|Born||January 29, 1937
|Occupation||Journalist, Syndicated columnist|
Charley Reese (born January 29, 1937) is a syndicated columnist known for his plainspoken manner and conservative views. He was associated with the Orlando Sentinel from 1971-2001, both as a writer and in various editorial capacities. King Features Syndicate distributed his column, which was published three times a week.
Charley Reese was born in Washington, Georgia, and was raised in Georgia, East Texas, and the Florida Panhandle. He worked summer and weekend jobs starting at age 11 and at age 13 became a janitor in a printing shop. In 1955 he started out in the newspaper business with a job as a cub reporter for the Pensacola News. Later that year, he bought a one-way ticket to England, where he took a job as caption writer with Planet Newspapers Ltd. in London.
In 1957 Reese returned to America and served two years in the U.S. Army as a tank gunner. He then went back to reporting before spending six years in advertising and public relations, even working as an advance man and speech writer in various political campaigns from 1969 to 1971.
Reese is a conservative, with many libertarian views, but has written explaining why he is not a libertarian and has been critical of the existence of third parties. Nonetheless he contributes regularly to libertarian websites such as LewRockwell.com and Antiwar.com. He is currently a registered Democrat, but has been previously a Republican as well. In his December 26, 2005 column he writes he was a Democrat but went Republican after JFK got in office; he thought JFK was a lousy president and his harshest presidential criticisms are reserved for Jimmy Carter. After the presidency of George H. W. Bush (1989-1993), he returned to the Democratic Party, citing that the senior Bush brought the "Rockefeller Wing" into control of the GOP.
Although he disavows the term, saying "I am a traditional conservative, not a neo- or paleo- or any of those other buglike classifications," Reese's views are quite similar to those expressed by paleoconservatives. He is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and in the past has been a member of the League of the South. Defending the South's position in the Civil War is a common theme of his writings, in which he frequently uses Confederate anecdotes as illustrations. His writings have repeatedly praised Robert E. Lee and vilified Abraham Lincoln. He is also a member of the National Rifle Association, and another recurring theme in his columns is a defense of American's Second Amendment rights against gun control. In recent years he has devoted many of his columns to defending a non-interventionist foreign policy.
Reese strongly supported Pat Buchanan for President in the 1996 election. Although he supported George W. Bush for President in 2000 (and his endorsement was seen as having been key to Bush's victory, given the closeness of the Florida election numbers), he has been an outspoken critic of the Bush administration and an opponent of the War in Iraq. In 2004 he supported John Kerry's presidential campaign.
He writes for the Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs. According to his August 30, 2008 column at lewrockwell.com Reese has now retired and will no longer be writing. The site had been running his old columns for several weeks stating that he had been on medical leave.
In 1999, when C-SPAN viewers were asked to vote for their favorite columnist, Reese finished in first place. The following year, U.S. Representative John Duncan, Jr. (R-TN) entered Reese's column into the Congressional Record, in opposition to the actions taken by Janet Reno's Justice Department in the Elian Gonzalez affair. More-recently, Congressman Duncan has cited Reese's work, in multiple speeches on the House floor, to support the contention that the Iraq War violates conservative principles.
An article written by Reese for the Orlando Sentinel newspaper on March 7, 1985 under the title Looking For Someone To Blame? Congress Is Good Place To Start was widely read and distributed in modified form via e-mail during 2008 United States presidential campaign under the title The 545 People Responsible for America's Woes. The article commonly forwarded in 2008 was slightly modified from the 1980s version, substituting Pelosi for Tip O'Neil and adding a reference to Iraq. It is not clear if the modifications were made by Reese, as the e-mail claimed. Quote from the original 1985 article:
"One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one president and nine Supreme Court justices — 545 human beings out of the 235 million — are directly, legally, morally and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country." 
He wrote a similar article in 1983, listing 546 people, including the Vice President in that version.
At the end of each calendar year, Reese wrote his annual "conflict of interest" column, in which he disclosed his sources of income, his political affiliation and the organizations of which he was a dues paying member. He would also state his basic political philosophy and other core beliefs in addition to purpose of his columns. He stated that readers should have an idea where a columnist is coming from and where any potential conflicts of interest could arise, but to his knowledge he was the only columnist that carried out this practice.
"But regardless of whose fault it is, most politicians today are not human beings. You want to pry open their mouths and shout into the darkness, 'Hello! Is there a human being in there?' Buried under all that lust for office, all that fear of offending a contributor? I know there must be." (Conservative Chronicle, September 8, 1993, p. 17)
"No sin blots American politics today more than the betrayal of the Serbs ... Croats are the people we help to kill the Serbs, who stood with us against the Nazis." (The ellipsis is used to omit 561 words in the 630-word article.)