Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Boogie Man
There was this documentary I had wanted to see since the moment I heard about it.

To me, Lee Atwater was one of the most interesting characters in politics. He was a scoundrel, a dark and tragic figure. But he was ridiculously effective in what he was doing.

He also was a blues musician, and a pretty decent one. He hung out with B.B. King, James Brown and played with David Letterman's band.

He died of brain cancer at 40. Had he lived, many believe Bill Clinton never would have been elected president. But before he died, he sought redemption and forgiveness for his career.

This is all discussed in the documentary Boogie Man. Like all documentaries, it is slanted. George H.W. Bush really comes across as a win-at-all-costs, cold hearted soul. George W. Bush is shown as a traditional southern politician, playing it dumb and racing by his opponents.

But here are some general thoughts:

- Lee Atwater didn't seem to care about policy. The film makes it seem like he chose being a Republican out of a hat and then played hard for his team. Maybe the film should have been called "Politics as Sport."

He liked to win. He wanted to win and did everything he could to help his side achieve that end.

- The documentary also made it appear Michael Dukakis would have and should have won in 1988, if not for Atwater's tactics. That's the first time I have ever heard that. In every class I took in college on the subject, Dukakis was portrayed as a weak candidate who really couldn't connect with people and thus, didn't have a real shot.

- Funny to see Terry McAuliffe going on and on about how the Republicans "destroyed" Dukakis, considering what an unscrupulous family the former's career is owed to. His criticisms of Atwater and the Republicans come off as shallow, since he's just as much of a party hack as anyone on the other side.

- You can see, quite clearly though, why Bob Dole didn't (and probably still doesn't) care for the Bushs. Like John McCain, Dole got his turn after a nasty primary campaign eight years later. Like McCain, he lost.

- Redemption was pushed at the end of the documentary, with a hint of cynicism tossed in. Atwater wrote apoligies and found religion at the end of his life, but some didn't believe it to be genuine. I don't know and it didn't seem like many did.

The film was on PBS. I assume it was edited in some form. But I think anyone interested in poltics should see the film. No matter what your side is, I think it is worth seeing. Atwater was many things. Boring was not one of them.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home