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David Poland

By David Poland

BYOB – President's Day… oy…

David “Not The Bagger Here” Carr kicks out an excellent column about Obama fever and the idea that it may actually be changing news viewing habits of the younger set (and more).
And btw, it finally occurred to me what a nasty spin the whole “Is Obama ready?” scam is… when you realize that Mrs. Clinton should be asked about how her husband had even less experience in international affairs when he took office.
The is that the last 30 years of The Presidency (five presidents) has consisted of 4 governors and one experienced Washington figure… George HW Bush. All governors come up against the question of international experience. And before Carter, you had the very experienced, very ineffective Gerald Ford, political maven Tricky Dick Nixon, smoky room man LBJ, and John F Kennedy

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29 Responses to “BYOB – President's Day… oy…”

  1. adorian says:

    After watching it gather dust on my bookshelf for years, I finally got around to reading Thomas’ The White Hotel, which was once rumored to be a pet project for Streisand to star in. I don’t see how this thing could be filmed. I would not want to watch it, no matter who starred in it.
    Aside from this…and Warren’s The Front Runner…what other famous novels do you safely predict will not make it to the screen despite the publicists’ announcements over the years?

  2. movieman says:

    “A Confederacy of Dunces” and “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.”
    And those are just for starters.

  3. movieman says:

    Oh, yeah.
    “The Dreyfus Afair.”
    If this couldn’t even get a greenlight in the immediate post-“Brokeback Mountain” Hollywood, chances are it never will.

  4. adorian says:

    Oh yes…I thought Dunces was being prepped for Philip Seymour Hoffman. Did that fall through again? It seems like every two or three years, they say it’s finally going to get made, and then it falls through the cracks again.
    And yes…I remember reading the the Dreyfus baseball love story was being readied for Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, but then Damon didn’t want to play gay again so soon after Ripley.

  5. movieman says:

    The last time I heard news about a possible “Dreyfuss” film was shortly after “Brokeback” hit…but that seems an awfully long time ago, and H’wood hasn’t exactly rushed to get another high-profile “gay” movie greenlighted since then. It’s probably doomed to become “The Front Runner” of the 21st century.
    “Dunces” has been bopping along forever: wasn’t there a Will Ferrell “Dunces” movie with David Gordon Green attached at one point? Or am I confusing it with something else?
    And what about James Kirkwood’s great “Good Times/Bad Times”?
    That would have been so killer in the “Sterile Cuckoo”/”Paper Chase” era! But now it’s time has probably (and regrettably) passed.

  6. Citizen R says:

    Questions about Obama’s experience are neither nasty spin nor a scam. They’re legitimate. Just as it’s legitimate when the lack of foreign policy experience of state governors running for president is called into question (as has often been the case, and certainly was the case in ’88 with Dukakis, ’92 with Clinton, and ’00 with GWB).

    Governors of course acquire executive experience, and successful governors develop a set of skills in working with their state legislatures and overseeing their state bureaucracies that quite closely mirrors the set of skills a president needs.

    If there’s an area in which a candidate lacks experience it’s up to him or her to make the case why that lack of experience shouldn’t be seen as a disqualifier, and it’s up to the voters to assess the person and make their judgment. But probing and questioning areas of experience and temperament is a natural part of a presidential campaign. Let’s not have Obama-philes act as if their man is so sainted that any questioning of him is a nasty scam.

  7. David Poland says:

    Like so much in this campaign, Citizen R, the reason why otherwise reasonable issues for discussion come to feel like backbiting attackism is the way it is approached.
    When did the wave of “Is he ready?” start in earnest? When the Clinton machine started losing. Coincidence? Perhaps.
    Me? I prefer to hear about such grave concerns about the opponents BEFORE you’re behind the 8-ball.
    I respond the same way to the “if you don’t support Hillary, you have to be a misogynist” spin. There are, absolutely, men who hate women and women who hate themselves who think the idea of a woman president is abhorrant. But disliking Ms. Clinton is not just for misogynists or self-hating women.
    Likewise, the issue of whether governors and young senators are good potential presidents. And as I wrote above, a worthy conversation… but use the real examples if you want a fair fight. Trying to make it all Jimmy Carter all the time is, simply, bullshit. Compare him to Clinton… compare him to Kennedy… maybe he’s worthy and maybe he’s not… but be fair.
    Yes, Obama could be a disaster. No one knows that. And so could Clinton. No one knows that either… nor do any of us have any proof that either will be ready “on day one.” Frankly, McCain has much more experience than either of them dealing with bridge building in Washington and any person wishing to be straight would have to admit that.
    However, I would like to see a Democratic president in office and I think that Obama has the character and intellegence to do the job, in part by bringing experience around him… just as so many presidents have… not to control him (see: W) but to manage. If history tells us anything, micromanaging is not a good strategy for that office.
    Obama is no saint. Part of what I like about him is that he is capable of being non-pc. (See: the crack about republicans who secretly like him.) And there will be plenty of fair attacks over the next months and in past months. But this wave of wannabe buyer’s remorse strikes me as more like US Magazine territory than real discourse… if only because Hillary won’t say it herself, in so many words, now fearful of a backlash.

  8. Citizen R says:

    Yes, unfortunately there’s always a crap shoot element in voting for a president. No matter how much experience someone has, and no matter the type of campaign they run, it’s difficult to tell how they’ll actually perform in office.

    There have, however, been questions raised about Obama’s experience from day one. Those questions may have been amplified by the Clinton campaign in their desperation, but they’ve always been a part of the mix. Legitimate questions are going to get picked up and used as attacks by political machines – hey, you can’t take the politics out of politics – but they’re still legitimate questions.

  9. Cadavra says:

    A President’s lack of experience can be tempered by the people he surrounds him/herself with, especially Vice President. Were I running, my VP pick would be Gen. Wesley Clark, which would immediately stop all the foreign policy/military naysayers dead in their tracks.

  10. Wrecktum says:

    Clark is a Hillary supporter. I don’t think he’d accept the veep spot. Though it would be a great get for Obama.
    But it’s way too premature to be talking about the veep-stakes. We have brokered convention to get through first.

  11. Citizen R says:

    The Veep pick is often used to fill whatever gaps a presidential nominee has. Governors tend to pick someone with Washington and foreign policy experience (Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen, Bill Clinton and Al Gore, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney). McCain will likely pick a governor to fill in the gaps of executive experience and hands-on experience with economic policy (something McCain has been, perhaps unwisely, a little too honest about lacking himself). But Veep picks are overrated in their import. People vote based almost exclusively on the person at the top of the ticket. Running mates can help or hurt a little, but they’re rarely a decisive factor.

  12. David Poland says:

    Actually, I think VP will be more significant this year… more than in memory… with 3 potential candidates who people will be measuring much more exactingly than in the past.
    McCain will be seriously considered by many liberals from the other side of whatever Dem candidate they were supporting. The wrong VP choice – one that panders to the extreme right – could kill McCain. Clinton probably could use a little smoothness in the VP slot, though her choice is probably the least significant. And Obama needs someone who matches his cool, but is ore experienced… unless, of course, he finds a revolutionary choice (unlikely).
    But as people weigh each person, their choice of a second will be, I think, another real factor in how people perceive their decision-making. And for Obama, since there is a slight record, it looms large.

  13. Krazy Eyes says:

    What I’ve not heard is anyone explain why exactly having a lot of experience is such a good thing. The currrent administration has (or had) some incredibly experienced politicians. With all that experience look at the mess they got us in. Maybe experience isn’t such an important factor overall.
    It would never happen but I’d love to see what kind of numbers Obama would pull if he lost the Dem nomination and ran third party against both Clinton and McCain. Maybe with Bloomberg as his Veep.

  14. grandcosmo says:

    VP choice is irrelevant unless it is screwed up like McGovern’s in 1972.
    Show me one example of a VP candidate delivering electoral votes or making a difference in the last 40+ years?

  15. Wrecktum says:

    You’re right, grandcosmo. The era of Kennedy/Johnson is over.
    That said, the veep pick is an important narrative for the national media, because it’s the first major decision a potential president will make. It’s usually not enough to change an election, but it can change the way a candidate is portrayed during the election. See Bush 1 in 1988.

  16. Citizen R says:

    I should amend what I wrote earlier and say that politicos generally hold that Veep picks can help a little or hurt a lot. A good pick produces a momentary bump; a bad pick can dog a candidate right up to the election.

    The last election that probably had its outcome changed by a Veep pick was 1960. Without Johnson on the ticket Kennedy would likely have lost Texas and the election. But I think that’s the only presidential election in at least 100 years where the Veep pick actually swayed the electoral college.

  17. jeffmcm says:

    1992 and 1996: Clinton/Gore wins Tennessee. Didn’t tilt the election, but it’s something.

  18. jrains1 says:

    The White Hotel is one of my favorite novels, and I think it could be done. Someone like Cuaron or Meirelles could pull it off. Obviously it would be an incredibly disjointed novel, but that’s postmodernism for you.
    What would really interest me is if they would just forgo the poem that tells the same story as the chapter right after it. You could give some fractured images with or without a voice over, and then go right into the “prose” version of the story. I am not sure if it would be necessary to include two versions of the same story like the novel does, but I loved that the book did it. The psychoanalysis chapter from Freud could also be done different ways.
    It would definitely be difficult to film, but if the right director got of hold of it and decided to not force into a narrative, it could work.

  19. Citizen R says:

    Clinton had some appeal of his own in parts of the south – carrying Tennessee, Kentucky, Louisiana, and of course Arkansas in both ’92 and ’96, as well as Georgia in ’92 and Florida in ’96 – that wasn’t dependent on Gore. Having Gore on the ticket certainly didn’t hurt in that regard, but Clinton may well have carried those states, including Tennessee, without him. I’d say Ross Perot’s presence on the ballot had more to do with Clinton’s southern victories than Gore did.

  20. Wrecktum says:

    Remember, Gore LOST Tennessee in 2000. I doubt he contributed much to the ’92 and ’96 wins.

  21. jeffmcm says:

    Gore ’92 was a very different candidate than Gore ’00. Gore ’92 probably would have won eight years later.

  22. scooterzz says:

    milan – after the way ‘there must be a pony’ was treated i’d prefer they leave kirkwood’s novels alone….
    and, fwiw, scott rudin recently told me that ‘confederacy of dunces’ is never going to happen…..he said they will never find a workable script…..

  23. Wrecktum says:

    Al Gore didn’t run for president in 1992. He did run in 1988, where he was soundly beaten in the democratic nomination process.

  24. Wrecktum says:

    Glad to hear it.

  25. The Carpetmuncher says:

    It’s Muncher.
    The CarpetMuncher.

  26. movieman says:

    Too bad about “Dunces,” Scotter.
    But re: “Good Times/Bad Times:”
    Don’t you agree that if it had been made back in the early ’70s (with Robert Mulligan or maybe Alan Pakula directing, and a young Timothy Bottoms starring) it might have been fantastic?

  27. Martin S says:

    Clinton’s camp is using the experience angle because they have no way to distinguish differences in policies, so the race is all personality. If Bill didn’t panic during Iowa and waste his capital, he now could have made the experience question stick.
    Her biggest problem is that it’s McCain to her near-right, which allows Obama to pander more to the left.
    What I find funny to read is how the perspective is always left-to-center. McCain has to reach across to grab voters or he won’t win. Obama doesn’t because, well, he’s Obama. So don’t get to upset when Barack cribs Huckabee’s Wal-Mart Republican schtick as a way to move right and off the New Deal left edge.

  28. hendhogan says:

    my favorite part of the the “experience” meme is the acceptance that clinton has more experience. doing what? you look up what she’s accomplished and there isn’t a whole heck of a lot there.
    they can’t differentiate on policy because neither is really committing to a policy, just vague references to “change.” now, this may just be big picture stuff. after all, you start with specifics now, you can be hammered on them for 7 months (especially if they are not fully thought out).
    it’s interesting that clinton is going after super delegates to get nom and obama is attacking mccain to get delegates (seemingly to show he has best shot at beating mccain).
    as to the veep decision, i think it’s similar to the canon that one must rest football players in week 17 when they have nothing at stake in the playoffs. every year this conventional wisdom is brought up. every year, the team that does so rarely goes very far in the playoffs. the veep decision just gives the MSM something to talk about to fill the news cycle. that’s it.

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon