Friday, December 28, 2007

'Charlie Wilson and Ronald Reagan's War'

'Charlie Wilson and Ronald Reagan's War'
By Dr. Jack Wheeler

This picture was taken during my wedding on May 25, 1986. The ceremony took place at the villa of a friend of mine in St. Tropez, France. My bride was a gorgeous California redhead named Rebel Holiday (yes, her born name). The dapper gentleman you see between us was serving as my best man. The reason he doesn't look like Tom Hanks is because he's the real Charlie Wilson.

When Rebel tossed her garter after the ceremony, it was Charlie who caught it.

He promptly and gallantly put it on the shapely leg of his then-fiancée, Annelise Ilschenko –who was more beautiful and classier than Julia Roberts, having been Miss USA (in 1975 at age 17). Besides, Charlie hadn't seen Joanne Herring, played by Ms. Roberts, in years.

So it was a strange experience for me to see the movie "Charlie Wilson's War," a movie portraying events I participated in, to see how it was both true and not true, magnificent and ludicrous at the same time.

First, the truth: Tom Hanks has Charlie spot on. His mannerisms, voice, posture, facial expressions: Hanks is Charlie, and he might get his third Oscar for playing him that he was denied in "Cast Away" and "Saving Private Ryan" (he along with six others have won Best Actor twice; no one has won it three times).

Further, Hanks portrays Charlie as the hero he really was. A larger-than-life, America-loving, communist-hating true-blue patriot who used his power and influence to the max to stick it to the Soviets big time. That Hollywood would make a major motion picture about a genuine anti-communist hero, about a noble anti-communist triumph over the evil communist empire of the Soviet Union is morally thrilling. The movie is magnificent.

Not taking anything away from the magnificence, it is also ludicrous.

And not just because I'm not in the movie. After all, I'm the one who explained to him how defeating the Soviets in Afghanistan could win the Cold War, not some socialite in Houston. It's that no one who had a critical role in helping the Afghans or winning the Cold War is in the movie except Charlie, whose sidekicks are a single CIA lone ranger and a blond chick in Texas – not Bill Casey, not Ronald Reagan, no one.

In fact, at the movie's end, a character lauds Charlie as a Democrat for what he has accomplished despite "a Republican president." That's the movie's only reference to Reagan, and it is negative, as if Reagan were a hindrance in Charlie's way. That's an insult to both men, for Charlie had the highest respect for President Reagan.



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