Sydney’s Case Against Political Compromise

The American President movieThe American President is a bad film. When I watched it, I was in graduate school researching global warming and I really hated the discussion of the issue in the film; I thought it was trivialized. But that wasn’t the main problem. It is just a stupid film, pretending to be for adults when only Justin Bieber fans could take it seriously.

There was, however, one moment in the film that I liked. It is at the beginning of the third act when Sydney lets loose on the president for abandoning climate change legislation for a crime bill. I’ve done a bit of editing here, because it doesn’t matter what the president says. Here is the speech:

You should call Leo and make a deal. He hires me back for say 72 days. I go around scaring the hell out of Congress, making them think the president is about to drive through a very damaging and costly bill. They’ll believe me, right? Because I’m the president’s Friday night girl. Now I don’t know if we can dip into that well twice, especially since I’ve lost all credibility in politics. But you never know. I might be able to just pull it off again. I might be able to give you just the leverage you need to pass some ground breaking piece of crime legislation. Like a mandatory three day waiting period before a 5-year-old can buy an Uzi… It’s only taken you three years to put together crime prevention legislation that has no hope of preventing crime.

I think of that line every time I hear someone talking in glowing terms about the Democrats finally standing up to the NRA. Sydney is not completely right, of course. It isn’t that these bills won’t do some good. They will! But it is pretty weak tea. And it doesn’t make up for all the other ways that the Democratic Party screws over really important liberal concerns.

There’s another line in the middle of that, which I edited out. The president asks Sydney what she thinks has happened. She responds, “I got screwed.” That is pretty much the response to the question, “What did the Democratic Party do to its liberal base?” It doesn’t matter when you ask that question.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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