I was not successful in getting my hands on a single ticket for DEATH OF A PRESIDENT (there, I said it) yesterday, despite standing in line for a considerable time on a Toronto street. However—I am determined. I will get online at some pre-dawn hour or show up for a rush seat. Trying to decide whether to wear that Bush t-shirt…
At this point I’ve decided to forget going to the gala opening of the DOPE thing on Sunday night, just because it will conflict with the first evening of the increasingly controversial Path to 9/11 on ABC.
Yes indeedy, a virtual kerfuffle has erupted over the upcoming television “docu-drama” that not only recreates the horrors on the streets of Manhattan and the other targets, but tries to explain which politicians had what role to play in the unconnected-dot scandal that made it all possible. Apparently the account would have us believe that presidents who slept through decades of terrorist attacks in distant lands might have had as significant a degree of responsibility as the president who had been on the job all of eight months—fancy that.
This is becoming quite the entertaining farce. The left is up in arms because the docu-drama tries to reconstruct the years of mis-steps, through more than one president, which brought us to the wretched pass of 9/11. Voices on the right are saying that nobody comes off looking good. But those on the left can’t stand it, and are crying out for—wait for it!!—all out CENSORSHIP of the show it they don’t get it revised to suit their Clintonista fantasies.
So it’s all pretty incredible. You can create a grotesque caricatured docudrama of the private life of Ronald Reagan when he’s too old and sick to defend himself, and, well, that's entertainment!
And you can portray George Bush— in television comedy, caricatures, formal addresses and debates, “documentaries”, commercial films, plays, and assorted advertising campaigns—as virtually retarded, or an active and witting accessory to the deliberate terrorist murder of thousands of his fellow-citizens, a soulless profligate of the lives of American military, a plunderer, liar, thief, tyrant, racist, moron, moron, moron, and you can even make a public show of your conjured fantasies of murdering him— and that’s all just fair comment.
In the July 26, 2004 Issue of New York Magazine, Stephanie Zacharek called this sort of thing, “This season’s oddest cultural convergence.”
[read the following with maximum ennui:]
Assassination has become the taboo du jour. Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins may be closing, but next month, I’m Gonna Kill the President!, a satirical play by the pseudonymous Hieronymous Bang, reopens at a top-secret downtown location. (We could tell you where it is—but then we’d have to kill you.) Jonathan Demme has remade The Manchurian Candidate with Liev Schreiber, Meryl Streep, and Denzel Washington, and Niels Mueller’s drama The Assassination of Richard Nixon, starring Sean Penn, is based on the true story of a salesman who attempts to murder the president. And although the novel won’t be released until August 24 (the eve of the Republican convention), Nicholson Baker’s Checkpoint has already caused a stir: One character ruminates at great length on his desire to assassinate George W. Bush…The point is that a dalliance with the fantasy of assassination has nothing to do with, and isn’t likely to lead to, committing the act itself. In unruly times, people tend to have unruly thoughts...Kill the president? You unruly old thing, you! But try to examine how those charged with governing and protecting the American nation performed (or didn’t) in the exercise of their solemn responsibilities— try to re-construct historic events based upon assembled accounts and quotations and logical surmises (all of which have documentable sources even if they are now conveniently gainsaid by the principal players)-- and the free-thinking, free-speechifying left cries FOUL!!!!! And it wants you silenced. NOW. OR ELSE.
I well remember at the time, five years ago, that the mere suggestion that a new president, at 8 months, could bear a greater measure of responsibility for not thwarting the September 11 attacks than did the former one in 8 years (or any of his predecessors, especially the grovelling, begging, whimpering Jimmy Carter) was so laughable I never believed it could possibly stick. But I underestimated the effect of the yet-to-be-identified malady called "Bush Derangement Syndrome." In the interim we have seen such horrors from the raging haters that nothing should be able to surprise any of us.
But Lord, what a grubby, childish spectacle is this (apparently successful) tantrum of intimidation on the part of the second-worst ex-president and his willing accomplices. Still, I can’t wait to see what's left of the program. (I gather the nips and snips were not extensive, though it's a great disappointment that the producers caved to Bubba and his boys.)
What’s saddest about it all, though, is that if the current president sits down to watch The Path to 9/11, I do believe that a hell of a lot of it will come as news to him. And there’s no excuse for that—it’s all been so obvious, all along.