November 24, 2003


Master and Conundrum: Can a Russell Crowe movie help the Democrats in 2004? (Knute Berger, 11/19/03, Seattle Weekly)

The film's central figure is Aubrey alone, and best pal Maturin is demoted to the role of a nag who pricks the captain's conscience at inconvenient moments. In this, he's a bit like the Democrats. But though Aubrey is a Tory superhero fighting the French, let's also be clear about another thing. I've read Patrick O'Brian. I knew Patrick O'Brian. And George W. Bush is no Jack Aubrey. You never would have found Aubrey strutting around on deck crowing, "Mission accomplished!"

In some ways, Aubrey has more in common with Bill Clinton. [...]

He is an optimist. Aubrey is unafraid of long odds and is always confident of victory. He runs a positive campaign and offers his crew a clear vision of how things will turn out.

He's a man of action. In battle, Aubrey's motto, from Lord Nelson, is "Go right at 'em." If need be, he'll run to live and fight another day. But Aubrey also believes you won't win by being on the defensive.

He's cunning. And smart. In the film, Aubrey and his men overcome overwhelming odds by tricking the enemy. Stealth, trickery, inventiveness are all part of the arsenal. If you're outgunned, change the terms of battle and turn the tables on the enemy.

He makes tough decisions. In the movie, Aubrey must literally cut loose a man to save his ship. Aubrey doesn't need a sign on his desk to tell you where the buck stops.

He's compassionate. Aubrey doles out the occasional flogging, but he understands his people and is deeply loyal. He knows their needs, their desires, their ways--and he attends to them, without pandering.

He's charismatic. Democrats tend to think rightness is more important than popularity--a fatal flaw. Natural confidence, smarts, sex appeal, and luck are essential parts of power (another Jack, Kennedy, had these). The Democratic candidate will need at least three of these four qualities to win.

Some assertions defy comprehension.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 24, 2003 3:23 PM

It's amazing to see some people use whatever vehicle (here a movie writeup) to go after Bush. A little while ago the NYT had a food article that took a shot at Bush. They are truly obsessed with him.

Posted by: AWW at November 24, 2003 3:34 PM

You have to be intentionally obtuse to write such stuff. Bush is so much more like Aubrey than Clinton could ever hope to be. Bush is the one that went right at them, Clinton was happy with lobbing a few face-saving Tomahawks and saying "mission accomplished". Aubrey's charisma was honest and real, whereas Clinton's was phony and disingenuous. Aubrey passed up the opportunity for some South Seas nookie, whereas Clinton..... I could go on, but I won't.

M&C was a great movie, go see it if you haven't.

Posted by: Robert D at November 24, 2003 3:40 PM

In case the writer is serious, which I doubt, delusions of such magnitude should be treated by professionals only. Self-medication, after all, is probably what got him into such a state. My condolences, Knute ol' boy.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at November 24, 2003 4:16 PM

Perhaps Chelsea suggested the theme to him.

Posted by: jim hamlen at November 24, 2003 4:32 PM

Actually the personalities of three of the Dem candidates do closely resemble those of a famous naval captain. Who can ever forget Bogart's portrayal of him.

Posted by: RDB at November 24, 2003 7:53 PM

In one respect Berger's analogy was appropriate to the subject matter: its central argument is more or less "bilge".

Posted by: Josh Silverman at November 24, 2003 8:48 PM

It truly is amazing... In her 60 minutes feature on the research of the Howard Hughes foundation, Leslie Stahl went out of her way to shoehorn in a backhand slap at Bush for not allowing funding for stem cell research, because of pressure from the "Anti-Abortion groups" you could see her barely restraining herself from spitting as she said it.

The same program included a feature from a band of torture sufferers trying to start an charity foundation with money they won suing Saddam in US Courts, only the Goverment won't use the money they took from Saddam in war to pay the judgement, rather they are using it to rebuild Iraq. Now I don't mean to chip at the cause of helping torture sufferers cope, but what is this United Way wannabe going to be able to do for victims that is better than what Bush did for them by deposing Saddam and premtively preventing their torture at his hands? Also, if he had taken the money for the American Ambulance chasers, you know damn well that 60 Minutes would be writing a feature about how Bush was taking money that rightfully belonged to Iraqi citizens and giving it to Americans as spoils of plunder.

Posted by: MarkD at November 24, 2003 9:24 PM

Of the three of Four qualities needed to win by the Democratic candidates, luck is a must.

Posted by: Genecis at November 25, 2003 12:16 PM