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Nominal Me

I'm falling in love with my camera and taking photos everywhere I go. That, combined with my passions for politics, sports, religion and other things we all agree on, makes this blog persist.

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Location: Astoria, New York, United States

I'm born in Manhattan and raised in Queens.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Retro Moment: Wag The Dog

Today is inauguration day, so I wanted to go with something political, but not political. Thus, today's Retro Moment is on one of my favorite movies, 1997's brilliant comedy, Wag The Dog.

In the movie, the president, just days before an election, is caught in a very scandalous situation, and it doesn't seem like he will be re-elected. A mysterious advisor, Conrad Brean (played by Robert DeNiro) is brought in to get him out of his predicament. What's a president to do to get re-elected?

Start a war.

There's no time to start a real war though, so Brean contacts a top Hollywood producer (played by Dustin Hoffman) in order to manufacture a war in Albania.

In this war, the president can heroically end just in time for the vote. It's a war created, conducted, and ended through mass media.

The movie has some incredibly witty dialogue; it has stuff that rang true to conservatives then and to liberals now, like:

Stanley Motss: The President will be a hero. He brought peace.
Conrad 'Connie' Brean: But there was never a war.
Stanley Motss: All the greater accomplishment.


Stanley Motss: Why Albania?
Conrad 'Connie' Brean: Why not?
Stanley Motss: What have they done to us?
Conrad 'Connie' Brean: What have they done FOR us? What do you know about them?
Stanley Motss: Nothing.
Conrad 'Connie' Brean: See? They keep to themselves. Shifty. Untrustable.

The brilliance of the movie is that while being anti-war and anti-mass media, it is neither blatantly liberal or conservative. That's almost an impossible thing to do when the subject is politics.

It's satire at its best.

The movie was so true-to-life that then president Bill Clinton was accused of "Wagging The Dog" while bombing Iraq and Bosnia, all during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Watching the movie now, you can see the reality of mass media whipping a nation into war, regardless of your view of it. But even if you don't care about politics or war, it's still a funny movie to see.

There are also some quotes from this movie that I use in everyday, odd situations, like:

"There are two things I know to be true. There's no difference between good flan and bad flan, and there is no war."

...which I use in various way, interchanging the second part of the statement with whatever I'm dealing with at the time, and...

"A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow."

...which is a great philosophy of getting things done.

The movie had a great cast. Then-lesbian-but-still-hot Anne Heche played a very believable advisor to the president.

This movie may have been the height of her career, which is unfortunate, as she showed some real acting talent here.

The movie also featured Willie Nelson, playing a near-brain-dead musician (hmmmm, maybe that wasn't acting).

The movie is funny, silly, and serious, all at the same time. It's a very rare combination that is truly intelligent entertainment.

There's really only one big problem with the movie: it's implausible. An American president would never lie about a war to hide scandals and get re-elected.

Not in our country.

Happy inauguration day!

Links of Interest:

Other Retro Moments

The Official Wag The Dog Page

IMDB Wag The Dog Page

Wag The Dog Photo Page


The Airing of Grievances

Power Line

Jib Jab

The Moderate Voice