a retirement village.’”

This was written by Tom Shales, a columnist for the Washington Post. It was a pretty low bar to be defended by the Post, and attacked by the Post. But Shales was unique among Post writers, never joining the liberal Establishment, a courageous columnist.

More typically, reliable and applauded Post liberal writer E.J. Dionne recently made derisive references to “The Rush  Limbaugh-Ted Cruz Permanent Revolution Complex …” as if it was a bad thing. The Post wrote approvingly of how former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in 2008 was pushing the GOP away from Reaganism to, what, Bushism?

On this, both Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz can depend: The liberal elites will always attack, mostly unjustly. The radical chic will always personalize politics — and will always make personal remarks about politics.

A prominent liberal writer recently penned that conservatism was dead, but maybe it is corrupt Republicanism, corrupt liberalism, and corrupt Establishmentarianism that are dead. American conservatism — based on personal freedom, personal ethics — is doing just fine.

Trump is learning conservatism as he goes along. Cruz is marinated in conservatism. As one Reaganite said, “The church ain’t just for the saints; sinners are welcomed, too.”

And so, too, are converts.

Craig Shirley is the author of several Reagan biographies. His latest book is “Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan.”

Do Radicals Want Another Pearl Harbor?


By Craig Shirley   |   Thursday, 03 Dec 2015 08:53 AM

Franklin Roosevelt and Earl Warren have always gotten a bad rap from history over the Japanese internment program. They assembled and implemented this plan immediately in the days after the attack on Pearl Harbor beginning in December of 1941.

The big problem has always been presentism, which is the erroneous belief of portraying, elucidating or inferring the past from the perspective of current-day knowledge and understandings. This is the mistake too many of the politically correct classes make about American history, in an effort to tear down or remake.

But Pearl Harbor was 75 years ago, we were a different country and Americans were downright scared, with widespread rumors of more aerial bombings of more cities, sabotage and targeting of civilians.

At the time of the attack, there were hundreds of thousands of Japanese in America and the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor did little to engender sympathy for them, especially after it was later discovered that they’d been using their embassy and legations to spy on America, particularly in Honolulu. There was simply no way of knowing who could be a Japanese terrorist and who was not.

It would have been worse, however, had it not been for Francis Biddle, FDR’s attorney general. Both J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI and the Department of the Army wanted to round up and detain every Japanese citizen in America, regardless of their status. But Biddle persuaded FDR that the government needed to only detain those they thought a possible threat.

Thousands were later rounded up and send to internment camps, many in the desert southwest but not all. They were also in Montana, and in a little town named Lordsburg in New Mexico. Lordsburg was at the confluence of history as it was the furthest eastern internment camp and the farthest western German POW camp.

Japanese Americans weren’t the only ones whose civil rights were violated. Anglo Americans were also subjected to government imposed regulations involving free speech, assembly, movement, and the economy. Stop and searches were routine. The First Amendment was essentially cast aside. “Loose Lips.”

True, native born Americans were not forced into camps and had many of their personal possessions taken away, but all Americans were subjected to one form of government coercion or another in the name of successfully conducting warfare against the Empire of Japan and later Nazi Germany and constitutional rights often took a backseat to security in fighting World War II. And German Americans were also interred (in lesser numbers) though this has never received the coverage which Japanese interment has received.

The problem frankly was the hundreds of thousands of undocumented alien Japanese in the Hawaiian territories and on the West Coast, especially in California. the problem had been an often balky and frankly inefficient immigration service. As an example, Mexican workers crossed the border, sometimes daily, to work and look for work, with no one to stop them.

Today, we have a similar problem involving millions of illegal aliens, not just from south of the border but increasingly from the Middle East, re-settlers thanks to the policies begun by George W. Bush and continuing with Barack Obama.

Exacerbating things, since the mid 1960s, we have a immigration policy that has favored immigrants from Africa, South America and other Third World countries, over those from Northern Europe. Our Judeo Christian heritage has been badly diluted, especially since the Obama government told the US Catholic Bishops to favor more Rohingya Muslims from Burma.

Now, according to the plans of the Obama administration, tens of thousands of Syrians will be resettled in America, without proper background checks. In this age of terror, wouldn’t it be prudent to halt this? Yet Obama has said he wants to “increase and accelerate” the number of Syrian refugees coming into America, leaping over those who have waited for years for legal status.

Adding to suspicions is the widespread corruption of the US government, with billions disappearing down the rat hole of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

In fact, a slow motion invasion has been taking place for years in Europe, with refugees from Syria and other Middle Eastern countries, the forces of political correctness propelling them forward.

Some years ago, Admiral Mike Mullen, then chief of naval operations, made the comparison between Sept. 11 and Dec. 7, 1941. “There were clearly two competing visions of the world: one of freedom, the other of tyranny.” Reportedly, Osama bin Laden was obsessed with Pearl Harbor, just as Tojo was consumed with hatred for America.

Paris may have just been a dress rehearsal for something larger and even more devastating. A larger attack is something that keeps intelligence officials awake at night.

While the Japanese used their military to conduct warfare, ISIL does not abide by anything resembling the Geneva Conventions. Will the European powers and the powers that be in the United States have the strength and integrity to round up and isolate suspected terrorists from the Middle East, should a massive new attack come? Or better yet, before the attack comes?


During the Vietnamese boat lift, liberal Sen. George McGovern sniffed that “Asians people should stay in Asia.” The boat people were an embarrassment to America’s avant garde liberals, as Vietnam and Cambodia were not the workers’ paradise promised by Jane Fonda and others, but instead, “killing fields” created by murderous communist thugs, who’d enjoyed the support, of Fonda and others.

Syrians and Jordanians are already here, but it would be a mistake to assume all have nothing but good intentions for the rest of us.

Craig Shirley is the author of “Rendezvous with Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign that Changed America,” “Reagan’s Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started It All,” and “December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World.” He is the founder of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs, and has been named the first Reagan scholar at Eureka College, Ronald Reagan’s alma mater. He appears regularly on Newsmax TV, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN. 

HuffPo Hit Piece Slams Cruz, Reagan


By Craig Shirley   |   Monday, 23 Nov 2015 04:50 PM

Clearly, Rich Rubino of the Huffington Post is in over his head.

In a badly flawed piece for the Huffington Post, he tries to explain Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980 over Jimmy Carter as a pragmatic one, rather than an ideological one, using his reinvention of history as a means of bashing 2016 GOP aspirant Ted Cruz, who has made comparisons between 1980 and 2016.

Senator, you are on course in your broad historical comparisons. Rubino should read “Rendezvous with Destiny,” my book which all agree is the definitive story of the 1980 campaign.

I interviewed former president Jimmy Carter and former vice president Walter Mondale, Ed Meese, Jim Baker, and everybody else in between to write “Rendezvous with Destiny.” I also went through files from the Reagan Library, the Bush Library and the Carter Center.

One thing emerges from Rubino’s fractured fairy tale and that is liberals can’t seem to decide if Reagan was a progressive tax hiking moderate or a deranged right-wing sociopath who hated gays and intentionally spread crack in ghettos. Yawn. This false narrative is getting so tiresome.

Where do I begin with Rubino’s mistakes? He writes that Reagan won a majority of the liberal vote in 1980. Nonsense. Liberals detested Ronald Reagan in 1980 almost as much as they do now, and in 1980, they gave their votes to Carter or John Anderson, running as a third party liberal reformer. (Rubino completely misses this significant story of 1980.)

Rubino charges that Reagan’s record was “sacrilegious” (whatever that means). Reagan’s record as a conservative was in fact, trendsetting and historical — all at the same time.

He was going through an awakening, an evolution, one he eventually arrived at which meant that modern American conservatives must always be in a state of political revolution. He governed California as a tax cutting revolutionary who saved the state from financial ruin and reformed the badly flawed welfare program.

Reagan in the 1980 campaign did delineate a list of conservative priorities in the fall campaign. Rubino must have missed Reagan’s call for tax cuts, for reducing the size and scope of government, for rebuilding America’s defenses, or for restoring American values.

One week before the election and at his debate with Carter, Reagan said that Washington “has usurped powers and autonomy and authority that belongs back at the state and local level. It has imposed on the individual freedoms of the people, and that there are more of these things that could be solved by the people themselves if they were given a chance or by the levels of government that were closer to them.”

Sen. Richard Schweiker in 1976 was not a liberal. He was pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, was a leader in the Captive Nations Movement, and was for a strong national defense.

Reagan chose him, not because he was a liberal, but because he might bring some wavering delegates in the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York delegations over to The Gipper.

Rubino also completely bollixes the Helsinki accords, which in fact codified the Soviets domination over the Warsaw Pact countries.

Carter did not “eke” out a re-nomination win over Ted Kennedy in 1980. He won re-nomination handily. And while it is true that Carter was beset with domestic and international problems in 1980, the American people do not like to throw out elected incumbents in non anomalous years. Thus, only in 1932 did the American people reject Herbert Hoover and replace him with FDR, the only time in 20 presidential elections in the 20th century when the American people did so, other than 1980. (The years 1912, 1976 and 1992 were anomalous.)

Cruz is right. There are striking similarities. Just like 1980, next year will be the choice between collectivism and individualism, between the status quo and a political revolution, between the sharing of scarcity or individual abundance, between accommodation of an Evil Empire, or the victory of freedom.

Radical Islam is no less a corrupting ideology than is communism. Both reorganize power, with a few holding maximum power and the rest holding little or none.

In 1980, Jimmy Carter had a naïve belief in government even as he pleaded there was little he could do, blaming the American people for a “malaise.”

In 2015, first Barack Obama and now, all in the Democratic field, including and especially Hillary Clinton, have a child-like belief that government can or should solve our problems, when we can best solve them ourselves.

In the final analysis, Cruz is correct. The election of 1980 was revolutionary, just as the election of 2016 will be again, a referendum on the citizen versus the state.

Craig Shirley is the author of “Rendezvous with Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign that Changed America,” “Reagan’s Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started It All,” and “December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World.” He is the founder of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs, and has been named the first Reagan scholar at Eureka College, Ronald Reagan’s alma mater. He appears regularly on Newsmax TV, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

How Reagan Would Handle Paris


He would have understood ideological battle, rallied Americans and our allies

by Craig Shirley

Too often, Washingtonians pontificate about how one president or another would have performed in times of national crisis.

It’s entertaining and even sometimes instructive, but in reality, no one really knows for sure.

Ultimately, we only have the historical record to go on. And from this, we can indeed see that Ronald Reagan would have reacted differently to the Paris massacre than Barack Obama, who spent more time in the hours after the attack berating his political opponents over refugees from Syria than he did the terrorists who undertook the horrible carnage.

Reagan would, and did, rally all the American people to his cause — often. Reagan viewed the American presidency far differently than does Obama and knew that political contests were one thing, but score settling and trading inane sound bites was quite another.

For eight years, Reagan pretty much spoke to all the American people, unifying them, rather than dividing them. He preached his vision of “a community of shared values of family, work, neighborhood, peace, and freedom.”

Reagan spoke plainly to the world, uniting it in the cause of defeating Soviet communism. He said: “Europeans who remember history understand better than most that there is no security, no safety, in the appeasement of evil. It must be the core of Western policy that there be no sanctuary for terror. And to sustain such a policy, free men and free nations must unite and work together.”

Related: Lessons from Reagan’s ‘Last Act’

The Gipper most likely would have given a national and international address, signaling America’s resolve and our solidarity with the West, especially our first European ally, France. And he would have reminded listeners of World War I and World War II, when America and her allies saved the world.

He would have spelled out specific humanitarian aid and — while not tipping his hand militarily like Obama, who has already publicly ruled out ground forces — would have made it abundantly clear of the resolve of America to fight and defeat the forces of ISIS by whatever means necessary. He wasn’t afraid to call them “godless Communists,” because it helped clarify who the enemy was.

When interviewing Bill Buckley years ago about Jimmy Carter, Buckley told me elegantly and damningly that the Georgian was “lost in power.” Neither Reagan, nor FDR, nor Harry Truman, nor many other presidents, could be described as such.

Barack Obama, however, is lost in power. He’s never understood the American presidency. Reagan also understood that our enemies needed to be afraid of us. No one is afraid of Obama. The mullahs of Iran were afraid of Reagan, which is why they released the American hostages they had been holding for 444 days, more than a year of the Carter presidency. In the aftermath of Paris, credible commentators of the left and the right are literally mocking Barack Obama. After he became president, few ever mocked Ronald Reagan.

People nowadays often misunderstand President Reagan’s views and try to find quick and easy solutions to the current complex socioeconomic issues, justifying their proposals by proclaiming, this is what Ronald Reagan would do. To understand Ronald Reagan, one first needs to be familiar with the long process of his transformation from the liberal Hollywood actor who admired FDR to the conservative-minded politician that we all remember.

All of his political and economic positions are result of a tremendous amount of reading, writing, researching, debating, listening, speaking and thinking through each and every major issue that concerned the average American.

Inspired by the nation’s founding, the Christian faith of his mother, the undeniable success of free-market economy, and two philosophical role-models — Thomas Paine and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn — Reagan fine-tuned the message that touched hearts of the vast majority of the American people, who elected him twice by landslides.

Related: Reagan, Obama and Russia

In the world of 24/7 news and 15 minutes of fame, that aspect of Reagan’s political formulation is very much given short shrift. Reagan’s political intelligence serves as a model to politicians today, demonstrating that while there are often no quick solutions to most problems, there are decisive moments, and they need to be tackled from many angles and by many players.

Reagan was flexible in his approaches, but also resolute in his goal. And he was always chary about the Middle East. He never visited the Middle East, and after his presidency he viewed the Beirut bombing as the biggest mistake of his presidency.

The terrorism Reagan encountered during his presidency had changed its form. He dealt with terrorism on several occasions showing his resolute resistance to it, including the April 15, 1986, bombing of Moammar Gadhafi’s Bab al-Azizia residence in response to the April 5, 1986, Berlin discotheque terrorist act in which many died, including U.S. service personnel. Reagan responded that way because it was a specific terrorist attack that had a clear chain of command, and the person who gave the order was the principle target.

However, the post-9/11 world is facing completely different kind of terrorism, flavored much more by the religious and ideological elements that have never been seen before. That terrorist network has many heads and cannot be destroyed by eradicating only its leadership.

Ronald Reagan, the cold warrior, was a perfect ideological wartime strategist, waging one ideological battle with Soviet Communism after another. He understood perfectly how to win the war of ideologies that secured the end of the greatest security threat of his era.

Reagan used the bully pulpit often, rallying the American people and the world against the evils of communism. He used Radio Free Europe to undermine Kremlin. He formed alliances with Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II, but also with the indigenous freedom movement in Poland, Hungary, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, and the Russian dissidents.

Reagan would have helped the Kurds and any other indigenous forces willing to fight ISIS. It is not clear that Obama regards ISIS as a greater threat to America than talk radio.

ISIS, al Qaeda and radical Islam overall is a complex enemy that requires different kind of response, much like Soviet communism. It requires an ideological response, and Reagan would have understood that. Besides the religious component, radical Islam is very much a social movement, and it represents an endeavor to impose a new socio-economic global order founded on Allah’s authority, much like the Soviet communism attempted to establish the socioeconomic order of based on the authority of workers and the common ownership of the means of production. It’s not a surprise that most of majority Sunni Arab nations that are main terrorism exporters today are former socialist dictatorships like Syria, Iraq, Libya.

We are witnessing the new trend in the Middle East where it is becoming harder to separate the religious positions from the official policies. The reason for it may be that in Islam, serving God means obeying Sharia legal system, which means not just following the spiritual side of it, but also norms of the social, family, personal and every other aspect of a person’s life. And that message seems appealing to European-born immigrants of the Muslim faith, who have not assimilated, who live off welfare in isolated suburbs and are frustrated for not becoming productive parts of their societies.

Therefore, Reagan would have approached the fight against radical Islamic terrorism ideologically, the way he did with communism. He would break ISIS economically, employ heavy surveillance and espionage techniques and would go after all those who aid them (including our “allies” in Saudi Arabia, Gulf states, and Syrian “moderates”). He would then probably try to form a wide front of nations that would include both our traditional allies, the Middle East nations (and possibly today’s Christian Russia or free market China) and would try to infiltrate the radical Islamic world — and find the traitors inside who would be willing to infiltrate their ranks and do the heavy lifting.

Reagan also would commit using American military force overseas according to principles that he laid out in his autobiography:

  1. The United States should not commit its forces to military action overseas unless the cause is vital to our national interest.
  2. If the decision is made to commit our forces to combat abroad, it must be done with the clear intent and support needed to win. It should not be a halfway or tentative commitment, and there must be clearly defined and realistic objectives.
  3. Before we commit our troops to combat, there must be reasonable assurance that the cause we are fighting for and the actions we take will have the support of the American people and Congress.
  4. Even after all these other combat tests are met, our troops should be committed to combat abroad only as a last resort, when no other choice is available.


Reagan knew he had to win a struggle that had an ideological nature. He committed his entire political career to it, in addition to renewing American military strength and reviving the economy.

Why are politicians now frightened of recognizing the ideological struggle of today? They may be running away from it, but they need to be aware that all of their political careers as elected leaders will evolve around it, whether they like it or not.

Finally, his “Shining City” allegory has been badly mangled. Reagan’s Shining City did not mean allowing everybody into America who wanted to come in. Rather, we were to be a symbol to the world. They could embrace freedom like us, could make their own countries over, and become their own shining cities.

In 1987, he said, “Let us remember our heritage and, with it, our destiny — the destiny of this shining city on a hill, this beacon of freedom for all the peoples of the Earth.” A “beacon,” not a destination.

When he spoke of a Shining City, he meant the ideas and ideals of America could spread across the globe. Reagan, after eight years, left the world safer and freer. The people of the world were building and rebuilding their own countries.

Obama, nearing the end of his presidency, cannot make the same claim.

Craig Shirley, a Reagan biographer, is the author of the newly released “Last Act: The Final Years and Enduring Legacy of Ronald Reagan.”

Bill O’Reilly and the Fanciful, Unbelievable, Farfetched Magical Mystery Tour de Farce, ‘Killing Reagan’

CNS News

By Craig Shirley | November 12, 2015 | 10:31 AM EST

A hundred years from now, when future historians are rooting around the monumental life and times of Ronald Reagan, they will begin with his two auto biographies,Where’s The Rest of Me? and An American Life.

They will then move on to Lou Cannon’s five excellent books covering various aspects of Ronald Reagan’s life. Then, they will turn to the books edited by Marty and Annelise Anderson and Kiron Skinner, A Life In Letters and In His Own Hand, two wonderfully long books of chosen letters of the Gipper. They also wrote a book of Reagan’s radio broadcasts, also important.

Other important books will include those by Stephen Hayward, Paul Kengor, Ed Meese, Nancy Reagan and, if I am lucky, my books on Reagan.

But they will never, ever pick up or waste time with Bill O’Reilly’s new error strewn book, Killing Reagan. Fortunately, many who were alive and who worked for Reagan and many historians have stepped forward to denounce the book as “garbage,” as Reagan’s favorite national security advisor, Dick Allen called it.

I go out of my way to say that Dick was Reagan’s favorite national security advisor because O’Reilly ridiculously called Al Haig his favorite. If he was such a favorite, then why did Reagan fire him shortly into the first term? Haig was there as a sop to Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger. He was their cat’s-paw and to get them on Reagan’s side publically as he rejected Nixonian détente with the Soviets.

The day Haig left, Reagan derisively wrote in his diaries, “The only disagreement we had was who was president.” Never ever did Reagan express anything approaching a kinship with Haig.

It’s not just one error of fact. There are literally dozens of errors, made up stories, canards, prevarications in Killing Reagan. He writes that Reagan spent his days watching soap operas. Really? History shows otherwise, including ushering in the most sweeping tax reform in 30 years in his second term and spending hours going toe to toe with Gorbachev, bringing about the first real reduction in nuclear arms since the beginning of the Cold War. And there were big speeches, big ideas, big campaigns, big legislation, big debates, all in his supposedly befuddled second term.

When future historians are researching Reagan, they will go to the National Archives at the Reagan Library and Foundation in Simi Valley, Calif., where the papers of Ed Meese and Mike Deaver and others are. They will go to the Hoover Institute where the papers of Peter Hannaford and others are stored. They will go to the Reagan Ranch where other papers, including those of his fan club, are kept. They will find in each a bright and erudite and sophisticated man, all through his presidency. They will find no records of Reagan watching soap operas all day, nor records of Nancy Reagan running the White House or foreign policy, or acting as her husband’s gatekeeper.

Others, so far, who have denounced the O’Reilly book include the estimable historians Skinner, Hayward and Kengor. So, too, has Ed Meese, Reagan’s closest aide and friend from Sacramento to Washington; John Heubusch, head of the Reagan Library and Foundation; Frank Donatelli, Reagan’s White House Political Director and longtime campaign strategist; Allen, Reagan’s National Security Advisor; A.B. Culvahouse, Reagan White House Counsel; and, of course, George Will, who knew Ronald and Nancy Reagan as well as any conservative columnist and better than most, save the legendary Bill Buckley.

Thus, we have these historians and Reagan experts all arrayed against the O’Reilly book. But that’s not enough. (He also lifted heavily and mistakenly from my books including falsely claiming that Nancy Reagan knew about the purloined Carter briefing books in the fall of 1980, or that Stu Spencer told me he thought that Reagan thought Jimmy Carter was a “little shit,” but not that he called Carter that, as O’Reilly falsely claims.

But I digress.

So far, not one of the thousands of Reagan White House aides has come forward to corroborate O’Reilly’s retelling of history. If O’Reilly was even close to the truth, wouldn’t there be just one staffer to come forward and support Killing Reagan?

So, who you going to believe? Bill O’Reilly or the lying eyes of 1,000 people who worked up close and personal with the Gipper?

If Bill O’Reilly wrote the facts of Ronald Reagan, wouldn’t he be invited to speak at the Reagan Library, or the Reagan Ranch, or Eureka College, or the Hoover Institute, or the Buckley Center at Yale? He hasn’t and he won’t. The silence is deafening.

Reagan biographers and historians are often asked about this or that, and they find themselves fixing history, often. Washingtonian Magazine recently mistakenly wrote that Reagan himself moved the inaugural platform from the East Façade of the Capitol to the West in 1981 when in fact the decision had been made months earlier by Senator Mark Hatfield, to save money and to accommodate more people. Reagan, in this instance, was simply the lucky beneficiary of Hatfield’s decision.

But we find ourselves cleaning up bigger messes, too. Like O’Reilly’s book. George Will wrote that O’Reilly has “made a mess of history.”

And how.


Craig Shirley is a Reagan biographer, having written four books on the Gipper including his newest, Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan.