Friday, September 29, 2006

Wait, wait, here comes my favorite part.


A couple of days ago I used a quote from "The American President." It's a great movie which foreshadows "The West Wing" which was also a Sorkin vehicle.

There's a speech that the fictional President Andrew Shepherd makes in the film that ranks up there with Jimmy Stewart's fillibuster in "Mr. Smith." It really hits home with all of the horrible stuff that's been happening lately with our government. It may not be as powerful without the music swelling in the background but here it is:

For the last couple of months, Senator Rumson has suggested that being president of this country was, to a certain extent, about character, and although I have not been willing to engage in his attacks on me, I've been here three years and three days, and I can tell you without hesitation: Being President of this country is entirely about character.

For the record: yes, I am a card-carrying member of the ACLU. But the more important question is why aren't you, Bob? Now, this is an organization whose sole purpose is to defend the Bill of Rights, so it naturally begs the question: Why would a senator, his party's most powerful spokesman and a candidate for President, choose to reject upholding the Constitution? If you can answer that question, folks, then you're smarter than I am, because I didn't understand it until a couple of minutes ago.

America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the "land of the free".

I've known Bob Rumson for years, and I've been operating under the assumption that the reason Bob devotes so much time and energy to shouting at the rain was that he simply didn't get it. Well, I was wrong. Bob's problem isn't that he doesn't get it. Bob's problem is that he can't sell it.

Nobody has ever won an election by talking about what I was just talking about. This is a country made up of people with hard jobs that they're terrified of losing. The roots of freedom are of little or no interest to them at the moment. We are a nation afraid to go out at night. We're a society that has assigned low priority to education and has looked the other way while our public schools have been decimated.

We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious men to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, friend, 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. You gather a group of middle-aged, middle-class, middle-income voters who remember with longing an easier time, and you talk to them about family and American values and personal character. And you hold up an old photo of the President's girlfriend. You scream about patriotism and you tell them she's to blame for their lot in life, and you go on television and you call her a whore.

Sydney Ellen Wade has done nothing to you, Bob. She has done nothing but put herself through law school, prosecute criminals for five years, represent the interests of public school teachers for two years, and lobby for the safety of our natural resources. You want a character debate, Bob? You better stick with me, 'cause Sydney Ellen Wade is way out of your league.

I've loved two women in my life. I lost one to cancer, and I lost the other 'cause I was so busy keeping my job I forgot to do my job. Well, that ends right now.

Tomorrow morning, the White House is sending a bill to Congress for its consideration. It's White House Resolution 455, an energy bill requiring a 20 percent reduction of the emission of fossil fuels over the next ten years. It is by far the most aggressive stride ever taken in the fight to reverse the effects of global warming.

The other piece of legislation is the crime bill. As of today, it no longer exists. I'm throwing it out. I'm throwing it out. I'm throwing it out and I'm writing a law that makes sense. You cannot address crime prevention without getting rid of assault weapons and handguns. I consider them a threat to national security, and I will go door to door if I have to, but I'm gonna convince Americans that I'm right, and I'm gonna get the guns.

We've got serious problems, and we need serious men to solve them, and if you want to talk about character, Bob, you'd better come at me with more than a burning flag and a membership card. If you want to talk about character and American values, fine. Just tell me where and when, and I'll show up. This is a time for serious men, Bob, and your fifteen minutes are up.

My name is Andrew Shepherd, and I am the President.

10 comments:

Overdroid said...

Today I feel like we are doomed. Maybe tomorrow I won't.

Aaron said...

Overdroid may be right to feel doomed. And the Dean is probably apt in his Nazi Germany reference. Rumsfeld and Cheney have been up front about their desire to create an imperial Presidency, largely unrestricted by checks and balances, since well before 9/11. But I can't imagine they relish the thought of creating this uber-presidency only to see it fall into the hands of, say, President Hillary Clinton. Which makes me think they'll do anything to prevent that from happening.

Dean Wormer said...

aaron,

Your comment made me think about the Obama-Hyde amendment to the bill which would have put a five year sunset on the torture law. It was spiked pretty hard by the Republicans.

The only hope I can come up with that you're wrong is that these guys just don't seem to be capable of thinking long-term.

Unfortunately, I think you're right and they don't plan on sharing these powers.

Aaron said...

You're right about their inability to think long term; otherwise we would never have set foot in Iraq. I do have faith that if push ever came to shove the American people would tell the Bushistas where to shove it.

Overdroid said...

I don't know. It seems in some ways they think only long term, or at least the people who support them do. They are in power and control the media mostly because of long term grass roots movements and direct mail campaigns by conservative groups that have been pushing their agenda for at least 30 years, in a very coordinated way. Daily Kos has (I believe) even suggested that they are attempting to create the Liberal equivilent of this stuff, but it's only just beginning. Air America is another example, as is the Liberal television station that Dean is trying to create. So we should be back to sanity and balance in about 30 years.

Overdroid said...

Wait, Not Dean - Gore. Gore is trying to create a Liberal TV station. I'm tired.

Dean Wormer said...

They think long term in politics, not policy.

Overdroid said...

Yup.

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