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This programme contains some strong language
In the traditional motion picture story,
the villains are usually defeated. The ending is a happy one.
I can make no such promise for the picture you're about to watch.
# Mine eyes have seen the glory
# Of the coming of the Lord
# He is trampling out the vintage
# Where the grapes of wrath are stored. #
Ronald Reagan was more than a historic figure.
He was a providential man who came along just when our nation and the world most needed him.
Ronald Reagan was a president
who inspired his nation and transformed the world.
We have lost a great president, a great American and a great man.
As his vice-president for eight years, I learned more from Ronald Reagan
than from anyone I encountered in all my years of public life.
We know, as he always said, that America's best days are ahead of us.
But with Ronald Reagan's passing, some very fine days are behind us and that is worth our tears.
May God bless Ronald Reagan and the country he loved.
# Smile, though your heart is aching
# Smile, even though it's breaking
# When there are clouds in the sky
# You'll get by. #
Ronald Reagan changed the conservative movement.
He changed the Republican Party.
Through that, he changed the country and through that, the world.
Happy birthday, Ronald Reagan!
We live in a nation President Reagan restored and a world he helped to save.
Ronald Reagan's principles would apply now.
We're still living in the Reagan era today.
Let's talk about Ronald Reagan.
He would have adored being with him.
He was an extraordinarily beautiful human being.
-Just always a gentleman.
-A very attractive man. You liked him.
I did not say anything about Ronald Reagan.
So you wanted to see him succeed.
Who is your favourite Republican president?
You talked about admiring Ronald Reagan.
Ronald Reagan came with an unshakeable set of principles.
Ronald Reagan would say, as I do, that Washington is broken.
-Ronald Reagan would endorse any of us...
-Ronald Reagan, 1976...
Some day it might be worthwhile to find out how images are created
and even more worthwhile to learn how false images come into being.
All of us have grown up accepting with little question certain images
as accurate portraits of public figures.
Some living, some dead.
Seldom, if ever, do we ask if the images are true to the original.
Even less do we question how the images were created.
This is more true of presidents in our country
because of the intense spotlight which centres on their every move.
Ronald Reagan is still seen through the prism of people's prejudices.
Either for or against.
There's nothing wrong with America that together we can't fix.
We don't know who the real Ronald Reagan is.
We have plenty of testimony from people who served him
who say, "I never understood what made him tick."
Why don't you ask questions that can be answered yes or no?
There was a kind of a wall or a veil between Reagan and everybody else.
The old reactions and memories of Ronald Reagan are not gone, but faded.
-And history's judgment is yet to be made.
-Going live, and action!
Welcome, fellow Republicans. Brother Hibbert
will read a report on our efforts to rename everything after Ronald Reagan.
All Millard Fillmore schools are now Ronald Reagans.
The Mississippi River is now the Mississippi Reagan.
-And my good friend Frankenstein is now Franken-Reagan.
My name is Grover Norquist. I created the Reagan Legacy Project
with the goal of naming things after President Reagan.
Something big in all 50 states,
something significant in all 3,000-plus counties in the United States.
It was our project to rename Washington National Airport, Reagan Airport.
I remember Reagan saying, "Stand up and fight for what's right or sit back and let evil prevail."
To this day, I love him for his honesty and integrity. I wish he was here right now.
I am Michael Reagan.
The son of Ronald Reagan in his first marriage to Jane Wyman.
In 2001, my sister, Maureen, was dying from melanoma.
She says, "I'm not going to be here for much longer and, Michael, the legacy needs to continue."
I promised my sister I would carry on the legacy of my father.
Days and nights like this make me feel so happy
that when I was available for adoption, the Carter family wasn't also looking.
Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Abraham Lincoln.
Ronald Reagan fits right in that line of American iconic leaders.
And I'm lucky to be the executive director of the Reagan Legacy Foundation promoting,
celebrating the life, leadership and legacy of Ronald Reagan around the world.
If you don't remind people who he was, a lot of people want to rewrite history.
To recreate Ronald Reagan in their own image or likeness,
instead of what Ronald Reagan truly, truly was.
My name is William Kleinknecht.
I've been a newspaper reporter for 25 years.
I came to Dixon, Illinois, Ronald Reagan's hometown,
to try and answer a very interesting question.
Why it is that people in communities like this across the country
continue to be so devoted to him, why they love him so much.
Ronald Reagan helped to bring America back to its roots.
Family, home, the community.
He was a true American with great ideas, as you well know,
like when he said, "Mr Gorbachev, tear down that wall."
If you look at Ronald Reagan's life, what you see is a man who,
from the most ordinary beginnings,
grew and grew and grew
to become one of the most powerful men of the century.
My father saw himself as a real child of America.
He clearly had a love affair with America.
That "shining city on a hill" business that he talked about, he meant it. He felt that.
I think he was a man who saw himself as a quintessentially American kind of guy.
Here is a kid who grew up in not fabulously wealthy circumstances, by any stretch of imagination.
His father was a shoe salesman at the time when he wasn't drinking.
The thing that is most interesting
is that the successful child of an alcoholic
is able to repress all of the tough stuff and concentrate on what's positive.
I think those were formative years for him in a lot of ways.
We are sitting here by a swimming pool. There is a lifeguard stand in the background.
As a young man, my father was a lifeguard at Lowell Park on the Rock River in Dixon, Illinois.
You can see he's kind of squinting into the camera.
Maybe it's because the sun is shining on his face, but maybe it's because he can't see anything.
He's terribly near-sighted.
I've thought about this a lot, just in relation to his life, not necessarily in relation
to his governance or anything, but just what he was like as a human being, what informed his character.
Over the course of 7 years, my father pulled 77 people out of that river.
He grew up seeing himself as somebody who saved people's lives.
I think that carried through into his later years as well, the sort of roles he liked to play in movies.
He wanted to be the hero.
-What's your name?
-Gip. George Gip.
You can take this all the way to the presidency. He wanted to save America.
He saw America in trouble. He saw America drowning.
Tax rates too high. Lost confidence. Our standing in the world diminished.
America needed rescuing and he was the guy to do something about it.
His dad's awesome!
Thank you, guys.
Well, this is a red, white and blue cupcake, it looks like.
That's very nice of you. Thank you, guys.
-So what exactly was that?
-That was people coming over
and obviously thinking very warm thoughts about my father, as many people still do.
How do you do, everybody?
I'd like to introduce myself.
My name is Ronald Reagan.
A few months ago, I was a sports announcer on a radio station in Des Moines, Iowa.
One day I ran into one of these movie talent scouts.
I think I caught him off guard because the next thing I knew
I was taking a screen test for Warner Brothers.
I guess it was OK. At least I liked Hollywood, so here I am.
I'll see you in the movies.
Reagan is a man who seems to have gotten lucky at several points in his life.
But if you look at each instance,
you'll discover he worked hard to make that luck happen.
-Judging from the applause, I take it that you are a performer?
-Duh, duh, duh...
It's important to understand him as a person, but it's important to understand him as a performer.
This young man is intensely competitive.
And you see that from the moment he leaves college.
In the midst of the Depression, he talks himself into a good job as a radio announcer
and becomes a regional celebrity while he's still in his 20s.
I'll be back with more hot news and just between you and the microphone...
From that moment on, Reagan is on the move.
He went to Hollywood with the Chicago Cubs baseball team as a sportscaster for spring training.
But at some point, Reagan decided to look up an old girlfriend, Joy Hodges.
# I can't give you anything but a song and a smile... #
She got him a screen test at Warner Brothers simply on the strength of his good looks.
Hey, why don't you leave those off for a while?
I think he always wanted to be an actor.
I've been waiting a long time to get even with you.
He identified heavily as a performer, as a craftsman.
Randy! Where's the rest of me?
Hollywood, when he first arrived, was the golden age.
Celebrities on every hand. Flashlights flashing. The crowd cheering.
A lot of the movies that were being made reflected America in a way that I think he would have approved of.
-As soon as I can afford to build us a home, I aim to marry the girl.
My intentions are honourable.
He wasn't a great actor, but he was a good actor. He was a very good-looking guy.
You've got to admit. This is one good-looking guy.
-I'm the one they're all talking about.
-Do you see him? Delicious!
I started as sort of an Errol Flynn of the Bs.
You don't seriously figure on getting away with this.
I made 8 of those in 11 months.
All you have to do is send a telegram to Washington.
I was brave, but in a kind of a low-budget fashion.
-Think I'll lose, huh?
-Good luck, son.
Most of those pictures were the kind where there was always a line where I put my hat on the back of my head,
picked up the phone and said, "Get me the City desk.
"I got a story that'll crack this town wide open."
JB? Boy, have I got a story!
We interrupt this programme to bring you a news bulletin.
The Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, by air.
Hollywood's most famous movie stars leave the film capital to help the national war effort.
Reagan was a reserve officer at the beginning of World War II.
He regretted extremely the fact that he did not see military action.
But it really wasn't his fault. He was as blind as a bat.
He was so blind that they figured that he wouldn't be able to distinguish
a Japanese soldier from an American soldier at a distance of more than 12 feet.
What's up? See something?
It's a plane all right.
What sort of a plane? Friend or enemy?
He spent the rest of the war working in Hollywood at the First Motion Picture Unit.
This is the Army Air Force's First Motion Picture Unit.
Here are produced training, operational and inspirational films.
-Glad to you have you with us, Lieutenant.
-Glad to be here, Major.
We can certainly use you.
We were waging a war against a demonic force in Nazi Germany.
But we were making propaganda films and Reagan was making propaganda films.
How was the flight over?
-Well, I made it, sir, with the help of a P40.
-You like our P40s?
Oh, yes, sir. It's a nice airplane.
Reagan came to see the power of the movies.
I guess we'll hold Christmas service in this hole.
And the power of acting to move people.
Take over the guns, Tony!
For most of his early career, of course, the enemy was fascism.
It's Hitler and Mussolini and Imperial Japan.
But then, as the war winds down and the late '40s and '50s are upon us,
the new enemy is communism.
Before the war, Reagan had been an up-and-coming young actor,
but now that it was over, his career began to languish.
He did see his film career starting to wane.
You can hit the state highway seven miles through there.
The big parts were not coming his way.
It was the post-war era, where suddenly heroes
become anti-heroes and it's more James Dean, as opposed to John Wayne.
But at the same time, he was rediscovering himself as a politician.
Goodwill ambassador of the motion picture industry...
He became President of the Screen Actors Guild in 1947.
He took another role, which prefigured his later political roles.
I can't be the performer in this way, I'll be the performer in another way.
Ronald Reagan, the Screen Actors Guild President,
follows with a statement of action against communism.
Reagan changed, politically, very rapidly after World War II.
This is Ronald Reagan speaking to you from Hollywood.
You know me as a motion picture actor.
But tonight, I'm just a citizen, pretty concerned about the national election next month
and impatient with those promises the Republicans made
before they got control of Congress.
A lot of people might not realise that Ronald Reagan
started his political career as a Liberal Democrat.
He worshipped FDR in the 1940s, he thought the New Deal was a great thing for the country.
The New Deal had bailed his family out during the Great Depression.
When he went to Hollywood, he was known around all the Hollywood lots
as a "haemophiliac liberal", his own words.
Well, I suppose I really kind of converted myself.
I saw a transition. I saw myself making speeches about problems
besetting the picture business tax wise and economically.
Hollywood, today the scene of violence on the labour front.
As President of the Screen Actors Guild, Reagan got involved
in a strike which was largely brought about by communist agitation.
It was one specific meeting that he used to talk about
that began to changes his attitudes.
Changed them practically overnight.
One screenwriter stood up and said that he personally, if he had to choose,
would choose the constitution of the Soviet Union in preference to the constitution of the United States.
And by the time that long strike came to an end, Reagan was a militant anti-communist.
A startling story from Lenin in 1914, with 13 followers,
to the present, with one billion people
under the control of a comparative handful of communists.
In the 1950s, the FBI was pouring a lot of resources
into its investigation of communist infiltration of the United States,
and one of the focal points of their inquiries was Hollywood.
George Murphy, Ronald Reagan and Robert Montgomery are among
the top-flight movie actors testifying
before the House Un-American Activities Committee in Washington.
During the days of the Red Scare, when McCarthy was identifying a communist in the State Department,
even in the intelligence community, Ronald Reagan, in his function as President of the Screen Actors Guild,
was in a position to know who was discussing subversive ideas.
Is a screenwriter or an actor involved in socialist causes
a burgeoning communist, a budding communist?
Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?
Reagan performed magnificently before the House Un-American Activities Committee.
There has been a small group within the Screen Actors Guild
that has been referred to, has been discussed,
as more or less following the tactics that we associate with the Communist Party.
He never named any names in front of the House Committee,
and he made a very strong argument that American institutions are quite capable of defending themselves.
That it was not necessary to go after these people with draconian means.
However, in private, he did co-operate with the FBI,
giving information about his Hollywood colleagues.
He was registered under the name informant T-10.
It's very important to understand this.
The President, Ronald Reagan, was an informant for the FBI.
He was an informant for the people who were serving McCarthy and feeding the Red Scare.
I'm quite sure that the FBI was talking
to all sorts of people in Hollywood back then, and they probably gave a lot of people code names.
He was the president of the union, somebody they wanted to talk to.
Some of the people from our own FBI made contact
because of what they saw I was doing,
that I'd become President of the Screen Actors Guild.
And they came wanting some advice,
some findings from me on people that I had dealt with and so forth.
And I got an insight into what was happening to the motion picture business.
Do you swear the testimony you are about to give here is the truth?
Mrs Miller, we were hoping that you might work for us
within the committee to uncover a communist connection.
-You mean spy?
-You'd be doing your country a real service.
Look, why can't I do it?
What does this tell us about Ronald Reagan?
In the space of about 18 months, he went from left-wing liberal
to becoming an FBI informant informing on his fellow liberals.
When I see the clip of him refusing to name names before the committee, that makes me feel pretty good,
cos there were other people who went the other way, who knuckled under.
Now, when I hear that maybe he named names outside of the committee, and again, I don't know this for a fact,
well, that makes me a little worried, yeah.
You know, I don't know the circumstances of that
and I don't the reality of it,
but even the thought of it is troubling.
-Communism is neither an economic or a political system.
It's a form of insanity, a temporary aberration
which will one day disappear from the Earth because it is contrary to human nature.
My father took a very hard line with the Soviet Union.
This is no civil rights, this is no human rights, this is no personal liberty.
At the end of World War II, after the Soviets got the atomic bomb, America changed.
We began changing as a people, as a society, as a country.
We must learn to live in a world where we have the hydrogen bomb
and the enemy of freedom has the hydrogen bomb.
The threat of Soviet communism was both real and imagined.
And the country was vulnerable in some ways
to those who wanted to use that threat for their own political benefits.
But it was real.
What can we do in the face of this communist threat?
Ronald Reagan realised that, he understood that, and the rest, as they say, is history.
During his career, Ronald Reagan passed through 1,000 crowded places,
but there was only one person he said who could make him lonely by just leaving the room.
They're yelling for you!
-Nancy! Nancy! Nancy! Nancy! Nancy!
It was a love affair. Chances are, Ronald Reagan never would have been President without Nancy.
She was his best friend.
My mother was crucial to my father.
He needed somebody who was there for him at the end of the day
who had as her primary concern him and his personal well-being.
"And then along came Nancy,"
as he used to say.
"Nancy Davis saved my soul."
She saved him in the sense that he met her some time in 1949,
at the time when he was a pretty broken man.
In the summer of 1948, he and his first wife, Jane Wyman, had lost a child.
It was a catastrophic shock for both of them and the marriage never recovered from that.
And then along came Nancy Davis.
She was a very important factor in his success.
Nancy Reagan is described as a shrewd politician who wants to be First Lady...
..as much as Ronald Reagan wants to be President.
For all the sunny amiability that we think about
when we think about Reagan, he didn't really have any friends.
About the only one he had was Nancy Reagan.
She mothered him, nursed him and adored him, which was very important. He liked to be adored.
She would have done anything for him, but she ended up having to make an awful lot
of the unpleasant decisions that he really wouldn't face up to.
Firing people, for example.
couldn't fire people.
I could ask Nancy to verify it for me.
She watched his back at all times.
She was his personnel director.
She made the basic decisions as to who was around him - who was hired, who was fired,
and the criteria she used was, "Will this person be working with my husband's agenda
"or their own agenda?"
For General Electric, here is Ronald Reagan.
-Ow! That's hot.
-Oh, it's not.
-Oh, but delicious. Everything's just right, isn't it, Patty?
Well, it's the easiest meal to make.
My electric servants do everything.
That's part of living better electrically.
In the 1950s, when his movie career had begun to slide, Ronald Reagan
was far more successful as a salesman than he was as an actor.
When we're on a Death Valley set and water's not handy,
Boraxo waterless hand cleaner cleans up for us.
In Hollywood, he had formed an alliance with the Music Corporation of America,
which was a talent agency.
He had done them a lot of favours while he was the head of the Screen Actors Guild
and they did him a favour by landing him a role with General Electric Theater.
For General Electric, here is Ronald Reagan.
Good evening. Tonight, George Sanders stars on the General Electric Theater.
He began performing in their productions and eventually went to work for GE as a salesman.
# You can make your family's life much brighter... #
It's light too.
-I see one. You know what this is?
-# ..To live better electrically. #
What is fascinating about the GE years is how he mutated
from actor into corporate spokesman into politician.
Ronald Reagan was a master salesman.
He gradually became the ambassador of the company.
He would go around the country giving speeches to GE employees.
He had a certain speech that he gave. A free enterprise-private sector type speech.
He'd crystallise some of his thinking because he had to write the speech and talk about it.
I'm Ronald Reagan.
I'm speaking to you not as an actor endeavouring to entertain you,
and certainly not as an announcer speaking for a sponsor.
I talk as Ronald Reagan, American citizen.
GE had 250,000 workers in 40 states, and the idea of sending GE's most famous face out into the plants
to talk with the workers was really to give them
a sense of belonging to a company.
I've been privileged to meet people all over this whole country
while I'm out on the road travelling on what I call the mashed potato circuit.
They are not the masses or the common man. They're very uncommon.
Individuals, each with his or her own hopes and dreams,
the kind of quiet courage that makes this country
run better than just about any other place on Earth.
I think people don't realise just how critical
the General Electric years were
to making Ronald Reagan into Ronald Reagan.
He spent six years in that job.
A man's talents may be used for good or evil.
Exceptional talents only widen the possibilities for both.
Those six years give him the self-confidence and the skills
that he later deploys when he becomes an overtly political figure.
Well, he's learning to sell himself in a way other than being on the movie screen.
He's learning to sell himself face-to-face, in a room,
and to judge, "how is what I'm saying of going over here?
"Are they are reacting to this or not reacting to that?"
And he begins to hone his message.
General Electric is one of the most successful corporations in the history of the world
and GE gave him an ideology, a very conservative
pro-corporate view that the business of America is business, and this made sense to Reagan.
Most of this ideology came from watching his
mentor at GE, Lemuel Boulware,
who may have been the greatest labour negotiator of all time.
People now are realising what a critical figure this little-known GE executive was,
because he really came up with the idea of trying to change
the politics of the blue-collar American.
What he wanted to do was wean blue-collar workers away from
the New Deal politics of Franklin Roosevelt and trade unionism,
and towards a new politics of anti-communism, patriotism.
Progress in the defence of our nation.
And the need for a strong defence because, of course, GE was in the defence business.
Ronald Reagan became the genial celebrity front man of that effort,
pitching ideas that were probably against the workers' self-interests.
This, in a way, set the stage for the conservatisation of blue collar America.
Ronald Reagan moved from Liberal to Conservative while he was at GE,
there's no question about it.
The question is, was he supposed to talk to
the workers about political issues, conservative issues, and the sort?
And the immediate answer is no.
Reagan's contract with GE was just to talk about Hollywood gossip,
various other things, but this went further than that.
He and GE had different idea about what he was supposed to be doing.
They figured he was selling washing machines.
He thought he was out there talking to the American people
about things he thought were really important in American life.
The American people, if you put it to them about socialised medicine
and gave them a chance to choose, would unhesitatingly vote against it.
The speech begins to touch on politics.
It goes from the greatness of the nation.
He begins testing out themes about where the nation should go next.
The importance of free people standing up to the Soviet Union.
You see him thinking through his position and working out his presentation
before audiences of ordinary Americans, these are ordinary working people.
As Reagan became more and more conservative in his philosophy as spokesman for GE,
it began to be a problem for his employer.
-Ask not what your country can do for you...
-Things were changing in Washington.
John F Kennedy was elected and suddenly government was much more liberal.
And Reagan began to sound more and more hawkish and conservative.
Reagan was fired from GE.
He was told he could continue, provided he did not talk about
any political ideas, like whether or not
we should have social security, or taxes, but if he only talked about GE products. And he said no.
He refused to do that.
I have spent most of my life as a Democrat.
I recently have seen fit to follow another course.
Reagan's transition from a Democrat to a Republican, that is the story of our lives.
There's many members of my family that made that same transition.
After World War Two, they were all Democrats.
They came of age in the Great Depression.
They believed in the New Deal,
but I think the 1960s really soured that whole generation on liberalism.
They're watching this crazy stuff go on
and are saying, what the hell has happened to my country? And turning against liberalism.
I know probably hundreds of people, all of them older than me, who'd say the same thing.
I started out as a Democrat and I became a Republican.
I didn't leave my party, my party left me. They all say that. That's why Reagan resonates.
In 1964, John Kennedy has been assassinated, bringing Lyndon Johnson in as President.
Barry Goldwater's running for President representing
a Republican party that wants to roll back the New Deal.
I can say to you quite frankly
that conservatism is the way of the future. Conservatism today is not the conservatism we have known.
Today's conservatives make no apologies for its principles.
In the 1960s in California, there were a number of wealthy
conservative Republicans who had become very involved in politics.
They had supported Barry Goldwater's campaign.
They were businessmen and their prime interest was to get government
off the backs of their business, lower taxes, less regulation so they could make more money.
These men began to collect around Ronald Reagan during the Goldwater campaign.
The Goldwater campaign was a shambles.
There was never anything effectively done in the campaign until Reagan gave that speech.
Thank you and good evening.
Ronald Reagan agrees to speak on behalf of Goldwater
and these wealthy men buy television time so he can do so nationally.
I've been permitted to choose my own words and discuss
my own ideas regarding the choice that we face in the next few weeks.
And Reagan gives the speech, what we Reaganites, if you talk about "the speech"
everybody knows what you're talking about. It's that 1964 speech.
We're at war with the most dangerous enemy that has ever faced mankind
in his long climb from the swamp to the stars.
Reagan had been holding the speech for years and years.
And this was Reagan's moment.
It's been said if we lose that war, in so doing lose this way of freedom of ours, history will record
with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening.
Reagan performed so brilliantly when he made that speech that it had the ironic effect
of making him seem presidential rather more than Barry Goldwater.
You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.
The so-called "Time for Choosing" speech in 1964 had two basic elements to it.
One was this ferocious anti-communism.
The other part was a strong attack on the welfare state.
This was the beginning of the culture wars.
You had a conservative working-class element that didn't like what it was seeing
and, from the ashes of the failed Goldwater campaign, Reagan became their voice.
I saw him make a speech in 1964 for Goldwater.
I said, there's the man that should be running for President.
I like the way he takes a firm stand on things and the way he goes about it.
He's the same type of feeling with the people that John Kennedy had, I think.
He's the hope of America.
A lot of the things he said
were the same things that Barry Goldwater was saying.
When Reagan said it, it was much more palatable.
You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, there is a price
we will not pay, there is a point beyond which they must not advance.
At that point, I think a lot of people in California,
monied interests, the kind of people that back politicians,
took a look at him and said, you know...
this guy's got something here.
We can do something with him.
Thank you very much.
As of now, I am a candidate seeking the Republican nomination for Governor.
No candidate is more instantly and better-known, and that is his greatest asset.
But he is known as an actor and that is his greatest liability.
How do you react when people describe you as a politician of the TV era?
Well, I think there are some things you can learn in show business that work pretty good.
And one thing we've always known is that when you look in that camera in close-up,
you better be telling the truth.
Or that camera will reveal it.
So what's this empty nonsense about Ronald Reagan being just an actor?
I've watched Ronald work his entire adult life preparing for public service.
Ronald Reagan, speaking to the issues with his common sense answers.
When he entered politics, the country was in turmoil.
# When I look out of my window.
# Many sights to see... #
At that time, there was this growing feeling the '60s
are going to be different from any decade we've ever had.
The '60s, in many important ways, exploded.
The country was deeply divided over race, the Vietnam War.
It was hippies and drugs and free love and the Pill.
And my father was right on the front lines of that giant culture shift
that was the '60s, where suddenly you're questioning authority.
His generation, not that big on questioning authority.
I don't think that taking to the streets and rioting and disorder has ever solved anything, or ever will.
His advance really caused a white working-class backlash among many voters.
And Ronald Reagan caught this wave, and he rode it all the way to Sacramento.
# Must be the season of the wind... #
I now declare you to be duly installed as Governor of the state of California.
As Governor, he wants to get tougher in Vietnam.
The way that he got elected was by looking out on the country at the anti-war protest,
the counter-culture, and basically making that into a political issue.
I was picketed a few days ago in California by some youngsters that
had signs that said "Make love not war".
Trouble is they didn't look like they were capable of doing either.
This fella had a haircut like Tarzan, he walked like Jane, and smelt like Cheetah.
When he becomes governor, not only are the kids of California,
the students on the UC campuses fomenting rebellion and questioning authority,
within his own family that was starting to happen.
And like a lot of parents, you know, they don't know what to make of this.
Three rock'n'roll bands were in the gymnasium playing simultaneously during the dance.
And all doing the dance, movies were shown on two screens at the opposite ends of the gymnasium.
These movies were the only lights in the gym proper.
They consisted of colour sequences that gave the appearance of different coloured liquid.
He's the authority and young people who he thinks of as just kids are basically saying "fuck you".
Reagan responded to protest really in basically one way,
you know, obey the rules or get out.
I'm sick and tired of the argument about whether
some effort to enforce law and order is going to escalate anything at all.
Plain truth of the matter is this has to stop and it has to stop the day before yesterday.
And it's going to be stopped whatever it takes.
He was ultimately willing to send the National Guard
down to the campuses to crack down on demonstrators.
I would like to propose that the issue is that on the campuses you who are adults,
you who are entrusted with those young people and their guidance have a responsibility
to make it plain to them from the very beginning that you yourselves
do not tolerate the kind of conduct that has led to the burning
of Wheeler Hall, that has led to two murders on the campus of UCLA.
You've created an atmosphere where no-one wants to listen.
You are a liar.
Now don't you talk about political speeches, don't you make a political speech of that kind.
You know, it's funny, because we think of Reagan as being the sunny optimist,
but the Ronald Reagan of the mid-1960s was often an angry man.
And voters responded well to that.
With other politicians in these cultural war issues, you always get the feeling
this was just politics, a way to get elected.
Reagan believed, Reagan was the real deal.
He did seem to think politics was this kind of populist contest
between average hard-working everyday Americans
and this obnoxious, eastern liberal elite. And it worked.
He wasn't in the governorship two years and some national people
started talking to him about running for President.
I've called this press conference to announce that I am a candidate for the presidency.
I'm here tonight to announce my intention to seek
the Republican nomination for President of the US.
People have forgotten that Reagan ran for President three times.
It took my father some time to get to the presidency.
He loses the nomination in '68, he doesn't even really make a dent.
And then he's the gallant loser in '76, but still a loser.
He didn't just sort of wander into the presidency because he got a casting call.
He'd been preparing for for quite some time.
Interestingly, a lot of people at the time saw Ronald Reagan as this unthinkable extremist.
Every one of these losses is followed by confident predictions
from people that Reagan is finished.
But Reagan himself doesn't buy into any of this.
A troubled and afflicted mankind looks to us, pleading for us to keep our rendezvous with destiny.
That we will become that shining city on a hill.
My name's Andrew Bejsowitz. I served in the US Army for 23 years.
I served in Vietnam, served in Germany, served briefly in the Persian Gulf.
I was a soldier when Reagan was the Commander-in-Chief.
He was my Commander-in-Chief.
# What the world needs now... #
In the 1970s, the mood of the country under Jimmy Carter was one of despair.
-American morale was at a real low point.
I've spoken to you on many occasions about national concerns.
The energy crisis, reorganising the government,
our nation's economy and issues of war.
The economy's in the tank. We're in the middle of an energy crisis.
The oil crisis had produced skyrocketing gas prices.
We were all standing on lines at gas stations.
The Soviets had invaded Afghanistan.
The Iranians had taken the American hostages.
The hostage crisis just went on and on and on. Interminable.
It looked like America had lost its clout on the world stage.
It is a moral and a spiritual crisis.
As a soldier, to my mind, he was a failed President trying to pass off the country's problems on us.
I need your help.
It's very detrimental to our country.
I think the other nations and stuff like that now they look down on us.
And then comes Ronald Reagan.
The major issue of this campaign is the direct political, personal and moral responsibility
of Democratic Party leadership for this unprecedented calamity which has befallen us.
The Carter years really prepared people for someone like Ronald Reagan to come on the stage.
Are you better off
than you were four years ago?
Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores than it was four years ago?
Ronald Reagan set the standard for being able to summon up
feelings that resonated with the American people.
Back in 1976, Mr Carter said, trust me.
And a lot of people did.
Carter, in retrospect, I always think of grey.
I don't know if his suits were always grey... He just seems grey.
And here's Ronald Reagan, the exact opposite of that.
A recession is when your neighbour loses his job.
A depression is when you lose yours.
And recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his.
It's about personality, a lot of it, and just how you're coming across.
My father just blew them out of the water that way.
The 1980 presidential election was certainly one of the major turning points in American history
because you had in Ronald Reagan a man that many in Washington saw as so extreme...
On behalf of more than 30 million evangelical Christians...
Ronald Reagan believes the fundamentalist Christian vote is crucial.
Thank you very much.
I happen to believe that when you interrupt a pregnancy,
you are taking a human life.
One of the big concerns about him was that he would be seen as unfair in economic policies...
What are you going to do?
What are you going to do for us?
-I'm trying to tell you.
-..And as a reckless cowboy in his foreign policies.
We don't really care whether they like us or not, we want to be respected.
We campaigned on a platform
of peace through strength.
We were going to rebuild America's military,
which we thought had deteriorated significantly under the administration of Jimmy Carter.
When Reagan appeared on the national political scene,
the army in which I had served in Vietnam was in enormous disarray, demoralised.
To those of us within the officer corps, he was the saviour.
Do you really think Iranian terrorists
would have taken Americans hostage if Ronald Reagan were President?
Do you really think the Russians would have invaded Afghanistan
if Ronald Reagan was president?
Do you really think third-rate military dictators
would laugh at America and burn our flag in contempt if Ronald Reagan were President?
One of his favourite quotes from Tom Paine was,
"We have it in our power to start the world all over again."
MUSIC: "Once In A Lifetime" by Talking Heads
It's time to move forward again.
-It's time for America to take freedom's next step.
-That was Reagan.
We have it in our power to begin the world over again.
# And you may find yourself Living in a shotgun shack... #
Ronald Reagan's a stylish campaign and he offered a new hope to the Republican Party.
The extent of the network coverage is unparalleled on television history.
Reagan's campaign meetings are expensively stage-managed spectaculars.
Yes, I would very much like to go to Washington...
This is a man whose time has come.
..How did I get here?
# Letting the days go by
# Letting the water hold me down... #
I want people to come out of the churches and change America.
-The next President, Ronald Reagan.
-NBC News now makes its projection...
-a Reagan Republican landslide.
-# Same as it ever was... #
The time is now, my fellow Americans, to recapture our destiny.
Together, let us make this a new beginning.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
This portion of inauguration day is sponsored by Comtrex, the multi-symptom cold reliever.
And by the General Foods family of fine products, pleasing you and your family for over 50 years.
Just an hour and 56 minutes from now, Ronald Reagan, former sports announcer,
announcer, former movie actor, former union president,
the only divorced man ever to take the oath of office as President of the United States
and the oldest, he'll hear those stirring refrains of Hail To The Chief for the first time.
I, Ronald Reagan, do solemnly swear...
That I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States...
-That I will faithfully execute the office of President...
41 minutes after Ronald Reagan was sworn in as the 40th President,
the American hostages in Iran began their flight to freedom.
We should remind our viewers that first of all, this is coming live and direct from Algiers, Algeria.
When Reagan was giving his inaugural speech,
there was a kind of split screen moment in American history.
As Ronald Reagan took the Oath of Office, the hostages were to fly out of Tehran.
..So help me God.
Reagan's inauguration really set the tone for his presidency, of this president who had good fortune.
Some 30 minutes ago, the planes bearing our prisoners
left Iranian airspace and are now...
I guess now I can go back to California, can't I?
He had done nothing to bring about the release of these hostages.
That was negotiated in the waning days of the Jimmy Carter administration
and yet, these events established a mood.
Reagan's presidency really created this idea
that if you improve the nation's mood, you're improving the nation.
We can all drink to this one.
To all of us, together, doing what we all know we can do
to make this country what it should be, what it can be, what it always has been.
You know, when he came into office, everybody thought,
we've got this guy, this shoot-from-the-hip cowboy actor
and they sure found out differently, didn't they?
It is time us to realise that we are too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams.
When Reagan came into office,
he said we've got to revive the economy, we've got to raise
the spirits of the American people
and we have to rebuild the American military
to stand up to the Soviet Union and negotiate from a position of strength.
MUSIC: "Eye Of The Tiger" by Survivor
Ronald Reagan became President at a time when the Soviet Union
was on the march on every continent.
Remember that Reagan was an anti-communist first
and a politician second.
Reagan pushes forward this view that the Soviet Union
is this evil empire that must be confronted very aggressively.
Remember, we had a Democratic House of Representatives we had to deal with
so some of the things that he wanted to do we couldn't get done.
He was on the razor's edge of danger in terms of public opinion.
Reagan decided he was going to put dealing with the Soviets on the back-burner,
that his presidency wouldn't succeed if he didn't do something about the economy
in his first year in office.
There was an attempt on President Reagan's life in March, shortly after we took power.
I've just reported that the President was not hit.
This was a defining event of his early presidency.
He WAS wounded. My God! The President was hit!
For a few hours, people didn't know if Reagan would live or die.
The surgeon said that his last remark before he underwent anaesthesia
was he wanted to make sure that all of them were Republicans.
They said that today, everyone is a Republican.
The assassination attempt on President Reagan
was a major factor in his becoming a popular president.
Not just because he survived, but how he handled it.
He took shots that could have killed him
and survived it with grace and elan.
The way the public followed that closely, to see if the President was going to survive,
created the bond between Reagan and the American people that was never really broken.
MUSIC: "Eye Of The Tiger" by Survivor
The President of the United States!
I'd like to say a few words
to express to all of you, on behalf of Nancy and myself,
our appreciation for your messages and flowers
and most of all, your prayers.
Not only for me, but for those others who fell beside me.
As you can imagine, after an event like that, his popularity surged.
Democrats and Republicans fell over themselves last night.
He was not politically weakened, he was strengthened.
I have come to speak to you tonight about our economic recovery programme
and why I believe it's essential that the Congress approve this package.
-The sympathy for Reagan...
-That's the key.
-..was so great.
-And he used that.
He was very clever. He used it and they went right to work
and the next thing, they had given him all the stuff he wanted.
Thanks to some very fine people, my health is much-improved.
I'd like to say that with regard to the health of the economy.
There was a strategy.
Less regulation, lower tax rates, get inflation under control.
You do those things, you may have a short-term problem,
but in the longer term, you'll have a strategy that works.
People forget the fact that when we came into power,
the top marginal tax rate was 70%.
It's time to create new jobs, to build and rebuild industry,
to give the American people room to do what they do best.
Reagan-nomics was the essence of the first term.
The easy part of it is, let the market be free,
let the people who own the businesses do whatever they want,
cut their taxes, give incentives to produce more.
The problem is that, generally speaking,
when you cut taxes dramatically, obviously,
the amount of money going into federal coffers is reduced.
The federal government has to cut spending or they'll run a huge deficit.
The Reagan people came up with a theory that you could cut taxes
and this would boost the economy so much that you could actually
increase proceeds at the same time and it would all work out.
George Bush called it "voodoo economics".
That's how candidate George Bush described candidate Ronald Reagan's policy
during the 1980 presidential primaries.
What I'm saying is that this type of what I call voodoo economic policy,
it just isn't going to work.
Last night, Vice President Bush was asked about that and corrected the record.
Well, what I said back then, it's very hard to find...
Actually, let me start over.
One, I didn't say it.
Nobody, every network has looked for it and none can find it.
It was never said.
There was a fundamental falsehood at the core of Reagan-nomics.
This was the famous Laffer curve proposed by a economist Arthur Laffer.
Reagan-nomics, literally, as far as I'm concerned,
it is the provision of incentives to the marketplace
to allow the economy to perform its functions properly.
-Dr Laffer, would you draw your curve for me and explain how it works?
In a very simple sense, if you tax people who work,
and you pay people who don't work,
don't be surprised if you find a lot of people not working.
Hello, is that so complicated?
The Laffer Curve was presented as an intellectual support
for the idea that reducing taxes would produce more revenue.
If you tax rich people and give the money to poor people,
you're going to have lots and lots of poor people and no rich people.
That was, I think, considered by most people
a pretty extreme interpretation of what would happen.
Ronald Reagan gave us a prototype.
Low-taxes, less regulation, limited spending, that's the model.
He created an economic miracle.
It's clear that recovery is strengthening and spreading throughout the economy
And as Al Jolson would have said, you ain't seen nothing yet.
You can't be fair in your historical evaluation of Ronald Reagan
if you don't look at the terrible damage his economic policies did to this country.
Many people say that Ronald Reagan made America strong,
that America had been greatly weakened
in the 1960s and 1970s and Reagan
helped to rebuild American prestige, its economic power
and put it back on the path to growth.
But the real benefits, and also the tremendous costs,
really only became clear more recently.
The essence of Reagan-nomics was a massive transfer of wealth
towards the rich and away from the poor.
The Reagan administration,
by cutting taxes overwhelmingly for the wealthiest and the corporations,
set in motion, arguably, the greatest government-led transfer of wealth
in history and in the direction of the top 2% of the country.
Ronald Reagan did cut taxes and the US began
to have a series of dangerous and increasing budget deficits.
This week, America became a debtor nation for the first time since the First World War.
Unemployment, at 9%. America is struggling through the worst recession...
Reagan-nomics is based on this notion of trickle-down economics
that cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans benefits everybody.
Trickle-down economics is, if you feed the horse enough oats,
the sparrow will survive on the highway.
If you make rich people rich enough, they'll put crumbs to their servants.
The truth is that's not what happens.
Although they do get jobs and they do expand,
by lowering tax rates, you're bringing people into the labour force
and you create a lot of new wealth.
And you make the poor rich, isn't that the dream?
Reagan's policies were very good for relatively wealthy people.
The people at the top do well and benefits trickle down.
There's a hint in that term "trickle," it isn't flood-down economics,
it's trickle-down. You don't get a lot coming down to the middle class
and to people below that and that is the key theme of the past 30 years,
which should be laid at Ronald Reagan's door - middle class got squeezed.
The Republican Party under Ronald Reagan
became identified with family values, small-town values,
when, in fact, there policies did more to enrich the financial class
on either coast than mainstream America.
We're going down the main street of Dixon.
This was once a very prosperous farming community,
it also had a vibrant manufacturing sector in town.
You get the sense, when you drive here,
that the time when places like this matter than this country has passed.
What I found about the people of Dixon is that they really are
emblematic of the heartland of this country.
They believe that Ronald Reagan was on their side,
but if you look at the real impact of his policies,
it's hard to conclude that Ronald Reagan was on their side.
-Out the door in '84.
Out the door in '84. Out the door in '84.
People need work. He's not addressing our needs.
I've got 200 members who have lost their jobs in my local union.
I don't think Ronald Reagan is interested in the working people.
-Is he interested in Dixon?
-He's not interested in any working people anywhere.
The business community got whatever they wanted
from the Reagan administration and meanwhile,
the business community's great enemy, organised labour, got its ass kicked.
The union representing those who man America's air traffic control facilities called a strike.
Let me make one thing plain.
If they do not report for work within 48 hours,
they have forfeited their jobs and will be terminated.
It's ironic, of course, since Reagan was himself at one time a union leader,
but the effect that his administration had
on organised labour was devastating.
They said it and they meant it. The administration warned that
if the air controllers didn't go back to work by today, they would be fired.
This was the signal to corporate management that it was open season on labour.
Look at what he did with the air traffic controllers, he fired them.
If you look at union activity as a share of the labour force, it dropped like a stone.
The main idea that Ronald Reagan had was that the government was bad.
Too much government got in the way of private business
and he wanted to step back from that.
Ronald Reagan changed America, above all, through deregulation.
I put a freeze on pending regulations
and set up a task force under Vice President Bush
to review regulations with an eye towards getting rid of as many as possible.
Reagan made deregulation a good thing, a political virtue,
he made regulation seem like a bad thing that only socialists do.
So Reagan really stood for, "let the private sector take over,
"let the market decide" and that's a message
that has really resonated with many people over the past 20, 25 years.
Reagan-nomics was sold as less government.
In other words, less spending and less taxes,
but there is a fundamental deception about that
because there was only less spending in certain areas.
I'm sure there's one department
you've been waiting for me to mention, the Department of Defence.
It's the only department in our entire programme that will
actually be increased over the present budgeted figure.
The cuts were only in relation to social spending,
education, welfare, food stamps, that sort of thing,
enormous increases in military spending.
He told the Secretary of Defence
to order what was needed and not to worry about the Budget.
Pentagon spending would reach 34 million per hour.
I think one of the single accomplishments of Reagan
was that he restored America's pride and confidence in itself
and in its ability to project power responsibly across continents and across oceans.
There's a bear in the woods.
For some people, the bear is easy to see.
Others don't see it at all.
Some people say that the bear is tame.
Others say it's vicious and dangerous.
Since no-one can really be sure who's right,
isn't it smart to be as strong as the bear?
If there is a bear?
Our foreign policy must be rooted in realism, not naivete or self-delusion.
A recognition of what the Soviet empire is about
is the starting-point.
Ronald Reagan changed, first, the Republican Party,
then the country and then the world.
Reagan believed that the Cold War
was a contest between freedom and un-freedom.
The embodiment of Reagan's strong anti-communism is in two speeches -
one the famous evil empire speech...
To ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire...
And another one he makes at Westminster in England.
The march of freedom and democracy
which will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history...
It was very clear that Reagan didn't want to settle with the Soviet Union.
He wanted to defeat it.
Remember that American strategy during the Cold War,
dating back to the Eisenhower administration in the 1950s,
was basically a long stalemate.
No-one's going to engage in nuclear war.
It seems that the Cold War is permanent.
Reagan's view is that the Cold War isn't permanent, that it can end.
How does the Cold War end? We win, they lose.
For two years after Reagan came into office,
the US had virtually no relations at all with the Soviet Union.
People began to get very scared.
A nuclear freeze movement took off like wildfire.
The big question about that whole era
was who was right about the true nature of the Soviet Union.
There were some people in the CIA back in the '70s
who were seeing signs of the Soviets in decline.
They were having economic problems, falling way behind in terms
of technology, in terms of where the West was going.
But the Reagan side, embodied by him, is a different one.
Since 1970, the Soviet Union has invested 300 billion more
in its military forces than we have.
Notwithstanding our economic straits,
to allow this imbalance to continue is a threat to our national security.
The best form of defence spending is always wasted.
Whenever you find yourself in a situation where you have to use
your military hardware prowess, that's a clear sign you didn't spend enough.
Reagan, Star Wars and all that,
the whole purpose of that was so that we wouldn't have to use it.
This strategy of deterrence has not changed. It still works.
But what it takes to maintain deterrence has changed.
I have approved a research programme to find, if we can, a security shield
that will destroy nuclear missiles before they reach their target.
They called it Star Wars. He thought there could be the construction of a missile shield,
that laser beams that could shoot incoming nuclear missiles out of the sky.
His idea might have come from a movie
he was involved in the 1940s called Murder In The Air.
It seems the spy ring has designs on the greatest war weapon
ever invented, which is the exclusive property of Uncle Sam.
-What is it?
-The inertia projector.
It wouldn't kill people, it would destroy weapons.
It wouldn't militarise space, it would help demilitarise the arsenals of Earth.
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.
Reagan was certainly a believer in American military power.
At the same time, he's very reluctant to send troops into harm's way.
He only used military force three times, people forget.
The first was putting the marines in Lebanon
into the middle of the Lebanese civil war.
Early this morning at the Marine headquarters in Beirut,
more than 2,000lbs of explosives...
And we lost 241 marines in a terrorist explosion.
Next was Grenada.
Grenada, we were told, was a friendly island paradise for tourism.
Well, it wasn't. It was a Soviet-Cuban colony
being readied as a military bastion to export terror and undermine democracy.
And the third time, he attacked Gadaffi's Libya,
when they blew up a discotheque in Berlin.
He was not a manic interventionist.
But he saw the United States challenged by what was indeed
a worldwide, communist conspiracy, which had as its great objective
defeating Western civilisation in the United States
and changing the world in its own image.
At that time, many Americans were concerned about the United States
getting involved in a war with the Soviet Union.
But Reagan felt that pretty much anything was justified
in order to win the Cold War.
The world has changed.
Today our national security can be threatened in faraway places.
What the Reagan administration did, in a new sub rosa way,
was to secretly support a lot of very violent movements
who were resisting the Soviet menace.
To run these operations independently
and then to lie to Congress and to lie to the American people.
In the hills of Afghanistan, in Angola, in Kampuchea,
in Central America, freedom movements arise and assert themselves.
They're doing so on almost every continent populated by man.
People are always more complicated than the images that grow up
around them, the mythology that grows up around them.
My father was both smarter and better than many people on the left think he was,
and less the giant that many people on the right think he was.
My fellow Americans, I have thought long and often
about how to explain to you what I intended to accomplish,
but I respect you too much to make excuses.
The fact of the matter is,
there is nothing I can say that will make the situation right.
I was stubborn in my pursuit of a policy that went astray.
On October 5th, 1986, an antiquated US cargo plane was shot down
over southern Nicaragua by a surface-to-air missile.
That date, when that plane got shot down, broke open not
just the fuselage of the plane,
but all the interconnections of the whole covert enterprise.
We're at the National Security Archive with a huge collection of documents,
some of them drafted by the CIA, some drafted in the White House.
It's important to focus on the Iran-Contra scandal
because it is the biggest window we have into the way Ronald Reagan thought.
Within hours of that plane being shot down,
George Bush's office received a telephone call
from a resupply operative stating that the plane was missing,
and the CIA station chief in neighbouring Costa Rica
sent a coded message to Washington warning that
"the situation requires we do necessary damage control."
The sole surviving crew member, Eugene Hasenfus, was beyond US control.
When Eugene Hasenfus was shot down by the Sandinistas,
it was the beginning of the end of the Iran-Contra affair
and the beginning of public awareness
of what the scandal was.
Before long, his Nicaraguan captors had placed him in front of television cameras
to tell the world the story of the US government
covert arms resupply operation for the Contras.
My name is Gene Hasenfus. I come from Marinette Wisconsin.
The government of Nicaragua has shot down an American-manned aircraft...
The wreckage of an American cargo plane...
-How they treating you?
-My treatment here is fine.
Interrogations? Long ones?
No, not long, just every day a little bit here and there.
What is it they're after?
They want to know who I work for and why.
-OK, so do we.
My name is Robert Parry.
I was the first reporter to write about the mysterious activities
of the marine officer in the Reagan White House named Oliver North
who was operating in an unusual way in Central America.
After the Hasenfus plane was shot down,
there is an immediate effort to cover it up.
Is there US involvement in this flight over Nicaragua?
I'm glad you asked. Absolutely none.
This man is not working for the United States government.
Clearly there were connections to the flight.
Hasenfus provides a great deal of information
about how this operation was being supported by,
not only the CIA, but Vice-President George HW Bush's office.
On that day in October, in the debris in the jungle,
peeked up some inconvenient truths about what was going on.
In the debris are little pieces of paper, business cards, flight logs.
The Sandinistas, newspaper reporters looked at that stuff
and found the business cards of retired CIA agents,
retired generals, contractors for the US government,
the people who had the aid contracts from the State Department
to deliver aid to refugees.
Looks like the very same planes were also moving arms to the Contras.
The connections were like a spider web.
From the beginning of the Reagan years,
they had this huge concern about Central America.
Because they saw the Soviet Union as trying to create a beach-head
inside places like Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala.
So the Reagan administration organised a group called the Contras.
The CIA under Reagan helps fund it, going into Nicaragua,
carrying out a number of atrocities against the Nicaraguan people.
The United States put itself in a position of supporting a ruthless group.
The Reagan presentation of the Contras was as heroes, freedom fighters.
They are the moral equal of our founding fathers.
We cannot turn away from them.
Viva Reagan! Viva Reagan!
That was obviously not true.
The Contras were assassinating people, obviously corrupt.
They were violating human rights.
So Congress cut off the aid.
Congress voted two laws that put the lid on aid to the Contras.
It said no more aid to the Contras.
The top officials of the Reagan administration get together with the President of the White House.
"Congress is cutting off aid!"
We have the transcript of what they said to each other.
The list of who's there is everybody at the top.
The President, Vice-President, head of the CIA, Secretary of Defence, Secretary of State, Chief of Staff.
Ronald Reagan says, "We're going to go raise money for the Contras,"
but the top advisers tell him this is illegal.
It is an impeachable offence.
But Reagan says, "I don't care."
He ends the meeting with a wonderful quote.
Reagan says, "If such a story gets out, we will all be hanging
"by our thumbs in front of the White House until we find out who did it."
What the Reagan administration came up with was a way
to get around the power of the purse-strings held by Congress.
It said to itself, let's use other sources of funding for our covert operations.
One source, private donors.
Second source, go to foreign countries.
And finally, and trickiest of all, let's use the proceeds
of one covert operation to support another covert operation.
At that point, while we had inclinations about Oliver North's
role in Nicaragua, I wasn't aware that he was sending weapons to Iran.
That comes out in November of '86 when a Lebanese newspaper first writes that story.
This is when the Contra side intersects with the Iran side.
A number of American hostages had been taken by Islamic extremists in Lebanon.
Ronald Reagan had been most adamant against negotiations with terrorists.
Let me make it plain to the assassins in Beirut and their accomplices
that America will never make concessions to terrorists.
But when he met those families of the people being held in Lebanon,
he reacted to them and said, "I'll do whatever it takes to get these people out."
Everybody, sit down.
These hostages in Lebanon gnawed at him.
And people came to him in
his National Security Council
and said, "We have information that leads us to believe
"that we can have a change in our relationship with Iran if we sell them some arms.
"And by the way, Mr President, we'll also get our hostages back."
We think the most effective work is behind the scenes...
"But it's against our policy to sell them arms.
"It's against our policy to trade for hostages."
This is a page out of the diary of the Secretary of Defence
under Ronald Reagan, Caspar Weinberger.
He took notes every day and then hid them from the investigators
when the Iran-Contra scandal broke.
Only years later, did we find out what he had written down.
What he had written down was the direct words of the President, Ronald Reagan.
When the top people in the US government looked the President in the eye
over a table at the White House and said,
"Mr President, we ship these arms to Iran,
"trading for the hostages, that breaks the law.
"It's illegal. It's a felony,"
The President says, "I can deal with charges of criminality, but I can't deal with the American people.
"Big, strong President Reagan - I'm going to do everything I could to get those hostages out."
Whether it was the right thing or the wrong thing to do,
it was motivated in his mind, I am quite sure, by that sense of, "I am a lifeguard.
"It is my job to get these people back. They are Americans, they are my people."
We are a nation of laws. If the President can break the law, then we are not a nation of laws any more.
The charge has been made that the United States
has shipped weapons to Iran as ransom payment for the release of American hostages in Lebanon, that
the United States undercut its allies and secretly violated American policy against trafficking with terrorists.
Those charges are utterly false.
We did not - repeat, did not - trade weapons or anything else for hostages.
As it happened, when the first arms deliveries were made, the middleman
had overcharged the Iranians for what the missiles were worth.
So there was a huge surplus.
Oliver North looked at that surplus and said,
"Nobody can account for that money.
"What if we use that surplus to help resupply the Contras?"
-Did you make a mistake in sending arms to Tehran, sir?
No, and I'm not taking any more questions.
In the fall of 1986, Iran and Contra came together
when the President comes down to the White House briefing room and says, "Oops, there has been a little
"mixing of funds between these arms arrangements, which were not really to trade for hostages!
"And to take care of the Contras, which wasn't really illegal,
"but I'll let Ed Meese tell you about it."
Certain monies, which were received in the transaction
between representatives of Israel and representatives of Iran
and made available to the forces in Central America,
which are opposing the Sandinista government there.
There are incredible documents where in meetings with Schultz and Weinberger and others, as part
of the cover-up, the President says, "We never traded arms for hostages,"
and Schultz says, "Excuse me, Mr President,
It was a devastating charge.
That was the one time in Reagan's presidency when I thought that he seemed not to have his footing.
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.
The facts and the evidence tell me it is not.
That was the most difficult period of his presidency and my guess is, of his entire political career.
The charge went to his integrity.
How could all of this be taking place?
Millions and millions of dollars, without you having known about it.
Andrea, I don't believe...
I was aware that there are private groups and private individuals in this country.
I don't believe it was counter to our law.
Iran Contra was the first real crack in Reagan's image.
Up until that point, the coverage he was getting was really adulatory.
In your heart, do you feel you were right or wrong in selling arms to Iran?
We had quite a debate. It was true that two of our Cabinet members were very much on the other side.
It turned out they were right because, as I say, it did deteriorate.
How could this man, who was such a great leader,
trade arms for hostages to fund off the books foreign policy?
This is clearly illegal.
90% of the American people believed that was wrong.
90% of American people don't agree on anything.
It was clear that the White House, under Ronald Reagan, had systematically gone about
thwarting the will of Congress in raising funds that Congress said shouldn't be raised.
Going into the conventional hearings, when it became clear the President of the
United States could be impeached. The President's advisers try to figure out how we can spin
this so they refocused all of our intention on to the one part
of the Iran Contra operations that they can prove President Reagan
wasn't specifically briefed on - Oliver North and the diversion of funds from Iran to the Contras.
I don't think it was wrong.
I think it was a neat idea.
Oliver North, later in his trial said, and this sums it up, the diversion was a diversion.
Congress met three months and fizzled out.
It's his responsibility. Whether he knew or didn't know, whether he was
gullible or naive or maligned, it's still his responsibility.
Now what should happen when you make a mistake is this.
You take your knocks, you learn your lessons and then you move on.
That's the healthiest way to deal with the problem.
What Ronald Reagan did was to pervert the US constitution.
It happened on his watch. It's his responsibility.
He's my father and I love him.
We all defend him.
I'm not going to sell him out or down the river or anything like that.
At the same time, he was the President of the United States.
As the President of the United States you are accountable -
you have to be held accountable - even by your own family, by your own son.
I'm Edmund Morris and I spent 14 years researching and writing
a life of Reagan with his co-operation.
How did you your thing with Mr Morris work?
Did he just ask if he could do that or what?
I think somebody does this.
This is the official biography, so...
-Is there some committee that decides on it?
-It must be.
The difficulty about figuring Reagan out was he was not introspective.
Therefore, to try to interview this guy, who was so incurious about himself, was very unrewarding.
He would tend to take refuge behind anecdotes and jokes.
You heard I'm sure that I like to tell an anecdote or two.
When I tried to probe him about fundamental things, his religious beliefs, his feelings about
women and children, I just got this echoing sound that I was talking into a large, rather cool cave.
There was a kind of wall between Reagan and everybody else.
Nancy Reagan herself said Reagan never got very close to anybody.
-That he didn't let others get close to him.
-He had great capacity for exuding affection.
The American people, when they were addressed by him, would feel this benign warmth
but when you were alone with him, he became surprisingly ordinary.
You don't hear this much any more but Reagan's critics,
certainly back in the '80s and even in the 1990s,
would describe him as an amiable dunce.
Somebody who floated through eight years in the presidency and was mostly clueless.
That's clearly wrong.
I think it was a role he played.
I think he was a canny guy who knew how to change when the situation changed.
Well, I hope I've answered your questions as best I could, given the very little I know.
There was a Saturday night skit that really captured him, where he's this jovial, amiable fellow.
Ho, ho, ho!
Well, you're that good a sales lady, maybe I could use you up on Capitol Hill.
Then you get serious with a bom, bom, bom, bom. Bye-bye.
Deadly serious in substance. Back to work!
That's the fundamental paradox of Ronald Reagan because it's both Saturday Night Live portraits.
That ambling, fumbling kind of guy, who's basically reading a script that his staff give him,
and the guy, when the door closes, picks up the phone and orders missile parts.
-Banks will be opening in Zurich right about now.
If he knew him personally, he was a really gentle sort of soul.
Spent a lot of time thinking, spent a lot of time in his own head but there are some odd disconnects.
# When you were young... #
AIDS, for instance.
His administration did respond too slowly.
DEMONSTRATORS: Stop AIDS now!
Tens of thousands of people were dying and millions were becoming infected.
Mr Reagan would not say the word AIDS for the first seven years of his entire administration.
It wasn't until my mother and I
began to talk to him about this and kind of clue him in
that there's something really big
happening out there and it's going to start affecting your friends.
# But only love can break... #
Just what is wrong with Rock Hudson?
Tonight, the 59-year-old actor remains in a Paris hospital...
Now, Rock Hudson, somebody he knows, somebody he admired, a fellow actor, is dead. If you can personalise
something from my father. If you can put a face to it, that really captivates him.
As soon as the individual becomes the group and becomes abstract, then not quite so much.
Particularly when you are seeing people as a class - the poor.
There are 33 million Americans who live below the poverty line -
that is 7 million more than when Mr Reagan was first elected.
I think he was vulnerable to the idea that poor people are somehow poor because it's their fault.
The homeless who are homeless, you might say, by choice.
Hard to figure, really.
I've never quite figured that one out.
Remember that his father and brother were put to work by the Roosevelt administration during the Depression
in a way that saved their family financially.
So you want to say gee, these programmes
you see as socialistic now kept your family's head above water
so was it good then but not good now?
There are multiple truths about Reagan but on the subjects that Reagan really cared about -
individual hostages, maybe those freedom fighters in Nicaragua,
taxes, nuclear weapons, those big things, he pushed.
He cared about.
# Hast du etwas Zeit fur mich
# Dann singe ich ein Lied fur dich
# Von 99 Luftballons
# Auf ihrem weg zum Horizont
# Denkst du vielleicht g'rad an mich
# Dann singe ich ein Lied fur dich
# Von 99 Luftballons
# Und das sowas von sowas kommt... #
Because of Reagan's bellicose foreign-policy and in particular
the nuclear sabre rattling with the Soviet Union,
we came very, very close to a nuclear war in the 1980s.
Reagan's rhetoric on nuclear weapons begins to change in early 1984.
He is preparing to run for re-election, there are
political reasons to do it, but it begins to take on a life of its own.
We must and will engage the Soviets in a dialogue as seriously constructive as possible.
I see him there turning the corner rhetorically.
All the evil empire talk went away and Reagan starts talking about peace.
As I've said before, my dream is to see the day
when nuclear weapons will be banished from the face of the Earth.
During Reagan's first term, there was a series of three old presidents in the Soviet Union,
Brezhnev, Chernenko and Andropov,
all of whom died in short order.
Then along came Gorbachev.
Mikhail Gorbachev was a reformer.
Ronald Reagan believed that Gorbachev was someone he could do business with.
Reagan proceeds into diplomacy with Gorbachev,
into summits with Gorbachev and arms control agreements with Gorbachev.
"This is the beginning of our work," says Mr Gorbachev.
Gorbachev ultimately says that he is willing to consider
dramatically reducing, or even giving up nuclear weapons.
All of this is conditional on the US agreeing to limit,
or give up Star Wars, the Strategic Defence Initiative.
And Reagan is not willing to do this.
Though we've put on the table the most far-reaching
arms control proposal in history, the General Secretary rejected it.
They've come this close to agreeing to abolish nuclear weapons in 20 years, this close.
Even though the agreements were never consummated that was a major achievement, a strong step.
The Cold War was going to end but it ended the way it did
with a whimper, not with a bang, in part because Reagan had the wit
to respond to gestures that Gorbachev was making.
GORBACHEV SPEAKS RUSSIAN
-Do you recognise President Reagan?
GORBACHEV SPEAKS RUSSIAN
In the spring of 1987, as a speechwriter for President Reagan, I was assigned a big speech.
At one point I put...
"Herr Gorbachev, machen Sie dieses Tor auf."
My boss said,
"Peter, when you're working for
"the President of the US, give him those big lines in English."
Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
I come to Berlin,
as so many of my countrymen have come before.
This city, of all cities, knows the dream of freedom.
It's amazing when he started this journey,
that I and my father, that we would be in Berlin, in this place, the Checkpoint Charlie Museum,
where in 1982 my father jumped over the white line and then jumped back
because he didn't believe there should be borders.
When Ronald Reagan gave that speech, hard as it is to believe today, he was getting a lot of criticism
from American conservatives saying that by talking to Gorbachev and by having these summit meetings,
like the Reykjavik summit, that he was an appeaser on the scale of Neville Chamberlain.
And yet that speech has become the centrepiece of
the conservative legend of how Ronald Reagan won the Cold War.
He was the one to make sure they were able to finally become free.
Basically, he said, "Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall." Two years later the wall came down,
when, of course, the reality of how the Cold War ended is much more complicated than that.
To me it's the core of how much of what people know about Ronald Reagan today is mythological.
If people would listen to where I stand on the issues
I think they will find out this is a false image
that is being created, or they are attempting to create,
with regards to me.
That seems to be the modern dialogue in politics, not to dispute you on
what you honestly believe but to create a false image,
to invest you with beliefs that aren't yours.
Ronald Reagan said we're going to have such a strong military we'll out compete the Soviets, and he did.
He said we are going to have such strong families that the values of Americans
will shine as an example for the entire world to see, and he did that.
Yes, a giant mythology has developed.
What we believe in is what Ronald Reagan believes in.
Developed by people who want to control the direction of national affairs.
Who is your favourite Republican President?
Ronald Reagan. Easy one.
Grover Norquist and his allies are myth-makers.
They are trying to finish a revolution
they feel Reagan started.
-Reagan of course.
-Of course. He's a name that's worth invoking.
I remember when Ronald Reagan...
They want to impute to him qualities he didn't possess.
Profound wisdom, deep religiosity, love of all human beings. Reagan was much more muted than that.
The GOP's Purity Test, the draft resolution written as a tribute to President Reagan
but frankly even he wouldn't meet all these qualifications -
he raised taxes, he grew the deficit...
There's a long list of things people say Ronald Reagan did
that in some cases are just the exact opposite.
His name is invoked, for example, to back up the current anti-immigration policies of Republicans
and in fact, Reagan created amnesty for 2.6 million illegal immigrants.
I believe in the idea of amnesty.
I can't tell you the number of candidates I have seen he said their reasons for getting into government
was they wanted to reduce the size of government like Ronald Reagan did. People don't realise that
the size of the government grew under Ronald Reagan, the number of federal employees grew.
Ronald Reagan's legacy is complicated.
By trying to understand the complexities
of Reagan and his presidency
instead of the mythological version of Ronald Reagan
it gives us some better ideas
about how to move forward as a country.
Ronald Reagan as an idea,
as an ideology,
as an intellectual tradition
is very powerful.
And sadly, particularly in regard to the financial sector, very dangerous.
Uncle Sam is feeling the pinch of a failing economy.
The federal budget deficit will be more than a trillion dollars next year.
The reason, for example, why we continue to struggle with our
budget deficits is because Ronald Reagan legitimised them.
If you think having uncontrolled deficits is OK, or even a good idea,
or even something we put over on the rest of the world, then perhaps you feel good about Reagan.
But the evidence consistently around the world is if you run a big budget deficit,
it catches up with you, it does not matter how good you make people feel about your country,
whether you talk grandly on the international stage.
At the end of the day, can you pay your bills?
I've been asked if I have any regrets. Well, I do.
The deficit is one.
Reagan was flesh, he was not marble.
He was an impressive, successful President for the most part, but he was not a god.
To turn him into a marble idol, to have his name inscribed on airports,
monuments and all of the 50 states and on 50-bills is turning him
into an icon for the convenience of the modern conservative movement.
In 1980, I voted for Ronald Reagan because I was a serving soldier
and Ronald Reagan was the guy who was going to redress the ills of the United States military.
I voted for him again in 1984 because he seemed to be making good on that promise.
I think he was the most skilful politician of our time.
What I would say retrospect is that I cast my vote
without having a proper appreciation of the issues of the moment.
We've given the American people back their spirit
and I think we're in a position once again to heed the words of Thomas Paine...
"We have it in our power
"to begin the world over again."
That was Reagan, that's what Reagan had on offer in the 1970s and 1980s.
Which basically says that...
Well, circumstance doesn't matter.
The accumulation of history over the previous century or two centuries doesn't matter.
We can choose anything we want and it will be ours.
We can't start the world all over again.
Next Tuesday is election day. Next Tuesday all of you will go to the polls and make a decision.
My bottom line judgment of Jimmy Carter really doesn't depart from the conventional wisdom,
that I think he was a failure as a president.
That said, there was a moment when he, however briefly,
grasped a central truth about the American predicament.
that the true problems of our nation
are much deeper than gasoline lines, or energy shortages, deeper even
than inflation, or recession.
The problems we face are not out there.
The problems we face are in here.
We have committed ourselves to the pursuit of freedom
where our definition of freedom is simply false.
We have convinced ourselves that through the piling up of material goods, indulging the appetites of
a consumer society,
that by going down that road, we will best be able to find life, liberty and happiness.
Carter argued our dependence on oil was central to this and it would
lead us down the path toward interventionism and conflict.
Ronald Reagan said, "You don't have to sacrifice, you don't have to make do.
"You don't have to get by with less.
"There's plenty of oil.
"There's an infinite supply, trust me."
In his final letter to the American people, Dad wrote...
"I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life."
Dementia came on him very suddenly.
At a birthday party of Reagan's he stood up and gave us a speech, "In the dark days of 1983, when
"I was president of the US, there was only one leader of the Western world who stood with me as
"a bulwark against the threat of international communism.
"That was my good friend Maggie Thatcher."
So we all stood up and applauded.
And then Reagan says, "In the dark days of 1983..."
And he went through exactly the same speech again.
We learned, as too many other families have learned, of the terrible pain
and loneliness that must be endured as each day brings another reminder of this very long goodbye.
Less than a year later he wrote that extremely poignant letter to the American people
telling them that he was suffering from Alzheimer's, that he was, in effect, retiring from public life.
And then the stories and the poignant little episodes began to proliferate.
And one of the saddest was when he came home one lunchtime with something clutched in his hand.
Nancy noticed that his hand was wet.
She said Ronnie, "What are you holding?"
She pried his fingers open and inside
was a little model, a little ceramic model of the White House
that had been sitting in the fish tank in his office
and he'd stuck his hand in there and plucked this little White House out and brought it home.
She said what are you doing with that in your hand and he said,
"I don't know but it's something to do with me."
History will record his worth as a leader.
We here have long since measured his worth as a man.
Those of us who knew him well will have no trouble imagining his paradise.
Golden fields will spread beneath the blue dome of a western sky.
Live oaks will shadow the rolling hillsides
and some place, flowing from years long past,
a river will wind towards the sea.
He will let the river carry him over the shining stones,
he will rest in the shade of the trees.
Our cares are no longer his.
We meet him now only in memory.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Documentary which examines the enigmatic career of screen star and two-term US president Ronald Reagan.
He has been heralded as one of the architects of the modern world and since his death many Americans have been working to cement his legacy. To some he has come to define contemporary conservatism and has increasingly become a standard-bearer for American statecraft. So phenomenal has his legacy become that both Republican and Democratic politicians today continue to invoke his name to win votes.
But some critics argue that the aftershocks of Reaganomics continue to crumble economies the world over and that the hubris of Reagan's foreign policy continues to propel America into a cycle of overseas ventures. To such critics Reagan is an ominous figure who did more harm than good.
But who was Ronald Reagan, and how did he come to shape world politics in the way he did? Featuring in-depth interviews with those who worked with him and knew him best, this film provides a definitive and penetrating look at Reaganism.