“I think we should order pizza for dinner—not that I want to celebrate the president getting shot, but—“
“Oh, I definitely think the president getting shot is a reason to order pizza!”
So last night Alison and I watched a documentary on the assassination of President Bush. It was a made-for-TV movie called “The Death of the President” and it was really interesting. The style was that of a documentary of an event that EVERYONE knows about, so while we the viewers were watching it thinking “who did it?!” people who had actually lived through the event would have the sensation of watching it and going “idiots! How could they miss the obvious?!”
The show focused less on the president than it did on the aftermath, although when the TV said “Vice-President Cheney will be taking the oath of office sometime this evening,” Alison and I both screamed out loud as the true horror of the situation hit us. I thought the response to the President’s death was very truthful: they arrested several people, but finally they ended up convicting a Syrian who had been to Palestine on vacation. They ended up gathering evidence against him under the new “Patriot Act III” (more screams of terror) and tried to force the idea that he had been acting as an agent for al Qaida. When the government couldn’t find a conspiracy, that didn’t stop them from convicting him of the death of the president. Even when they caught the real killer—a Gulf War vet who had lost a son in Iraq—the Syrian wasn’t released from prison, the most telling part of the new regime.
I thought it was a quite realistic look at the way America would handle a crisis like this, from the speechwriter (“I really do believe that George W. Bush was put on earth by God to protect us” ) to the FBI agent (“Of course we did everything we could, but we had to prioritize”) to the crowds of protestors cheering when they heard Bush had been shot. What is the value of making a film like this? I don’t think it was advocating shooting Bush—if anything, the message was “hang on in there, it’s almost over”—because the power on the throne in Washington became more militant and less friendly to human rights after he was killed. The person that made me the maddest was the FBI agent in charge of the manhunt, who kept saying “The President has been killed, we must do everything to find his killer.” Well, fair enough, but he was just one person—and apparently Cheney is more than capable of *shudder* continuing Bush’s policies of terror (he declares war on Syria two weeks after Bush’s death)—it’s not like there was a coup d’etat that overthrew the government. That’s no reason to turn the US into a police state. I don’t want to hear about “the Threat to the American Way of Life” because, unfortunately, the American way of life includes an assassin every twenty years or so. I’m not a fan of assassinating the president (my motto is “make musicals, not martyrs”) but it was interesting to see how filmmakers could create future events from today’s headlines—and come up with something that sounded eerily familiar.