Opinion Pieces Examine Former President Reagan’s Record on AIDS in Light of ‘Reagans’ Miniseries
The cable network Showtime on Nov. 30 aired the miniseries "The Reagans," which was originally slated to air on CBS. CBS decided not to air the miniseries after intense pressure from Republicans and conservative groups. Showtime aired the program without a line of dialogue in which President Ronald Reagan, played by James Brolin, said of AIDS patients, "They that live in sin shall die in sin." Although the line of dialogue was fictional, supporters of the movie say that Reagan's authorized biography, titled "Dutch," quotes him as saying of AIDS, "Maybe the Lord has brought down this plague" because "illicit sex is against the Ten Commandments." Showtime executives and the show's director and producers decided to cut the line from the final version (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/19). Two opinion pieces published this week examined Reagan's record on AIDS in light of the series. Summaries of the opinion pieces follow:
- Linda Chavez, Townhall.com: "[I]t's hard to know exactly what the film's creators believe [Reagan] could have done to stop the spread of AIDS," Chavez, a syndicated columnist and president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, writes. Reagan could have allocated more money to the epidemic, "but we've spent billions in research in the intervening years, with no cure yet in sight," Chavez says. He could have "argued from his bully pulpit for 'safe sex' ... but nearly 20 years of constant hammering away on this theme still goes ignored by many gay men," Chavez says, concluding that the movie was "not only factually flawed but bore the unmistakable mark of deep animus toward Mr. Reagan" (Chavez, Townhall.com, 12/3).
- Deroy Murdock, New York Post: Ed Meese, a long time adviser to Reagan, said that the movie's portrayal of Reagan's attitude toward AIDS and men who have sex with men is "totally unfair, and totally unrepresentative of his views or anything he ever said," Murdock, a Post columnist, writes. "Surely" Reagan could have done more on AIDS "absent the urgent need to revive America's moribund economy and defeat Soviet communism," Murdock says, adding, "But the notion that Ronald Reagan did nothing, or worse, about AIDS ... is a tired, left-wing lie about an American legend" (Murdock, New York Post, 12/4).