Archive for the ‘Political Cinema’ Category


Source: This piece was originally posted at The Daily Review: The New Republic: Opinion: Hanif Willis-Abdurraqif- America’s Most Electable Fictional Presidents

Hey, what do you know. The New Republic with an article not only worth sharing, but commenting on and blogging about all in one. Maybe they’re partially only dead and when they’re finally sold and hopefully bought by people who know what they’re doing this time and who aren’t to the left of Bernie Sanders they may come back to life. And return as a great Center-Left liberal magazine that they use to be. And stop doing their impersonation of Salon. And leave socialism and political correctness for Socialists and political correctness warriors. Not people who call themselves Liberals.

I’m going to cover a few of the Hollywood president’s that I’m actually familiar with. I know, why not instead speak about Hollywood characters you know almost nothing about and pretend to be intelligent about them like every other asshole blogger out there who knows so much about nothing. I guess I just have this weakness called character and a conscience that prevents me from talking about people and things I’m simply not familiar with, because I lack interest in them. Anyone born before 1980 might think I’m talking about people from the 19th Century, or something. So you might want to leave this page and get back to your favorite reality TV programs. There’s the asshole in me.

This might sound corny, but I guess my favorite Hollywood president is Andrew Shepard. Who sounds like a Founding Father or something from New England, or some place. But even if Carl Reiner only spent all of two-minutes coming up with the name for Michael Douglas in The American President, this character is a great character. Douglas, plays a president with big progressive goals, but knows how to work with people even in his own party in order to move the ball forward and get a progressive accomplishment. Which is the definition of a pragmatic Progressive, something that I believe Franklin Roosevelt would be proud of. While at the same time he’s also a man and a widower and has needs and falls in love. And hopefully you’re familiar with the rest of the story.

Jack Evans from The Contender from 2000 played by Jeff Bridges. Someone whose determined to nominate and get confirmed a female Vice President after his first Vice President has the nerve to die before his term is up. There’s an unfortunate political correctness slant to this as well. That a President would go out-of-their-way to pick a women as his VP simply because there’s never been a female VP before. But the story is great and the Republican opposition especially in the House of Representatives wants to make Senator Lane Evans personal life especially her sexual history the focal point there. Instead whether she’s qualified for the actual job of both Vice President and President of the United States. Where they never question her credentials. And President Evans and Senator Hanson, never play ball with the House Republicans on her past and nomination.

I would be lax in my duty here if I didn’t mention a character who I spent too much of my life during their seven-year run watching, if I didn’t mention Jeb Bartlett. Who of course is played by the great Martin Sheen in The West Wing. I can’t think of a Hollywood character who was better suited for the job of President of the United States than Jeb Bartlett. Who always knew what was going on what needed to be done and what he needed to do to get it done. That he had his own politics and policies, but who never let the perfect be the enemy of the good. To use a cliché, but who had a Republican Congress his entire time as President. And had to deal with all sorts of horrible issues and a lot tough decisions that yielded him no political benefit. But made them, because they had to be made.

I think if you’re going to do a show or movie about an American president, you should be realistic. Either cover someone who has already had the job, but give your character a different name. But with the same character, personality, intelligence, demeanor, judgement and everything else. And cover similar stories that the real president dealt with. Or come up with your own president that perhaps represents America at its best, or worst and deal with stories that haven’t been dealt with, but are
realistic. I think the problem with a lot of Hollywood political movies especially about the President, is that they look like they come from Hollywood. And they look almost completely make-believe. Like Dave from 1993. The Hollywood president’s that I mentioned are realistic, because the characters are believable and so are the issues that they dealt with.


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Wag the Dog
This post was originally posted at FRS Daily Press

The late 1990s was a crazy and fascinating time for many reasons politically and other things and also one of the best periods for Hollywood as far as making movies. Some of my favorite movies of all-time come from 1997-99. Wag the Dog 1997 being one of them, Jackie Brown 1997 being another as far as I’m concern the best Quentin Tarantino movie of all-time. Out of Sight 1998 being another one, Primary Colors 1998 another one of my favorite movies. Cop Land 1997, The Big Lebowski 1998 maybe my favorite comedy of all-time with a great comedy duo in Jeff Bridges and John Goodman. Very Bad Things 1998 another very funny movie, Wild Things 1998 very funny.

But one movie in particular because it fit in perfectly with the times especially politically. The Monica Lewinsky scandal breaks in January 1998 the same month that the Pope visits Cuba which I doubt made the United States Government very happy especially with their embargo policy of Cuba. And also when President Clinton was probably at his most popular. Wag the Dog came out about a year earlier, in the Summer of 1997, two American embassies in East Africa were bombed and then America attacks both Sudan and Afghanistan.

Because the Clinton Administration believed that the Sudanese Government had a role of the African bombings. Again we attack Afghanistan as well that same month August 1998, but here’s the thing and why Wag the Dog is so relevant. That movie is about people working for the White House creating the appearance of a war in order to get the media and people’s attention off the latest sex scandal of the President.

After America attacked Sudan and Afghanistan by sending in missile strikes, Republicans in Congress Senator Dan Coates of Indiana whose generally a pretty rational and responsible person, right away questions whether the missile strikes had something to do with the Lewinsky scandal. And was done as a distraction just like in the movie Wag the Dog and even said something to that effect. “I wonder or I hope this is not a Wag the Dog moment for President Clinton”. The movie came out just a few months before the Lewinsky scandal broke. Wag the Dog is a movie about the President being in trouble with another sex scandal. He’s a popular President up until the scandal and looks like he’s flying to reelection.

But the scandal breaks and of course his opponent in the race a U.S. Senator played by Craig Nelson try’s to make the most out of it. Senator Nelson lets say is way down in the polls and is looking for anything he can to break through. Someone in the White House calls in a veteran big shot political strategist to deal with the scandal played by Robert DeNiro and he gets the idea that what the President needs is a distraction. To get the country’s attention off of the sex scandal and comes up with the idea of a fake war and hire a Hollywood producer played by Dustin Hoffman to put this show together.

Wag the Dog is a great movie for several reasons, one because of how relevant it is, perhaps not realistic though especially in the information age. And this movie did come out in 1997 as far as them being able to cover up a fake war without the Defense Department, CIA or someone knowing about it. But it’s still a very funny movie, well written and a great cast Robert DeNiro, Dustin Hoffman, Bill Macy, Ann Heche, Craig Nelson, Dennis Leary and others. And how desperate that these politicos were to save a Presidency and would even create a fake war to do that.

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Primary Colors (1998) part 1 (1)
This post was originally posted at FRS Daily Press

I saw the movie Primary Colors in the spring of 1998. Doesn’t seem that long ago, but that’s a different story with a long time friend of mine from high school who’ll go nameless. And we saw it for free because my friend worked at a movie theater, one of the few perks of being friends of him. And I looked forward to seeing this movie, because it reminded me of a real-life Southern politician another New Democrat. The real Liberal Democrats, who’s a political hero of mine, who had the ability and vision to do great things. But lacked personal discipline, made too many mistakes for someone with his intelligence who also had a strong take charge attractive wife played by Emma Thomas. Who’ve could’ve been very successful on her own.

The question being could her husband be successful on his own. Same question in this movie Primary Colors was full of scenes that looked like the real person I’m talking about and if you’ve seen the movie and follow American politics, you probably already know who I’m talking about. And the movie was also based on this real-life person, liberal governor from the South who culturally fit in very well with his state and the broader region. Who didn’t have any Federal Government experience, not even serving in the military. Who despite being a Southerner, fit in very well with people outside of that region especially Northeastern and Hollywood Democrats who have a lot of power in the Democratic Party if not run the party.

The main politician in Primary Colors the character played by John Travolta, great actor and a very funny man GOV. Jack Stanton running for President, had the strong wife that I was talking about. Started running for President in New Hampshire with a very small budget and staff, just like the real-life person. Had a sex scandal that involved a long time friend of the Governor, had really smart political strategist also from the South played by Billy Bob Thornton. Again long time friend of the Governor just like the real-life person, veteran politicos as well a young people on his staff. Just like the real-life person and there was a question of whether GOV. Stanton evaded the Vietnam War Draft just like the real-life character.

There was a primary debate where GOV. Stanton had a big moment to win the debate just like the real movie. There was a campaign event, where GOV. Stanton was able to connect with the audience his I feel your pain moment just like the real movie. When GOV. Stanton basically told the audience that “I know times are tough, but I can’t promise you the jobs you lost are coming back. That its time that a lot of American workers go back to school and learn other trades”. Which also happened with the real-life character. And of course the comeback kid moment in New Hampshire where GOV. Stanton does well enough in New Hampshire to keep his campaign going.

Of course the real life person I”m talking about is Bill Clinton who back in 1991-92, when he was running for President was Governor of Arkansas and was a Liberal Democrat ,but in the true sense. Progressive sure, but also understood the limits of government and the New Deal and Great Society. And that government has to be more responsible with tax revenue and of course all those situations that I just laid in the movie actually happened with Bill Clinton or were very similar.

Very intelligent, but not very discipline, strong intelligent wife with Hillary Clinton. Small budget and campaign in New Hampshire, memorable debate where he takes in Jerry Brown. The campaign event where he feels the senior citizens pain and walks up to her and hugs her. The sex scandal with Jennifer Flowers, the story of whether Bill Clinton dodged the Vietnam War. Great Political Strategist Jim Carville these things being true.

Primary Colors was based on Bill Clinton and his 1992 campaign for president where of course he was elected president. And also based on a book by author Joel Klein that was fictional with different names for the characters. But still based on a true story and they both did a very good job and this was a very entertaining movie.

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This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

Except for the part about taking every gun out of private hands and private homes, which might be a far-left Hollywood fantasy and clearly against the Second Amendment and the Right to Self-Defense, this was a very good speech by Vice Presidential nominee Senator Lane Evans in The Contender. She was talking about the women’s Right to Choose, of course referring to abortion. The constitutional amendment that gave women the right to vote. Freeing the African slaves in the civil war and using military force to fight for human rights.

If I wrote that speech, I would’ve taken out the part about the guns, left everything else in there. And also talked about Freedom of Speech for everyone, the Right to Privacy for everyone to do everything as long as innocent people aren’t hurt as a result. The right to a quality education for all, which I believe we should have for freedom to really be available to everyone. Instead of writing a speech that makes liberalism look like some form of statism, I would’ve talked about the freedom that liberalism is actually about and not statism. But this for the most part was an excellent speech.

U.S. Senator Lane Evans

U.S. Senator Lane Evans

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This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

Great speech from The Contender by Jeff Bridges who played the President in this movie. Not a very realistic scene as far as how they put the U.S. House chamber together for this joint session of Congress when the House and Senate come together to hear the President speak. With the Speaker of the House and the President or Pro Tempore sitting in big chairs just above the President as the President is speaking.

But still a good speech from the President saying that he won’t let a very partisan faction from the opposition in the House of Representatives derail his Vice Presidential nominee, Senator Lane Evans who just happens to be one of their Congressional colleagues, be defeated because of what may or may not happened in Senator Evans private life before coming to Congress. That the President wasn’t going to put up with this obstruction and he was going to fight for his nominee.

This was a very important scene and movie for this if only reason. Because it was about the Right to Privacy and that even public officials and even members of Congress and even members of Congress who appointed to the second highest office in the country, the Vice Presidency and it raised two very important questions. Do public officials and even members of Congress and even members of Congress who are appointed to high office have a Right to Privacy. And should our public officials be judged based on how they live their private lives or not.

U.S. Senator Lane Evans

U.S. Senator Lane Evans

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Gary Oldman

Gary Oldman

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat

The Contender movie from 2000 came about almost three years after the Monica Lewinski scandal broke and two years after President Clinton was impeached in the House on a party-line vote. President Clinton was actually mentioned in this movie, and about two years after the Clinton impeachment trial in the Senate I believe The Contender at least to some degree was influenced by the Lewinski scandal and the point that President Clinton was making.

President Clinton’s point being that his private life is just that and that even public officials elected officials president’s even have a Right to Privacy even as it relates to their sex life. And that if adultery is involved which it is in both cases that it’s between the adulterer, their family and the person the affair was with. Not 265-300M Americans as was the case back then and especially an opposition party that’s looking to embarrass the President or Vice President.

Or even bring the top leaders down, which was the case with the Lewinski scandal as well as in this movie. And it has Jeff Bridges who’s personally one of my favorite actors, especially for his great sense of humor. But he can also act, playing a President who’s wrapping up his presidency and looking to build his legacy. His Vice President just died in office and he has to fill that vacancy and basically has a choice between a popular Democratic Governor of Virginia GOV. Jack Hathaway played by a great character actor Bill Peterson. Famous for his role in CBS CSI. And a junior Senator from Ohio played by a very good actress Joan Allen. And these are the top two contenders for the Vice Presidency.

The President has to nominate a new Vice President and appoint them to both chambers of Congress because the House has an Advise and Consent role in nominating a new Vice President. And then you throw in the cast in the movie Jeff Bridges as the President, Sam Elliot as WH Chief of Staff, Saul Rubinek as WH Press Secretary, Joan Allen as Sen. Lane Evans nominee for Vice President. Gary Oldman as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Bill Peterson as GOV. Jack Hathaway who wants to run for president and become vice president to help him with that.

Christian Slater who plays a freshmen Representative from Delaware who doesn’t like Sen. Evans because she used to be a Republican. And wants GOV. Hathaway to be Vice President. And actually works with the Chairman who presides over the Vice Presidential confirmation hearings for the House. To make sure that Sen. Evans does not get confirmed because the House Republicans of course see Sen. Evans as too liberal. So you have all these little side stories and motivations and everyone involved has stake in the game so to speak.

Joan Allen plays the first female nominee for Vice President in American history who has a wild history from college. And seen as someone who slept around and even had an affair with one of her friend’s husband played by Robin Thomas. Who she later marries and starts a family with. Sen. Evans is also the daughter of the former Governor of Ohio who’s a Republican, but supports his daughter’s nomination for Vice President. And the House Republicans and their special interest allies try to make the most of Sen. Evans private life to bring her down. So she doesn’t become Vice President of the United States one step away from the Presidency, great movie.

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President Andrew Shepard

President Andrew Shepard

Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat

Just to be serious for a minute and perhaps only a minute. I was with President Shepard the whole time during this speech, except for the part about the guns. When he said that he was going to get the guns, not just assault weapons, but handguns in general. The Federal Government can’t constitutionally outlaw handguns by statue. The U.S. Supreme Court has made that clear. So to do that, you would either have to amend the Second Amendment or repeal the Second Amendment.

But the rest of the speech about defending free speech and not just speech you agree with and not just people you like and respect, but that the opposition and other groups of Americans have just as much of a right to speech as anyone else in America, was a classical constitutional liberal argument. That all Americans have the right to speech and that there are few exceptions to that. When it comes to libel, inciting violence, or yelling fire in public spaces and causing panics.

This whole scene came about because of the fact that President Andrew Shepard played by Michael Douglas is a widower and single father of a young teenage girl. And meets a Democratic lobbyist who lobbies for environmentalists and pursues her even as President. And they start an affair and fall in love. And that Senate Minority Bob Rumson played by Richard Dreyfuss, who is running for President as a Republican, makes a big deal about this. And tries to make the case that the President who even though he is a widower by the way, having an affair in the White House is an example of the moral decay of America.

All this is going on as President Shepard is trying to finish the rest of his first-term agenda before running for reelection. Which is a crime bill and an energy bill and the affair that he is having with his girlfriend, Sidney Ellen Wade played by Annette Bening, even though neither one is married at the time, costs the President popularity and support in the House of Representatives. And he has to settle for a compromise energy bill, which is how he loses his girlfriend. The speech in the movie was about the President fighting back and saying that “the compromise is not good enough and that we need to go further to address crime and energy”. As well the President defending liberal values.
Jaimelyn Gray: Andrew Shepard’s Speech From American President

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