Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Death of Civility

Criticism of our President has reached a new low. Now we can look forward to the theatrical release of "Death of a President," a pseudo-documentary which depict the assassination of President George W. Bush. The film has won an award at the Toronto Film Festival, and rumors are flying that it could be coming to a theater near you.

This film (and the buzz generated by it) make two points worth mentioning. First, the film's existence and its "popularity" (at least among film-types) demonstrates the lack of class and civility that exists in the liberal movement today. We can argue about our strategy in Iraq, or the efficacy of tax cuts. We can even argue about whether you approve of the President's character. This is all very healthy in a democracy. When someone makes a movie which depicts as a central theme the assassination of a sitting American President, and the response is, "gee, this raises some interesting questions," the line has been crossed. It demonstrates a moral and intellectual bankruptcy among the film's makers and its supporters.

The response (or lack thereof) by the Bush administration is also very telling. When asked about it, the President shrugged it off. This is a sharp contrast to the Clintonian response to "The Path to 9/11," an accurate account of American anti-terrorism policy since 1993. Former members of the Clinton administration screamed bloody murder: calling for more editing or altogether stopping the film from airing. If the President's opposition is showing its crassness, the President is showing class.


At 9/21/2006 11:33:00 AM, Anonymous thehustle said...

1) In the article you linked to the statement is made that “Range said he has received five or six death threats.” Isn’t this ironic?
2) Have you seen the movie before you have made a decision on it? “"We portrayed the horror of assassination. ... I don't think anyone would get the idea of assassinating Bush from this film," Range said.”
3) If, as you claim, this is a symbol of lack of civility from the left – please describe in detail the efforts of the president to reach out to those he has alienated, because I have only seen picking on reporters who get tangled in microphones from him of late and refusing to answer said reporter's question. Any president who wants an image of civility should refrain from a public display of mocking just as they should refrain from sex acts with their secretaries. Both are shameful and disrespectful to Americans who pay their salary.
4) Could this not be another attempt to gain notoriety on foolishness? Isn’t this just a product of a Hollywood ten-minutes-of-fame culture that cannot stop projecting people into the spotlight because that’s where the money is…New story means new thing to talk about and new way to get you buying/tuning in?
5) Would you not be amused by a movie that involved the assassination of Howard Dean and the subsequent recovery actions by the DNC? I mean, honestly? Just imagine Howard Dean as president for the last eight years and I think you would feel frustration and might act uncivil.
6) Where can we draw the line of civility when tuning in to network television or cable television we can see raunchy, violent, and shocking images anywhere we look? Isn’t this more a reflection of our society’s lack of civility and don’t go and say that no Republicans watch trashy television because we all know that to be farce.
7) Where does the line between civil and uncivil lay? I have seen many campaigns by both major parties that seem to be lacking in civility – where do these play into this discussion.
8) Also, where is the line drawn from for free speech? This is a very gray area, indeed.

As the presidents approval rating declines (or rises a little lately), I find it troubling that many backers of our current president criticize liberals as a whole yet still fall into the same foolish finger-pointing as the ‘Michael Moore liberals.’ Pinning anyone who has chosen to disapprove of the current president as part of this liberal lack of civility or even the term liberal is of great frustration to many and a tool used by those in power to call anything else foolish as means of keeping power. I admit there are fools in both parties and in neither party. I only hope the finger-pointing can end and more time spent on constructing quality answers instead of political maneuvers meant to aid someone’s legacy or career or doctrine. Many politicians act on these instincts and not on the instincts of what is best for Americans and what Americans as a whole want. When do our politicians begin to act for the nation and not for their party? Both parties should be embarrassed, but instead this is part of their game – their power struggle.

At 9/29/2006 10:03:00 AM, Blogger The Iconoclast said...

In all honesty, I have to agree with the The Huss on point #4. This movie doesn't appear to be a lack of civility of liberals, but more of an unpleasant side-effect of our current culture as a whole. The way our media is presently constituted, it is natural that extremes be used to try to draw in more readers, viewers, or listeners. Case in point, the most recent season of survivor has had to resort to a kind of jungle, ethnic war. (Team Asians v. Team Blacks.) Keep in mind that this was, at one point, the most popular show in the galaxy and now must have to resort to a really, really cheap gimmick to try to bring viewers back.

Knowing very little about this flick, I'd say that this movie is the work of some guy that I've never heard of who is trying to make something that will get people talking about this guy that I've never heard of. Uh oh. It's working.

As for The Huss's other points, I'll take them quickly in-turn.

1.) People are stupid. I'm going to threaten to kill the people who threatened to kill this guy. There.

2.) I don't think that you need to see this movie to take issue with it. While realism can be an important aspect of art, I have to wonder about how this can be done tastefully. By using a real president's name, who happens to be in office, it's probably a little too real. Am I being as unclear here as I think I am? Whatever.

3.) I would say that, going back to his very first week in office, President Bush DID reach out to Left. If I remember correctly, Dubya made a very big point out of inviting various Dems, including Senator Kennedy, to the White House to discuss policy. Granted this is nearly five years ago, but it did happen. I just think that President Bush has gotten to the point where he's said: "Ok. I've got the Daily Show mocking me every night. Some old lady keeps harassing me and Tony Snow during every press conference. I can't take a piss without Nancy Pelosi saying I lied about consistency of my urine stream. Screw it, I'm the President."

4.) See above.

5.) Ditto #4.

6.) Ditto #4....again.

7.) There's a difference between "This guy is a poor choice for elected office," and "Here's a tape of this guy screaming profanities on some other guy's voice mail. Don't vote for him."

8.) Free speech isn't an issue here. No one is saying that this guy can't show his film. Most folks are just using their own free speech to say that the movie is tasteless. I don't see any gray area here. Watch as I exercise my free speech: "[Insert name of guy who made this movie] is a moron. I won't watch this movie unless it's on TNT at some point and nothing else is on, assuming that I ever get cable again. Also, Helen Thomas smells like feet."

At 9/29/2006 12:05:00 PM, Anonymous the hustle said...

Just some quick replies to acknowledge your work.

I think the challenge with controversial items is you don't want to support them for fear that they go against what you believe in which stops you from being able to make a fair judgement because you cannot see them any more than through someone else's report. I may very well find this guy to be a moron as well...but I am just saying that picking on him knowing only a tidbit about the movie only supports the movie more like you say and is somewhat groundless.

I also think that your claim that so many pot shots have made the president unable to reach out, but I suggest that all he needs to do is make light of it and then try to reach out more - that would make him a better man. Five years ago is a long time and one instance...the president (whether democrat, republican, or something else) should never stop trying to unite the country in my mind.

Campaign adds have turned ugly around here , ie chaf-laf earlier. This is disgusting and I wouldn't want any fool who would run such distasteful ads ( I support this statement) representing me. Leaf that kind of thing to others and take the high road. It is much more than this guy is bad before, its more like this guys mother porked a horse.

At 10/03/2006 10:59:00 AM, Blogger Cannon said...

I’ll try really hard not to repeat what’s already been said.
1) ONLY 5 or 6 death threats, out of the millions of people who are undoubtedly outraged by this film? This guy’s not talking about thousands of letters and phone calls—I’m impressed how many people have kept their cool. There will always be a couple of nutters out there.
2, 5, & 7) Here’s my big point: making a movie about killing a real person (especially the President) is beyond the pail. At no point in the 1990’s did I ever think, “wouldn’t it be cool if someone shot Bill Clinton?” I’d say that THAT is the line.
3) [First, read the Iconoclast’s statement here.] Second, what do you want him to do to “reach out?” The anecdote you describe is very specific to the situation. The White House press corps knows the President very well, and they know him. There is a lot of inside humor between them. A little teasing of a reporter is a credit to the President’s good nature and sense of humor. Besides, how does such an incident show that the President does not “reach out” to the Left? I thought the media were supposed to be unbiased.
4 & 6) You have a point here. It is the baseness of media in general that has created the current climate.
8) Free speech is not at issue here. Of course this guy can make his movie. At the same time, that means I can call him an ass.
In the end, you’re conclusion is correct. More time should be spent on answers. But that’s the ultimate point behind what I’m saying. The way I look at how the President’s opposition operates, their behavior has less to do with issues and more to do with their personal hatred for the President. A frank discussion of issues is exactly what we need, not naked attacks on integrity. Now ask yourself, when was the last time you saw the President make such an attack?


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