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Batman to the Rescue

What effect is Hollywood having on the Bush Administration?

November 29, 2002

What effect is Hollywood having on the Bush Administration?

The Clintons were famous — or rather infamous — for their friendship with movie stars. They could always rely on the Hollywood greats to come out in force for their fundraisers.

Stars and moguls such as Warren Beatty, Michael Douglas, Michael Eisner and Steven Spielberg were frequent guests to the Clinton White House — and supported his numerous liberal causes.

In fact, Bill Clinton's presidency itself often resembled a Hollywood movie, complete with the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal — and even a persistently rumored relationship with Barbra Streisand.

Just as art imitates life, at least two Hollywood films were based on the Clinton presidency — Wag the Dog and Primary Colors.

When the Bushes moved into the White House, they promised to introduce a more serious tone to the presidency.

It all started with the dress code. Out went the informal, egalitarian Democratic blue jeans — and in came the sober Republican business suits and ties.

Initially, the Bush Administration seemed to have succeeded only too well. For a while, it was living a Greek or Shakespearian tragedy — not a Hollywood movie.

First, there was the terrorist attacks on September 11 and the subsequent global hunt for the terrorists. Then, came preparations for the war with Iraq, with Administration officials replaying variations on the "To be — or not to be" monologue from Hamlet.

Yet, more recently, Hollywood has started to rear its ugly head even at the Bush White house. Could it be that the movie industry has become so deeply ingrained in Washington that even the Republicans can no longer eradicate it?

To begin with, the hunt for al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan has become reminiscent of the Keystone Kops comedy series.

For starters, Osama bin Laden himself has resurfaced — with the release of an audio tape that praises recent terror attacks. His deputy also appears to be alive as well.

Despite some successes in capturing and killing several senior terrorist leaders, it turns out that the massive attack on the terrorists — and their Islamic protectors — by the world's most powerful military apparently has missed almost all of the leaders.

Meanwhile, the scandals that keep breaking out in one corporation after another — which have cast a deep shadow over the entire Republican establishment, including both the President and his Vice-President — come straight out of Paralax View.

The 1974 paranoia classic, incidentally, starred Bill Clinton's Hollywood buddy Warren Beatty. It presented a truly dark vision of an evil U.S. government and business corporations working in cahoots with one another — and out of the public eye.

In October 2002, the TV news coverage of the sniper attacks terrorizing suburban Washington, D.C. could easily be confused with a poorly made Hollywood police thriller.

Finally, the preparations for the war against Iraq are also about to deteriorate into scenes from another movie. This time, it's Batman. You know, the kiddy adventure based on Batman, a comic book hero.

And — wouldn't you know it — geography itself has suggested a theme. The United States Air Force has reportedly secured the agreement from the government of Turkey to use a military base in the southeastern city of Batman to fly bombing raid to Iraq.

This seems extremely appropriate. Saddam Hussein has been portrayed in the U.S. media as a "Joker" —especially as the evil genius portrayed by Jack Nicholson in a 1989 movie.

It would only be appropriate if he were destroyed by U.S. flyers taking off from Batman. In fact, if the first Gulf War is any guide, the comic book version of the war is what the media — and U.S. television audiences — would be allowed to see.

If only war were that easy in real life!