A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Bush’s Brain

April 19, 2011

Bush’s Brain

I bought this movie at the urging of a heavily left leaning staff member of mine. At least that’s my recollection of things. I’ll freely admit that I’m about as far to the left politically as it is possible to be. I spent a lot of the early part of this millennium upset with the president of our nation. I was angry with him, his decisions and the things he did to our country. I don’t think it’s exaggerating to say that I hated George W Bush. As such I didn’t particularly mind the notion of a movie that attacked the man regarded as having been responsible for putting Bush in office.

There’s no kind way to say this though: this is a poor excuse for a documentary. It’s a collection of interviews based on hearsay, speculation and bitter grapes. It’s fear mongering and hate speech. I don’t mean that Karl Rove is innocent of the shady dealings that this movie accuses him of taking part in. I simply mean that no good case is made in any of the allegations.

Most of this movie is interviews with the two authors of the book the movie is based on and with various political opponents of candidates that Rove worked for. Hardly unbiased. Even that would be acceptable if a single thing they said was backed up by fact. They accuse Rove of bugging his own office. They accuse him of sicking an FBI agent on his political opponents. They talk about the Valerie Plame leak, constantly saying things like “I can’t prove that Rove was responsible for the leak, but if he were it would be his style.” That’s not reporting, it’s speculation.

Not to mention the transparent emotional manipulation. There’s an entire segment of the movie that briefly explores the life and death of an American serviceman named Fred Pokorney. Amanda and I kept waiting for the movie to explain why this tragic tale of a life cut short had anything to do with Rove. It doesn’t. It just shows us Pokorney’s wife and father mourning, and implied that he wouldn’t have gone to war and died if Karl Rove hadn’t used Iraq as a chip in a political poker game.

What this movie drives home more than anything else for me is the acriminous nature of modern politics. A much better insider take on it in my opinion is Bush press secretary Scott McClellan’s book What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception. McClellan talks a lot about the never ending campaign shapes not just the spin put on politics but every political decision. Are there people, Karl Rove among them, engaged in a constant war of words to promote their candidate and denigrate the other side’s? I don’t doubt it for a second. Are the stories we read in the paper often fed to the press by these political wranglers? No doubt. Indeed I’ve become more and more skeptical of all news stories regarding politics precisely because I know this kind of maneuvering goes on. But Karl Rove is only one example. I don’t doubt that there are equaly duplicitous political masterminds on the Democratic side.

So where does that leave this movie? Well to be frank it’s not worth the time it takes to watch in my opinion. Karl Rove IS a force to be reckoned with, this I have no doubt of. He can be credited with formulating the entire Republican strategy for re-claiming congress in the last elections (a strategy of blocking every effort to get anything passed in congress over the last two years and then blaming Obama and the Democrats for not getting anything done.) But this movie doesn’t build any sort of credible case against him. It just vents its spleen for an hour and a half, and then is mercifully over. I don’t believe I will be watching this movie ever again.


April 19, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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