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W: How could we have elected him?

By Staff | Oct 28, 2008

What’s wrong with the United States of America? How did we elect as president a grown kid who seeks approval and cannot make a decision himself? It’s worse — he’s naïve and trusting as he relies on men and women without considering their agenda, just that whatever he does “God is on his side.”

Offering a bold, blatant peek at Texas Bush country, director Oliver Stone paints George W. Bush as tormented by desires for his “poppy’s” approval, speaking about deciding after advisors fill his head with spin, and sincerely pondering why things did not go as he planned.

Flashbacks capture a glimpse of W’s college days where frat parties, hard drinking and bouts of anger dominated. You receive the impression that his simplistic intelligence must have had lots of tutoring at Yale and Harvard, perhaps in the form of family legacy favors.

After stumbling and bumbling in the family oil business, W (Josh Brolin) meets Laura (Elizabeth Banks), a polar opposite, who perfectly complements the young Texan’s need for constant nurture.

Instead of harsh criticism, Stone depicts W as a commander in chief who equates political office not with serving the country, but as a competitive family game of Monopoly against his brother.

Josh Brolin masters mannerisms, accent and moods in bringing a likable, yet far too gullible, caricature of the lame duck occupant of the Oval Office. His wild drinking and partying Bush has a testy temper and juvenile impulsiveness, following his “born again” conversion, the characterization adds an introspective component, which the naïve Texan allows to be exploited by the far right.

 Brolin specifically wants us to believe President Bush did NOT know that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were non-existent. He does so by depicting a conflicted chief executive with invasion plans in place, yet anxiously awaiting his advisors to provide the necessary evidence to support his readymade decision. He does not want to supplant the Constitution or lie, but he fails to order deeper investigations having already chosen an invasion date with no exit strategy period. Considering the flagrant hidden agenda conspiring of Cabinet members and laughable quirks planted into Bush’s big as Texas ego, you may at least conjecture that W selfishly meant well.

Besides Texas mythology, “W” continually, symbolically smacks at his too trusting nature through repeating images of a baseball glove in hand Bush standing in the outfield of an empty stadium reflecting,  dreaming and waiting. Well chosen tunes and lyrics (“Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” Dylan’s “With God on Our Side,” “Yellow Rose of Texas”) contribute an acidic sarcasm which the dialogue tends to avoid, particularly Dylan. You’ll have to stay through the end credits to get the full impact of the words, though.

Remember, too, that Stone films are not meant for scrupulous fact checking, so don’t go looking to match historic day and date with incidents. For better or worse, “W” begins after the torrid 2000 election that turned on counting paper “chads” and after the deadly Sept. 11 attacks. Brolin only refers to these events when trumping up his war with Iraq and how his 80 percent approval rating can convince the people to support the installation of democracy in the Middle East. Nor does it sling the policy failures of his administration in his face, preferring to allow an embarrassing blank minded press conference moment to suffice.

Anyone with minimal current affairs knowledge should pick up on the subtleties (and smoking gun conjectures) of the mockumentary and purported bio-picture, which does not contain any statement suggesting a script based on true incidents. This political satire hybrid does not have the absurdity prong of, say, “Wag the Dog.” The director prefers a more realistic, preposterously plausible humorous stance depicting the rise and fall of a man from privilege, power and wealth who landed an executive job for which he was ill prepared.

Finally, on a serious issue: Anne Pressly who played a bubbly blond right-wing TV anchorwoman in the film sustained life threatening injuries in an apparent robbery/home intrusion incident near Little Rock, Ark., where she works as a morning TV personality. Police have not ruled out an assault motivated by her portrayal of the Ann Coulter-esque commentator.

Contact Tony at trutherford@graffitiwv.com