, Newburyport, MA


March 17, 2012

Column: 'Game Change' is a rich, rewarding film

As part of my generally futile attempt to simplify my life, I chose a Comcast package that combines my telephone, email and television. The bundle gives me HBO — where I watched "Too Big To Fail," about the 2008 financial crisis, six times last year.

I know better than to believe everything I read, never mind what I see dramatized on a screen, and yet ... sometimes visual impact screams "truth" and flows through one's eyes into one's brain to settle there.

Example: The end of the movie "The Candidate," in which Robert Redford, playing an idealistic candidate for U.S. Senate, learns that he has won and asks his election specialist: "What do we do now?"

That one scene defines people whose skills lie in campaigning, who can simplify complicated issues into winning arguments, and then must face the reality of having to govern. That is politics becoming government, in a nutshell, and once we understand this, it's easier to understand what we see each day in the news.

As voters, we want answers, and reward the candidates who seem to have them. But even if the candidate knows what he is doing about the issues of the day, after he takes office the issues will change; some will be completely unexpected and new. This is why we look for character in our presidential candidates, for attributes that will allow the president to rise to almost any occasion. Sometimes, in our eagerness to justify hope, we invent those attributes or allow the media to feed them to us, which explains how we elected our current president.

Those of us who are political junkies are more aware than many voters of what goes on in political campaigns, so that instead of being puzzled by some of the long-term results, we can appreciate the absurdity of much of what constitutes democracy.

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