Saturday, February 7, 2009

The American President II?

I was thinking about a quote from the movie, "The American President". This 1995 film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Michael Douglas in the title role has a memorable speech near the end that I have quoted in this blog before. I would to share another portion of that wisdom with you here now:  

"We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things, and two things only: making you afraid of it, and telling you who's to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections." 

 I was struck by this because it what we were talking about here was a liberal actor, starring in a movie by a liberal director, and playing a liberal president decrying the attack made on him by a conservative candidate for the office. In real life, it turned out to be the exactly opposite however. The strength of the speech and the message of the movie was not lost on the liberals who made it and the party which they support. 

The Democratic Party ran an exceptionally adroit campaign not against candidate John McCain, who was his own worst enemy; but against the last eight years of George Bush and the Republicans. They did a very effective job of making us afraid of what was happening in the stock market, the banking industry, and the overall economy in the US. They also had us terrified of the international situation, whether we were looking at the ongoing military situation in the Middle East or the ever present potential of flare ups in places like North Korea. They followed the format of the speech quoted above as well in telling you who to blame for it, George Bush and the Republicans. 

The banking crisis was not caused by Chris Dodd and Barney Frank and the committees that they were in charge of that were supposed to do oversight on Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the rest of the banking industry. The seemingly endless battle against Al Qaeda is not because Bill Clinton and a weak-willed Congress let the man slip through their fingers. No, the fault for everything wrong in world today was George Bush and the Republicans.  

Don't get me wrong here, I am not the former president's biggest fan, nor am I much of a fan of the Republicans, who I believe have betrayed their conservative ideals some years back. I do not believe however that either the former president or the Republican party is the bane of peace in the world, the destroyer of the US economy, or the anti-Christ.  

Unfortunately for the current administration however, the movie ended soon after the speech. What the movie never had a chance to talk about or lay out a plan for was what happens after this strategy works. Having used the "American President Strategy" to win elected office, what do you do next? Having spent the last two years making people afraid of what's going on in the world, how do you calm them down from the panic that you've created? Having blamed the policies of the opposition for everything wrong in the world, how do you seek bi-partisan support for your own policies? Having successfully executed this strategy to gain office, how do you now govern?  

Perhaps Rob Reiner can make "The American President II" and help the Obama Administration out.


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