Monday, February 26, 2007

Taking a Serious Look at the Candidates

Now that the interminable campaign has begun for the 2008 Presidential Election, I thought it only proper to kick off ZONE's coverage of the political circus with a serious, analytical look at some of the candidates.

What better place to start than with this penetrating essay from CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider and CNN Producer Douglas Hyde. Yes, a list of the candidates' favorite movies!

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York: "Casablanca" (1942) -- "An American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications."

Former Sen. John Edwards, D-North Carolina: "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" (1964) -- "An insane general starts a process to nuclear holocaust that a war room of politicians and generals frantically try to stop."

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, R-New York: "The Godfather" (1972) -- "The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son."

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona: "Viva Zapata" (1952) -- "The story of Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata, who led a rebellion against the corrupt, oppressive dictatorship of president Porfirio Diaz in the early 20th century."

Gov. Bill Richardson, D-New Mexico: "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969) -- "Two Western bank/train robbers flee to Bolivia when the law gets too close."

Former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Massachusetts: "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981) -- "Renowned archeologist and expert in the occult, Dr. Indiana Jones, is hired by the U.S. Government to find the Ark of the Covenant, which is believed to still hold the Ten Commandments."

I see that Richardson finally gets included with the other candidates. But that's probably only because Barack Obama is conspicuously missing from the list. Hmm . . . he skips the event in Nevada last week, and now this. Maybe his way of being a different kind of candidate is to simply not appear with any of the others. Either that or his favorite movie is Porky's and he's scared to admit it.


Jeff said...

Well, I have to say that Edwards really impressed me with the Strangelove pick. That's got to be one of my top 5 of all time, most definitely. It's good to know that if he is elected, he will do everyhing he can to protect our precious bodily fluids.

Romney picks Raiders... as his favorite movie?? What a goon.

cowboyangel said...

Edwards 2008: He'll Protect Our Precious Bodily Fluids. I'm ready to buy the bumper sticker now.

I've been concerned that Edwards may not have the intellectual and moral gravitas to be President, but this pick really gives him a gravitasal boost. On the other hand, as Paul Krugman pointed out yesterday in the Times, in the 2000 campaign, we thought Dick Cheney had gravitas.

While Edwards' choice shows a fine sly humor in light of Iraq, and might appeal to weak-kneed, appeasement intellectuals in the Northeast (excluding Boston Catholics, of course) and California [How is California like granola? It's full of fruits and nuts! (excluding Central Valley Catholics, of course)], I'm conerned how Strangelove will play out among mid-western soccer moms and the crucial moderate (read: right-wing) Southern vote. I fear these people will simply say: "What the hell movie is he talking about? I've never heard of that." So, while you may scoff at Mitt Romney's choice, I think he's done an excellent job of appealing to everyday Americans who've actually heard of Raiders of the Lost Ark - the ones who haven't are too young to vote. It's also a brilliant choice in that Harrison Ford appeals both to men, who want to be like him, and women, some of whom, especially in Park Slope (Brooklyn), want to be like him but most of whom want to have his children. "Ford" is a President's name (albeit the one who never actually got elected and is better remembered as "that bumbling guy Chevy Chase did on SNL"), as well as "Ford Tough" pick-up trucks and a longstanding American tradition of industry and environment-destroying automobiles. (Most people won't associate the Ford name with the family who owns and runs the worst professional football team in the NFL or the Ford who hated Jews and wanted the United States of America to be a Nazi country. Hmm . . .same family=Nazi and bad football.) Finally, Harrison has portrayed the President, so there's that connotation. He's defeated terrorists as Jack Ryan, so there's that. And he and Chewbaca helped defeat Darth Vader (read: Osama Bin Laden) and the evil Empire (read: Al-Qaeda). The Harrison connection also deflects the voters' image of Romney being a dweeb Mormon. Hell, who doesn't want Indiana Jones/Harrison Ford for president? Forget the horrid "Draft Gore" movement. I say Draft Harrison!

Liam said...

Actually, these choices speak volumes. Edwards really wooed me with this one. Casablanca is my favorite movie, but it's a lot of people's, and I'm sure Hillary convoked a focus group before answering the question.

Coming from Utah, I judged Romney's choice differently. Mormon = alternative Biblical archeology.

Giuliani's choice is terrifying. Do you think he identifies more with Brando's or Pacino's character? Maybe he's more like Fredo.

Please explain the McCain choice to me.

cowboyangel said...

On the surface, John "WalNUTS" McCain's choice strikes me as being borderline insane, the mark of an unstable and somewhat twisted personality. He likes a 1950s film that no one remembers about a Mexican revolutionary being played by a white (well, Italian-American) guy. (This is when there were no Mexicans in California, and thus none to play Zapata. Amazingly, the same problem occurred recently when a European, Antonio Banderas, was forced to play Pancho Villa because there are still no Mexicans in Los Angeles.)

But there are some subtle aspects to his choice that give one pause. For one, the film was directed by Elia Kazan, so he's wrapped up the Liberal fink vote (Lieberman supporters) in one fell swoop, along with the neo-McCarthyites, though they probably have no idea who Kazan was. (Or McCarthy, for that matter.) Secondly, the screenplay was done by John Steinbeck, so he may be trying to cross over and tap into the Eastern Liberal literary elite vote (all 4 of them). By picking a Brando film, he may be trying to cut into Giuliani's Italian-American support. (Though nobody actually remembers this Brando movie.) Perhaps McRaisingCain has done some quiet polling that shows Giuliani can't count on the Italian-American vote any more than Obama can count on the Asian-American vote. (I mean, the African-American vote, sorry.) Finally, the film does feature one partial Mexican - Anthony Quinn. This may represent the vote of Hispanics who have already been in the U.S. and succeeded. The high-spanics, as my father would call them. Not to mention that he chose a film about Mexico's most beloved figure. He really may be a Latino-lover at heart and trying to pull everyone into his big tent. Also, Zapata reinforces his "maverick" tag, which has been losing some of its luster lately.

either that, or he's just plain nuts.

Giuliani's choice I find inspired. Remember, Mario Cuomo had to bail out of the Presidential campaign, and there were many whispers that he had some Mafia ghosts in his closet. With this pick, Giuliani comes right out and says I AM THE MAFIA. Wait, no, I mean I HAVE NO MAFIA CONNECTIONS. He's not afraid to pick a film about the Fmaily, because he's not one of them. Brando, Pacino or Fredo? you've left out another possibility - Diane Keaton.

Hillary definitely went with a focus group. She wanted to chose Kurosawa's Throne of Blood, bhut her handlers didn't like the Macbeth connection. Instead, her pick cries out: "See, I would sacrifice my own life and greatest love for the common good." She's a romantic at heart, which counters all of the negative cold-hearted bitch baggage she carries. She's a lover not a fighter. Hey, it's worked. She picked Bogart. I have to reconsider her.

Good cal on Mitt's pick. though I still think it has something to do with Harrison Ford.

crystal said...

Are we sure Edwards knows his movie pick was a satire? :-)

Romney - interesting choice with Raiders. I think Liam's right with the strange religiois take ... Mormon's like science fiction (the creator of Battlestar Galactica supposedly wrote it with Mormon undertones) Mitt's now my favorite.

Was there no movie pick for Obama?

Jeff said...

I think that Liam is onto something with Mitt's alternate biblical archeology theory. Maybe he thinks the Ark of the Covenant is in Utah somewhere.

One thing, for sure William. You can bet that Mitt isn't into those French films that you love so much with all of their gratuitous skin (Vive le France, says I...). He did his missionary work in France, and he apparently figures them for a bunch of rude, nasal, whiny, Gallic, no-bath-taking, no-leg-and-underarm-shaving, bidet-using, terrorist-bribing, moldy-cheese-eating, wine-imbibing, American-tourist-ignoring, DeGaulle-loving surrender monkey existentialists. In this leaked strategy document its says:

Enmity toward France, where Romney did his Mormon mission during college, is a recurring theme of the document. The European Union, it says at one point, wants to "drag America down to Europe's standards," adding: "That's where Hillary and Dems would take us. Hillary = France." The plan even envisions "First, not France" bumper stickers.

I think Edwards could teach the South "what the Sam Hill Strangelove was about" if he brought their attention to Slim Pickens and his brilliant dissertation on how the B52 Survival Kit could prove to be all-sufficent for a wonderful weekend in Vegas.

cowboyangel said...

Obama said: "Instead of focusing on the serious disagrements [about these films], I talked about the common values that I believed everyone shared, regardless of how each of us might feel about [a specific film]."

That is to say, he likes all of them.

Or, perhaps, none of them.

Or he likes Legally Blonde II. I don't know.

I'm reading his book right now, The Audacity of Hope, but so far, nothing on his favorite film. I might contact his campaign. But, then, he never acknowledged my other two emails, so I doubt they'd tell me.

What do you think his favorite film would be?

cowboyangel said...

>"drag America down to Europe's standards"

I love it! Yeah, those rotten Europeans and their universal health care, affordable universities, one-month vacations, etc. Bastards! Who wants to live like those barbarians!

Hmm . . . the Slim Pickens angle is a good point.

cowboyangel said...

Hey, wait a minute, Crystal - are you slamming Edwards? I just caught that. Little slow today. Please know that sll candidates are eligible for being slammed on this blog.

I notice that no one mentioned Bill Richardson's pick. No comments?

I take that as a bad sign for Richardson. His pick can't generate discussion, either for or against.

I found it disappointing, I have to admit. I love Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, don't get me wrong. I like Newman and Redford a lot. But it seems a bit . . . I don't know. Lame? Light? Cute? What's wrong with that as a pick by a Presidential candidate?

I wish somebody would've picked Kurosawa. Now that would've been cool. Or Kieslowski's 10-hour Dekalog.