Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Longing for Dave

No, I haven't suddenly become heterosexual. Don't worry.

The "Dave" I long for is the Dave played by Kevin Kline in the movie of the same name. In the movie, Dave is a lowly everyman, quietly running a temping service, finding people jobs. He just happens to be a dead ringer for the current president, Bill Mitchell. After the president suffers a stroke, the chief of staff and head speech writer concoct a plan to replace the president with a look-alike so they can continue Mitchell's ruthless and heartless agenda.

Dave is strong-armed into the job, but having a heart, he begins to wield power in a different way, looking for ways to cut the budget, create jobs and help the less fortunate.

What strikes me about this movie (well, other than the complete suspension of belief one must do to enjoy it) is that a healthy sense of shame is present within those in the administration. There also seems to be a fear of the press revealing something shameful about the politicians in the story.

At a cabinet meeting Dave, in an effort to save a homeless shelter being cut out of a works bill, goes around the room quizzing cabinet members on wasteful spending in their offices. He asks the commerce secretary to cut 53 million dollars from their budget that was being spent on ads to make people feel good about purchasing American made cars. When the commerce secretary balks, Dave tells him:

"Well I'm sure that's really important, but I don't want to tell some eight-year-old kid he has to sleep in the street because we want people to feel better about their cars. Do you want to tell him that?"

The secretary looks around at the cameras and considers his options. He can either keep his 53 million bucks or be painted in the press as a heartless bastard. He opts to give up the 53 million.

That would never happen in real life. In real life, the commerce secretary would laugh, keep his 53 million in pork and the press would dutifully not report it. We have an administration that tells kids every single day to sleep in the street or die of treatable and preventable diseases because of ideological rigidity (rhymes with stupidity). We have leaders in this country who choose party over country, politics over humanity, and selfishness over compassion.

Certainly politics has never been like "Dave" (don'tcha love the French movie poster?) - but we have had leaders who understood that what affects one segment of society affects all segments. We have had leaders in the past who understood that for America to prosper, all of America must prosper. We have had leaders who understood that sometimes human life trumps profits.

Where are those leaders today? Where is the press that will actually report on the atrocities the current administration has committed against our country?

Now, there's a move afoot to further consolidate the media into even fewer hands than the big six who own them now. This would be a disaster. The media already coddles any politician who will protect their interests. Consolidating into fewer hands means more infotainment, more dumbing down of the media, more lead stories on dead celebrities instead of dead soldiers and more Foxification of the news business. This is the reason I left the business in disgust in 2003. The media is already ruined but this would make the media finally the tool of the state that this administration seeks. When a free press is silenced, fascism isn't far behind.

We should all be longing for Dave right about now - a leader with a heart, a press willing to shame those who would force children to sleep in the streets - and a really hot first lady.

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