I watched two political movies this weekend. Tonight I'm watching a third.Submitted by Diamond Dog on Mon, 10/22/2012 - 15:31
Fiction is funner than reality. That is why movies and novels are so popular. The Diamond Dog watched two political movies this weekend, and is looking forward to watching a third tonight, at 9pm. The first two movies were: Bob Roberts, from the early 1990’s, and Primary Colors, made in 1998. The third is tonight’s presidential debate in sunny Boca Raton, Florida.
Bob Roberts is an awesome movie - a hoot of a satire. It is a mockumentary about a conservative folk singer who becomes a politician and runs for Senate in Pennsylvania. The premise is hokey and unrealistic, which is why the movie works. Isn’t the premise of all politics hokey and unrealistic? Bob Roberts comes across as just a goofy stage actor, playing the part of a folk singer to leverage his power in politics. But it works! Just like in real life. And behind all the goofy smiles, he is ruthless. He knows no limits. This comes to light as the movie progresses, and the lengths that Roberts goes to in order to win are shocking. But this is just a movie, right? Judge for yourself how accurate it is. It is worthwhile to watch to get an understanding of how politicians operate. You’ll see parallels, believe me. And you’ll see things in a starker, clearer light after watching it.
The best part of the movie is the character Bugs Raplin, a journalist for his college newspaper, who’s got the goods on Roberts and refuses to let go until the whole world knows it. If his movie were made today, Bugs would be a “blogger,” but since this is pre-internet, he is an intrepid "reporter" who is trying to expose Roberts’ CIA connections and links to the S&L scandal in print. Whatever label we give him, we all know him, because we are him! He knows he smells a fish. He’s passionate, crazy even, in his pursuit of truth. He’s a total nerd. He’s a Paultard! Or, more accurately a proto-Paultard.
Bugs is awesome, tracking Bob Roberts’ trail of corruption, and hounding the candidate relentlessly. But, he pays the price for it. The steepest price of all...
The second political movie I watched was Primary Colors, which is a fictionalized account of Bill Clinton’s 1992 run for President (the same year Bob Roberts ran for Senate!). The movie is based on a novel by “Anonymous.” Hey! Anonymous was with us back in 1998! Who knew?! In this case, “Anonymous” turned out to be a reporter, Joe Klein, who had covered the first Clinton campaign for Newsweek.
Like many others, the Diamond Dog devoured the book by Anonymous when it came out in ’96 - everyone did. It was a scandal! An absolute scandal! And the scandal continued two years later when the movie was released, with John Travolta playing Bill Clinton. In it, we see all the compromises, sacrifices, affairs, lies, coverups and campaign machinations as Travolta-as-Clinton flip-flops his way to the top with that broad, unwavering, ever present smile plastered on his face.
Travolta captures him perfectly. The real Clinton always looked so smooth, and the only time he ever really looked scared was during the Inquisition phase of his impeachment. When he had to bald face lie: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” That part didn’t make it into Primary Colors. That part came later. That part was real.
And what has the Diamond Dog learned from his weekend of movie watching?
Politics is all about emotional connection.
Issues? Forget about it. Moral character? Please.
It all comes down to which actor can fake the better emotional connection.
You may not like to hear it, and it may not be true for you, but you have to admit that Romney is a great salesman. Maybe not you, but he has managed to snow a bunch of people, just like Clinton did, and Nixon did before him. The last great salesman of a president we had - who had to make his way to the top on sales - was Bill Clinton. And by, “make his way to the top on sales,” I mean he started from a big deficit, and clawed his way back to relevancy.
Obama never had to do that. His job was more like self service sales. His greatest advantage was that he was not Bush. Beyond that, he was simply an empty vessel that allowed anyone to fill him with their version of “Hope and Change.” He was a Roarshack test for those who were already inclined toward seeing “Change.”
But the problem is, nothing much changed. And who’s fault is that? Must be the guy who promised he was going to change stuff.
Tonight the Diamond Dog is watching a third movie, called the presidential debate. I’ve already made my prediction. The topic being foreign policy, and the debates having been structured like a playoff, Romney is going to crush it. And he is going to go on to win the presidency, just like Bob Roberts won the Senate in Pennsylvania, and just like Bill Clinton won the Presidency in 1992: By using an emotional connection.
Tonight, he'll wield the greatest emotional dagger of all fear: "It is a dangerous world. Under this president, you are not safe. I will make you safe."
This plays right into Romney’s schtick in this election, which is to play “Mr. FixIt.” Mr. Fix It will fix it for you - whatever it is: “You want change? I want change too! You want jobs? I want jobs too! You want to be safe? I will make you safe. I’m just like you. I know how to do it. I am strong, he is weak. I am confident, he is a coward. He broke it, I can fix it. But only if you elect me.”
I know most Ron Paul supporters don’t care. But after watching these two movies this weekend, I have a much greater appreciation for the drama that is unfolding before us. Fiction is always funner to watch than reality. And that’s all that politics is anymore. Fiction with real consequences.