“REAGAN” PBS Transcript WGBH American Experience . Reagan . Complete Program Transcript | PBS

Published April 24, 2015 by wallacedarwin

Transcript excerpts*


He was America’s most ideological President
in his rhetoric
yet pragmatic in his actions.
He believed in balanced budgets but never submitted one.
He hated nuclear weapons but built them by the thousands.
He would write checks to a poor person
as he cut the benefits of many.
He united the country with renewed patriotism. But his vision of America alienated millions.
He preached
family values
but presided over a dysfunctional family.


[Mental decline after being shot, and difficulty in distinguishing between film fiction and reality]

Reagan (archival):
Alright Haydon, focus that inertia projector on them, and let ’em have it.

The “Star Wars” in which Reagan starred was filmed in 1939.

Reagan (archival): 
The inertia projector. It’s a device for throwing electrical waves capable of paralyzing alternate and direct currents at their source.

Man (archival):
The inertia projector. It not only makes the United States invincible in war. But in so doing, promises to be the greatest force for world peace ever discovered.

It was sometimes difficult for Ronald Reagan to distinguish fantasy from reality.

Lou Cannon, Biographer:
He believed [b’LIEved] in this so strongly that he began to think that SDI was in existence when
it wasn’t even on the drawing board.
That he so passionately, passionately wanted
there to be a nuclear defense.

Edmund Morris, Official Biographer: 
In a loose way it was a religious notion,
the City of God
surrounded by an inviolable barrier. The weapons of the heathen will bounce off our shield and shatter into fragments. We will be inviolable here beneath this shield.
Shield, shield, he used the word shield a lot.


[Being distant and highly personal and avuncular simultaneously and “CONnecting” to allow the public to delude themselves? ;-)]

Christopher Matthews, Aide to House Speaker O’Neill: He didn’t know anybody by name. He didn’t even know his own HUD Secretary, Sam Pierce. He called him Mr. Mayor when he met him one time. I mean, a man like that who is so unfamiliar with the individuals he has to deal with, you would think was an idiot but he wasn’t because Ronald Reagan knew one person and I don’t know who this person is, maybe I’ve never met him but this person is the American people. Even though Ronald Reagan lives in Bel Air, and he hangs around with the Bloomingdales, somehow he still evokes the guy that goes to the Knights of Columbus and plays cards on Friday night. That guy who struggles every day just to make it through the week, who worries about never having a vacation, who’s afraid he might get sick and lose his health insurance. That guy thought Ronald Reagan was his guy. Thought Ronald Reagan was looking out for him. That’s an amazing power. But he knew who he was talking to, and he talked to them.


[SelfDelusion (IranContra) ++ talking out of both sides of the mouth :-!]

Edmund Morris, Official Biographer: 
He was an old tired man.
He’d been guilty of neglect
of proper supervision of the people who work for him but when he was shocked into real awareness of his job and his duties, he performed as well as ever.

Reagan was shocked by the findings of a commission he had appointed. It held him responsible for a lax management style and for trading arms for hostages. Something he still refused to admit.
One of Howard Baker’s first tasks in rescuing the presidency was to get Reagan to admit
his mistake.
He found an ally in Nancy Reagan.

Lou Cannon, Biographer: That’s where where Nancy Reagan really shines. She understood that he needed this public credibility. That’s her great role, not getting rid of Regan. She went beyond protecting him to really leading him to this
bitter cup
that of apology that he had to drink from.

++ Reagan (archival):
A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that’s true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not. As the Tower Board reported,
}what began as a strategic opening to Iran deteriorated, in its implementation, into trading arms for hostages.{ This runs counter to my own beliefs and to administration policy and to the original strategy we had in mind. There are reasons why it happened, but no excuses.
It was a mistake.

Lou Cannon, Biographer: 
But once he had apologized to the American people and the American people
more or less
forgave him, you know, I mean not totally, you know. He was never he never got back quite the luster, but he… but he got enough of it back that he was able to… that he was able to govern and and to be at ease with himself.


[A “B.S. interlude” ] :-\ O:-)
Joan Quigley, Astrologer: Nancy was very concerned with the President’s safety after the assassination attempt. And I am a very modern scientific astrologer. And, and I have at my command all the technical resources of the space age really in computers that I use. And I do very technical work.

[Credit where credit is/NOT due?]

Anthony Lewis, Columnist: You can’t deny credit to a president who was in power at a time when, the Cold War was,
though we may not have known it at the time, approaching its end —
can’t deny that credit.
On the other hand,
we paid a terrible price for that, and
we are continuing to pay it, and
our children are going to pay it, because
we ran up budget deficits cumulatively larger than everything from the beginning of this country to that date which makes the ability of the national government in this country to govern very limited.

[REAGAN’S ability to bamboozle himself]

Narrator: Days later Reagan admitted arms had been shipped to Iran to forge a better relationship but denied they were arms for hostages.

Reagan (archival): In spite of the wildly speculative and false stories of arms for hostages and alleged ransom payments, we did not, repeat, did not, trade weapons or anything else for hostages. Nor will we.

Lou Cannon, Biographer: Reagan had absolutely convinced himself, as much as he had convinced himself in SDI, once he believed in it, that we had this wonderful system in place, he had convinced himself that he was not dealing with the kidnappers. He had promised that he would never deal with the people who had taken the Americans hostage. He had convinced himself that he was dealing with these Iranian moderates, and that he was dealing with the middlemen, he was dealing with the people who were dealing with the kidnappers.

Christopher Matthews, Aide to House Speaker O’Neill: The American middle had been confounded by this patriotic President who had won on standing tall, who was found to be paying tribute to the enemy in a kind of pusillanimous way.

Narrator: Reagan had questions to answer.

Reagan (archival): Good evening.

Helen Thomas (archival): Mr. President, how would you assess the credibility of your own administration in light of the prolonged deception of Congress and the public in terms of your secret dealings with Iran, the disinformation.

Bill Plante (archival): The record shows that every time an American hostage was released there had been a major shipment of arms just before that. Are we all to believe that is just a coincidence?

Jerrimiah O’Leary (archival): What would be wrong with saying a mistake was made on a very high risk gamble so that you can get on with the next two years?

Reagan (archival): Because I don’t think a mistake was made.

Sam Donaldson, Journalist:Ronald Reagan doesn’t see the world that you and I see. He sees a world through rose colored glasses. It’s a wonderful world. But, it’s not the real world that exists out there. And so, he didn’t want to see a world in which he had traded arms for hostages. That ran against his grain. That’s not his world, yet he did it.

Lou Cannon, Biographer: Reagan is a classic model of the successful child of an alcoholic. He doesn’t hear things and doesn’t see things that he doesn’t want to hear and see. And that’s the thing you learn. You learn that as a child, and Reagan learned it.


*N.B. :
Find quote from his last term Ambassador to the Soviet Union (paraphrasing):
“Reagan did not end the ColdWar, Gorbachev ended the ColdWar…”



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