Historian Craig Shirley had already written four books on Ronald Reagan when “Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan” was published two weeks ago — an unprecedented look at the 40th president’s years after he left the White House.
Mr. Shirley has talked over the finer points of his book with Fox News, MSNBC, Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin, among others; he recently appeared at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and enjoyed a book party at the splendid Manhattan home of Georgette Mosbacher.
But wait. Mr. Shirley has also joined three other historians in a tangle with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, whose recent best-seller “Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault that Changed a Presidency” suggested that the 1981 attempt on Reagan’s life seriously compromised his ability to lead America. Mr. O’Reilly, who describes himself as an “investigative historian,” is also the author of “Killing Lincoln,” ‘Killing Kennedy,” “Killing Jesus” and “Killing Patton.”
Mr. Shirley and his fellow historians — who have written 19 Reagan books between them — penned a commentary for The Washington Post countering that Mr. O’Reilly’s book “restates old claims and rumors, virtually all of which have been discredited by the historical record.” Mr. O’Reilly dismissed the commentary as a “hit piece” and stood by his claims about Reagan.
“The struggle goes on over the meaning and the legacy of Ronald Reagan. Some push an agenda because they represent the establishment, or they want to kiss up to liberal society, and they figure the best way to do this is to unfairly trash the legacy of Ronald Reagan with innuendo and half-truths. But Shakespeare was right, truth will come to light,” Mr. Shirley tells Inside the Beltway.
FOR THE LEXICON
— Rush Limbaugh‘s new term for the evolving House speaker race, which he describes as “murky.”
FREEDOM CAUCUS: KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON
“A supermajority of the Freedom Caucus voted to support Rep. Paul Ryan as our next speaker. We did so without agreeing to any of Mr. Ryan’s conditions. We remain firm in our commitment to open, accountable and limited government,” says Rep. Raul R. Labrador. “A group of united conservatives stood their ground to improve the office of the speaker while not giving up our ability to change and influence the process. Some voices in the conservative media are complaining that the Freedom Caucus did not go far enough or fight hard enough. I completely disagree.”
The Idaho Republican continues: “In a body of 435, a group that comprises less than 10 percent of the body and less than 20 percent of the Republican conference effectively stood together to change the way Washington works. We did not change everything, but we changed some things.”
Mr. Labrador adds: “Regardless of who becomes the new speaker, I will continue to hold him accountable, just as I did Speaker John Boehner. But if he works with us to keep the promises we made to our constituents, I will also do everything I can to help him succeed. A united Republican Conference, advancing a conservative agenda, will allow us to improve the lives of everyday Americans and stop the excesses of this administration.”
A CRUZ REMINDER
“One more liberal justice and our right to keep and bear arms is taken away from us by an activist court. One more liberal justice and they begin sandblasting and bulldozing veterans memorials throughout this country. One more liberal justice and we lose our sovereignty to the United Nations and the World Court.”
— Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz, to an audience at the Garrison coffee house in Clarinda, Iowa.
BEYOND DINNER AND A MOVIE
It now takes economics and game theory to explain the excruciatingly complicated dating scene in the nation’s capital and elsewhere.
Journalist Jon Birger, author of “Date-onomics: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game” has crunched basic economic principles, demographics, game theory and number-crunching to explain America’s “curiously lopsided dating and marriage market among single, college-educated, looking-for-a-partner women.”
Mr. Birger will talk things out at the Cato Institute on Tuesday with Karin Agness, president of the Network of Enlightened Women, and Emily Ekins, a Cato research fellow. Watch the discussion live at 6 p.m. EDT at Cato.org/live.
CARLY CONFRONTS THE BIG DOGS
“During the debate I’ll have the opportunity to speak directly, at once, to tens of millions of Americans — and earn their support and their trust, just like I’ve done in front of smaller audiences across the nation,” notes Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina in a new voter outreach prior to the third GOP debate on Wednesday.
It is her preferred milieu; polls taken following the previous debates landed her in second place among her rivals, though she has slipped back in the weeks since the most recent debate.
“I’ll do my best to convince more Americans that we need real leadership in the Oval Office — not another self-serving career politician, just like I did in the first two debates,” says Mrs. Fiorina. “But in the days that follow, when our momentum is reaching fever pitch, I’ll be counting on your help to make sure the big bump we receive turns into permanent, lasting support for this campaign. And I’ll be blunt: The only way this happens is if we have the financial resources to go head to head with the big dogs in the race and fight to make our voice heard.”
POLL DU JOUR
• 88 percent of Americans say they are Christian; 31 percent are evangelicals, 26 percent Protestant, 23 percent Catholic.
• 55 percent would prefer a president “who has experience in private sector leadership, but no experience holding elected office.”
• 41 percent prefer a president “with experience holding elected office, but no experience in private sector leadership.”
• 44 percent say they are moderates, 35 percent conservative, 18 percent liberal.
• 30 percent self-identify as Democrats, 26 percent as independents, 23 percent as Republican, 18 percent as “none of these.”
• 37 percent live in a household with a gun.
Source: An AP/GFK poll of 1,027 U.S. adults conducted Oct. 15-19.
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