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Archive for October, 2011

State of The UnionSource: This piece was originally posted at FRS Daily Times

The State of the Union from 1948 is a very entertaining and very funny movie with an excellent cast. Spencer Tracy as the presidential candidate, Catherine Hepburn as his wife, who’s somewhat reluctant to get into politics. But who’s more than capable of taking care of herself. Van Johnson as the political strategist, Angela Lansbury as Washington political insider. A Leader in I’m guessing the Republican Party. And some other great people as well and the Spencer Tracy character a private businessman from New York.

Who basically up till this point never considered running for any public office gets recruited by these party insiders. To be their presidential candidate, because he’s a very successful and wealthy outsider. Who does seem to have an interest in current affairs and has an independent streak, but never gets around to running for public office. The Tracy character reminds me a little of Ross Perot and Tom Dewey. But charming and likable and someone who these insiders believe can beat the incumbent President.

And I believe they even mentioned Harry Truman as the President. This movie came out in 1948. The year of that famous election between President Truman and Governor Tom Dewey of New York. And the Tracy character reminds me of Tom Dewey, even though Governor Dewey had some experience in public service at this point. As a prosecutor as well as Governor of New York, but politically the Tracy character reminds me of Dewey. Progressive on social issues and foreign policy and a believer in fiscal responsibility as well.

Spencer Tracy plays the outsider of outsiders running for President of the United States. Not just because of the fact he lived outside of Washington, never served in public office or Public Service. Never even active in politics or current affairs, but also someone who was an outsider with his politics as well. He was farther to the left than Woodrow Wilson on foreign policy, calling for a world government. That would go past the United Nations. But someone who was also an anti-Communist and believed America should be tough with Russia.

In that sense this character reminds me a little of Tom Dewey. This character was a strong Progressive on economic policy. In favor of very high tax rates. Even as a very wealthy businessman, to be used to pay for social insurance programs and public services. Like health care, health insurance, education and other things. But also a strong believer in fiscal responsibility as well. That tax revenue shouldn’t be wasted and spent very wisely as well. Again reminding me of Tom Dewey and Ross Perot. And a presidential candidate like this today I believe could be very successful in appealing to Independent voters as an independent. Because of their broad reach.

State of the Union was a great political movie back in 1948. And is still a great movie today over sixty years later. Because it’s very relevant to the politics back then. Third-party candidates like Henry Wallace of the Progressive Party and Strom Thurmond of the Dixiecrat Party. Candidates who could actually have an effect on the presidential election. And that the Democratic Party and Republican Party actually had to take seriously. And try to appeal to some of their supporters in order to get elected or reelected. And it would be nice if these third-parties were more of a force today. And give American voters more choices in who they can vote for.

Carol Robinson: State of The Union Trailer 1948

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George WallaceSource: This piece was originally posted at FRS Daily Times 

From what I’ve heard and seen, read about George Wallace the former long time Governor of Alabama, as well as multiple time presidential candidate as a Democrat, as well as an Independent, the 1997 TNT movie about him naturally called George Wallace, is a pretty accurate movie about him. George Wallace started off as a Progressive on economic policy. Things like infrastructure investment, public education, as well as higher education, housing. And was a moderate on social issues. Including civil rights, until he lost the 1958 election for Governor of Alabama.

And then George Wallace calculated politically that in order to become Governor of Alabama and have a future in national politics, especially as a Southerner, he could get by with being for economic progressivism, even tax hikes. As long as that money was doing some good for the State. With schools, roads and so forth. But that he had to run to the Right or Far-Right even on Civil Rights. That he couldn’t support integration, in order to get elected Governor of Alabama.

Even as someone who up to that point was basically a Progressive Democrat and had to been favor of states rights especially on civil rights. In order to get elected Governor of Alabama and reelected and have a future in national politics, or with another party. Which is what he did in 1968 running for President in the Independence Party and there was such a thing back then. The movie George Wallace I believe does a very good job of portraying the man George Wallace. Who was very different in public than in private.

Which is how Gary Sinise plays Governor Wallace in the movie. Someone who didn’t believe in integration in public. Even though in private got along very well with African-Americans and even managed to win some of their votes. Because he was a Progressive on economic policy. And built schools, roads, hospitals and other public infrastructure in their communities. Something that Alabama Governor’s apparently didn’t do much of in the past. And these African-American voters voted with their wallets when it came to Governor Wallace.

And that’s what you see in this movie as well. Someone whose public persona was different from his private persona. And without the assassination attempt in 1972 in Laurel, Maryland, when Governor Wallace was campaigning for president in the Maryland Democratic primary, getting shot I believe in the back, maybe we have an Independence Party today. A clear third choice for Independent voters. And a party of their own that George Wallace could’ve continued to build. Along with John Anderson in 1980 and Ross Perot in the 1990s.

The TNT George Wallace movie I believe was very good. As well as the PBS documentary film about him. Setting the Woods on Fire from 2003. Because both films did their research on him and interviewed people who knew him and worked for Governor Wallace. And didn’t try to portray George Wallace as a devil or as a saint. But someone who was a lot more complicated than that, as he was.

Retro VHS Trailers: George Wallace 1997 Trailer

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