Monday, August 20, 2007

Personal Asides: Mike Deaver in Retrospect…The Decline of “Sun-Times” Editorial-Writing.


Mike Deaver.

Mike Deaver, Ronald Reagan’s public relations guru who died yesterday, was a guest at my DePaul University class a decade ago and in connection with that class we spent a lot of time together talking about Reagan. When my wife Lillian picked him up at O’Hare to drive him to DePaul and my class, he no sooner got in the car when he told her that he had been sober for seven years, four months, three weeks and five days. I don’t know whether that’s de rigeur for AA’s on not, but he certainly got that off his chest early.

Of course the news media glories in proclaiming that Ronald Reagan was exclusively a media creation, a kind of tinsel tin god who was created and sold to the public like a loaf of bread—hence Mike Deaver is used by them as a kind of movie director, staging all kinds of events that made Reagan look good. To that extent, he did—but to imagine that (a) no one else could have done what Deaver did; (b) choosing advantageous sites for cameras made Reagan the most effective president in a generation and a half; or (c) other presidents ala JFK and FDR didn’t do this is sophomoric. But sophomoric when directed at the contemporary news media is to flatter them. There is more to them than that. Sophomoric usually goes with the word callow…which means shallow. Callow and sophomoric the media are but they are not just balefully ignorant: they understand full well that Reagan amounted to far more than pyrotechnics and they duplicitously continue to portray it falsely. Looking at the 1984 presidential campaign between Reagan and Mondale, if a Deaver could be recruited to “direct” Mondale’s photo ops and radio actualities and no Deaver would be allowed to handle Reagan’s, who would win?

Mondale? Of course not. Reagan. Mondale’s campaign was defeatist, centered on nuclear freeze or unilateral disarmament and higher taxes; Reagan’s was optimistic and idealistic tinged with hard realism. But until a generation of liberal journalists die off (which was created by liberal universities), the idea that Reagan was a media creation executed by Mike Deaver will continue.

Actually Deaver was far more than a selector of stage sites for news ops for his boss. He was deputy chief of staff and far from a Reaganite on most issues. He was very close to Nancy Reagan who was a country club Republican, not pro-life nor particularly interested in a hard line against the Russians. Nor was Deaver. He was the mirror image of Jim Baker, Reagan’s chief of staff. Aside from Ed Meese, the Reagan White House had very few Reaganites in it—with the one prominent Reaganite of all who dominated it: Ronald Reagan himself.

For that matter, George Shultz never understood it, was always trying to blur the distinctions when Shultz was secretary of state. Deaver told me very casually that he was not pro-life, that he joined with Nancy in trying to see that the Reagan who identified with issues on the right that proved to be authentic were muffled. He took pleasure in that, regarding himself as a cosmetician in the same way that John Sears, the first presidential campaign manager sought to blur the old man’s edges. It is significant that evidently to the day of his death, Deaver, a very nice man and a charming one, did not fully comprehend the Reagan presidency…while Ed Meese does in its entirety.

Decline and Fall.

Steve Huntley whom I’ve had occasion to criticize here on other matters did write “Sun-Times” editorials that carried ballast, good documentation and a sense of understatement, trying nobly to tie his craft to the childish dictates of the two Canadians who believe nothing but are rudderless pragmatists. The replacement of Huntley (who has gone on to be a full-time columnist) with Cheryl Reed is a victory for the two rudderless ones. At first Reed was doing okay. Now she degenerates into name-calling as substitute for thought.

Take a look at yesterday’s comment on the departure of Karl Rove. In one sense it’s accurate. It’s entitled “We saw Rove’s influence in everything Bush did.” I’m sure Cheryl Reed did but that is far from the case as historians will discover when they examine the value and significance of the Bush administration. But look at Reed’s language: “…as Rove leaves the sinking ship SSGOP”…the “Republicans shrewd courtship of the religious right”…”the tactics that did in Bush opponents like John `Swift Boated’ Kerry.” For the record, a Huntley would have utilized his conscience to state that Rove never was involved in the “Swift Boat” venture as John O’Neill who has come to Chicago often still insists. Nor aside from the Left’s paranoia was there anything inaccurate about the “Swift Boat” campaign…or else why hasn’t Kerry who promised to divulge his record actually come through and divulge it?

In a remarkably swift time, Cheryl Reed has demoted the once high standard of “Sun-Times” editorial writing…which was one of the very few things the paper had to boast about…to bumper-sticker sloganeering. Which is in line with what the two Canadian sharpies…one having been kicked off the “New York Daily News”—the inestimable Michael Cooke –want to happen. They insult the Chicago working class by insisting that a semi-porno rag is beloved by the blue collar working class. Now the only thing they have going for them is the great Jack Higgins, the cartoonist without peer in the United States. The paper has really slipped down the sink-hole.


  1. The Chicago Media - print & otherwise - are responsible for what befalls this City with regard to race and police relations. They are irresponsible at best.

  2. The Chicago Media has long been a champion of diversity and liberalism. It has crooned the tunes of the cutsy lake front liberals and Hyde Park liberals who now after generations of social climbing finally have their lake front view. Well the city and close in suburbs are getting the sweet diversity they crave along with its crime, gangs, and corruption. The people in the burbs could care less and less about CHICAGO and its news. The change over of Marshall Fields to Macys put the final nail in Chicago. Simply put, why go there or live there? Oh yes the unfilled yuppie condos are everywhere but so what! And then there are those dying Chicago newspapers, the Trib and the Suntimes. They can cover the blessed "diversity" from the Cook County Board to City Hall and the crime and corruption and NO ONE CARES! Simply put the City has become passe and so have they. It is like Gary or Detroit or Joliet or Aurora or Decatur or Kankakee all wallowing in blessed "Diversity". Who cares about them. NO ONE. Would you take your vacation in Detroit? NO Would you take your vacation in Gary, NO

    You see when an area becomes known for only its fights over the dividing of the hand outs, NO ONE CARES. The place is dead and to be ignored.

    The Titanic of Liberalism has crashed in Chicago. And it has become a big NOTHING that no one cares to read about!

    Simply put Chicago despite any short lived glitter is losing it in a Globalised politically correct world.

    Take off the blinders and look around, read the demographic reports from census .gov, the Fry demographic reports, the economic reports of the Chicago Fed. The glory days are simply gone with the wind like the name Marshall Field or 1st National Bank.

    To wallow in the nostalgia of the past will not bring it back. To flood the area with impoverished service wage Diversity is to create a loser and a third world city that no one cares about literally and figuratively. SO to get readership they say "make it edgy" get a younger crowd..... HA they can't see what the problem is because it is THEM and their failed ideolgy. The golden light of progress is now shining on cities like Shanghai China, not on has beens like Chicago that Toddering Town.

  3. I don't think this is quite fair to Mike Deaver. From my conversations with him, he understood Ronald Reagan fully and completely. I think it's unfair to point out a few policy differences and suggest something else. It is, of course fully accurate to say that public relations techniques are not enough to get someone elected. That person has to know who they are, be in touch with their constitutents and be strong enough to communicate a few big ideas. Mike Deaver knew Ronald Reagan was that kind of man.

    Mike was also a prince of man, someone who in his last 20 years lived a very honest, direct life. That needs to be said as well.