Michael Reagan on Politics, His Father and His New Book

This is a partial transcript from "The O'REILLY Factor," Oct. 12, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST:   In the "Personal Story" segment tonight, as you may or may not know,  Michael Reagan was adopted by Ronald Reagan and his first wife, actress  Jane Wyman.  The couple subsequently divorced, and Michael stayed with his  mother.

Mr. Reagan grew up to become a powerful radio voice in America as well  as a best-selling author with strong opinions on the state of the union.   His new book is called "Twice Adopted."

And Michael Reagan joins us now from Los Angeles.


O'REILLY:  Let's talk a little politics first.  You just heard Lanny  Davis say — and I believe it's true — that Americans are conflicted,  divided over Iraq, and nobody can definitively say who has the better plan,  Bush or Kerry, because it's a hope on both parts.  How do you see it?

REAGAN:  Well, it's interesting.  Everybody wants to see a plan.  It's  like the president of the United States should write down a plan, show  America, get the approval of America and go forward.

I mean, these are the things that Colin Powell works on, Donald  Rumsfeld works on, the president works on.  You certainly don't want to  tell the terrorists what you're about ready to do, and John Kerry knows  this, and John Edwards knows this also, and I don't think John Kerry and  John Edwards have put together any plan at all except to bring in more  people.

There's 30 nations helping the president right now.  We've got to win  this war.  This is what he wants to do, and he knows that it's going to  take America to lead the charge.  It always takes America to lead the  charge, Bill.

O'REILLY:  Well, why...

REAGAN:  It would be nice to have somebody else step up, but they  don't.

O'REILLY:  They don't.  I — listen, we all know what geopolitical  reality is, and that's why I think the senator, if he keeps pounding the  ally thing, is going to hurt himself.

But why should you, Michael Reagan, have any confidence that President  Bush will win the war in Iraq or at least turn that country into a decent  nation with the WMD fiasco, with the aftermath fiasco?

You know, a lot of independent voters are saying why should I have  confidence in an administration that's obviously run into difficulties  here?

REAGAN:  Well, I think they say they've run into difficulties because  that's what the news has really covered.  They cover the death that's going  on in Iraq, the American military personnel that are dying.

But here in Los Angeles, you know, when they turn on the news at  night, I hear about drive-by shootings.  Do I leave L.A.?  Do I think L.A.s  gone to hell and I should never live here again?  No.  There's a lot of  great things going on, too, that are not covered.

I have trust in this president to follow through in his promise to  those that died on September 11, that we're going to get the people  responsible for this, we're going to get Osama bin Laden, but we don't want  to have another North Korea sitting in the middle of Baghdad with a Saddam  Hussein.  You didn't want him to have weapons of mass destruction.

No, they didn't find weapons of mass destruction, but Saddam Hussein  fooled the world.  He didn't just fool maybe our CIA.  He fooled John  Kerry...

O'REILLY:  He fooled everybody.

REAGAN:  ... John Edwards, everybody.  So we're blaming the president  of the United States that — somehow that he was...

O'REILLY:  I'm not.  I'm a forward-looking guy.  I mean, I...

REAGAN:  Absolutely right.

O'REILLY:  I've come to the conclusion the WMDs thing was an honest  mistake throughout the world, not just us, but I'm looking forward and I  want — I don't want Americans dying over there in Iraq.  I don't want it,  you know.

REAGAN:  No.  Nobody wants — but nobody wants Americans to die in  war, but we do die in war.  That's what war is about.

O'REILLY:  Right, but this isn't...

REAGAN:  We do die.

O'REILLY:  This is an optional war.  Now I believe you have to win it.   Now you're in it, you win it, you know, but it's an option.  It's not like  Los Angeles where you're living there and that's your home.  This is  halfway around the world.

So what I'm saying to people is, look, you've got to make a decision.   It's a hard decision to make because we don't know because we're voting on  hope.

All right.  So your brother is on MSNBC.  He's got the black  turtleneck.  He's got the little dickey on, and he's out there trashing —  I mean trashing — Bush.  It's not moderate.  It's full-brunt assault,  almost Michael Moore-esque.  How do you react to that?

REAGAN:  You try not to talk about those kinds of issues.  I mean, we  have agreed to disagree on the issue.  I know Ron is one of those people  who hates George Bush, like Michael Moore hates George Bush, like many  other people who are voting this year hate George Bush.  They still look at  the 2000 election...

O'REILLY:  Do you know why he hates George Bush?

REAGAN:  He is — he was born — I — he is liberal.  He thinks George  Bush stole the election back in the year 2000, as Jesse Jackson just over  the weekend down there in Florida was saying the same thing.

Many of the liberals feel the very same, that George Bush is not the  president, Al Gore won the presidency.  How dare he steal the presidency  from our president?

I mean, I believe Ron the last election voted for Nader and would  probably vote for him again.  You don't hear him say that he's for Kerry.

O'REILLY:  He just hates Bush.

REAGAN:  He's so against George Bush, yes.

O'REILLY:  But it's interesting because Bush carries on a Reagan-esque  philosophy, get the evildoers, impose democracy, just as Ronald Reagan did.   They did it in different ways, different styles, but the basic steely  determination that democracy is the savior of the world, evildoers have got  to be hunted down are common between the two men.

REAGAN:  But, Bill...

O'REILLY:  See, that's what I don't understand, the vitriol coming  out.  I guess Ron Reagan admired his father, didn't he?

REAGAN:  Yes.  I mean, we all admired our dad, but he disagreed with  him vehemently on politics.

O'REILLY:  He did?

REAGAN:  So — oh, yes, absolutely.

O'REILLY:  So Ron Reagan disagreed with his father from what?  Teenage  years?  Or when did that...

REAGAN:  Teenage years.  He just — you know, we used to say he's a  product of the '60s.  And I've said this before.  I mean, USS Ronald Reagan  — we just home ported her in San Diego, but Ron wouldn't be there, Patty  wouldn't be there because they are not pro military.  They're not for, you  know, peace through strength like their father was.

O'REILLY:  That's really fascinating.  That's really interesting.  I  mean, I just find it so fascinating in a home where you had such a strong  definition through the father that the two siblings would just reject it  entirely.

All right.  Let's...

REAGAN:  Well, that's why Maureen and I were here, so we could cancel  their votes on any given November day.

O'REILLY:  No, I know, but that even makes it more — your late sister  and yourself make it more fascinating to see the family dynamic, you know.

REAGAN:  You didn't want to be at Christmas dinner, Bill.


REAGAN:  You didn't want to be at Christmas dinner.

O'REILLY:  I would have had gravy all over me, Michael.

REAGAN:  Oh, yes.  It's just one thing you never wanted to do.

O'REILLY:  Both sides would have not liked me.  I would have been  flying.

REAGAN:  That's right.

O'REILLY:  All right.  Now, look, "Twice Adopted" is an important  book.  It's a very personal book.  But, you know, there are a lot of books  out there, and people — 25 bucks is no easy deal.  Why should people buy  this book?

REAGAN:  You know, because with this book, for whatever reason, I'm  just able to write the book through the eyes of a child.  So many things go  on in the world today.  You talk about it on your radio show.  You talk  about it on your television show.

What do you talk about?  You talk about child pornography.  Have you  ever talked to somebody who was the photo of child pornography, of what  it's like to be the photo and what that does to somebody's life, because  you'll learn what it does to somebody's life.

You'll learn that when I had to develop the photo that a predator took  of me when I was 8 years old, had me develop it, put his hand on my  shoulder, and said wouldn't your mother like to have a copy of this, you  will find out it took me six years to get out of my mother's house to  protect her from me because I thought then I was truly the predator.

Or how I hated the fact that my father was running for governor or  president because I so worried that those photos would come out and people  would know the truth about me, how hateful I was and the kind of person  that I was.  You're going to hear for the very first time what it's like to  be the photo in child pornography.

I was also molested, and I was able to look through the eyes again of  a child, what up — what a child sees.  We're always asked, bill, why  didn't you tell somebody?  You're going to find out why we don't tell  anybody.

And, hopefully, this is going to be a help to parents who are dealing  with children who hate themselves, who don't understand why maybe their  mother gave them away when they were adopted.  You're going to find out  what a child feels like.

Or my definition of divorce, Bill, where I say it's where two people  walk into a child's room, take everything that's dear and near to that  child, break it into a million pieces, walk out and expect the child to put  it back together.

O'REILLY:  Well, I...

REAGAN:  That's the kind of stuff they're going to find out.

O'REILLY:  OK.  I think you just sold your book, and it's certainly a  cautionary tale that Americans should know about.

Michael, always a pleasure to see you.  Thank you very much for coming  on.

REAGAN:  Thank you, Bill.


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