By Tom Quiner
Will Ferrell is a funny guy.
I loved his portrayals of various presidents and politicians on Saturday Night Live.
His “more cowbell” SNL skit with Christopher Walken is one of the all-time classics.
Now I hear that he is making a movie that will mock Ronald Reagan. Specifically, he will portray Mr. Reagan as a doddering buffoon suffering from Alzheimer’s disease during his second term.
I have a question. Has Hollywood really sunk so low that they think Alzheimer’s disease is a laughing matter?
Family members who have lived through it sure don’t think so. Mr. Reagan’s daughter, Nancy Davis explained why:
“I watched as fear invaded my father’s eyes — this man who was never afraid of anything. I heard his voice tremble as he stood in the living room and said, ‘I don’t know where I am.’ I watched helplessly as he reached for memories, for words, that were suddenly out of reach and moving farther away. For ten long years he drifted — past the memories that marked his life, past all that was familiar…and mercifully, finally past the fear. There was laughter in those years, but there was never humor.”
Reagan’s son, Michael Reagan agreed:
“#Alzheimers is not a comedy to the 5 million people who are suffering with the decease, it first robs you of your mind and then it kills you.”
My mother-in-law lived with me for fifteen years. Although she was not diagnosed with Alzheimers, her mind was failing badly the last couple of years. She could get so frightened. There is nothing funny about it.
Mr. Ferrell’s project sounds like a cruel joke.
But it is more than just a joke, it is based on a false premise. Ronald Reagan was not diagnosed with Alzheimers until he had been out of office more than a half a decade. In fact, I saw Reagan speak four years after he left office, August 8th, 1992, and he was incredible.
He came to West Branch Iowa for the rededication of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. In typical Iowa form for that time of year, the late afternoon was brutally hot and humid.
Reagan strode onto the stage in a navy blue suit looking like a million bucks. As he gave his speech, which he read from a stack of papers, he lost his place and skipped a page. A few minutes later, he realized what he had done, made a joke of it, and finished brilliantly.
Two years later, he was diagnosed with Alzheimers and retired from the public eye. He died a decade later.
Will Ferrell’s decision to make a movie that not only is not true, but that mocks a man when is down, is but another reminder of how low our culture has sunk.
Shame on him.