Somewhere during one of my various late-night web cruises, I happened on a list of the “Twenty Most Overrated Movies of All Time” by Ben Shapiro over at Andrew Breitbart’s Big Hollywood, and I thought that I might try my hand at it. But, feeling as I do that the era of Hollywood’s worthiness is perhaps 60 years behind us, and that I’ve only seen maybe five new movies in the last ten years or so, any list that I might come up with would probably include most films made after say, 1955.
This is not to say that there weren’t more than a few overrated flicks made during the so-called Golden Age of Hollywood. For example, I can’t watch Citizen Kane for more than a few minutes without screaming “Nobody was in the room when he whispered ‘Rosebud’!” at the TV. Nor can I bear the cloying sentimentality of certain Frank Capra offerings like, It’s a Wonderful Life or Meet John Doe. But I’d rather be stranded on a desert island for life with these rather than sit through even one more viewing of a modern “classic” like Titanic; a monstrosity to which I could devote at least five full columns.
No, my movie list will probably never see the light of day, so I thought that a more useful and interesting compilation would be one that addresses the most overrated skills of political figures. You know what I mean; in the same way that movie critics tell us over and over that such and such a film is a masterwork of dystopian art by a great auteur, we are barraged, ad nauseam, with similar nonsense in regards members of a certain political party. And so here, in order of their appearance, are the winners.
1. The Catholicism of John F. Kennedy. Like the movie version of a novel that is deemed too long by the producers, the liberal media have ignored JFK’s tax-cutting and anti-Communist tendencies and focused instead on his more noble attributes; chief among them, his family’s deep religious convictions. Of course, in reality, his famous statement that he would act “in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates,” was an insult to all Christians who believe that there is no conflict between the tenets of their faith and what is good for America. All paeans to Kennedy Catholicism, past and present, should remain on the cutting room floor.
2. The Nobility and Sanctity of Jimmy Carter. Like the filibuster scene in Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Mr. Carter’s public life seems to go on ad infinitum, and with the same stomach-turning results. But of all the drooling veneration heaped upon the Georgia peach, the most annoying is his reputation as a humanitarian, when in reality it is a cruel joke. During his administration, millions suffered at the hands of brutal regimes that were at best unhindered, and at worst encouraged by Carter’s forays into foreign policy. In some ways, his Nobel Peace Prize was more of an affront than Barack Obama’s.
3. The Compassion of Bill Clinton. In the same way that the criminal script-writers of Titanic saw fit to inject idiotic scenes like gun chases into what is one of the most compelling and heart-wrenching events in human history, so too was the “I-feel-your-pain” pathos of the Clinton presidency the stuff of which Hollywood dreams are made. This is best summed up by the bizarre yet prescient remarks of Shirley MacLaine, who praised Clinton’s “charismatic empathy” and his “talent in attracting conflict so that we in this country can learn about our ability to heal.”
4. The Debating Skills of Al Gore. Like Orson Welles’ cardboard characterization of Charles Foster Kane, this myth is stiff, boring and unconvincing. As I wrote some years ago, “In the run-up to the 2000 election, pundit after pundit warned that the veep’s ace in the hole would be his utter domination of the tongue-tied cowboy when they squared off in the debate arena. Many on the right agreed, fretting fearfully that all would be lost once the candidates toed the rostrum rubber. Suffice to say that if one actually watched all of Gore’s debates, the only prior opponent he ever faced who had brains plus personality was Dan Quayle, who cleaned his clock in ’92. Ditto, George W. Bush in 2000.”
5. The Eloquence of Barack Obama. Just as no violent, depressing, foul-mouthed effort of Martin Scorsese can be released without gobs of gooey praise, so too is every word that drops from the mouth of Barack Obama lauded to the skies by his worshipful chroniclers. True eloquence is defined as “the ability to project words fluidly out of the mouth and the ability to understand and command the language in such a way that one employs a graceful style coupled with the power of persuasion.” In truth, our current president — with or without his faithful teleprompter — has all the vocal grace and fluency of Travis Bickle.