Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Facing Down Political Corruption, 2 Movie Reviews

Since I have become somewhat interested in politics and the culture war occurring in this country the past few years, I have picked up and watched several movies involving the presidency. Recently I watched two such movies, Clint Eastwood’s Absolute Power (1997) and Harrison Ford’s Clear and Present Danger (1994). Of the two I preferred the latter.

ABSOLUTE POWER (1997)

Eastwood’s movie, Absolute Power, opened with Eastwood’s character portraying a professional burglar, who during the course of a major burglary coincidental witnessed the murder of the President’s mistress by the president's men. It seemed a bit unrealistic and glorifying of a a professional thief. I was going to say that the movie was weak and doesn’t even deserve any further review, other than 'don’t bother watching it.' However, as the movie develops Luther Whitney (the character played by Clint Eastwood), the ex-con and thief, gets some moral courage and integrity and returns the loot he stole and pursues justice in the case exposing the Presidential cover-up.

During the course of the movie a sub plot develops, Luther establishes a relationship with his estranged daughter, a prosecuting attorney. Luther’s daughter felt that her father had no interest or no part in her life.

The movie illustrated two thing. First, the level of political corruption that the absolute power of the presidency can produce, and the thinking of those in power that they are above the law. Second, one really never knows the true character of a man until he is tested. Luther’s love for his daughter and for his country caused him to do the right thing in the end.

This movie is definitely an adults only movie. I would give it a rating of *** out of *****. It is worthwhile from the standpoint of illustrating the corrupting influence of absolute political power of those holding office and those who have the ear of the one in power. It also illustrates that even the most vile person has the potential to do the right thing.


CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER (1994)


Clear and Present Danger (1994) starring Harrison Ford also illustrates what happens when a President and his advisers think that they are above the law. In this movie Ford plays a CIA agent, Jack Ryan.


The notes on the back of the DVD case are useful in summarizing the story. “When his (Agent Jack Ryan) Admiral James Greer (played by James Earl Jones) becomes gravely ill, Ryan is appointed acting CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence. His first assignment: investigate the murder of one of the president’s friends, a prominent U.S. businessman with secret ties to Colombian drug cartels. Unbeknownst to Ryan, the CIA has already dispatched a deadly field operative (Willem Dafoe) to lead a paramilitary force against the Colombian drug lords. Caught in the crossfire, Ryan takes matters into his own hands, risking his career and life for the only cause he still believes in – the truth.”

There is a lot of suspense throughout the movie. Ryan is a by-the-books loyal employee. His boss, Admiral Greer, is a man of integrity and who has faith in Ryan to do the job. During one scene a Congressional oversight committee asks Ryan about whether any military intervention would taken by the CIA in the investigation of the death of president’s businessman friend. Ryan assured the committee that there would not be. There was an military action going on, which only late in the movie did Ryan find out about. He was caught in the middle of the action and was almost killed.

Like Luther Whitney in Absolute Power, Jack Ryan faces the President and testifies against him. He showed courage and integrity.

I rate this movie a **** out of ***** for good acting, a good story line, present-day relevance as an excellent illustration of the need to pursue the truth even it means your job and possibly your life. America needs more men like Jack Ryan in government. This movie could be viewed by teens as well as adults. It is definitely worth buying or renting. If you like Harrison Ford you will enjoy this movie. He gives a convincing performance. He is an ordinary man displaying extraordinary courage and character.

LESSONS FOR 2009

Power corrupts those weak in character as illustrated by the two presidents in the two movies I recently watched. You could say that absolute power corrupts absolutely. President-elect Barack Obama, if he makes it to the White House, will be facing great temptation as did all his predecessors in that high office. I for one do not think that someone rising out of the mire and stench of Chicago politics has the moral integrity no different than the corrupt presidents depicted in Absolute Power or Clear and Present Danger. I hope I am wrong.

There remains the question of whether Obama meets the natural-born citizenship requirement to be President. He claims that he does. However, his alleged Hawaiian Certificate of Live Birth (COLB) has been declared to be a tampered or doctored document by experts reviewing it. The United States Supreme Court will be holding additional conferences on January 9 and 16 dealing with this issue and determining whether it should be taken up by the full court. Who knows what will come of it.

I would like to see this question resolved prior to the Inauguration on January 20. It would be better to prohibit a man who does not meet basic qualifications for the presidency to be denied that office. If Obama pursued the presidency as an attorney and constitutional law professor knowing that he did not quality, he is being dishonest. Do we want a dishonest Chicago politician to assume this most important office? Why if he has proof of that birth does he not provide it? He is hiding something. Otherwise, you put a person in the position to assume absolute power because you never know how a man who lacks basic integrity would use or misuse the great power of the office.

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