Notable Quotables - 10/04/1999

Top Story: Reagan the Airhead

"Good morning. The Gipper was an airhead! That's one of the conclusions of a new biography of Ronald Reagan that's drawing a tremendous amount of interest and fire today, Monday, September the 27th, 1999."
- Co-host Katie Couric opening Today.

"Good morning. For the first time President Bush is responding to the controversial new biography of Ronald Reagan, and in particular the author's assertion that Reagan was a great President, but an airhead."
- Co-host Matt Lauer opening Today, September 28.

Reality Check:
"I did not call him an airhead. The quote, as first published in The Washington Post, dropped the word 'apparent' before 'airhead.' What I said in the book that appears plainly on the page is I found him at first an 'apparent airhead.' And the whole course of the book makes it quite obvious that that first impression was wrong."
- Edmund Morris, author of Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan, September 29 Today.


Fictions Are Very Reaganesque

"The historical sleight of hand has one virtue, aside from creating commercially valuable buzz. Trying to thread one's way through what is made up and what is real in this book is not unlike being around the actual Reagan, who invented statistics, replayed movie plots as if they were history and answered questions with such bewildering non sequiturs that interrogators were stunned into silence....Morris is also a brilliant writer of both fact and fiction. His stylishness is so dazzling that the reader may want to forgive the manipulation he has employed. Again, this re-creates the experience of being around Reagan, who was so deeply likeable as a human being that even the most querulous reporter could be charmed into protecting him from his own vacuousness."
- Time Executive Editor John F. Stacks, October 4 issue.


"Gun Down the 2nd Amendment"

"Repealing the Second Amendment is no cause for the faint-hearted, but it remains the only way for liberals to trigger an honest debate on the future of our bullet-plagued society. So what if anti-gun advocates have to devote the next 15 or 20 years to the struggle? The cause is worth the political pain. Failing to take bold action condemns all of us to spend our lives cringing in terror every time we hear a car backfire."
- USA Today columnist Walter Shapiro, September 17.


The Heartless Idiot Genius

CBS's Lesley Stahl: "Reagan had such difficulty with the homeless. When he was President, the country felt he was dismissive of the homeless."
Edmund Morris: "About the only time I ever got through his epidermis was in the last month of his presidency when I said to him, 'Is there anything about your presidency you regret, Mr. President?' 'Oh no, I've been very happy here.' But I said, 'You know, the homeless, for example, they're all over the place.' And he said 'I don't think that's such a serious problem....'"
Stahl: "Was he compassionate. Did he care about poverty?"
Morris: "No, I do not think he was compassionate."
Stahl: "This is character. This is important."
Morris: "It is important. I think Reagan regarded misfortune as weakness. There was something undignified about poverty. He did not think it was the duty of the state to do anything about poverty, but he didn't like it, he didn't want to see it and felt the community should take care of it."
Stahl: "You can't have admired him for that."
Morris: "No I did not."
- Sept. 26 60 Minutes story on Morris's Reagan biography.

Time's Jack White: "And he was extraordinarily lucky in that he wasn't brought down by the Iran-Contra scandal."
Columnist Charles Krauthammer: "Oh, come on."
White: "...It verged on treason. He was extraordinarily lucky on that. He tried to turn the clock back on civil rights. There's a whole history of problems with this guy that some of us don't join you in the view that he's the most successful presidency."
Krauthammer: "People say he only had a single idea, he hated communism, et cetera. Here's a man who had the subtlety, late in his presidency, to understand Gorbachev and the opportunity he offered. Many of us on the right attacked Reagan for being seduced by Gorbachev and we were wrong and he was right. He ushered in the collapse of the Soviet empire, which is the greatest achievement of the last 50 years."
Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas: "He had kind of an intuitive idiot genius."
- September 25 Inside Washington.

Bravely Standing for Censorship

"Well, however brave a stand campaign finance reform may be, members of your own party have rejected it. What's the matter with them? Why don't they get it?"
- Good Morning America co-host Diane Sawyer to Senator John McCain, September 27.

We Still Despise Linda Tripp

"A new broadside today against the Clintons from Linda Tripp."
- CNN anchor Judy Woodruff reporting Tripp's lawsuit over the Pentagon leak of her personnel file, Sept. 27 Inside Politics.

"I suspect a lot of people would find it the height of irony that Linda Tripp files a suit for invasion of privacy."
"But you charge there was an attempt to smear Ms. Tripp. The only thing that the Defense Department revealed was that she'd never committed a crime. That seems to be rather favorable to her."
"But Mr. Kohn, the person who revealed the fact that she had committed a crime was not the Defense Department, it was her own former stepmother."
- Good Morning America co-host Charles Gibson's questions to Tripp lawyer Stephen Kohn, September 28.


Immediate Exploitation on Guns

Co-host Charles Gibson: "I don't want to politicize this, and this is not the time for political questions, you think the 2000 campaign will largely be about guns?"
Al Gore: "You said you didn't want to politicize it. I can assure it's the last thing that I want to do, and I just don't want to get into a discussion like that."
Gibson: "I'm just saying do you think that this is going to be a discussion in the year 2000, this country will sit down and have a frank discussion about guns?"
- Exchange on the September 16 Good Morning America, the morning after the church shooting in Fort Worth.


Raisa as Jackie and Hillary

"For Russians she was part Jackie Kennedy, telegenic and fashionable, and part Hillary Clinton, criticized for being too outspoken and too influential....While Raisa Gorbachev may have been the wife of the country's last communist leader, she'll almost certainly be remembered as the Soviet Unions first First Lady."
- Reporter David Hawkins, September 20 CBS Evening News.


Yippee! Unless You Root for GOP

"Confused by the news that 'Pitchfork' Pat Buchanan intends to join with 'Relic' Ross Perot's branch of the zany Reform Party? More confused when you learn that together they could try to tag team Jesse 'The Body' Ventura's libertarian wing to win the party's presidential nomination? Relax. There is just one correct response to these events: Yippee! Unless, of course, you are (a) George W. Bush or (b) some other loyal Republican."
- U.S. News/CBS commentator Gloria Borger, September 27.


Bush's Pseudo-Religious Devotion

"He was looking for profundity and he found a kind of pseudo-religious foolishness in that wave of evil. It's evil with a gun. That's what it is, and gun laws work, and you have to support gun laws if you want to stop this."
- Time's Margaret Carlson on George W. Bush's reaction to the Fort Worth shooting, September 18 Capital Gang on CNN.

"Texas massacre spotlights Guv's slavish devotion to the NRA. Where's the compassion, Big Guy?"
- Time's "Winners and Losers" feature, September 27.


No Hateful Motives Here?

"Yet even if it [the claim that Fort Worth shooter Larry Ashbrook mocked religion] is pious invention, it gives a glimpse of the way some evangelical Christians, children and adults alike, are thinking these days about the string of killings in the U.S. in which they have been victims."
- Time Senior Writer David Van Biema, September 27.

"If 47-year-old Larry Ashbrook had a motive to his madness it apparently died with him."
- Reporter Bob McNamara on the CBS Evening News, September 16.


"Authorities say the gunman then entered the church sanctuary ranting anti-religious curses and opened fire on a group of kids at a teenage prayer service..."
- Jim Cummins on NBC Nightly News, September 16.

ABC reporter Peggy Wehmeyer: "One witness said the gunman appeared to be taunting Christians."
Teen Boy: "And someone pointed a gun at this man and said your religion is all fake and he said no it's not, that I believe in this with all my heart, basically."
Wehmeyer: "What worries many church leaders is that active Christians are being singled out for their beliefs."
- ABC's World News Tonight, same night.

I'm Vice President and I'm Horny

"It may have been a bit more than some of the 1,200 Democratic women at last week's Washington fundraiser wanted to know about the real Al Gore. The Gore's have decided that marital bliss sells in the post-Monica era, so when Tipper called her reserved husband to the stage, he made everyone know he was actually a tiger after hours. 'I love it when she responds to me with her finger like that,' Gore said, 'I always respond.'"
- Newsweek reporter Bill Turque in an Oct. 4 profile of Gore. 



Publisher: L. Brent Bozell
Editors: Brent H. Baker, Tim Graham
Media Analysts: Jessica Anderson, Brian Boyd,
Geoffrey Dickens, Mark Drake, Paul Smith, Brad Wilmouth
Research Associate: Kristina Sewell
Interns: Ken Shepherd