Reagan, In His Diary, Criticizes Me For Telling The Truth
By John Lofton, Editor
Just looked recently at a copy of “The Reagan Diaries” (HarperCollins, 2007) where I get a couple of shots for, basically, telling the truth (pgs 72, 94-95). And these mentions demonstrate what was a serious problem with the former President: Quite often he literally hadn’t the foggiest idea what he was talking about. My first mention (2/26/1982) reads as follows:
“Richard Viguery (sic; proper spelling is Viguerie) held press conference along with John Lofton and blasted me as not a true conservative – made me wonder what my reception would be at the Conservative Dinner. I needn’t have worried – it was a love fest. Evidently R.V. & J.L. don’t speak for the rank and file conservatives. Speech was well received.” I was then Editor of Richard’s “Conservative Digest” magazine.
Well, touché. Score one for The Gipper. He was right. Back then I did not speak for rank-and-file conservatives who, like most conservatives today, believed Reagan walked on water. But, he did not.
All his political life, until becoming President, Reagan attacked, repeatedly, Big Government. But, when he left office as President, the Federal Government was bigger than when he took office. In fact, in 1982, Reagan signed into law what was, up until then, the biggest tax increase in history. The same thing happened when Reagan was Governor of California. When he left that office, that state’s government was bigger than when he was elected Governor.
On abortion, the premiere moral issue of our time, President Reagan talked a good game but that was it. He wrote a small pro-life book. He talked about fetal pain. He did everything about abortion but stop one. Reagan’s Administration did not sponsor or co-sponsor any laws to stop abortion. Not one. Reagan also put on the Supreme Court the pro-abortion Sandra Day O’Connor.
My mention number two (7/28/1982) is as follows: “The ‘Conservative Digest’ came out – an entire issue devoted to cutting me up down and crosswise. John Lofton and his compatriots seem to be determined to paint me as a turncoat conservative. The tone is one of devoted but now disillusioned followers. H—l, in 1980 they held a secret meeting trying to persuade Al Haig to run against me.”
Not true. What this issue of the magazine did was point out that scores, maybe hundreds, of people were being hired for top jobs in his Administration and these people did not support Reagan’s views; they were not Reaganites. Indeed, many of those named to key slots in Reagan’s new government never supported him at all and were for other Presidential candidates. We ran page after page naming the names of these non/anti-Reaganites, names supplied to us by a top Administration official who knew first-hand who was being hired.
And I know of no such meeting to try and persuade Haig to oppose Reagan. But, Reagan frequently misremembered things – if he remembered them at all. Once, when he saw a statue of President Grover Cleveland, he told someone with him that he had played Cleveland in a movie. He did not. He played the major league pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander. Oh, well, he was two-thirds right. And he once remembered to someone what he had done in World War II, as if he was in the war. He was not. He made films about World War II.
Before Reagan was elected, four of us were promised that every six months or so we could meet with him, if he was elected President. The other three were Tom Winter and Allan Ryskind of “Human Events” and long-time conservative writer M. Stanton Evans. I think we had three meetings with the President who was always accompanied by top aides Jim Baker, Ed Meese and Mike Deaver.
Without exception, in every meeting we had, Reagan was revealed to be grossly ignorant of and/or misinformed about whatever specific topic we raised. Often, he said nothing and let his three aides answer our questions. To get him to speak, he had to be asked very directly to reply.
To keep Reagan in the dark on issues conservatives were complaining about, it was reported, and confirmed, that before Reagan read his weekly “Human Events,” Mike Deaver had all the critical stories cut out leaving missing pages and square, empty holes in some pages.
In 17th century England and France, there were those who attributed miraculous powers to their kings. These people believed their kings could heal scrofula by touch and heal disease victims by merely having their shadow pass over such victims. In modern America, there are those Republicans/”conservatives” who attribute to Ronald Reagan the same kinds of powers and accomplishments when he was President. I am not among these persons.