Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010

Charlie Wilson

Charlie Wilson once told me he was a mean drunk. "And Tom," he said, "I drank all day." Yet the women who worked for him — Charlie's Angels — said their boss got funnier as the day went by, and the people of Lufkin, Texas, kept sending him back to Congress. Good Time Charlie collected political favors as if they were the phone numbers of cocktail waitresses, getting his constituents what they wanted — low taxes and the right to keep their guns — while supporting so many liberal causes you'd have expected him to drive a VW bus rather than a Lincoln Continental (or the white horse he legendarily once rode through the streets of Washington to the opening of a bar).

When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, Charlie put his political skills to work — along with the uncompromising talents of CIA agent Gust Avrakotos. The result was the first substantial defeat of the Red Army. The Berlin Wall fell seemingly minutes later.

When the war in Afghanistan was against a familiar enemy and when a single Congressman — wildly flawed yet truly principled — could make unimaginable things happen, Charlie changed the world.

Tom Hanks

Hanks, an Academy Award–winning actor, starred in Charlie Wilson's War