The (Rewriting) History Channel

December 30th, 2007 5:14 PM

On a lazy December 30th Sunday afternoon, I flipped on the television, on which the previous evening I had left the History Channel (they were then doing a military analysis of the Bible, which was at once interesting and uninfuriating).

This time the tubes warmed to display a replay of Clear and Present Danger, the film based upon the Tom Clancy novel.  Co-hosting the rerun were the Channel's in-house liberal historian, Steve Gillon, and guest liberal political commentator Neal Gabler (though of course neither was identified in any sort of ideological way).

The movie's storyline, in brief, is of a fictional Presidential Administration that cuts off all assistance to American soldiers involved in anti-drug efforts in Columbia and leaves them to be slaughtered. 

They do so as a part of a deal cut with the second-in-command Columbian bad guy, in exchange for his handing over his boss, reducing by half the amount of cocaine brought into the United States and arranging periodic big time arrests for Administration public relations purposes.

Harrison Ford's Jack Ryan gets to the bottom of it and at the film's close begins his blockbuster testimony before Congress.  After which we are sure a great many members of the fictitious Administration, including the President, would be soon thereafter frog-marched in shackles out of the White House -- as they were shown throughout the film to be clearly guilty.

By contrast, the Iran-Contra affair occurred, in actuality and not on a Hollywood lot, during the Ronald Reagan Administration.  In which outmoded and outdated weapons were sold to Iran, with the proceeds therefrom going to fund Contra rebels fighting the Communist Sandinistas in Nicaragua.

‘Twas at the time a titanic scandal, at least according to Congressional Democrats and the media.  But after seven years of thorough, partisan investigation, Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh ended up with a grand total of zero (0) upheld convictions.  Meaning try as he might, Walsh could not prove any actual wrongdoing was committed by anyone.

Clear and Present Danger and Iran-Contra are eerily reminiscent of one another, no?  Of course not; any attempt at correlation between the two is patently absurd.  The closest one can get is with the soldiers and their funding -- however, in the movie, the Administration cut off all coin to the good guys, while in Reality the Reagan Administration went out of its way to ensure that the good guys received it. 

As we said, absurd.  Unless you are the in-house liberal historian and a guest liberal political commentator on the History Channel.  In which case you spend a great deal of your in between scenes time drawing just such a comparison, and even connecting characters in the fictional film to members of the real life Reagan Administration.

Knowing very well both the movie and the facts and mythology of Iran-Contra, I can irrefutably say that the Dynamic Duo's assessment was breathtakingly ridiculous.  But it was, unfortunately, emblematic of and par for the History Channel course. 

The film was released in 1994, the book published in 1989.  These two clowns, playing on camera at being historians, are so thoroughly ensconced in a modern, post Michael Moore-Al Gore mindset that they forget that once upon a time movies were made and books were written for purely fictional and entertainment purposes.

Which is why it was so painful to watch these two practice such excruciatingly advanced intellectual yoga in an attempt to contort Tom Clancy's plot to meet theirs -- he meant for no such thing to be done. 

And even if Clancy was thinking of Iran Contra when he put pen to paper, his story telling skill is far more distinguished than that of these two, so it at least made for interesting reading and viewing.

It can be said that Clancy is SO good, it never occurs to (nearly) anyone that it was a comparison he meant for us to draw. 

The same can not be said of what the Channel's Frick and Frack offered up while they were repeatedly interrupting Clancy's tale.

As Ronald Reagan (actually) said, it is not that liberals do not know anything, it is that they know so many things that are not so.  The only thing worse than not being taught history -- in our government schools, it was dropped long ago in favor of "Social Studies" -- is being taught fictional facts disguised as history.

For it is far better -- and far less hazardous -- to know you know nothing than to think you know something when you do not.  One of the world's great annoyances is someone who spouts falsity with authority.  One of its great dangers is when these people are put in positions of power, where their ignorance can influence others. 

Being on television, under the guise of being THE "History" Channel, is just such a position of import.