Former Congressman Charlie Wilson died this week. If you haven’t read George Crile’s book Charlie Wilson’s War, I recommend it. It was made into a Tom Hanks film because Wilson was the one liberal Hollywood could find who did anything whatsoever to help Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II win the Cold War while the rest of the left threw its collective apron over its collective face and ran from the room shrieking like an hysterical old woman or Frank Rich. But I apologize: I’m being unfair to hysterical old women.
None of which is to belittle what Wilson did. Like Reagan – and unlike the rest of the post-sixties left – he understood the Soviets were the bad guys. He knew they could be got in Afghanistan and get them he did with secret funding and weapons programs for the Afghan resistance. But the point about Wilson’s sanctification stands. All those right wingers who spoke out against the Soviets got nothing but grief and name calling from the media. One – count him, one – liberal joined in – and he’s da man!
All throughout Crile’s book, Wilson turns to right wingers for the help and support he needs and all throughout the book the right wingers are treated as if they’re nuts and extremists. This is so typical of left-wing reporting that it’s a bit galling. The right wing is crazy for being right wing even though they’re, like, right. The left is good simply by virtue of being left. It’s really revelatory of the way our media think. With an attitude like that, how can you ever be convinced to change your mind?
I’m reminded of a conversation I had many years ago in London with a bestselling British author. A charming woman. Wrote those enormous doorstop lady’s books with flowery covers and a lot of fancy clothes and hanky panky inside. At dinner one night, she kept referring to Margaret Thatcher as “That bitch.” She did it again and again, until finally I said, “I don’t mean to contradict, but didn’t Margaret Thatcher save this country from absolute economic disaster?” After a moment, she answered grumpily, “Well… yes.” Then a pause. Then: “But she’s still a bitch!”
Anyway, rest in peace, Congressman. Say hi to Reagan. In fact, ask him if he’d mind coming back and running for president.