Saturday, 04 July 2009

And the Award for Missing the Point goes to… . . . Brent Bozell, of the ironically named “Media Research Center,” who refuted Oliver Stone’s comment that “Nixon always said Reagan was a dumb son of a bitch” by quoting a number of prominent figures in Reagan’s administration who thought Reagan was really smart: I turned to Frank Donatelli, the White House Political Director under President Reagan from 1987 through 1989 . . . Richard Allen, Reagan’s National Security Advisor . . . [and] Gary Bauer[, the] Domestic Policy Advisor under the Gipper for two years[.] All of them agreed that real “dumb son of a bitch” was Stone, who—according Bozell in a letter addressed to Stone—is an historian because he once claimed to be: Some producer [of Comedy Central's Politically Incorrect] really thought in extremes when they pitted Oliver Stone and Brent Bozell for one episode. I have to say that you were gracious, charming, engaging, and we enjoyed ourselves—except for that moment when I chastised you for claiming you’re an historian. You bristled and denied ever claming that moniker. I cited the source, an interview in some West Coast paper (I can’t recall which one now). Even though Bozell can’t remember the name of the paper, he somehow managed to re-read the article later and [i]t turns out that you were right (in the article) and I was wrong. So Bozell was wrong, Stone never claimed to be an historian, but that doesn’t mean Bozell wasn’t also right: You are an historian whether you believe it or not. You make films about history and historical figures. You record history, and that makes you an historian. Now that Bozell, through the cunning use of italics, has transformed Stone into an historian, he can finally slam him good and proper: Being an historian is not the problem. It’s that you’re a lousy historian. In short, Stone isn’t what he never claimed to be, but is what Bozell says he is, and a lousy one at that. The evidence: “Nixon always said Reagan was a dumb son of a bitch,” you said, and the audience laughed, and you smiled and decided to take that statement further by agreeing with it. So you said, “You know, I think that he was,” and the audience now cheered and hooted and applauded. See what I mean when I say you’re a lousy historian? There are two claims being made here: one, that Nixon thought Reagan was a dumb son of a bitch; two, that Oliver Stone thinks Reagan was a dumb son of a bitch. Unfortunately for Bozell, Nixon illegally taped every conversation he ever had, and when we consult his conversations with Henry Kissenger on the morning of November 17, 1971 [620a.mp3], we learn that while Nixon didn’t use those exact words—about Reagan, at least, since we know he used that particular phrase about everyone from the Canadian Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, to the Director of the Secret Service, James Rowley, to one of his own White House aides, Tom Charles Huston—he...

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