Gipperporn: The Triumph of the Unreal

Just when we thought we wouldn't actually learn anything from all this Reagan coverage, Chris Matthews gives us a real history lesson. Vamping a bit between MSNBC correspondents' interviews of Stepford Republicans, Matthews noted that, thanks to all of Reagan's war movies, "He seemed understand the experience of the Greatest Generation better than the guys who were actually in battle could."

Yes, having a buddy bleed to death in your arms can dampen your enthusiasm for a war. But when your toughest wartime assignment is to keep your tan even, you don't really mind threatening to start another one.

UPDATE: We got the transcript: "He seemed to be able to evoke the World War II experience better than the guys who actually were in combat." Apologies for the inaccuracy. (The intern will be beaten. . . Not because it's his fault, we just like doing it.) Did we get the gist of it?

"Evoke" versus "understand"? "Greatest generation" versus "World War II"? Let's let someone who, you know, was "actually in combat" take a swing at it. Tomorrow's Time contains this report:

Television anchors and commentators reached - and at times over-reached - to match the poignant images. When Tom Brokaw of NBC suggested to Bob Dole that Ronald Reagan had been an inspiring flag-bearer for the World War II generation, it was a bit too much for Mr. Dole, who was wounded in Italy. He replied dryly that Mr. Reagan, who spent the war making Army training films in Hollywood, had never heard a shot fired. "But he was a captain," Mr. Dole said. "And mighty proud of it."

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