I took my wife and her friend to see “Woman in Gold’. A truly great movie. Maria Altmann was a Jewish refugee from Vienna, one of the survivors of the wealthy Bloch-Bauer family. Her Aunt Adele was the subject of Gustav Klimt’s famous portrait, one of the great works of art of the 20th century. The Nazis stole it from her family and the Austrian government refused to give it up. It is considered the Mona Lisa of Austria. With the help of the grandson of one of the 20th century’s most famous composers, a young American lawyer, she got the picture of her aunt and sold it to the Lauder Museum in New York for $125 million. You can see it there today, thanks to her, and Lauder. Amazingly, the movie was understated politically, and was actually understanding of the Austrians.
It portrayed wealthy Jewish society in prewar Vienna. Very sympathetically. They were beautiful people. It reminded me of what got me interested in politics. I think I was eight. I saw film from Germany showing Jews as they were being rounded up, destined for the death camps. One boy, my age, looked a lot like me. I tried to figure this out. Why was he being killed? If he could be sent to his death for no reason, could the same thing happen to me? Who were these Nazis? This was 1953, or so, and I found out the Nazis had been defeated. But it made me feel vulnerable. As I aged, and learned things, I tried to figure out how the Nazis came to power, and how that could be prevented from happening in my country. The danger, I began to understand, was from totalitarianism in general, not just its Nazi variety. For most of my life in politics the danger was communism. I got into politics because I was a fervent anticommunist. That’s why this is called the Reagan Project. Reagan defeated communism. And he did it peacefully.
As our forefathers understood, if we lose our freedom it will not be from a foreign power. Our oceans protect us from that. We’ll lose it slowly, from a thousand cuts. So my politics has evolved. We don’t really have to worry about Nazis or communists. And we don’t need to fear radical Islam. It’s no threat to us. We have to rally to the Constitution, the real guarantee of our freedom as Americans.
I’d love to make a movie, but I’ll settle for a half hour documentary. It will feature 30 or 40 legislative leaders, from a minimum of 26 states, talking about their participation in the Amendment Convention of 2016. What they will do, and what they won’t do, and won’t allow done. There will be a narrator — me, if we can’t think of anyone better — talking about the place of Article V in our Constitutional system of checks and balances and separation of powers. David Cuddy got himself in the movie business a few years ago, so I’ll ask him to help. We’ll want a pro doing the filming, someone who understands lighting and editing.
West Virginia sponsor John Overington told us today that Speaker Armstead let our bill die, in part, because of his fear of a runaway. It was not, as I thought, fear of losing federal funds. This video will be designed for him, and others like him. If it’s properly done it could be very persuasive.
Movies are the only art form that is improving. Literature has been going downhill since Shakespeare, music since Beethoven, painting since Rembrandt, and sculpture since Michaelangelo. Moviemaking gets better. It’s what’s happening now. If you’ve got a story to tell, make a movie.
We’ll have a little family movie made in an hour or so, when the mother of our grandchildren remarries. They’re eleven and eight, and will be dressed to the nines. The groom is a great guy who will be a great stepfather. A special day for these little girls.
One of many more to come.