The Worst Story Ever Told
When it comes to politics, Hollywood must be suffering cognitive dissonance right now.
Entertainers typically are left-wing ideologues, so it's natural for them to support a fellow traveler like Barack Obama. On the other hand, they also are professional storytellers, and Mr. Obama's story contains plot holes, poorly developed characters, implausible story twists, and no final act. His life seems like a remake of an obscure 1930s Russian box office flop.
As screenwriters like to say, every story has a beginning, middle, and end. The beginning introduces the protagonist and links him to the unfolding story with a triggering event. Complications ensue in the middle, and the protagonist reaches rock bottom. The end is the satisfying resolution of the story. That final act in the story's structure includes the climax and denouement -- a period of calm, during which normalcy returns.
But Mr. Obama's story is a series of beginnings and middles, with no satisfying resolutions. There is no denouement -- just endless chaos. Loose ends aren't tied up because nothing ever is seen through to its successful conclusion.
Here are a few examples:
- After graduating from the prestigious Harvard Law School, Mr. Obama was an idealistic ghetto agitator, affiliated in various ways with ACORN. But his law career was undistinguished, and ACORN later was exposed as a corrupt waste of taxpayer money.
- He was elected to the Illinois State Senate and then the U.S. Senate, which supposedly is the most exclusive club in the world. But he rarely took a leadership role on any legislation and accomplished nothing during his tenures.
- Upon assuming the presidency, he ordered closure of the Guantánamo Bay detention camp and backed loans to solar panel startup Solyndra with taxpayer money. But years later, Guantánamo Bay remains open, and Solyndra now is closed.
- Then he pushed through a costly economic stimulus bill for "shovel-ready jobs." But subsequently, he admitted that there actually were no such jobs. Widely regarded as a failure, the stimulus is characterized by some economists as little more than a kickback scam for campaign contributors.
- A year later, he finally achieved his first step toward nationalized medical care by mandating the purchase of "affordable" insurance. But health insurance rates did not fall as he promised. They rose instead. Most voters now want the law repealed, and the Supreme Court will soon pass judgment on its constitutionality.
Compare Mr. Obama's story with that of General Patton, as depicted in the highly praised 1970 biographical film bearing his name. Mr. Patton inherited messes in North Africa and the Battle of the Bulge, but he took charge and cleaned them up in record time. In contrast, Mr. Obama seeks to exploit every crisis for political gain, claims that he's in charge but just makes things worse, and then blames his predecessor.
And now that he's attempting to campaign on a flimsy résumé of half-written skits, Mr. Obama is creating his own triggering events and artificial crises -- exactly as another film, Wag the Dog, cynically predicted.
The president kicked off his campaign with a synthetic War on Women. In a scripted and choreographed "hearing," an affluent Georgetown law student played the dubious role of an impoverished welfare waif. The Democrat actress demanded that taxpayers give her and people like her $3,000 for birth control. But critics pointed out that a month's supply of BC pills now costs less than a large cup of coffee at a Georgetown Starbucks. Others mentioned that she's likely to get a lucrative salary of $160,000 in her first year after graduation. As a result, Mr. Obama lost a war that was concocted by his own staff.
Undeterred by defeat, the president then began firing a verbal missile barrage at Wall Street to launch his War on Wealth. But soon he was exposed as a double agent, raising a billion dollars for his personal re-election campaign, mostly from wealthy donors who supposedly are the enemy. For instance, not far from Wall Street last week, Mr. Obama hauled in $80,000 per couple in the first of two fundraisers he held in a single evening.
All aspects of the Obama story deserve two thumbs down. The antagonists in his war-on-everything merely are straw men, and Obama as the protagonist has no epiphanies or character arcs. The leading man hasn't evolved since his formative years with mentors Frank Marshall Davis, William Ayers, and Jeremiah Wright -- all far-left radicals. He never learns from his mistakes or finds redemption. This must be the most boring, one-dimensional character since The Blob.
In the final scene of the film Patton, the general walks his dog through an Alpine meadow, contemplating his contributions to the triumphal liberation of Europe. As a result of his accomplishments, peace and normalcy have returned.
But a biographical film about Mr. Obama would have to be structured as a series of rise-and-fall stories. Screenwriters might draw inspiration from the rise and fall of Tony Montana in Scarface. Another rise-and-fall prototype could be Mussolini: The Untold Story.
That must be another source of Hollywood's cognitive dissonance about Mr. Obama's legacy. The Montana and Mussolini stories might be prototypes for Obama's, yet they're "bad guys," and the president is supposed to be a "good guy." American audiences want their leading man to be a winner, not a whiney loser.