Thursday, November 03, 2005

Back When the Presidency Was Still Majestic

So my roomie and I (and the kitties) just watched "Dave."

It's not as dookie as it sounds. See, we were watching "Altered States" from Neflix. It's a flawed film, sure, but it's based on a Paddy Chayefsky novel and the concepts expressed within are pretty awesome. And it was just getting good, and then we paused it to cut up some apples. We're a little OCD with our apple-eating rituals in this house, so it takes a little while to prepare the snack. And when we got back to the TV, our Xbox (on which we play DVDs) was on the fritz. And, try as we might, we couldn't get the DVD to work again.

So we turned to HBO On Demand and were seriously contemplating watching a new movie, one that neither of us had ever seen. But we couldn't help but noticing that "Dave" was on the list of offerings, and we started recalling all the killer set pieces:

"Once I caught a fish this big" and when he sings "Hail to the chief, he's the one we all say Chief to," in shower, and "Oh no, poor Joe, he has no EYES!"

And so we looked at each other and realized: fuckit, we actually wanted to watch "Dave." For, like, the 7th time each. Because I've only ever seen the whole thing once start-to-finish, but I'd seen most of the movie whenever I stumbled across it on late weekend afternoon.

It's one of those perfect movies -- like Ferris Beuller's Day Off, or The Goonies, or Kindergarten Cop, or Ghostbusters -- that's so well-paced and so mildly entertaining that you'll just watch it whenever it's on (usually on TBS or TNT). In fact, I once spent an entire winter watching various bits of "When Harry Met Sally" in between errands and evening plans. That kind of movie.

And so we settled in to watch "Dave." And GEEZ LOUISE! It's astounding. The role of "President" is treated with such merit and gravitas and majesty! And every time they show the White House -- holy shit! It's such a beautiful and majestic building! And the score swells and it's shot with such pride and esteem and, golly gee! Back in 1993, we RESPECTED the Presidency! The President was a dude we all treated with respect! The White House was something AWESOME!

And now, if we were showing the White House on film, it would be accompanied by mournful music. Or "wah wah" Drunken-blues-style music. Or even a Raymond Scott tune. It's a source of disdain and disgust, and, at best, mild amusement. It's a source of frustration and consternation and aggravation (damn, if I don't sound like a Guthrie right now).

Le sigh, le grande sigh, indeed.

Speaking of Presidents, we watched ex-prexy Carter on CNN last night. And, damn it, he's this out-and-about Christian (ox Xtian as I used to write it during religion classes) and yet he's outwardly espousing that this administration has taken religious fundamentalism too far. He wrote a new book called "America's Moral Crisis" and it's about how there's no longer a separation of Church and State and that the War in Iraq is wrong because we went to war without being directly threatened and based on incorrect evidence. And that we should keep science separate from religion and that people can believe in god but that creationism should be kept out of science classrooms. Bless his rational, believing-in-science soul. After all, the dude isn't just a peanut farmer, he's also a nuclear scientist. And how about that Habitat for Humanity?

And while I disagree with the fact that he is not a fan of Roe V. Wade, Carter at least acknowledges that it ought not to be overturned (he advocates lowering the number of abortions by making it easier for mothers to support their children by offering them financial assistance and by education young people about sex so they know how to prevent unwanted pregnancies). Longtime readers know that I am a very big supporter of maintaining legalized abortions (US out of my Uterus!) and that I'm supremely concerned about the direction the Supreme Court might take. But I have to say, hearing a devout Christian statesman advocate sex education is refreshing, in an age when our President wants to promote abstinenceinstead of sexual health and pregnancy prevention. According to a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, "During President Bush's tenure as governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000, for instance, with abstinence-only programs in place, the state ranked last in the nation in the decline of teen birth rates among 15- to 17-year-old females. Overall, the teen pregnancy rate in Texas was exceeded by only four other states."

And beyond the politics themselves, Carter is just so fucking presidential. He doesn't stammer, he doesn't stumble; he speaks eloquently and sincerely. He's well-spoken, he uses rhetoric, and he's quite the statesman, always answering questions diplomatically and thoughtfully. And I look for the Presidents of yesterday -- the Carters, the Clintons, the Daves -- leaders who made us feel like things might just be okay, even if lots of stuff sucked. Right now, it just seems like things really suck and our President is not only responsible for the suckfest, but continues to make things worse. Oh no, poor Joe, he has no ETHICS!

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